Lt. Col. Ritchie

Lieutenant Colonel C.F. Ritchie, D.S.O., M.C.
24th (Victoria Rifles) Battalion
Ritchie

His battalion held the front line for nine days under very trying conditions prior to our attack . Several counterattacks were completely repulsed, the enemy suffering heavy casualties, and prisoners were made.

(Ritchie, D.S.O. Citation, 8 Cot 1919, 3203)

Charles Frederick Ritchie was three-time commanding officer of the 24th Battalion during some of the heaviest fighting on the front including Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, Hill 70 and the final Hundred Days. Born in Three Rivers, Quebec on 12 October 1888, he was a bank manager and member of the 3rd Victoria Rifles since 1909. He led the 24th from 7 December 1916 to 14 April 1917, 4 August 1917 to 22 January 1918, and 5 September 1918 to demobilization.

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Lt. Col. Alexander

Lieutenant Colonel R.O. Alexander, D.S.O.
24th (Victoria Rifles) Battalion
Alexander

Born on the island of Ceylon on 7 August 1888, Ronald O’Keden Alexander was a soldier with the 3rd Regiment, Victoria Rifles and the Royal Canadian Regiment. He served with the 24th Battalion and succeeded Lieutenant Colonel J. A. Gunn in command on 1 November 1916.

After one month, Alexander was evacuated from the field with influenza and appendicitis in December 1916. Doctors determined that Alexander “Had long service at Front and requires rest.” He did not resume command of the 24th until after the battle of Vimy Ridge on 14 April 1917. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and three times mentioned in the dispatches. From October 1917 to demobilization, he was attached as a staff officer to the 2nd Canadian Division.

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Lt. Col. Gunn

Lieutenant Colonel J. A. Gunn, D.S.O.
24th (Victoria Rifles) BattalionGunn

I would like to sound this note of warning. This war has united the soldiers into the most powerful force for good or evil in this country. If we use this force to promote our own selfish purposes we will have forgotten the high ideals for which we fought.

(Gunn, Toronto Globe, 18 Mar 1919, 9)

 A native of Toronto, John Alexander Gunn was born on 5 August 1873.  He had first joined the Queen’s Own Rifles in 1897 but transferred to the Victoria Rifles when he moved to Montreal in 1901. In October 1914, Gunn was appointed to command the 24th Battalion. At a reception before he departed overseas with his unit, Gunn defended the war as a just cause: “It means the triumph of honor, or of dishonor; the preservation of centuries of progress or a reversion to brutal militarism with its battle cry of iron and blood– in fact the whole future of the human race is at stake.”

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The Regimental

Lieutenant Colonel Claude H. Hill, D.S.O.
Royal Canadian RegimentCHHill

For conspicuous gallantry when in command of his battalion. He repelled several attacks and displayed great coolness and courage in directing bodies of men under heavy fire.

(Hill, D.S.O. citation, 19 Aug 1916, 8226)

Born in Halifax on 30 August 1881 in Claude Hardinge Hill joined the Royal Canadian Regiment in 1901. He volunteered to fight in the Boer War but arrived to South Africa just one day before the Treaty of Vereeniging was signed to end the war. In November 1914, he joined to the 24th Victoria Rifles Battalion as second-in-command.

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The Victoria Cross

Lieutenant Colonel Clark-Kennedy, V.C., D.S.O.
24th (Victoria Rifles) BattalionClark-Kennedy

Though severely wounded soon after the start he refused aid, and dragged himself to a shell-hole, from which he could observe. Realising that his exhausted troops could advance no further he established a strong line of defence and thereby prevented the loss of most important ground. Despite intense pain and serious loss of blood he refused to be evacuated for over five hours, by which time he had established the line in a position from which it was possible for the relieving troops to continue the advance.

It is impossible to overestimate the results achieved by the valour and leadership of this officer.

(Clark-Kennedy, V.C. Citation. 14 Dec 1918)

For heroically charging a German machine nest during the battle of Arras on 28 August 1918, William Hew Clark-Kennedy received the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the British Empire. Born in Scotland on 3 March 1879, he had fought in the Boer War before immigrating to Canada, where he joined the 5th Royal Highlanders.

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