The Trench Raider

Lieutenant Colonel John Wise, D.S.O., M.C.
25th (Nova Scotia Rifles) BattalionWise

I regret that I did not have the pleasure of meeting you during my recent visit to France.

I send my hearty congratulations to you upon the command of the splendid 25th Battalion and my best wishes to you, the Officers, non-commissioned officers and men on the great service which still lies before you.

(Prime Minister Borden to Wise, 27 Jul 1918)

Born in London, England on 11 June 1893, John W. Wise was one of the few battalion commanders to rise from the ranks. Wise had earned a reputation as an effective trench raider in the 25th Battalion and won a Military Cross for a successful nighttime attack in 1915. Following subsequent heroics and promotions, he assumed command of the 25th on 19 April 1918.

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The Bookkeeper

Lieutenant Colonel Arthur O. Blois, D.S.O.
25th (Nova Scotia Rifles) BattalionBlois

My husband Lieut.-Colonel Arthur O. Blois, D.S.O. of the 25th Canadian Battalion, has been overseas for about two years, and he is now slated for his three months commanding officer’s course in England. He cabled this fact to me today, and asks me to now meet him there. Naturally I am anxious to go. My husband was wounded at Vimy and decorated after that battle.

(Ethel Blois [wife] to Joseph Pope, 27 Nov 1917

When Major J. A. De Lancey was struck down during the battle of Vimy Ridge, Arthur Osborne Blois took temporary charge of the 25th Battalion. Blois was a Halifax accountant and bookkeeper born on 28 June 1885. He first volunteered with 40th Battalion before receiving a commission with the 64th in summer 1915. After the breakup of that unit, he joined the 25th in August 1916.

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The Bald

Lieutenant Colonel Stan Bauld
25th (Nova Scotia Rifles) BattalionBauldDS

Col. Bauld was in command and I must say that he has done good work for the whole time that he was out there. He was such that no matter who the man was he would do all in his power to assist him.

(Lieut. Lewis, Over the Top with the 25th, 1918)

Duncan Stanley Bauld was a commercial traveler born in Halifax on 16 April 1884. He belonged to the 66th Regiment and enlisted with Lieutenant Colonel G. A. LeCain’s 25th Nova Scotia Rifles. Following the poor performance of the battalion during its first action in late September, LeCain and his senior major were sacked. Edward Hilliam was appointed to take command and Bauld was promoted to second-in-command.

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The Leader

Major James A. De Lancey, M.C. †
25th (Nova Scotia Rifles) BattalionDeLancey

Previously reported Missing, believed Killed, now Killed in Action. While leading his Battalion in the attack on Vimy Ridge and just as he reached the enemy second line, he was instantly killed by a bullet through the head.

(Circumstances of Death, 9 Apr 1917)

A civil engineer and graduate of McGill University, James Arnold DeLancey was born in Middleton, Nova Scotia on 15 July 1880. He originally enlisted in A. G. Vincent’s 40th Battalion before joining the 25th as adjutant. In the absence of Lieutenant Colonel D. S. Bauld, command fell to DeLancey to led the battalion over the top at Vimy Ridge.

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The Incompetent

Lieutenant Colonel G. A. LeCain
25th (Nova Scotia Rifles) BattalionLeCain

As I was merely a private at the time I do not know what really transpired; but we never saw the colonel at all that night.

The Germans, however, failed to get into our trenches; and up to this day the 25th can with perfect truth declare that they never failed in the critical hour, for if we did not always have competent officers at the head of the battalion we certainly had them in our companies..

(Lieut. Lewis, Over the Top with the 25th, 1918)

George Augustus LeCain, a fruit farmer and militiaman with twenty-five years in the 69th Regiment, was authorized to raise the 25th Battalion from Nova Scotia in October 1914. He was born on 21 September 1862 in Round Hill, Annapolis County. The 25th Battalion deployed to France In September 1915 as part of the 5th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division. Within weeks, the battalion leadership would be overhauled for the alleged incompetence and cowardice of several senior officers.

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The Bulldog

Brigadier General Edward Hilliam
25th (Nova Scotia Rifles) BattalionHilliam

Colonel Hilliam who was now our commanding officer, says that the 25th battalion made his name; but the 25th boys are equally positive that he made the battalion. It was truly wonderful the confidence we placed in him and he never disappointed us. He was very strong on discipline, and when all is said and done that is most essential in the army.

(Lieut. Lewis, Over the Top with the 25th, 1918)

Born in December 1862 in Spalding, England, Edward Hilliam was a soldier, policeman, boxer and swordsman. He had belonged to the 17th Lancers in the British Army before immigrating to Canada to join the North West Mounted Police in 1893. In 1899, he volunteered to serve in the Boer War and during the campaign, earned a reputation as an excellent scout and was praised as “a bold and resolute leader.”

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The Fisherman

Lieutenant Colonel F. P. Day
185th (Cape Breton Highlanders) and 25th Battalions Day

The war was over; I came home tired and worn-out, obsessed with one idea—I wanted rest, quiet, and peace; I wanted never to speak again without necessity or to give or receive an order. I wanted to live in the woods, and be alone along my streams.

(F. P. Day, The Autobiography of a Fisherman, 1927, 144)

When Lieutenant Colonel John Wise was wounded during the battle of Amiens on 8 August 1918, Major Frank Parker Day took command of the 25th Nova Scotia Rifles. Day had raised the 185th Highlander Battalion from Cape Breton and sailed from Halifax to England in October 1916. After the Highlanders were absorbed into the 17th Reserve Battalion, Day reverted in rank and joined the 25th on the front.

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