Major General Archie Macdonell
Lord Strathcona’s Horse
“Batty Mac, our brigade commander, was crazy as a coot in many ways, I saw him actually get wounded one day … Somebody said ‘Be careful, sir, there’s a sniper’ and he said ‘Fuck the sniper,’ climbed up to get a look and the sniper took him through the shoulder and he went ass over applecarts into his shellhole from which he had emerged … My god, his language! You could hear him for miles around!”
(G.R. Stevens PPCLI, In Flanders Field interview, 1964)
Born on 6 October 1864 in Windsor, Canada West, Archibald Cameron Macdonell earned the nickname “Batty Mac” for his disregard of danger under fire. He graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada in 1886 and joined the Canadian Militia before transferring to the North-West Mounted Police. He volunteered during the Boer War and was commanding officer of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse at the outbreak of the First World War.
Lieutenant Colonel W.H. Moodie
9th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops
Then the agony began. There we lay in fatal range, many had been killed outright in the charge, and all who had not good cover were in fearful danger and the groans from different points all over the field told too plainly how they were picking off our men. Those of us who had good cover had to stick to it though it was fearful to be there and listen to the calls of the wounded for help.
(W.H. Moodie, 13 Dec 1899)
Born in Quebec City on 22 September 1871, Walter Hill Moodie was a British Columbia civil engineer and Boer War veteran. He volunteered with the Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry and arrived to South Africa in December 1899. In letters home to Kelso, British Columbia he recounted his journey and remarked on his and comrades’ frustration “kicking our heels impatiently for our first engagement.” Two months later he experienced the full agony of modern warfare on Blood Sunday, 18 February 1900.
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.
Lieutenant Colonel C.R.E. Willets, D.S.O.
Royal Canadian Regiment
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He went forward to the front line under very heavy fire and organized the defence of the position with great skill. He has at all times displayed the greatest courage and initiative.
(Willets, D.S.O. citation, 26 July 1917)
Born in Windsor, Nova Scotia on 21 May 1880, Charles Richard Edward Willets had left the Royal Military College early to serve in South Africa in 1901. After five years with the South African Constabulary, he was gazetted as a lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Regiment.
Lieutenant Colonel W.J. Green
91st (Elgin) Battalion
We learned that the possibility of out going to France intact was remote. It appeared that the C.O. with the most pull with old Sir Sam Hughes had the best chance to keep his command and as our C.O., Col. Green, was never given to cringing and kow-towing to the war time brass hats, he, of course, was not one of the favored ones.
(Harold Becker, 91st Bn., Memoirs, 161)
William James Green was a Boer War veteran and member of the 25th Regiment since 1893. He was born in St. Thomas, Ontario on 8 October 1875. In December 1915, Green was authorized to raise the 91st Battalion based in his hometown and raised from Elgin county.
Lieutenant Colonel George C. Hodson, D.S.O.
1st (Western Ontario) Battalion
I have perhaps foolishly put my Country and the Cause before my personal interests in the past but my patience is now absolutely exhausted and I am out to get justice, one way or the other. I have already lost all a soldier can lose and that is ‘his reputation as a fighting soldier’ … All I have asked is to be returned to the front with my rank or else given a decent appointment in England or Canada with some promotion.
(G.C. Hodson to Gen. Ashton, 20 Apr 1918)
After the death of Lieutenant Colonel Frank A. Creighton on 15 June 1916 during the battle of Mont Sorrel, the 1st Battalion was left leaderless and disorganized. Unable to find a suitable replacement from within the battalion or from another frontline unit, Major-General Arthur Currie needed to look to a surplus senior officer in England. He found George Cuthbert Bethune Hodson, former commander of the 9th CMR, which had been broken up some months earlier.
Lieutenant Colonel J. C. L. Bott
2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles
I was not drunk on the 3rd of Oct 1916 … I had nothing to drink since 12:30pm on that day. I had a drink in the morning with Major Laws and I had three more … I brought a bottle of whiskey on the morning in question … As a rule I take about five drinks a day. Spread out through the day. I never have a drink alone.
(Lt. Col. Bott, general court martial, 7 Nov 1916)
Born in Marden, Wiltshire, England on 24 August 1872, John Cecil Latham Bott was a professional British soldier and cavalryman. He was a member of the 20th Hussars from 1895 to 1909, and served in Egypt and South Africa. He immigrated to Vernon, British Columbia after the Boer War and helped to organize the 30th Horse.
Lieutenant Colonel J.F.H. Ussher
4th Canadian Mounted Rifles
In view of the foregoing the people who are providing the taxes for this well-deserved bonus to the soldiers should insist that all strings to the payment should be removed. Don’t let some Government appointee be the sole judge– the soldier’s record of service must decide!
(Ussher to Globe and Mail, 18 Aug 1944, 16)
During the battle of Mont Sorrel on 2 June 1916, John Frederick Holmes Ussher became trapped in a collapsed tunnel during heavy German shelling. He was wounded and captured. He spent the next two and a half years a prisoner of war. Continue reading
Lieutenant Colonel W.H. McKinery, D.S.O.
66th (Edmonton Guards) Battalion
All rotters are eventually found out and you will be glad to hear that McKinery has been cashiered for using his Battalion funds for his own purposes and we have heard the last of him in the B.E.F.
(Agar Adamson to Mrs. Mabel Adamson, 2nd Feb 1916, 138)
When William Herbert McKinery enlisted in Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, he claimed to have been born in Waterford, Ireland on 5 April 1878. He also used his father’s first name, John, when filling out the attestation papers. McKinery was actually born on April 5, 1875 in Melbourne, Australia. Believing that he would be rejected as overage, the forty-year old Australian had falsified personal information in order to fight overseas.
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Palmer, D.S.O.
49th (Edmonton Regiment) Battalion
Soldier of the old school, fearless, straightforward, a fighter and a sportsman, sincere with an independency of opinion which frequently got him into trouble with the Staff, especially if it were upon some question that had to do with the welfare of his men—such was the character of the second C.O. of our Battalion.
(The Forty-Niner, Jan 1934, 19)
Robert Henry Palmer was chief fire ranger and Indian agent in Alberta. Born in Glamorganshire, Wales on 19 February 1868, he immigrated to western Canada as a young man. He was an original member of Lord Strathcona’s Horse and fought in the Boer War. In January 1915, he joined Lieutenant Colonel Griesbach’s 49th Battalion as a company commander. Admired for his toughness and fearlessness on the battlefield, Palmer—who had lowered his age by seven years on enlistment—was affectionately known by his men as “The Old Man.”