The Idler

Lieutenant Colonel Donald Sharpe, M.P.P.
176th (Niagara Rangers) Battalion

dsharpe

A large number of officers who will not go to the front, who it is known do not intend to go to the front, and who are deriving pay from the Government simply as officers being practically on a holiday.

(W. M. German, Debates, 6 Feb 1917, 560)

Criticizing the Borden Government’s recruitment system, William Manley German, Liberal MP for Welland referred to the conduct of Donald Sharpe’s 176th Battalion, based in St. Catharines. Sharpe was the Conservative member for Welland in the Ontario provincial legislature. He had won a by-election on 29 June 1914, one day after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.

 

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The Voter

Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Glenn
96th (Canadian Highlanders) Battalionglenn

Lieut. Col. Glenn, the Officer Commanding, is an officer of some years experience in Mounted Infy. He is not an efficient officer but has done good service in recruiting the Battalion, and desires the honour of taking his Battalion across seas.

(Gen. John Hughes, 19 Sept 1916)

Joseph Glenn was the Conservative member for South Qu’Appelle in the Saskatchewan legislature from 1912 to 1921. Born on 29 August 1860 in Owen Sound, Canada West, he moved to the North West Territories during the early 1880s. Settling in Indian Head, he built a farm, imported horses, worked in the lumber trade, acted as the local mail carrier and operated a grain elevator. During the 1885 Rebellion, he volunteered as a dispatch rider for General Middleton and Major Sam Steele.

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The Son of a Bitch

Brigadier General J. A. Clark, D.S.O.
72nd (Seaforth Highlanders) Battalion
JAClark

“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.”

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Colonel Runaway

Colonel Jack Currie, M.P.
15th (48th Highlanders) Battalion
CurrieJA

As was the case to be in many Canadian battalions, Lt.-Col. Currie was an M.P. and very much more of a politician than an officer.

 He was one of the type of civilian-soldier who is simply worshipped by the poorer element among the ranks, but to serve under whom, for an officer, is sheer misery.

(Lt. Ian Sinclair, 13th Bn. personal diary)

The conduct of John Allister Currie at the second battle of Ypres in late April 1915 was the subject of much controversy and insinuation. According to some of his men in the 15th Battalion, he had fought “like a hero” with rifle and bayonet. However, by most accounts, Currie remained in a dugout well behind the lines, shell shocked and possibly drunk during the German gas attack on his unit at St. Julien.

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The Orangeman

Lieutenant Colonel W. T. Edgecombe
183rd (Orange) Battalion
Edgecombe

The pursuit of Brother Edgecombe is one of the most contemptible things that has happened in the politics of any Province. 

It is just another instance of the implacability of political leaders. They expect men to violate their consciences, to ignore their convictions, to surrender their own views on public questions for the good of the party.

 (Winnipeg Free Press, 17 Feb 1915, 22)

William Thomas Edgecombe was a Winnipeg city alderman, Grand Master of the Manitoba Loyal Orange Lodge. He was born in Harbor Grace, Newfoundland on 15 August 1868. He held various positions in publishing, engraving and banking before moving to Winnipeg in 1893. Although not active in the militia, Edgecombe was selected to raise the 183rd Battalion.

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The Anti-Intellectual

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Lennox, M.P.P.
208th (Irish Fusiliers) BattalionLennox

It is hard to think that we must make this sacrifice to help the slackers to get a higher education. Any of my men are willing, and I am willing, to go and die for those who cannot go, but I would hate like the dickens to go and die for the fellow with the creased trousers and silk stockings.

(Lennox, Toronto Star, 6 Nov 1916, 4.)

Thomas Herbert Lennox was the Conservative member of the Ontario legislature for York North from 1905 to 1923. Born on 7 April 1869 in Simcoe County, Ontario, to an Irish immigrant father, Lennox was proud of his ancestry and a member of Loyal Orange Lodge No. 643.

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The Fundraiser

Brigadier General Eric McCuaig, D.S.O.
13th (Royal Highlanders of Canada) BattalionMcCuaig

One night, too, the officers staged a concert in the local theatre, all the talent being drawn from their own roster. By sacrificing his moustache, Lieut-Col. McCuaig scored a tremendous hit in a charming female role…

(The 13th Battalion Royal Highlanders of Canada, 1925, 203)

George Eric McCuaig assumed command of the 13th Battalion after an explosion killed Lieutenant Colonel Victor Buchanan and many of his senior officers. A native of Toronto, McCuaig was born on 2 September 1885. He graduated from McGill University, worked in Montreal as a stockbroker and belonged to the Black Watch.

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The Sawmiller

Lieutenant Colonel Fred Lister, M.C.
102nd (Central Ontario) BattalionLister

We started out a British Columbia unit; we return an Ontario Battalion; but I defy anyone to note the point of cleavage. Welded together by many months of common danger, East and West have fused as one…

(Lister, “Final Order,” 25 May 1919)

Born on 10 February 1879 in Wigtoft, Lincolnshire, England, Frederick Lister was a sawmill superintendent in British Columbia. He had been a policeman with the Bechuanaland Protectorate since 1896 and fought in the Matabele Rebellion and the Boer War. He immigrated to Canada in 1903. In December 1915, he enlisted with the 102nd Battalion under the command of Lieutenant Colonel J .W. Warden.

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The Indian Fighter

Lieutenant Colonel Glen Campbell, D.S.O.
107th (Timber Wolves) BattalionCampbell_G

I had hoped that I would not have to rise and address the House to-night, because I have been, with other western members, attending hockey matches the last few days, and my voice is not as good as I would like it to be.

(Campbell, Debates, 21 Jan 1910, 2259)

Glenlyon Archibald Campbell was a frontiersman, pioneer, rancher, soldier and politician. He was born in Fort Pelly, North West Territories on 23 October 1863. He fought with the Boulton’s Scouts at the battle of Batoche during Louis Riel’s 1885 Rebellion. Fluent in Cree and other Native languages, he raised the 107th Battalion largely from western First Nations.

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The Mountain Climber

Lieutenant Colonel W. W. Foster, D.S.O., M.L.A
52nd (New Ontario) Battalion Foster

Billy Foster was a very interesting and safe companion, who always wore well no matter what the circumstances or the dangers might be. He was what is called a good mixer and always had an interesting and appropriate tale of experience, or a story, for that pause during a discussion or controversy which, if not pleasantly broken, might result in serious contention.

When there are more men like him to protect and guide its Nations, the whole world will be a safer and better place for all mankind.

(A. H. MacCarthy, Alpine Journal, 1954)

William Wasbrough Foster was a mountaineer, president of the Alpine Club and among the first to climb Mount Robson and Mount Logan, Canada’s highest peak. He was born in Bristol, England on 1 October 1876 and immigrated to Canada in 1894. Mount Colonel Foster on Vancouver Island is named in his honour.

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