Lt. Gen. Alderson

Lieutenant General Edwin Alderson
Canadian Corps


A great deal of my time is taken up in preventing men being appointed to command Brigades, Battalions, etc., who are not in the least fit, but who have influence. In most cases I have succeeded, and in others I have told them after they have been here a short time ‘I am very sorry, but it is my duty to tell you that you have not the experience, capacity, and above all, the personality to successful command men on active service,’ – and they have gone!

(Alderson to Robert Borden, 13 March 1916)

Sir Edwin Alfred Hervey Alderson was a professional British Army officer and first commander of the Canadian Corps. Born on 8 April 1859 in Capel St Mary, England, Alderson received his commission at seventeen and served in several African campaigns. He came out of semi-retirement after the outbreak of the First World War and was appointed to command the 1st Canadian Division in September 1914.  Due to disagreements about training, discipline, and officer selection, Alderson soon found himself subject to the vitriol and opposition of Canada’s bombastic militia minister Sir Sam Hughes. Continue reading

The One-Armed

Lieutenant Colonel D. F. Campbell, D.S.O., M.P.
2/7th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s RegimentDFCampbell

I seldom press myself upon the House, and I will only to do so to-night for two or three minutes. I am actually one of only two soldiers left here to-night.

The thing is to get on with the War and banish everything that retards the progress of the War. I have had occasion several times to make criticisms of a military character during this War, but I have never done so in this House.

(Hansard, 10 Jan 1916, 1420)

Duncan Frederick Campbell was born on 28 April 1876 in in Simcoe, Ontario. After graduating from the University of Toronto in 1898, he received a commission to the Lancashire Fusiliers. Awarded the Distinguished Service Order for gallant service in the Boer War, Campbell retired from the Territorial Force in 1910. Following an unsuccessful political bid in the December 1910 British election, Campbell was elected Conservative Member of the British Parliament for North Ayrshire in a by-election one year later.

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The Nobleman

Brigadier General Lord Brooke
4th and 12th Infantry BrigadesLordBrooke

All day long I had witnessed the tragedy of men “made in the image of God” bringing their utmost skill and science to the hateful task of mutual murder.

As an exhibition of scientific slaughter the firing was lacking in nothing. The range of the guns was exact, the shooting perfect. The shrapnel burst over the heads of the retreating troops, as it were in large patterns. There was no cover, no escape for the unhappy Russians. Under this awful hail of bullets the men dropped like wheat beneath the sickle of the reaper. Death most truly was gathering a rich harvest.

(Lord Brooke, An Eye-Witness in Manchuria, 1905, 131)

Born on 10 September 1882, Leopold Guy Francis Maynard Greville was the son of British Conservative MP Francis Greville, 5th Earl of Warwick (styled Lord Brooke) and Daisy Greville, Lady Warwick, a socialist socialite who had been mistress to King Edward VII. While a student at Eton, Lord Brooke ran away to fight in the Boer War. He was a press correspondent during the Russo-Japanese War and recounted his experiences in An Eye-Witness in Manchuria (1905).

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Father Christmas

Lieutenant Colonel George B. Laurie
1st Battalion, Royal Irish RiflesLaurie

I used to be up at cockcrow when a small child on Christmas Day, to see what Santa Claus had brought me, and I shall be up early enough to-morrow in all conscience too, but for a different reason—standing to arms—so that I shall not get my throat cut.

Best of love to you for Christmas. Whilst you are in church I shall be in the trenches, but both doing our rightful duty, I trust.

(Lt-Col. Laurie to Wife, 24 Dec 1914)

On 25 December 1914, George Brenton Laurie described the Christmas truce in No Man’s Land as “English and German, begin to swarm out to meet each other.” Suspicious, Laurie initially held his men back before going to investigate himself. The Germans complimented the colonel on his battalion’s marksmanship and were eager to learn if the Canadian Division had arrived yet. The armistice held for two days until both sides resumed the fighting.

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The Aristocrat

Major General Jack Seely, M.P.
Canadian Cavalry Brigade Seely

It was at that time, when carrying out a smaller raid, that my horse got shell-shocked, though not myself, I hope, and fell on me and smashed up five bones in my poor old body. However, I managed to get back all right.

(Seely Speech, Empire Club of Canada, 4 Oct 1920)

John Edward Bernard Seely, 1st Baron Mottistone, was a British soldier and politician. Born on 31 May 1868 in Brookhill Hall, Derbyshire, he was the son of Sir Charles Seely (1833—1915), a long-serving Liberal Unionist MP. During the Boer War, Seely joined the Imperial Yeomanry and won the Distinguished Service Order. In 1900, he was elected to the House of Commons as a Conservative. In 1904, he switched to the Liberal Party and later became a cabinet minister in Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith’s Government.

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