Lieutenant Colonel G.H. Kirkpatrick
11th Canadian Mounted Rifles & 72nd Battalion
The outstanding fearlessness of the new C.O., Lieut-Col. G. H. Kirkpatrick, D.S.O., also calls for special notice. This was the first occasion on which he had complete command of the Battalion in an action, and his courage and coolness were an inspiration to all ranks.
(History of the 72nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, 1920, 150)
Guy Hamilton Kirkpatrick succeeded Lieutenant Colonel J. A. Clark in command of the 72nd Battalion on 5 September 1918. Born on 5 November 1875 in Kingston, Ontario, he graduated from the Royal Military College in 1896 and fought in South Africa with Lord Strathcona’s Horse. His father, Sir George Airey Kirkpatrick (1841—1899), had been a Conservative MP and Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
Brigadier General J. A. Clark, D.S.O.
72nd (Seaforth Highlanders) Battalion
“My Brigadier, the son of a bitch, is still alive— I’ll kill him if I see him.”
(Capt. W. G. Little, P.P.C.L.I., 1964)
Born in West Flamborough, Ontario on 8 June 1886, John Arthur Clark was a Vancouver barrister and militiaman. A major in the 72nd (Seaforth Highlanders of Canada) Regiment, Clark was appointed to command the 72nd Battalion, one of the few CEF units to perpetuate its militia designation. Commenting on the tremendous responsibility of a commanding officer one of his men observed that the twenty-nine year old colonel “looked forty.”
Brigadier General Jack Stewart, D.S.O.
Major J. B. L. Macdonald, D.S.O.
239th (Railway Construction) Battalion
Stewart ran up railways with a rapidity that astounded the authorities… If I had been Prime Minister, he would have found a seat in the British House of Peers, the only recognition adequate to his vast services to the Empire in her worst hour of peril.
(T.P. O’Connor- Irish-Nationalist MP for Liverpool Scotland)
Responding to the critical Allied need for rail support in France, the Canadian government authorized the creation of several battalions designated for railway construction. In May 1916, noted Vancouver railway builder, John William Stewart began recruiting for the 239th Battalion. Born on 12 December 1865 in Sutherland, Scotland, Stewart moved to Canada in 1882. Rising from a poor immigrant labourer, Stewart became a very successful railway manger and contractor in western Canada and Montana.