1st (Western Ontario) Battalion
1st Canadian Division
Frederic William Hill was the first 1st Battalion CO, from September 1914 to January 1916, when he was promoted to command the 9th Infantry Brigade.
Frank A. Creighton succeeded Hill in command of the 1st Battalion in January 1916. He was killed when a shell hit his headquarters on 15 June 1916.
Former 9th Canadian Mounted Rifles CO, George C. Hodson was next selected to take command of the 1st Battalion. The appointment of an outsider caused friction with other officers. He was sacked on 16 August 1917.
Albert Sparling, who earned a D.S.O. and Bar, commanded the 1st Battalion from 17 August 1917 until the end of the war.
Lieutenant Colonel M. Docherty
Lord Strathcona’s Horse
We had 200 men, the Germans about 2,000. We had no artillery support, but the Huns had all kinds. But we stopped their counter-attack. Colonel Docherty fell a few feet from me, shot dead, clean through the head.
(LdSH soldier’s letter, Winnipeg Tribune, 29 Dec 1917)
Born in Scotland on 1 May, 1877, Malcolm Docherty was a Boer War veteran, marksman and polo player in Winnipeg. A prewar sergeant in the Lord Strathcona’s Horse, he went to France as a lieutenant in May 1915. Six months later, he received a promotion to captain and the Distinguished Service Order for gallantry.
Major G.E.A. Dupuis
22nd (French Canadian) Battalion
All our senior officers have been hit with the exception of Major Dupuis who seems to stick on through everything. The old battalion will no longer be recognizable.
(Maj. Georges Vanier, 8 Sept)
George Elzer Alexandre Dupuis was a bank clerk born in Quebec City on 31 October 1888. He enlisted with the 57th Battalion on 18 August 1915 before transferring to the 41st in October when he departed for England. As a reinforcement lieutenant he joined the 22nd Battalion in France on 1 July 1916.
Colonel D. D. Cameron
17th Reserve Battalion
I expect you wondered why I asked you for Lieut. Col. D.D. Cameron’s address. The reason is because he is the father of my child. I have written to him twice and received no answer. I have given him over 6 months to make up his mind so that I need tell no one which he asked me on my honour no to, but I cannot possible afford to keep Baby myself because I work for a living, which he knew.
(Miss Ivy Smart to Canadian Overseas HQ, 31 Oct 1918)*
Daniel Duncan Cameron was born in Salt Springs, Nova Scotia on 15 March 1859. He had thirteen children with his wife Elizabeth “Bessie.” As a militia officer with the 78th Pictou Highlanders, he was appointed second in command of the 17th Battalion on the formation of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. On arrival in England, the 17th was used for reinforcements and then reorganized as a reserve battalion.
Major General Archie Macdonell
Lord Strathcona’s Horse
“Batty Mac, our brigade commander, was crazy as a coot in many ways, I saw him actually get wounded one day … Somebody said ‘Be careful, sir, there’s a sniper’ and he said ‘Fuck the sniper,’ climbed up to get a look and the sniper took him through the shoulder and he went ass over applecarts into his shellhole from which he had emerged … My god, his language! You could hear him for miles around!”
(G.R. Stevens PPCLI, In Flanders Field interview, 1964)
Born on 6 October 1864 in Windsor, Canada West, Archibald Cameron Macdonell earned the nickname “Batty Mac” for his disregard of danger under fire. He graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada in 1886 and joined the Canadian Militia before transferring to the North-West Mounted Police. He volunteered during the Boer War and was commanding officer of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse at the outbreak of the First World War.
Lieutenant Colonel D.J. MacDonald
Lord Strathcona’s Horse
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. In the attack launched by a cavalry brigade he led the reserve squadron of the regiment to the attack. Though suffering acute pain from a wound in the ankle, he continued to direct operations and led his men forward until the position was finally secured. But for his outstanding courage, skill and dash the position could not have been held
(Lt. Col. MacDonald, D.S.O. Bar citation, 1 Jan1918)
Donald John MacDonald was son of a Ontario MPP and farmer born on 25 July 1889 in Glengarry, Ontario. He was appointed lieutenant in Lord Strathcona’s Horse (LdSH) on 22 September 1914 and proceeded to France on 4 May 1915. After less than a month he was wounded and returned to recover in England and was given rest leave to Canada. He rejoined the LdSH in the field in October 1915 and within a few months had been promoted to major. Continue reading
Lieutenant General Edwin Alderson
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 Sam Hughes. Continue reading
Lieutenant Colonel D.H. Sutherland
No. 2 Construction Battalion
Lieut.-Col. D.H. Sutherland, O.C. of the battalion, speaking for recruits, mentioned the excellent discipline the colored men already enlisted had shown, and commended them for their soldierly appearance … Many colored men, he said, were dissatisfied because they had been refused at the beginning of the war. This, he said, had been due merely to prejudice on the part of a few officers, and was not general throughout the Dominion.
(London Advertiser, 20 October 1916)
Born in Pictou, Nova Scotia on 10 September 1880, Daniel Hugh Sutherland was a railway contractor who enlisted as a private with the 193rd Battalion. In June 1916, he received a commission and promotion to lieutenant colonel to recruit No. 2 Construction Battalion, the only segregated Black battalion in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Except for Honorary Captain Reverend William A. White, all the officers were white.
Lieutenant Colonel W.H. Moodie
9th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops
Then the agony began. There we lay in fatal range, many had been killed outright in the charge, and all who had not good cover were in fearful danger and the groans from different points all over the field told too plainly how they were picking off our men. Those of us who had good cover had to stick to it though it was fearful to be there and listen to the calls of the wounded for help.
(W.H. Moodie, 13 Dec 1899)
Born in Quebec City on 22 September 1871, Walter Hill Moodie was a British Columbia civil engineer and Boer War veteran. He volunteered with the Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry and arrived to South Africa in December 1899. In letters home to Kelso, British Columbia he recounted his journey and remarked on his and comrades’ frustration “kicking our heels impatiently for our first engagement.” Two months later he experienced the full agony of modern warfare on Blood Sunday, 18 February 1900.