Lieutenant Colonel Jack Harstone
4th Battalion, Railway Troops
There is no transcontinental railway in operations today on the North American continent which he has not had some part in building.
(The Forty-Niner, Jan 1932, 18)
John Brunton Harstone was born in Port Arthur, Ontario on 15 September 1879. He enlisted as a lieutenant with the 49th Battalion in January 1915. Earning the nickname, “Fighting Jack,” he served in France from October 1915 until he was wounded a year later. While recovering he received the Distinguished Service Order.
Brigadier General C.L. Hervey
4th Battalion, Railway Troops
During my entire service in France I had in addition to my other duties to supply detachments for the moving of His Majesty’s naval siege guns, and certain guns of the Royal Artillery, and to devise the construct emplacements for same.
(Gen C.L. Hervey, US Engineers. 3rd Volunteers, Yearbook, 1918)
Chilton Longley Hervey was an engineering contractor born in Paris, Illinois on 27 April 1872. He served in the Spanish American War as a sergeant with the 3rd Volunteer Engineers. The son of United Empire Loyalists, Hervey moved to Ontario after marrying a Canadian in 1907. As a member of the Corps of Guides, he enlisted in the Canadian Railway Construction Corps in 1915.
Lieutenant Colonel S.P. McMordie
13th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops
His real desire I am sure would be to land in the frontline trenches; however, his age and loss of an eye undoubtedly bars him from that objective. On learning from the press that there were many escapes from internment camps, and that two officers in charge of these camps had been suspended, it occurred to me you needed a tough guy and the Colonel was your man.
(G.W. Nickerson to secretary, Minister of National Defence, 19 May 1941)
Stewart Percival McMordie was born on 15 November 1877 and worked in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, as a contractor. He enlisted in the 48th Battalion in August 1915 and went overseas as a major. Following an instructional tour of the front, he re-joined the 48th which was re-designated 3rd Canadian Pioneers. On 13 June 1916, McMordie was badly wounded by a high explosive shell. A steel splinter resulted in the loss of his right eye.
Honorary Captain J.H. Burnham, MP
Lieutenant Colonel T.J. Johnston
93rd (Peterborough) Battalion
I think that, as one who spent six months in England and a few days in France, I am called upon to say something on behalf of the soldiers…
Knowing humanity as I do–and I have lived quite a few years now; and I may tell you that I was connected with the 93rd Battalion from its inception and was with it in England until it was dispersed and sent to France—a more sober, orderly, upright, and thoroughly decent lot of men I never saw, even amongst the politicians
(J. H. Burnham, Debates 26 Apr 1917, 817)
Born on 12 January 1861 in Otonobee, Canada West, Thomas James Johnson was a militia officer with nearly forty years’ experience in the 3rd Prince of Wales’ Canadian Dragoons. In November 1915, he was authorized to raise the 93rd Battalion from Peterborough. Conservative MP John Hampden Burnham acted as honorary captain to assist with recruiting. A graduate of the University of Toronto with a Masters’ of Arts, Burnham was nicknamed “the philosopher” by colleagues in the House of Commons.
Colonel Joseph Philippe Landry
2nd Training Brigade
Hon. Mr. W.H. SHARPE: May I ask the honourable gentleman a question?
Hon. Mr. LANDRY: Certainly.
Hon. Mr. SHARPE: At the present time the honourable gentleman’s own son is at the front fighting the battles of Canada and the Empire. I would like to ask him how he is going to meet that son when he returns to Canada?
Hon. Mr. LANDRY: That is a question of sentiment, not one of reason. My son has his ideas and I have mine.
(Senate Debates, 3 Aug 1917, 424)
Joseph Philippe Landry was son of Conservative Senator Auguste Charles Philippe Robert Landry (1846—1919), a strong francophone advocate and opponent of conscription. The younger Landry was born on 27 June 1870 in St. Pierre, Quebec. At the age of thirteen, he joined his father’s 61st (Montmagny) Rifles as a bugler. He became commanding officer of the 61st in 1901. In May 1915, Landry took command of the 5th Infantry Brigade in the CEF, but was replaced before it deployment to the field.
Lieutenant Colonel Armand Lavergne
61st (Montmagny) Rifles
As you already know, I am and have always been opposed to Canada taking part in the wars of the empire. I cannot assume the responsibility of asking Canadians to take part in a war that is not for the defense of Canada…
Let me repeat that I consider it unwise and more than criminal to place Canada in danger from a war in which we have not had, have not and will have any control…
(Lavergne to Sam Hughes, 6 November 1915)
Armand Lavergne had been Liberal MP for Montmagny (1904—1908) and, early in his political career, was a follower of Wilfrid Laurier. Born on 21 February 1880 in Arthabaska, Quebec, he was also rumored to be Laurier’s illegitimate son. In 1907, Lavergne broke with the Liberal Prime Minister and was expelled from the party caucus. A passionate defender of French language rights, he became lieutenant to Nationalist leader Henri Bourassa. From 1908 to 1916, Lavergne sat as a Ligue nationaliste canadienne member for Montmagny in the Quebec legislature.
Despite his Nationalist ties, Lavergne was active in the militia and a strong advocate of home defence. When the First World War broke out, he was the commanding officer of 61st (Montmagny) Rifles. In 1915, Militia Minister Sam Hughes offered a commission in the CEF to command a French Canadian battalion but Lavergne steadfastly refused out of principle. He nevertheless conceded that as a solider he would obey his superior’s orders if compelled to fight. However, Hughes respected his friend’s conviction and even defended him in parliament.
Lieutenant Colonel W.P. Malone
208th (Irish Fusiliers) Battalion
The principal feature of yesterday’s casualty lists was the number of correction which had to be made, some unhappily, for the worse, others for the better.
(Toronto Globe, 8 June 1916)
On 5 June 1916, the Toronto press reported Captain Willard Park Malone of the 15th Battalion killed in action. Born in Owen Sound, Ontario on 3 March 1883, he was reputedly the first man to enlist from his district. Several days after his reported death at the battle of Mont Sorrel, his wife received a cable from Malone stating he was “quite well.” Continue reading
Lieutenant Colonel Dave Beaubier
181st (Brandon) Battalion
Dave Beaubier had a genius for friendship, and a love of all classes and creeds, which bespeak that broad-minded type of charity, religion and friendship which enriches life.
(R. J. Manion, Debates, 13 Jan 1939, 7)
David Wilson Beaubier was born in St. Mary’s, Canada West on 21 May 1864. He was an early pioneer to Manitoba in the 1880s and established himself as a farmer. A captain with the 99th Manitoba Rifles, Beaubier assumed command of the 181st Battalion after the death of Lieutenant Colonel G. W. Bruce, who had succumbed to injuries from an accident in April 1916.
Colonel J.B. White
242nd (Foresters) Battalion
He came to me and told me he would guarantee to raise me a French Canadian battalion inside of two weeks. I said “God bless you my boy, go ahead, I will give you every help I can.” But I never dreamt he would get them.
Inside of two weeks Colonel White came to me and said: “The jig is up; we cannot raise the men.”
(Hughes, Debates, 5 Apr 1918, 411)
John Burton White was a lumberman and sawmill manager in the Ottawa Valley. He was born on 1 January 1874 in Aylmer Road, Quebec. A senior officer with the 17th Hussars, he enlisted as a major with Alexander McDougall’s 224th Battalion in April 1916. He left with the forestry unit for England but was recalled home two months later to raise a new lumber battalion from Quebec.
Major General Aleck McDougall
224th (Lumbermen’s) Battalion
Many of these men have left families at home, and are looking forward to rejoining them at the end of the war, and it is a scandal that the minds of these people should be disturbed by the thoughts that our soldiers are in the midst of dire temptation and are falling victims to it, when as a matter of fact the behaviour of the men of this corps since its formation has been exceptionally satisfactory and it is my opinion when they return home they will demonstrate that their overseas activities have improved them in every way.
(MacDougall to Montreal Gazette, 25 Apr 1918, 10)
In February 1916, British Colonial Secretary Bonar Law requested the Canadian Government provide a special battalion of lumbermen for overseas service. Ottawa timber magnate Alexander McDougall, who had proposed a forestry unit, was quickly appointed commander of the 224th Battalion. Born in Renfrew, Ontario in January 1878, McDougall was an experienced woodsman and leading figure in the North American lumber industry. Continue reading