The Other Ranker

Lieutenant Colonel Dick Worrall, D.S.O., M.C.
14th (Royal Montreal Regiment) Battalion


He advanced his line half a mile and under heavy fire maintained his position all day. The following day, though his left was exposed to withering machine gun and artillery fire, he captured a village, taking prisoners a whole battalion. Still pushing on, he took the final objective, and established his position, having advanced some 5,000 yards from the jumping off line. He displayed fine courage and leadership.

(Worrall D.S.O. Citation, London Gazette, 11 Jan 1919, 1605)

Richard Worrall was born in Woolwich, England on 8 July 1890. He served for eight years in the Dorsetshire Regiment before emigrating to the United States. He seemed to have joined the US Army but evidently deserted to fight for Canada at the outbreak of the Great War. He was one of the very few men to enlist as a private and rise through the ranks to command an infantry battalion.

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Lt. Col. McCombe

Lieutenant Colonel Gault McCombe, D.S.O.
14th (Royal Montreal Regiment) Battalion


On page 439 of the last Militia List you have shown Captain G. McCombe in list of deaths as killed in action. I am glad to advise you that Captain McCombe is very much alive. He was slightly wounded, returned to England on sick leave, but he is now, and has been for some time, back in France with his regiment the 14th Battalion.

 (Col. John Carson to Militia Council, 27 Sept 1915)

A native of Ireland, Gault McCombe was born on 16 March 1885. He immigrated with his family to Canada in 1890.  A fourteen-year militia officer with the Victoria Rifles of Canada, he joined the 14th Battalion as captain in September 1914. In late 1915, his name was mistakenly included in a casualty list of deaths at the front, causing much confusion for his family when newspapers requested a photograph for the obituary. McCombe’s brother wrote to the militia records office, explaining, “I have just received a Christmas card from my brother, and he was then in London on a holiday, so he is still in the land of the living as far as we know.”

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Lt. Col. Fisher

Lieutenant Colonel Frank Fisher
23rd (Westmount Rifles) & 14th (Royal Montreal Regiment)


[Fisher] was not a success when he previously commanded this Battalion and also, that having been to the front in command of a service Battalion and having been returned, that he will not command respect and that the Battalion will suffer.

 (Report of Gen. E.C. Ashton, 21 Apr 1916)

Frank William Fisher was born in Yorkshire, England on 7 July 1868 and emigrated to Canada as a teenager. With twenty-five years in the militia, he had been the commanding officer of the 3rd Victoria Rifles until retirement in 1912. In late 1914, Fisher organized the 23rd Battalion from Quebec City. After it was designated a reserve battalion on arrival in England, Fisher proceeded to France as second-in-command with the 14th Battalion.

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Lt. Col. Burland

Lieutenant Colonel Watty Burland
14th (Royal Montreal Regiment) Battalion


A cablegram was yesterday received by Mr. B. S. Burland from his brother, Lt. Col. “Watty” Burland senior major and second in command of the 14th Battalion, stating that he had come through the fighting at Langemarcke without injury. Lt. Col. Burland’s cable was brief, but to the point, simply saying, “Pulled through all right.”

 (Montreal Gazette, 4 May 1915, 4)

William Watt Burland was born on 9 September 1877 in Montreal. He had joined the Victoria Rifles of Canada in 1894 and become commanding officer in 1912. He joined the 14th Battalion as second-in-command with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Although he made it through the second battle of Ypres uninjured, he was wounded less than a month later on 10 May 1915.

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Maj. Dupuis

Major G.E.A. Dupuis
22nd (French Canadian) Battalion


All our senior officers have been hit with the exception of Major Dupuis who seems to stick on through everything. The old battalion will no longer be recognizable.

(Maj. Georges Vanier, 8 Sept)

George Elzer Alexandre Dupuis was a bank clerk born in Quebec City on 31 October 1888. He enlisted with the 57th Battalion on 18 August 1915 before transferring to the 41st in October when he departed for England. As a reinforcement lieutenant he joined the 22nd Battalion in France on 1 July 1916.

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Col. Landry

Colonel Joseph Philippe Landry
2nd Training Brigade


Hon. Mr. W.H. SHARPE: May I ask the honourable gentleman a question?

Hon. Mr. LANDRY: Certainly.

Hon. Mr. SHARPE: At the present time the honourable gentleman’s own son is at the front fighting the battles of Canada and the Empire. I would like to ask him how he is going to meet that son when he returns to Canada?

Hon. Mr. LANDRY: That is a question of sentiment, not one of reason. My son has his ideas and I have mine.

(Senate Debates, 3 Aug 1917, 424)

Joseph Philippe Landry was son of Conservative Senator Auguste Charles Philippe Robert Landry (1846—1919), a strong francophone advocate and opponent of conscription. The younger Landry was born on 27 June 1870 in St. Pierre, Quebec. At the age of thirteen, he joined his father’s 61st (Montmagny) Rifles as a bugler. He became commanding officer of the 61st in 1901. In May 1915, Landry took command of the 5th Infantry Brigade in the CEF, but was replaced before it deployment to the field.

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Lt. Col. Lavergne

Lieutenant Colonel Armand Lavergne
61st (Montmagny) Rifles

As you already know, I am and have always been opposed to Canada taking part in the wars of the empire. I cannot assume the responsibility of asking Canadians to take part in a war that is not for the defense of Canada…

 Let me repeat that I consider it unwise and more than criminal to place Canada in danger from a war in which we have not had, have not and will have any control…

 (Lavergne to Sam Hughes, 6 November 1915)

Armand Lavergne had been Liberal MP for Montmagny (1904—1908) and, early in his political career, was a follower of Wilfrid Laurier. Born on 21 February 1880 in Arthabaska, Quebec, he was also rumored to be Laurier’s illegitimate son. In 1907, Lavergne broke with the Liberal Prime Minister and was expelled from the party caucus. A passionate defender of French language rights, he became lieutenant to Nationalist leader Henri Bourassa. From 1908 to 1916, Lavergne sat as a Ligue nationaliste canadienne member for Montmagny in the Quebec legislature.

Despite (or because of) his Nationalist ties, Lavergne was active in the militia and a strong advocate of home defence. When the First World War broke out, he was the commanding officer of 61st (Montmagny) Rifles. In 1915, Militia Minister Sam Hughes offered a commission in the CEF to command a French Canadian battalion but Lavergne steadfastly refused out of principle. He nevertheless conceded that as a solider he would obey his superior’s orders if compelled to fight. However, Hughes respected his friend’s conviction and even defended him in parliament.

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The Logger

Colonel J.B. White
242nd (Foresters) Battalion

He came to me and told me he would guarantee to raise me a French Canadian battalion inside of two weeks. I said “God bless you my boy, go ahead, I will give you every help I can.” But I never dreamt he would get them.

Inside of two weeks Colonel White came to me and said: “The jig is up; we cannot raise the men.”

(Hughes, Debates, 5 Apr 1918, 411)

John Burton White was a lumberman and sawmill manager in the Ottawa Valley. He was born on 1 January 1874 in Aylmer Road, Quebec. A senior officer with the 17th Hussars, he enlisted as a major with Alexander McDougall’s 224th Battalion in April 1916. He left with the forestry unit for England but was recalled home two months later to raise a new lumber battalion from Quebec.

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Lt. Col. Rexford

Lieutenant Colonel I.P. Rexford
87th (Canadian Grenadier Guards) Battalion

As a Rotarian who has held for the last 35 years the classification of “corporate executor” in the Rotary Club of Montreal, I was horrified to read in an article in THE ROTARIAN for October a recommendation by the author that a person should designate his wife as sole executrix to avoid the coast of a bond and “keep the commission in the family.”

 Surely the author must know of the many tragedies which have followed where a man has named his wife as sole executrix, a person usually entirely without experience in administrating an estate and managing investments.

 (Rexford, “Re: Making a Will”, The Rotarian, Jan 1950, 55)

Born on 14 September 1884 in Quebec, Irving Putnam Rexford was a Royal Trust Company manager and member of the Rotary Club with ten years’ experience in the Canadian Grenadier Guards. In September 1915, he joined the 87th Battalion organized by Colonel Frank Meighen.

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Lt. Col. Paquet

Lieutenant Colonel E.T. Paquet
57th (Canadien-Français) Battalion

I wish every young man in Montreal would follow the example of the Highland Cadets, and occasionally, at the close of their day’s work put on uniforms, as you boys do and come down to train for work as real soldiers of the King instead of idling away their time on the streets as I see so many doing.

 (Paquet speech to Cadets, Montreal Gazette, 20 May 1915, 5)

Born on 2 January 1883 in Quebec City, Etienne Theodore Paquet was a member of an old, influential Quebec family and the son of a prominent Conservative politician of the same name. The younger Paquet was an official in the federal postmaster general’s office, a barrister and Inspector of Cadets for the province of Quebec. He was also a member of 17th Regiment for fifteen years before the Great War.

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