Lt. Col. DesRosiers

Lieutenant Colonel H. J. M. R. DesRosiers
163rd (Canadien-Français) and 22nd Battalionsdesrosiers

I do not believe a more competent O.C. than Lieutenant Colonel DesRosiers could be found in the C.E.F. The breaking up of the battalion would demoralize us. If allowed to go to the front as a unit, we will try our best to be a source of pride to our race and credit to Canada.

(Maj. Asselin to Arthur Mignault, Nov 1916)

Henri Joseph Marie Romeo DesRosiers was born in Vaudreuil, Quebec on 11 July 1880. A prewar member of the 65th Regiment, DesRosiers enlisted with the 14th Battalion in August 1914. A veteran of Second Ypres, DesRosiers was recalled to Canada in early 1916 to take command of a new French-Canadian battalion.

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The Governor General

Major Georges Vanier, D.S.O., M.C.
22nd (Royal French Canadians) Battalion
Vanier

I need not tell you that after the shock of losing a leg and the consequent inaction I am not in good condition.

 I am happy at the thought that I had the courage to return to my boys in 1916 and that God gave me the strength of body and mind to do my duty under fire. It is a tremendous consolation that will comfort me until my dying day.

 (Vanier to Mother, 13 May 1919)

Georges-Philéas Vanier was one of Canada’s most well-known veterans of the First World War. He became a high-ranking military officer, diplomat and 19th Governor General of Canada. Born in Montreal on 23 April 1888, Vanier was a graduate of Université Laval and a lawyer. In early 1915, he helped organize the 22nd Battalion under the command of F. M. Gaudet. After four years in the trenches, he had been shell shocked, multiple times wounded and lost his right leg.

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The Francophone

Brigadier General Tommy Tremblay
22nd (Royal French Canadians) Battalion
Tremblay

I am confident that the French Canadians will defend all their trenches with fierce vigour and will hold on at any price, even the price of death. Let us not forget that we represent an entire race and that many things—the very honour of French Canada—depend upon the manner in which we conduct ourselves. Our ancestors bequeathed to us a brave and glorious past that we must respect and equal. Let us uphold our beautiful old traditions.

 (Tremblay, Diary, 1916)

Thomas-Louis Tremblay would prove to be the 22nd Battalion’s most famous commanding officer. Notorious for his strict discipline, he was determined to prove the only all French-Canadian unit serving in the field was the finest in the CEF. Born in Chicoutimi, Quebec on 16 May 1886, he was a graduate of the Royal Military College, a civil engineer and member of the 1st Canadian Field Artillery.

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The Erased

Lieutenant Colonel L. J. Daly-Gingras, D.S.O.*
2nd Battalion, Quebec Depot Daly-Gingras

* His Majesty the King has directed that Ludger Jules Oliver Daly-Gingras, late Lieutenant-Colonel, 22nd Battalion, Canadian Infantry, shall cease to be a member of the Distinguished Service Order to which he was appointed January 1, 1917, and that his name shall be erased from the Register of the Order.

(Canadian Gazette, 11 Feb 1919, 3434)

For two years Ludger Jules Oliver Daly-Gingras fought with the 22nd Battalion until he was shell shocked at the Somme. For heroic gallantry during the battle, he received the Distinguished Service Order. By August 1918, Daly-Gingras was facing a court martial for allegedly embezzling a thousand dollars from the Quebec Depot battalion. His defence counsel strenuously defended the war hero, claiming, “If he was in his right mind he would never have jeopardized his entire career and sacrificed his 31 years of service, and his hard-won honors for that paltry sum.”

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The Arsenalist

Lieutenant Colonel Fred Gaudet
22nd (Royal French Canadians) Battalion Gaudet

The news of Major Tremblay’s promotion to the command of the battalion and of Colonel Gaudet’s illness is absolutely untrue. I cannot understand who spreads these rumors that do no one any good and very often do a great deal of harm. Colonel Gaudet is still with us and I hope he will be with us until the end of the campaign.

(Vanier to Mother, 7 Jan 1916)

Frederick Mondelet Gaudet was a professional soldier and engineer with the Royal Canadian Artillery. Born in Three Rivers, Canada East on 11 April 1867, he was one of the first francophone graduates of the Royal Military College. In 1913, he incurred the wrath of Militia Minister Sam Hughes for criticizing the Ross Rifle. Hughes made trumped-up allegations of corruption and negligence against the militia colonel. One year later, in November 1914, Gaudet was appointed to command the 22nd Battalion, the first all French Canadian unit.

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