Lt. Col. Bradshaw

Lieutenant Colonel John Bradshaw, M.L.A.
Major Gavin Graham Smith
243rd (Prince Albert) Battalion

Bradshaw sat silent, clothed in the uniform of an officer of His Majesty’s army, representing the justice and right of British traditions. Bradshaw sat there with the red color slowly mounting to his cheeks as he realised that the people of the province through their elected representatives demanded that for once he play the part of a gentleman and live up to the traditions of the uniform he wears.

 (S.S. Simpson, Liberal M.L.A., 9 Feb 1917)

John Ernest Bradshaw was the first commanding officer of the 243rd Battalion. Born on 13 December 1866 in Newport, Isle of Wight, he was a Hudson’s Bay Company manager, Prince Albert mayor (1906) and Conservative member of the Saskatchewan legislature (1908–1917). In June 1916, Bradshaw attempted to raise the 243rd from northern Saskatchewan. According to an inspection report, “He has no military experience; he has however a good business training and looks after his Battalion in a creditable manner.”

Continue reading

Lt. Col. Laws

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.

Continue reading

Lt. Col. Nelles

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.

Continue reading

The Anti-Ku Kluxer

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.

Continue reading

Maj. Rankin

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.

Continue reading

The Postmaster

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

Lt. Col. Hodson

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.

Continue reading

Lt. Col. Yates

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.

Continue reading

Lt. Col. W.O. Smyth

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.

Continue reading

Maj. Bond

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.

Continue reading