The Pal

Lieutenant Colonel W. C. V. Chadwick
124th (Governor General’s Body Guard) Battalion
Chadwick

Col. Vaux Chadwick, of the 124th Battalion, appealed to recruits: he pointed out that the 124th, called the Pals Battalion, was distinct from any other, as men joining who brought friends, were allowed to keep together in companies right thru training, and would eventually be able to fight side by side. The speaker appealed to the women and girls present, who he said could do a great deal for the cause by refusing to be seen out with any young man who had not donned the khaki.

 (Toronto World, 3 Jan 1916, 6)

William Craven Vaux Chadwick was the former commanding officer of the he 9th Mississauga Horse and partner in an architecture firm with fellow colonel Sam Beckett of the 75th Battalion. Chadwick was born in Toronto on 6 December 1868. He had long served in the 36th Peel Regiment and retired as the 9th Horse commander in 1913. In December 1914, he organized the 4th Mounted Rifles from the Toronto cavalry regiments, the Governor-General’s Body Guard and the 9th Horse.

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The Bespectacled

Lieutenant Colonel Charles Bent
15th (48th Highlanders) Battalion
Bent

Lt.­Col. Bent’s fighting qualities, his proverbial coolness under fire and his great popularity with all ranks had inspired confidence and respect in the Battalion for three years. His guiding hand and figure at their head had come to be an accepted thing, especially in action.

(Beattie, 48th Highlanders of Canada, 1932, 333)

 Born in Pugwash, Nova Scotia on 2 January 1880, Charles Edward Bent was a customs collector with seventeen years’ experience in the militia. He enlisted with the 17th Battalion at the rank of captain and led a reinforcing draft to the front after the 15th Battalion was decimated at Second Ypres. He was soon appointed second-in-command.

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Colonel Runaway

Colonel Jack Currie, M.P.
15th (48th Highlanders) Battalion
CurrieJA

As was the case to be in many Canadian battalions, Lt.-Col. Currie was an M.P. and very much more of a politician than an officer.

 He was one of the type of civilian-soldier who is simply worshipped by the poorer element among the ranks, but to serve under whom, for an officer, is sheer misery.

(Lt. Ian Sinclair, 13th Bn. personal diary)

The conduct of John Allister Currie at the second battle of Ypres in late April 1915 was the subject of much controversy and insinuation. According to some of his men in the 15th Battalion, he had fought “like a hero” with rifle and bayonet. However, by most accounts, Currie remained in a dugout well behind the lines, shell shocked and possibly drunk during the German gas attack on his unit at St. Julien.

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The Anti-Intellectual

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Lennox, M.P.P.
208th (Irish Fusiliers) BattalionLennox

It is hard to think that we must make this sacrifice to help the slackers to get a higher education. Any of my men are willing, and I am willing, to go and die for those who cannot go, but I would hate like the dickens to go and die for the fellow with the creased trousers and silk stockings.

(Lennox, Toronto Star, 6 Nov 1916, 4.)

Thomas Herbert Lennox was the Conservative member of the Ontario legislature for York North from 1905 to 1923. Born on 7 April 1869 in Simcoe County, Ontario, to an Irish immigrant father, Lennox was proud of his ancestry and a member of Loyal Orange Lodge No. 643.

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The Conscriptionist

Lieutenant Colonel J. A. Cooper
198th (Canadian Buffs) Battalion JACooper

We are cowards in front of a word, and that word is conscription. So far as I am concerned, I never was afraid of conscription. I am not afraid of conscription. All the men who are with me in my battalion are conscripts and they are proud of it. They are conscripts to their own consciences.

(Toronto Globe, 6 Mar 1916, 9)

John Alexander Cooper was a Toronto militia leader, press editor and original president of the Canadian Club when it was founded in 1897. He was born in Clinton, Ontario on 5 February  1868, graduated from the University of Toronto in 1892 and joined the Queen’s Own Rifles in 1896. A long-time advocate for militia and defence issues, Cooper was authorized to raise the 198th Battalion from Toronto.

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The Meteorologist

Lieutenant Colonel William D. Allan, D.S.O. †
3rd (Toronto Regiment) BattalionWDAllan

Since going into the trenches he was three times wounded, and mentioned in dispatches for many acts of signal bravery. The people of Canada still vividly recall the story of heroism when he went with another soldier into No Man’s Land under heavy fire to carry in a wounded comrade. The man was struck by a bullet and killed as they were carrying him to shelter. For this and other conspicuous acts of bravery he was awarded the D.S.O.

(Toronto Globe, 3 Oct 1916, 4)

William Donald Allan was a meteorologist and seventeen year member of the Queen’s Own Rifles. He was born in Toronto on 25 November 1879. Allan served as a company captain with the 3rd Battalion during the second battle of Ypres. After Robert Rennie was promoted to command the 4th Brigade, Allan took charge of the 3rd on 10 November 1915.

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The Redeemed

Lieutenant Colonel C. C. Harbottle, D.S.O
75th (Mississauga) BattalionHarbottle

This deplorable affair has ruined him absolutely, and his character has been taken from him forever. His family and mother are heart-broken. For two years, since these things began, he has lived in a hell of torture, and whatever term he has to do he will be more than amply punished.

(Defence counsel Mr. Robinette, Toronto Globe, 9 May 1908, 4)

Colin Clark Harbottle assumed command of the 75th Battalion on 16 April 1917. He proved himself a dedicated leader through the last year and a half of the war and won the Distinguished Service Order for his “fine example of personal gallantry and determination.” Ten years, earlier Harbottle had been a disgraced fugitive from justice and convicted criminal.

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The Queen’s Own

Major General Malcolm Mercer †
3rd Infantry DivisionMercer

It is now fully believed here that General Mercer is dead.

Nothing whatever has been heard of him since and it is now considered almost certain that his body lies in the shell torn area where the former front trenches were, but are now practically obliterated.

(Montreal Daily Mail, 6 June 1916, 1)

Malcolm Smith Mercer was the highest ranked Canadian officer killed in the First World War. He was born on 17 September 1859 in Etobicoke, Canada West. While a student at the University of Toronto, he joined the Queen’s Own Rifles in 1881. He became commanding officer of the Regiment in 1911 and was posted to the 1st Infantry Brigade when the First Contingent assembled at Valcartier in August 1914.

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The Retiree

Colonel Septimus J. A. Denison
4th Infantry Brigade DenisonS

… I am afraid we have had in the past, officers placed upon the general staff in time of trouble who are a long way better fitted to carry a constituency or empty a bottle of good Canadian rye in the morning.

(Denison, Lecture, Feb 1898)

Born in Toronto in 1859, Septimus Junius Augustus Denison was the brother of Colonel George Taylor Denison III and member of Canada’s most prominent military family. A graduate of the Royal Military College, he served for twenty-five years with the Royal Canadian Regiment and was aide-de-camp to General Lord Roberts during the Boer War. Continue reading

The Engineer

Lieutenant Colonel Walter A. McConnell
256th (Toronto Railway Construction) BattalionMcConnell

This battalion should be very popular, as a very small amount of drill is necessary, and the work of laying railways behind the lines will be particularly interesting.

(Toronto Star, 5 Jan 1917, 16)

Born on 28 September 1878 in Muskoka, Ontario, Walter Adam McConnell was a railway engineer and graduate of the Engineering Corps of the School of Science. In January 1917, he was authorized to raise the 256th Railway Construction Battalion. McConnell and the majority of his recruits had belonged to the 109th Regiment, the Home Guard unit organized by Lieutenant Colonel W. T. Stewart two years earlier. Including the volunteers in the 256th, by 1917 the 109th Regiment had provided a total 200 officers and 5,000 men for overseas service.

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