Lieutenant Colonel James Lightfoot
222nd (Manitoba Tigers) Battalion
Major Lightfoot led the front line of his battalion, the 10th.
“Come on, boys,” he said, “remember you are Canadians.” The line advanced with great spirit, less than two thousand Canadians against a hundred thousand Germans. It was the biggest bluff in history but it won. On and on went the Canadians, 10th and Highlanders, one moment with the bayonet the next moment firing. The Germans, who were busy digging in south of the wood, saw the Canadians coming in the twilight, and only waited to fire a few shots and then they started to run. Lightfoot was down, but the line went on.
(J.A. Currie, The Red Watch, 1916, 222)
Born on 12 August 1879 in Aston, Cheshire, England, James Lightfoot was a soldier and Boer War veteran. He served with the Imperial Yeomanry and the Scottish Horse during the South Africa campaign. He immigrated to Manitoba in 1905, became a prominent Winnipeg citizen and established the city’s first taxi company.
Lieutenant Colonel C.W. Robinson
187th (Veterans) Battalion
I have offered to take up the story where I left off two years ago, and go over in command of a Company as a Major. There seems to be lots of Colonels in England.
(Col. Robinson letter, Red Deer News, 21 Mar 1917, 3)
Charles Wilson Robinson was a veteran of the Boer War and original officer with Lieutenant Colonel Boyle’s 10th Battalion at Second Ypres. Born in Loftus, England on 2 February 1877, Robinson was a central Alberta farmer and member of the 15th Light Horse. Continue reading
Brigadier General Dan Ormond
10th (Fighting Tenth) Battalion
I have no great hope, however, that he will prove a success in the position to which he has been appointed; my information is that he has not been successful in any of the other ventures over which he has had command.
I consider that the remarks made by Brigadier-General Ormond are an example of red tape snobbishness and brass hat unctuousness. Fortunately there were not many men of this calibre holding high commands…
(R. Gray, Debates, 3 Apr 1933, 3649)
Daniel Mowat Ormond assumed command of the 10th Battalion at Second Ypres following the death of Lieutenant Colonel Russ Boyle. He became second-in-command when John Grant Rattray returned from England to take over the 10th. On relinquishing command in September 1916, Rattray endorsed Ormond as his successor. Currie replied, “You have a higher opinion of Ormond than I have, but I will take your word for it.” Rattray reassured Currie, “Ormond will not disappoint you.”
Lieutenant Colonel E. W. MacDonald, D.S.O., M.C.
10th (White Gurkhas) Battalion
Early in the day, before the attack, and again in the afternoon, he made personal reconnaissances over fire-swept ground, gaining first-hand information which enabled him to handle his men and direct the fire of his guns with remarkable success. His fine leadership, coolness and disregard of danger, carried his men along with him.
(D.S.O. Bar citation, Gazette, 2 Jan 1919)
On 24 May 1918, Eric Whidden MacDonald became the youngest battalion commander in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia on 20 July 1892. He moved to Calgary in 1913 to become an accountant with the Canadian Oil Company. He enlisted with the 10th Battalion in September 1914.
Lieutenant Colonel John G. Rattray
10th (Fighting Tenth) Battalion
But when I find myself honored by such frenzied attacks by the Rabbi Samuel, the chief Hebrew apologist of Jewry and Jewish morals, and this attack signed by the Canadian Jewish committee (what’s in a name!) a short statement of my side of the story would appear necessary…
If it is personal attack, it is apparent in every paragraph that the Hebrews are ‘out to get Colonel Rattray.’
(Rattray to Winnipeg Free Press, 13 Jan 1922, 19)
John Grant Rattray was a schoolteacher, militia officer, hardware salesman, newspaper publisher, businessman, town reeve, insurance agent, soldier, police chief, political campaigner, civil servant, veterans’ official and sportsman. Born on 15 January 1867 in Banffshire, Scotland, he immigrated to Manitoba in the 1880s. As commanding officer of the 20th Border Horse, he organized the 10th Battalion at Valcartier when the Canadian Expeditionary Force assembled in September 1914.
Birchall, Hart-McHarg & Boyle
The more details I learn of the battle before Ypres, the greater to me does the resourcefulness and bravery of brigadiers, battalion commanders, and individuals become apparent.
(General Horace Smith-Dorrien, Apr 1915)
The Canadians had many casualties, but their gallantry and determination undoubtedly saved the situation.
(Lord Kitchener, April 1915)
This week marks the one hundredth anniversary of the second battle of Ypres, the first major action of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The battle saw 5,000 Canadian soldiers wounded and nearly 1,000 killed including three battalion commanders. On 23 April 1915, Arthur Birchall (4th Battalion) was struck down leading his men armed only with his cane. On 24 April 1915, William Hart-McHarg (7th Battalion) was shot and killed while on a reconnaissance operation. On 25 April, Russell Boyle (10th Battalion) died of severe wounds and loss of blood at a clearing hospital. All three had belonged to the 2nd Brigade under the command of Brigadier General Arthur Currie.
Lieutenant Colonel Russ Boyle †
10th (Canadians) Battalion
Words will not express the absolute sense of calamity which has struck every officer and man in the battalion since we have lost him. He was our ideal of a man and a leader and I can assure you that there was not one of us who did not feel to the very limit his loss.
(Captain Ross, 10th Bn. to Mrs. Laura Boyle [wife], 27 May 1915)
Russell Lambert Boyle was one of three CEF colonels killed in action during the second battle of Ypres in April 1915. Born on 29 October 1880 in Port Colbourne, Ontario, Boyle was active in the militia from a young age. He joined the Canadian Field Artillery in 1894 and served with the 15th Light Horse. During the Boer War, he volunteered and fought in South Africa. As a resident of Crossfield, Alberta, Boyle sat on the town council and owned a ranch.
Lieutenant Colonel W. C. G. Armstrong
56th (Calgary) Battalion
Troops In Garrison Promise Fresh Attack Tonight On “Suspicious” Hotels
OFFICERS ARE POWERLESS
The attack followed those of Thursday night, when two cafes belonging to the White Lunch company were demolished. The attack tonight is expected upon other hotels whose managers have expressed sympathy with owners of structures already destroyed. When the attack was made on the Riverside hotel last night. Lieut-Col. Armstrong, commanding the 56th battalion rushed to the scene of activities, but he was unable to persuade the men to quit.
(Winnipeg Tribune, 12 Feb 1916, 1)
William Charles Gordon Armstrong was a Calgary civic leader and founder of the 103rd (Calgary Rifles) Regiment. Born on 2 November 1865 in Sleaford, England, Armstrong immigrated to western Canada in 1892. He was a land surveyor, investor, city councillor and capitalist. After serving several years in the 15th Light Horse, he created the 103rd Regiment on 1 April 1910.