Lieutenant Colonel Burnett Laws
1st Canadian Mounted Rifles
During the last war I served 41 months in France as Adjutant, 2nd in Command and Officer Commanding of a fighting Battalion — so surely my experience in the handling of me could be put to some use. I have kept pretty well posed in the changes made during the time elapsed since going on the reserve of officers and with a Refresher course could take hold of a Battalion or even a Brigade and whip it into shape. As you know I qualified for the command of a fighting Battalion which at the end of the last war had a reputation second to none in the Canadian Corps.
(Col. Laws to Military District No. 12, 22 May 1940)
Burnett Laws was a former North West Mounted Police constable, Boer War veteran and member of the 22nd Saskatchewan Light Horse. Born in Northumberland, England on 3 March 1877, he immigrated to Canada in 1897. After retiring from the NWMP in 1904, he became a farmer in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan.
Lieutenant Colonel S.B. Nelles
152nd (Weyburn-Estevan) Battalion
The commanding officer, Lieut. Colonel Stephen B. Nelles has had long experience. He is earnest, but inclined to be slow; conscientious, but rather lacking in energy.
(Brig. Gen. John Hughes, Inspection Report, 23 Sept 1916)
Stephen Bell Nelles was born in Grimsby, Ontario on 20 January 1871. In 1905, he moved to west where he worked for Canada Permanent Mortgage Company in Winnipeg and Sun Life in Regina. He had been a member of the militia since 1890; serving in the Queen’s Own Rifles and 90th Winnipeg Rifles and the 95th Saskatchewan Rifles.
Lieutenant Colonel J.H. Hearn
214th (Saskatchewan) Battalion
By order of the Militia Department, Ottawa, the entire official staff, from Lieutenant-Colonel J. H. Hearn to the Junior subaltern is on the way back to Saskatchewan, pending an official investigation. The battalion will proceed under other officers. It is claimed that the 214th left Saskatoon with between $5,000 and $7,000 in regimental debts behind, and a host of angry creditors. Under military regulations no officers’ can proceed overseas until the regimental funds are given, clearance.
(Ottawa Journal, 13 Apr 1917, 6)
John Harvey Hearn was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia on 15 October 1882. After graduating from Dalhousie University with a law degree, he moved west to set up a practice in Wadena, Saskatchewan. A proud Roman Catholic lawyer, Hearn fought the Ku Klux Klan’s influence in the province during the 1920s.
Major “Jock” Rankin, D.S.O.
46th (Suicide) Battalion
Whether in the arena of sports, the Training Camps in Canada or England, or on the Battlefields of France and Belgium, the “Fighting Forty-Sixth” (or Suicide Bn.) held an unsullied record of solid service’ and achievement, and of duty done quietly, surely and effectively.
(46th Battalion CEF—Year Book, 1926, 9)
James Sabiston Rankin was born on 30 December 1882 in Liberton, Scotland. After graduating from the University of Glasgow, he joined the 8th Highland Light Infantry. He moved to Saskatchewan in 1905 to become a lawyer in Weyburn. In June 1915, he enlisted with the rank of captain in Lieutenant Colonel Snell’s 46th Battalion.
Lieutenant Colonel R.P. Laurie
232nd (Saskatchewan Tigers) Battalion
Nothing except physical misfortune could prevent Mr. Laurie from taking a foremost place among the journalist of the west, for his ability is undoubted and he possess that indomitable courage which has characterized so many of the journalists of the west, and has played such a large part in the upbuilding of this boundless country.
(Treherne Times, 1 Feb 1907, 7)
Born on 3 June 1873, in Barrie, Ontario, Reginald Peter Laurie was a Saskatchewan newspaper publisher and postmaster for Prince Albert. As a boy, Laurie had been an apprentice printer and made a career in journalism. He became editor of the Fort Frances Times and Virden Advance before moving west to be part-owner of the Prince Albert Times in 1905. Continue reading
Lieutenant Colonel George C. Hodson, D.S.O.
1st (Western Ontario) Battalion
I have perhaps foolishly put my Country and the Cause before my personal interests in the past but my patience is now absolutely exhausted and I am out to get justice, one way or the other. I have already lost all a soldier can lose and that is ‘his reputation as a fighting soldier’ … All I have asked is to be returned to the front with my rank or else given a decent appointment in England or Canada with some promotion.
(G.C. Hodson to Gen. Ashton, 20 Apr 1918)
After the death of Lieutenant Colonel Frank A. Creighton on 15 June 1916 during the battle of Mont Sorrel, the 1st Battalion was left leaderless and disorganized. Unable to find a suitable replacement from within the battalion or from another frontline unit, Major-General Arthur Currie needed to look to a surplus senior officer in England. He found George Cuthbert Bethune Hodson, former commander of the 9th CMR, which had been broken up some months earlier.
Lieutenant Colonel Wilton Yates
2nd (Iron Second) Battalion
When he was badly wounded in World War I, he was the first to have successful plastic surgery on his face. It was very noticeable of course when he returned to Swift Current. At one time, as he himself relates, he was consigned to an insane asylum “but never reached it owing to my own machinations.” When wounded he was put in the morgue as dead; was saved by a nurse’s aide and given six months to live.
(Jim Greenblat, Those Were the Days in Swift Current, 1971, 32)
A native of England, Wilton Milwarde Yates was born on 17 October 1879. After being wounded in the Boer War, he immigrated to Canada and became a rancher at Swift Current. He enlisted in Lieutenant Colonel Harry Cowan’s 32nd Battalion in December 1914 and was attached to the 2nd Battalion once overseas.
Lieutenant Colonel W.O. Smyth
209th (Swift Current) Battalion
His Honor Judge Smyth, is, and apparently has been for some time, absent from his judicial duties without leave, and it would appear from the correspondence before me that he is acting as Commanding Officer of the 209th Overseas Battalion.
(Deputy Minister of Justice, 17 Nov 1916)
William Oswald Smyth was a district court judge based in Swift Current and major in the 27th Light Horse Regiment. He was born in Toronto on 4 October 1873 and practiced law in Montreal before moving west. Although “anxious to go to the war,” Smyth was initially denied the opportunity to enlist. Justice Minister Doherty explained, “it did not appear necessary that the judges should be permitted to abandon their judicial duties for the purpose of undertaking military service.” Undeterred, Judge Smyth took command of the 209th Battalion and went overseas anyway.
Major George Bond, D.S.O., M.C.
28th (Northwest) Battalion
… he went forward under heavy fire to his most forward troops and made a personal reconnaissance of the situation, afterwards establishing a line from which the village was captured next day. Throughout the operations his work was excellent. (Bond, D.S.O. Citation, 19 Oct 1919, 3202)
Born on 14 November 1889 in Wappella, Saskatchewan, George Frederick Daniels Bond moved to Winnipeg in 1905 and later attended the University of Manitoba Law School. He interrupted his studies to volunteered with Lieutenant Colonel F. J. Clarke’s 45th Battalion in August 1915.
Lieutenant Colonel H. J. Dawson, D.S.O.
59th (Eastern Ontario) & 46th (South Saskatchewan) Battalions
He was a Soldier! During its fighting history, he was in command of the 46th Bn., and no battalion ever went into action more confident that everything that could be foreseen had been provided for. Consequently, he was respected, trusted and obeyed and the proud record of the fighting battalion which he commanded stands as evidence of the sterling qualities of our CO.
It was not given to many who served under Col. Dawson to know the kindly, shy heart of the man, who concealed his sympathy under the mask of a stern discipline.
(46th Battalion CEF – Year Book, 1926, 3)
Herbert John Dawson was an associate professor at the Royal Military College with fourteen-years of service in the 14th (The Princess of Wales’ Own Rifles) Regiment. He was born in Birkenhead, England on 21 November 1876. In April 1915, Dawson began to organize the 59th Battalion from Eastern Ontario and Hull, Quebec.