Lt. Col. Spencer

Lieutenant Colonel Nelson Spencer
175th (Medicine Hat) and 31st Battalions

What happened to Colonel Spencer will happen, more or less decisively, to Government candidates throughout the prairie Provinces…

 And Colonel Spencer stands quite as high in the estimation of the voters in his district as Government candidates generally can stand in the opinions of their respective communities. If he could not save his deposit, it is a bad look out for them if the conditions of the contest are the same.

 (Edmonton Bulletin, 2 Jul 1921, 7)

Born in New Brunswick on 7 December 1876, Nelson Spencer was a Conservative politician in Alberta and member of the provincial legislature (1913—1921). He belonged to the 21st Alberta Hussars and raised the 175th Battalion from his riding in early 1916. In response to questions about Spencer’s competency, Sir Sam Hughes replied, “He as all the necessary qualities to become a most efficient officer, and is rapidly acquiring the necessary military training.”

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The Interned

Lieutenant Colonel E. S. Doughty, D.S.O.
31st (Alberta) BattalionDoughty

Looks somewhat tired and languid. States that he does not feel up to the work. Feels nervous and irritable at times. Does not sleep as well as prior to enlistment. Is troubled with nocturnal emissions. Also has occasioned dizzy spells. States that he feels that he requires a rest.

(“Medical History of an Invalid,” 9 Jul 1919)

Born in India on 25 January 1881, Edward Spencer Doughty was second-in-command with the 31st Bell’s Bulldogs Battalion. Twice wounded in the field, he assumed command of the battalion when the original commander, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Bell, was promoted to brigadier general on 23 April 1918.

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The Recruiter

Lieutenant Colonel George W Morfitt
137th (Calgary) BattalionMorfitt

The Major has another good one. During his recruiting experiences—and he has enrolled 3,800—he has come across two Tipperary men who did not know their birthday. He christened them both for Christmas Day, so that it would be easy for them to remember in the future.

(Medicine Hat News, 7 Oct 1915, 4)

Born on 16 March 1873 in St. Mary’s Ontario, George W Morfitt was a Calgary broker and member of the 103rd Militia Regiment. Before his appointment to command the 137th Battalion in November 1915, he had been a recruiter for the 31st under Arthur Henry Bell and second-in-command of the 82nd. Suspicious of foreign volunteers with Germanic names, the “eagle-eyed” recruiting officer vowed, “I’m not taking any chancesnot if I know it. A German who slips into the 82nd will have to get up pretty early in the morning.”

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The Professional

Brigadier General A. H. Bell, D.S.O.
31st (Bell’s Bulldogs) BattalionBell

Do not allow any factors to induce you to take an action contrary to the dictates of your own judgment and conscience. In many long years of military life my experience has taught me that a soldier who does so spends the balance of his career in making a series of errors, each in the vain attempt to correct the one immediately preceding, and all resulting from his first violation of sound practice.

(A.H. Bell to H.W. McGill, Medicine and Duty, 2007, 21)

Arthur Henry Bell was a professional soldier and veteran of the Boer War. Born on 16 September 1871 in King’s County, Ireland, Bell served with the Leinster Regiment, the Cape Mounted Police, the Matabele Relief Force, and the Imperial Yeomanry in South Africa. At the outbreak of the First World War, he was the commanding officer of Lord Strathcona’s Horse in Calgary.

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