Brigadier General Tommy Tremblay
22nd (Royal French Canadians) Battalion
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.
Major General Sir David Watson, D.S.O.
2nd (Iron Second) Battalion
Had he not been colonel he would have received the V.C. for this. Ypres made him a marked man, and it left its mark on him. His friends say that he aged ten years in the ten days, for he and his battalion were in the fiercest part of the fighting.
(F. A. McKenzie, Through the Hindenburg Line, 1918, 10)
David Watson was a sportsman, journalist and owner of the Quebec Morning Chronicle. He was born in Quebec City on 7 February 1869. In his youth, Watson played for the Quebec Hockey Club and became active in the 8th Royal Rifles. Watson, a Conservative Party supporter and friend of Militia Minister Sam Hughes, was selected to command the 2nd Battalion when the Canadian Expeditionary Force assembled at Valcartier.
Brigadier General John M. Ross
29th (Vancouver) Battalion
At the end of September 1916, twenty German prisoners were transferred from the 28th Battalion to the 29th under the command of John Munro Ross. After only eleven prisoners arrived to the “Corps Cage,” the 6th Brigade command staff began to make inquiries. Ross clarified the situation:
“The enemy party mentioned ran into bad luck and after a misunderstanding with one of my L.G. [Lewis Gun] crews they were too dead to be used as prisoners.”
Major General A. H. Macdonell, D.S.O.
Royal Canadian Regiment
Theirs was not a spectacular adventure.
Modern warfare had lost that glamour which in centuries past stirred the imagination of peoples. When whole nations are aligned on the battle fields in a long mass of muddy burrows, war becomes horribly monotonous, yet officers and privates faced the same dangers and they shared the same fate.
(Macdonell, Speech at War Memorial, St. John, N.B., 10 June 1925)
Born in Toronto on 6 February 1868, Archibald Hayes Macdonell was a decorated professional soldier and veteran of multiple British imperial adventures in Africa. He had fought in the Boer War, the Aro Expedition and military operations in Nigeria with the West African Frontier Force. During the South African campaign, he had briefly been taken prisoner by Boer General Christian De Wet and earned the Distinguished Service Order.