Lt. Col. Pelly

Lieutenant Colonel Raymond T. Pelly
Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry

Pelly always was a nervous temperament and the trenches came harder on him than on some others but you are quite wrong in imagining he is not full of courage for I know him to be. And at Frise when H.Q. was shelled he absolutely refused to go into the cellars until the last servant had taken to his hiding place.

(Agar Adamson to wife, 2 Jan 1916)

Raymond Theodore Pelly was born on 30 July 1881 in Woodford England. He served with the Royal North Lancashire Regiment from 1900 to 1914. As a member of the Governor General of Canada’s staff, in August 1914, he enlisted as a major with PPCLI under Colonel Farquhar.

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Lt. Col. Smart

Lieutenant Colonel R.W. Smart
136th (Durham) Battalion

In a recent letter to this office from an old Durhamite, now living in Western Ontario, this reference is made to Col. Smart: “Tell the young men what a privilege it will be to serve under him and say that for the honor of the old loyal country every man much do his duty.

(Canadian Statesman, 2 Dec 1915, 1)

Robert Wallace Smart was a third generation military officer and thirty-three year member of the 46th Regiment. Robert Smart was born on 3 December 1864 in Port Hope, Canada West. During the 1885 Rebellion, the twenty-year-old Smart volunteered with Colonel A. T. H. Williams’ Midland Battalion. His grandfather, David Smart had raised a cavalry troop to help put down the 1837 Upper Canadian Rebellion. Continue reading

Lt. Col. Combe

Lieutenant Colonel Barry Combe
161st (Huron) Battalion

Had an attack of acute gastritis Aug 1917. Began to feel somewhat run down then and to lose weight.

He is slightly pale and his muscles show wasting—weight 160 lbs. He states that this is a loss of 20 lbs. He complains of being very easily tired, then he feels slightly dizzy.

(Medical Board, 11 Oct 1918)

Hugh Barry Combe was born on 23 September 1864 in Clinton, Canada West. He enlisted as a bugler in the 33rd Huron Regiment as a boy and rose to become the commanding militia officer. In December 1915, he offered to raise a battalion from his home county. The farmer families of the rural area were unreceptive to patriotic pleas, however, and largely unwilling to allow their sons to enlist.

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Lt. Col. Thompson

Lieutenant Colonel John Thompson
124th (Governor General’s Body Guard) Battalion

All who know him must regard Colonel Thompson as a man of the highest probity and integrity. His honesty and ability cannot be question. I for one am prepared to believe that the qualities of character which h have made him somewhat rigid in the work of administration of the particular commission over which he presides are characteristics of a strict impartiality…

 (W.L.M. King, Debates, 30 June 1934, 4556)

John Thomas Connolly Thompson was the eldest son of Canada’s fourth Prime Minister, John Sparrow David Thompson (1845-1894). He was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia on 21 October 1872. A barrister in Toronto, Thompson enlisted with Lieutenant Colonel W. C. V. Chadwick’s 124th Battalion in March 1916 at the rank of major.

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Lt. Col. J.D. Clarke

Lieutenant Colonel J.D. Clarke
111th (South Waterloo) Battalion

A very good officer who gave me an excellent impression, well qualified, has a good command, is apparently tactful and altogether fitted to command.

(111th Inspection report, 7 Aug 1916)

“After having raised the 111th South Waterloo Battalion, taking it overseas and spending four weeks on the firing line in France, Lieut.-Col. J.D. Clarke slipped quietly into town today.”

(Toronto World, 9 Feb 1917)

James Drury Clarke was a newspaper publisher and the son of a prominent Liberal politician. His father, Charles Clarke (1826—1909) had been a member of the Ontario legislature and speaker. He was on born on 1 March 1884 in Elora, Ontario. He was appointed to organize the 111th Battalion from the Galt and Waterloo region. Continue reading

Maj. Vanderwater

Major Roscoe Vanderwater, D.S.O.
2nd (Iron Second) Battalion


Sharp at 4.45 one afternoon in broad daylight and under an almost cloudless sky, three companies under command of Major Vanderwater sprang from their trenches and advanced steadily toward the German line. In front of them our artillery laid down an intense barrage and out men followed so closely that they were almost in the midst of their own shells.

 (The Weekly Ontario and Bay of Quinte Chronicle, 28 Sept 1916, 2)

Roscoe Dudley Vanderwater was a farmer and militia officer born in Foxboro, Sidney Township, Ontario on 6 January 1889. Shortly after the sudden death of his wife, in March 1915, he enlisted with Lieutenant Colonel J. A. V. Preston’s 39th Battalion from Belleville. After the 39th was broken up, Vanderwater reverted in rank from captain to lieutenant and joined the 2nd Battalion on the front.

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Lt. Col. W.R. Smyth, MP

Lieutenant Colonel W.R. Smyth, MP
238th (Canadian Forestry) Battalion

Am extremely sorry that certain cables crossed and I inadvertently accepted nomination. I wired Robb withdrawing my acceptance … Please convey this to electorate at first opportunity. I depend on all loyal Canadians to support the Union Government and thereby help win the war. We need men and must have them.

(Smyth to G.B. Nicholson, Nov 1917)

William Ross Smyth was a lumber tycoon, Conservative MPP in the Ontario legislature (1902—1908 and federal MP for Algoma East (1908—1917). He was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland on 3 January 1857. He was one of several sitting MP selected to recruit an overseas battalion.

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Lt. Col. Jones

Lieutenant Colonel C.H. LeP. Jones
227th (Man o’ the North) Battalion

I do not believe I am competent not having been in the trenches myself, to thank you for these men. I do not believe in all modesty I am clothed with sufficient authority from them to speak for them. I do not believe any man can adequately answer this toast unless he has had his baptism of fire in this, the greatest war of all time, but I will clothe myself with sufficient authority to say a good old fashioned “Thank you” for them.

(Col. Jones, Pulp and Paper Magazine, 9 Feb 1917, 148)

Charles Hugh LePailleur Jones was a well-known figure in the paper and pulp industry. He was born in Montreal on 1 May 1876 and graduated with a degree in engineering from McGill University. He had belonged to the 3rd Victoria Rifles before moving to Sault Ste. Marie where he became commanding officer of the 51st Soo Rifles. In August 1916, Jones was appointed to raise the 227th Battalion from Sudbury-Manitoulin-Algoma. Continue reading

Lt. Col. N. Smith

Lieutenant Colonel Neil Smith
186th (Kent) Battalion

The man at the head of that battalion is Lt. Colonel Neil Smith, a Liberal. The Minister of Militia appointed him because he knew that he was the best man that could be found for the position, not only in the county of Kent, but possibly in the whole Ontario.

 (McCoig, Debates, 28 Jan 1916, 390)

Born on 2 November 1880 in Tilbury, Ontario, Neil Smith was a dentist and prize marksman. He graduated from the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario in 1905 and served in the 21st Essex Fusiliers and the 24th (Kent) Regiment. An expert target shooter, Smith represented Canada on the national Bisley Team in England. At the 1909 event, Smith scored the first perfect score of 50 at 900 yards. He helped the Canadian team to win the tournament and tied for the highest individual score to date, 140.

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Lt. Col. Grant

Lieutenant Colonel D.M. Grant
122nd (Muskoka) Battalion

This affords an opportunity to the men who are accustom to working in the bush to take on their regular line of work for the next year or so, have a trip to England or France and if on the ground when Peace is declared will have the time of their lives. It is ENTIRELY a separate force from the fighting units.

 (122nd Batt., Recruiting Poster, 1917)

Born on 2 April 1868, Donald McKenzie Grant was a Huntsville lawyer and son of Rev. George Munro Grant (1835—1902). Commanding officer of the 35th Regiment, he was initially authorized to raise a new battalion from Simcoe County in November 1915. However, he soon ordered to switch with Lieutenant Colonel D. H. McLaren of the 157th to organize the 122nd from Muskoka. A local newspaper wrote, “Such a change would have made many men give up their work in disgust, but such was not the case with Col. Grant, who thus roved his true military worth, sincerity, loyalty and determination.” Continue reading