Lt. Col. Ralston

Lieutenant Colonel J.L. Ralston
85th (Nova Scotia Highlanders) Battalion
Ralston

An extremely reliable and determined Officer. He is cheerful, conscientious and tactful, with plenty of energy and drive. Well-balanced and a man of the World with plenty of ability. He learns readily, and is good at imparting knowledge. He has imagination and initiative and handles troops well.

(Senior Officer’s Course, 6 Mar 1918)

Born in Amherst on 27 September 1881, James Layton Ralston was a law graduate from Dalhousie University and Liberal member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly (1911–1920). He enlisted as a lieutenant in Allison Hart Borden’s 85th Battalion, and twice commanded the unit in the field during summer 1917 and the latter half of 1918. Multiple times wounded in action, Ralston won the Distinguished Service Order and Bar for great pluck and leadership.

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The Manly Man

Lieutenant Colonel A. H. Borden, D.S.O.
85th (Nova Scotia Highlanders) BattalionBorden

Oh, wha is foremaist and a’ and a’,
Oh, wha does follow the blaw, the blaw,
Colonel Borden, the king o’ us a’ hurra’,
Wi’ his hundred Pipers and a’ and a’,
His bonnet and feather he’s wavin’ high,
His prancing steed maist seems to fly.
He’ll lead us to Berlin across the Rhine,
Wi’ his 85th Highlanders bonny and fine.

(Songs of the 85th Battalion, 1917, 16)

In September 1915, Allison Hart Borden raised the 85th Nova Scotia Highlanders, nicknamed with the Gaelic motto Siol na Fear Fearail (The Breed of Manly Men). Encouraged by rapid recruitment in the province, Borden proposed a four battalion Highlander Brigade from the Maritimes. The battalions (the 85th, 185th, 193rd, 219th) departed Canada in October 1916. After arriving in England, the Brigade was broken up to the dismay and confusion of many citizens and politicians in the province.

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