Lt. Col. Hodson

Lieutenant Colonel George C. Hodson, D.S.O.
1st (Western Ontario) Battalion
Hodson

I have perhaps foolishly put my Country and the Cause before my personal interests in the past but my patience is now absolutely exhausted and I am out to get justice, one way or the other. I have already lost all a soldier can lose and that is ‘his reputation as a fighting soldier’ … All I have asked is to be returned to the front with my rank or else given a decent appointment in England or Canada with some promotion.

(G.C. Hodson to Gen. Ashton, 20 Apr 1918)

After the death of Lieutenant Colonel Frank A. Creighton on 15 June 1916 during the battle of Mont Sorrel, the 1st Battalion was left leaderless and disorganized. Unable to find a suitable replacement from within the battalion or from another frontline unit, Major-General Arthur Currie needed to look to a surplus senior officer in England. He found George Cuthbert Bethune Hodson, former commander of the 9th CMR, which had been broken up some months earlier.

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The Double Colonels

Lieutenant Colonel A. J. Oliver

Oliver
&
Lieutenant Colonel W. J. Douglass

Douglas
34th (Guelph) Battalion

This officer was sent from the trenches in France Sept. 1916 suffering from nervous exhaustion due to shell fire, was in hospital in England one month then returned to Canada. At present he complains of sleeplessness, loss of strength, loss of appetite, and is easily startled and is 12 lbs. underweight.

(Douglass, “Medical History of an Invalid,” London, ON, 8 July 1916)

In January 1915, Andrew Joseph Oliver, commanding officer of the 29th Highland Light Infantry was appointed to raise the 34th Battalion from Oxford, Perth, Wellington, Waterloo, Huron and Bruce. William James Douglass, commanding officer of the 32nd Bruce Regiment was appointed second-in-command. Born on 25 May 1862 in Ashton, Canada West, Oliver was a prominent Galt manufacturer and nineteen-years member of the 29th Regiment. Born at sea on 1 January 1872, Douglass was a Walkerton accountant with nearly thirty years’ experience in the militia.

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Lt. Col. A.W. Sparling

Lieutenant Colonel Albert Sparling, D.S.O.
1st (Western Ontario) BattalionSparlingA

This officer was the only surviving Lt.-Colonel, all other senior field officers having become casualties. He was twice ordered to deal with serious situations on the brigade front, first, in the case of an enemy counter-attack, and a few days later when there was some confusion and loss of direction of our troops.

(Sparling, D.S.O. Bar, London Gazette, 1 Feb 1919, 1600)

Albert Walter Sparling was a Saskatchewan farmer born in Pilot Mount, Manitoba on 12 July 1891. He enlisted in Russell Boyle’s 10th Battalion and earned a promotion to the rank of major in the field. After George C. Hodson was sacked, Sparling assumed command of the 1st Battalion on 17 August 1917 during the battle of Hill 70. Shortly thereafter he was awarded a Distinguished Service Order for conspicuous gallantry.

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The Aggrieved

Lieutenant Colonel George C. Hodson, D.S.O.
9th Canadian Mounted Rifles & 1st BattalionCreighton1

Mr. Rutherford asked: …whether, seeing that this is his only remedy in cases where such officer’s immediate superiors have formed opinions which are not well founded, and would be disproved at once if the case came before officers of higher rank entitled to form their own judgment and hear the evidence and the explanations of the officer in question, he will state why a Court of inquiry is being withheld from Lieutenant-Colonel G. C. Hodson, D.S.O.

(Rutherford, Hansard, 26 Oct 1917, 1651)

George Cuthbert Hodson was born in New Shoreham, England on 21 July 1879. He was a bank manager in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan,  a veteran of the Boer War and commanding officer of the 22nd Horse. In December 1914, he organized the 9th Canadian Mounted Rifles, which was used for reinforcements with the Canadian Cavalry Reserve Depot in England.

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The Subaltern

Lieutenant Colonel Frank Creighton †
1st (Western Ontario) BattalionCreighton

On arrival of the H.Q. Staff of the 8th Battalion at Lt. Col. Creighton’s dugout, a very large calibre shell completely demolished the H.Q. Dugout burying Staffs of both regiments. Lt. Col. Creighton received wounds from which he never recovered consciousness. In this the Division lost a good Officer who had done valuable work that day.

(Gen. Lipsett, 2nd Brig. War Diary, 15 June 1916, 24)

Frank Albro Legion Creighton was born on 6 February 1875 in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. At the outbreak of the Great War, he was a civil engineer living in Winnipeg. He enlisted in the 1st Battalion as a lieutenant and was promoted to second-in-command in the field. After Lieutenant Colonel F. W. Hill took over the 9th Infantry Brigade, Creighton assumed command of the Western Ontario battalion on 24 January 1916.

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The First

Brigadier General F. W. Hill, D.S.O.
1st (Western Ontario) BattalionHill

There was a bunk in there, and the brigadier was lying there and he was dead drunk. He looked up and mumbled something at me.

It was a pretty disgusting business.

(Lt. G. Rutherford, In Flanders Fields CBC interview, 1963)

Born on 28 July 1866, Frederic William Hill was a lawyer, former mayor of Niagara Falls (1898) and thirty-year member of the 44th Lincoln and Welland Regiment. When the First Contingent assembled at Valcartier in August 1914, Hill was appointed to command the 1st Battalion from Western Ontario.

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