The Cadet Instructor

Lieutenant Colonel R. K. Barker
95th (Toronto) Battalion Barker

Man looks unwell.

Complains of weakness, loss of weight, loss of sleep, loss of nervous control. Accounts for this by loss of food and sleep.

(“Medical History of an Invalid,” 7 November 1923)

Rybert Kent Barker was a military instructor in Toronto and veteran of the Boer War. Born on 21 September 1869 in Kingston, Ontario, he had served with the Queen’s Own Rifles from 1880 to 1910 and commanded “C” company in South Africa. Prior to being appointed commander of the 95th Battalion, he was a cadet drill instructor with the 2nd Military Division.

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The Boulton Boys

Major Lawrence Boulton
&
Major D’Arcy Boulton
&
Lieutenant Russell Boulton †

Manitoba Depot Regiment  Boultons

If sole support of widowed mother, state what amount you have given per month prior to your enlistment, also reason she has no other support than yourself:

All earnings. Husband dead and her only other sons married and supporting their own families. She has no other income sufficient to support her & her two daughters.

(L. C. Boulton, “Particulars of Family”, 7 Jan 1917)

The Boultons were a prominent Upper Canadian family with deep political connections and a long military tradition. During the 1885 Northwest Rebellion, Colonel Charles Arkoll Boulton (1841—1899) raised a unit to help put down the uprising of Louis Riel. In 1889, he was appointed senator for Manitoba. His oldest son, D’Arcy Everard Boulton was born in Orillia, Ontario on 26 April 1876. Lawrence Charles Boulton was born in Lakefield, Ontario on 10 December 1878. The youngest son, Russell Heath Boulton, was born in Russell, Manitoba on 24 February 1884-1918.

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The Military Scientist

Lieutenant Colonel James Ballantine, D.S.O.
76th and 109th BattalionsBallantine

They have got a new Col. in this battalion since we came to it. His name is Ballantine, he has been to France twice, and this is his third battalion to command so he has had a little experience anyway. He seems to take a great interest in the work of the men. He says he don’t care what kind of officers he has as long as he has good N.C.O.’s and men, all that the officers are good for is figure heads in his mind.

(J. H. Bennett, 109th Bn. to Garnet Bennett [brother], 22 Nov 1916)

Born on 3 September 1876 in Georgetown, Ontario, James Ballantine was a member of the 20th Halton Rifles and received military training at Toronto, Hayland Island, Hythe and Aldershot. He fought in the Boer War and was awarded the Queen’s Medal for gallantry.

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The Boer Beater

Lieutenant Colonel P. J. Daly, D.S.O.
27th (City of Winnipeg) BattalionDaly

Mayor Davidson received a communication today from Lieut.-Col. P. J. Daly, commanding the City of Winnipeg battalion, now somewhere in France, stating that he had rounded up two more guns, making a total of six. He said he would donate them to the city, if desired. His worship promptly accepted the offer. Congratulations were sent to the officer. The guns will be placed eventually on historic spots in the city.

(Winnipeg Tribune, 9 Aug 1917, 5)

Patrick Joseph Daly took command of the 27th Battalion on 15 April 1916 following Lieutenant Colonel Irvine R. Snider’s nervous breakdown during the battle of St. Eloi. A native of Ireland, Daly had fought with the 6th Western Australian Mounted Infantry during the Boer War. He was seven times wounded in the South African campaign, nominated for a Victoria Cross and awarded the Distinguished Service Order. In one engagement, despite having both arms broken, Daly rode for a mile and captured over forty enemy prisoners.

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The Accountant

Lieutenant Colonel Walter R. Brown, D.S.O.
26th (New Brunswick) BattalionWRBrown

I see in my mind many bright, cheery figures, some of the best of our county’s stock, soldiers every inch of them—how sorry I am they are not returning with us today, and how I feel for their people. But though they are sleeping in some military graveyard in France or Belgium, I know they are not forgotten…

(Brown to People of N.B., St. John Telegraph, 1919)

A member of the 62nd Fusiliers and Boer War veteran, Walter Richard Brown enlisted with the 26th Battalion in February 1915. He was born on 3 June 1872 in London, England. After the removal of Lieutenant Colonel James L. McAvity in May 1916 and the departure of Lieutenant Colonel A. E. G. McKenzie to an officer’s course in summer 1917, Brown assumed command of the battalion.

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Father Christmas

Lieutenant Colonel G. B. Laurie
1st Battalion, Royal Irish RiflesLaurie

I used to be up at cockcrow when a small child on Christmas Day, to see what Santa Claus had brought me, and I shall be up early enough to-morrow in all conscience too, but for a different reason—standing to arms—so that I shall not get my throat cut.

Best of love to you for Christmas. Whilst you are in church I shall be in the trenches, but both doing our rightful duty, I trust.

(Lt-Col. Laurie to Wife, 24 Dec 1914)

On 25 December 1914, George Brenton Laurie described the Christmas truce in No Man’s Land as “English and German, begin to swarm out to meet each other.” Suspicious, Laurie initially held his men back before going to investigate himself. The Germans complimented the colonel on his battalion’s marksmanship and were eager to learn if the Canadian Division had arrived yet. The armistice held for two days until both sides resumed the fighting.

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The Shell Shocked

Lieutenant Colonel Irvine R. Snider
27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion
IRSnider

…this officer as the result of service in France and severe nervous strain has become very emotional and is unable to sleep well except for a short time each night. He is easily exhausted and has some muscular tremor. At present he is quite unfit for any mental or physical exertion and must have prolonged rest.

(Proceedings of Medical Board, 18 May 1916)

Irvine Robinson Snider was a Manitoba farmer, long-time militiaman and veteran of the Northwest Rebellion and the Boer War. He was born on 1 January 1864 in Nobleton, Canada West. In spring 1885, the twenty-one year old Snider joined the 90th Winnipeg Rifles as a private to put down Louis Riel’s insurrection. Fifteen-years later, he served with Lord Strathcona’s Horse in South Africa.

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The Old Soldier

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Belcher
138th (Edmonton) Battalion
Belcher

I have in mind a man who has served for many years, first in the British Army, and afterwards in the Northwest Mounted Police and then in the South African war. Finally he was authorized to raise a battalion at Edmonton. On strength of his military experience and on the strength of his personal standing, he did raise a battalion without any serious difficulty. Surely such a man with such a battalion, raised under such circumstances—surely it would be right and proper that that battalion should go to the front intact under such leadership.

(Frank Oliver, Debates, 23 Jan 1917, 76)

Criticizing the breakup of the Canadian battalions, Frank Oliver, Liberal MP for Edmonton, alluded to the experience of Colonel Robert Belcher. Born on 23 April 1849 in London, England, the sixty-seven year old soldier and policeman was “one of the real old-timers in the west.”

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The Hockeyist

Lieutenant Colonel Francis J. Murray
61st (Winnipeg) Battalion
Murray

The local soldier hockeyists completely outclassed the Saskatchewan champions in the two-game series and proved themselves worthy holders of the coveted mug.

This performance of Colonel Murray’s men is certainly remarkable, as the cup-seekers are a redoubtable squad of players but they were unable to cope with the sensational close checking and speed of the Winnipeggers. Only in the first fifteen minutes of the first game were the Westerners really in the running, as after that they were outplayed and seldom looked dangerous.

(Winnipeg Tribune, 20 Mar 1916, 10)

Born on 23 June 1876 in Portsmouth, England, Francis John Murray was a professional soldier and twenty-two year veteran of the Imperial Army. Having fought in the Boer War, Murray was appointed to raise the 61st Battalion from Winnipeg in spring 1915.

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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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