The Governor General

Major Georges Vanier, D.S.O., M.C.
22nd (Royal French Canadians) Battalion
Vanier

I need not tell you that after the shock of losing a leg and the consequent inaction I am not in good condition.

 I am happy at the thought that I had the courage to return to my boys in 1916 and that God gave me the strength of body and mind to do my duty under fire. It is a tremendous consolation that will comfort me until my dying day.

 (Vanier to Mother, 13 May 1919)

Georges-Philéas Vanier was one of Canada’s most well-known veterans of the First World War. He became a high-ranking military officer, diplomat and 19th Governor General of Canada. Born in Montreal on 23 April 1888, Vanier was a graduate of Université Laval and a lawyer. In early 1915, he helped organize the 22nd Battalion under the command of F. M. Gaudet. After four years in the trenches, he had been shell shocked, multiple times wounded and lost his right leg.

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The Francophone

Brigadier General Tommy Tremblay
22nd (Royal French Canadians) Battalion
Tremblay

I am confident that the French Canadians will defend all their trenches with fierce vigour and will hold on at any price, even the price of death. Let us not forget that we represent an entire race and that many things—the very honour of French Canada—depend upon the manner in which we conduct ourselves. Our ancestors bequeathed to us a brave and glorious past that we must respect and equal. Let us uphold our beautiful old traditions.

 (Tremblay, Diary, 1916)

Thomas-Louis Tremblay would prove to be the 22nd Battalion’s most famous commanding officer. Notorious for his strict discipline, he was determined to prove the only all French-Canadian unit serving in the field was the finest in the CEF. Born in Chicoutimi, Quebec on 16 May 1886, he was a graduate of the Royal Military College, a civil engineer and member of the 1st Canadian Field Artillery.

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The Forger

Lieutenant Colonel Onésime Readman
167th (Canadien-Français) Battalion

Readman

 As to Col. Readman, he thought he was sincere and a man who had a clear past. Colonel Readman was a man who had offered to do his bit for his country and this should be weighed in the sentence, and if he had not received what was due him, he should get it from the Government and he hoped he would be given full justice.

 (Quebec Telegraph, 22 Apr 1918, 1)

 In August 1914, Onésime Readman enlisted to defend King and Country; after charges of corruption and forgery four years later, he was forced to fight against the Crown in a Quebec courtroom. Born on 4 June 1877, Readman was a flavouring extracts manufacturer and militia officer. Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, he assumed command of the 4th (Chasseurs Canadiens) Regiment.

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The Fundraiser

Brigadier General Eric McCuaig, D.S.O.
13th (Royal Highlanders of Canada) BattalionMcCuaig

One night, too, the officers staged a concert in the local theatre, all the talent being drawn from their own roster. By sacrificing his moustache, Lieut-Col. McCuaig scored a tremendous hit in a charming female role…

(The 13th Battalion Royal Highlanders of Canada, 1925, 203)

George Eric McCuaig assumed command of the 13th Battalion after an explosion killed Lieutenant Colonel Victor Buchanan and many of his senior officers. A native of Toronto, McCuaig was born on 2 September 1885. He graduated from McGill University, worked in Montreal as a stockbroker and belonged to the Black Watch.

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The Seigneur

Lieutenant Colonel R. A. de la B. Girouard
178th (Canadien-Français) Battalion

Girouard

There is a fine fibrillary Tremor of hands & tongue on Exam.

Insomnia with frequent migraine over left side & is all the time “nervous.” Is unable to walk a mile at ordinary Military rate. Says he notices he is very irritable at times & has “fits of depression.”

(Medical History of Invalid, 24 Apr 1919)

René-Arthur de la Bruère Girouard traced his family linage to the earliest French settlers in the 17th Century and was a direct descendant of Governor Pierre Boucher (1622—1717). A native of Quebec City, Girouard was born on 29 January 1882. He joined the Royal Leister Regiment at eighteen but left the army to work as a civil engineer and supervise track construction of the Pacific Railway in British Columbia.

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The Expendable

Lieutenant Colonel F. A. deL. Gascoigne, D.S.O.
60th (Victoria Rifles of Canada) BattalionGascoigne

My own future is uncertain, but I can only hope that some day, we shall be together again, and I would ask for nothing better than to have you all back under my command but whatever comes, I shall never forget the many happy and glorious days I have spent with the old 60th Battalion.

(Gascoigne’s Farewell Address, 60th Bn. War Diary, 29 Apr 1917, 8)

A native of England, Frederick Arthur DeLong Gascoigne was born on 2 April 1866. After immigrating to Canada, he worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway in Quebec. In 1886, he enlisted as a private with the 3rd (Victoria Rifles) Regiment. After nearly thirty-years’ service in the militia he became commanding officer in 1914. Although illness prevented him from joining the First Contingent, in April 1915 Gascoigne was authorized to raise the 60th Battalion from Quebec.

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The Worn-Out

Lieutenant Colonel Billy Evans, D.S.O.
52nd (New Ontario) BattalionEvans

Marked spells of general weakness, occasionally shortness of breath, easily fatigued, spells of nervousness with trembling of whole body. Has no confidence in himself and lacks concentrating powers.

(Medical History of an Invalid, 17 Jul 1919)

William Barnard Evans was a Montreal businessman with fourteen years’ service in the 3rd Royal Victoria Rifles. He was born in Toronto on 31 October 1875. On the formation of the 60th Battalion in spring 1915, he became second-in-command to Lieutenant Colonel Gascoigne.

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The Disgruntled

Lieutenant Colonel Hercule Barré
150th (Carabiniers Mont-Royal) Battalion Barre

If it had been intended to punish me and my battalion for a breach of discipline, no more drastic measure could have been adopted than the order to break it up and disperse its men, without their Officers, through the cadres of four different English speaking battalions.

Even if the necessity of breaking the cadre were conceded, from every point of view, the dispersion of the men is indefensible.

(Barré to Edward Kemp, 14 Feb 1918)

Born on 31 March 1879 in Montreal, Hercule Barré was a Quebec advertising manager with eighteen-years’ experience in the 65th Regiment. Wounded in the leg while fighting with the 14th Battalion during the second Battle of Ypres, Barré was invalided to Canada on board RMS Hesperian. When a German U-boat torpedoed the ocean liner off the coast of Queenstown, Ireland, Barré assisted the crew in evacuating the ship and loading the lifeboats. Sam Hughes praised the major, noting that his “conduct was only keeping with his splendid service at the front.”

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The Knight

Lieutenant Colonel Sir William Price
171st (Rifles of Quebec) BattalionWPrice

Anything to which Sir William puts his hand will be carried out with energy, enthusiasm and efficiency. His past record is a guarantee of that. Consequently we can be confident that there will soon be a really representative Quebec regiment in the field to uphold the honor of the Ancient Capital on the fighting line.

(Quebec Chronicle, 23 Dec 1915, 4)

William Price was a Quebec millionaire and businessman in the lumber and pulp industries. He was born on 30 August 1867 in Talca, Chile, where his Quebec-born father worked raising livestock and breeding cattle. After being sent to Quebec as a child, he was educated in England and returned to the province to work in the family lumber business, Price Brothers and Company Limited.

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The Red-Baiter

Brigadier General D. C. Draper, D.S.O.
5th Canadian Mounted RiflesDraper

Crime is a destroying influence that inflicts more useless suffering than any other social evil upon many innocent, well-deserving and hard-working individuals.

(Draper, Montreal Gazette, 4 Oct 1934, 7)

At the battle of Mont Sorrel on 2 June 1916, an enemy shell struck Lieutenant Colonel Harry Baker, commander of the 5th CMR and MP for Brome. Despite being wounded and concussed himself, Major Dennis Colburn Draper carried the body of his mortally-wounded superior officer to rear and returned to the trenches. For his heroism Draper was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

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