Lieutenant Colonel G. B. Laurie
1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
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.
Lieutenant Colonel G. F. McFarland
147th (Grey) Battalion
Away over in the Hun lines I could hear male voices singing Christmas Carols very melodiously….
Just about dawn one of our snipers saw a Hun making his way overland from one trench to the other, evidently thinking the light was not yet good enough for rifle-fire. Our fellow “drilled” him clean, and was heard to remark as he ejected the empty shell: “Merry Christmas, Fritz, you …!
(McFarland, Diary, 25 December 1917)
Born in Markdale, Ontario, on 30 June 1880, George Franklin McFarland was a Toronto barrister and member of the 31st Militia Regiment. He graduated with a law degree from the University of Toronto in 1905. In early 1916, McFarland was appointed commander of the 147th Battalion, based in Owen Sound.
Lieutenant Colonel B. H. Brown
220th (12th York Rangers) Battalion
Lieut.-Col. B. H. Brown of the 220th (York County) Battalion played the role of Santa Claus last evening when the two battalions in question celebrated Christmas.
(Toronto Globe, 22 Dec 1916, 6)
Benjamin Hinchcliffe Brown was the son of retired Colonel F. M. Brown, a leading Orangeman, long-time member of the 12th (York Rangers) Regiment and veteran of the Riel Rebellion. A member of Loyal Orange Lodge No. 142, B. H. Brown was born on 15 October 1878 in Toronto. He worked as a printer and publisher with his brother, Francis Frederick Middleton Brown, who was born on 20 August 1885, and named in honour of their father’s commanding general in the 1885 Rebellion.