Lieutenant Colonel George H. Bradbury
108th (Selkirk) Battalion
I confess frankly that at the moment when I was informed that my battalion was to be broken up and that my men were to be taken from me to go to the front, I felt hurt; I felt it was an injustice to myself and to my battalion.
Slurs have been thrown across the floor by more than one hon. gentleman opposite regarding the colonels how have gone overseas. I should like to say to some of these gentleman that they would occupy a much higher position in this country than they occupy if they had done what some of these returned colonel have done.
(Bradbury, Debates, 13 July 1917, 3384)
George Henry Bradbury was a Manitoba manufacturer and veteran of the Northwest Rebellion. Born on 25 June 1859 in Hamilton, Canada West, he had belonged to the Ottawa Dragoons as a young man and enlisted with the Boulton’s Scouts during the 1885 Rebellion. In 1908, he was elected MP for Selkirk. In November 1915, he became a growing number of Conservative MP authorized to raise a battalion.
Lieutenant Colonel John Stanfield, M.P.
193rd (Nova Scotia Highlanders) Battalion
Colonel Stanfield has gone back to Canada and I guess that is the best place for him. He is no good anyway and after the boys get home again he won’t have so much to say.
(Clarence Reginald Gass to Lillian Gass, 29 Nov 1916)
John Stanfield was Conservative MP for Colchester (1907—1917) and chief government whip during the Borden Government. He was born on 18 May 1868 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. He was a member of the 76th Colchester and Hants Rifle Corps Reserve. In February 1916, he was authorized to raise the 193rd Battalion as a unit in Lieutenant-Colonel A. H. Borden’s Highland Brigade. On his attestation form, Stanfield cited annual militia “camp drill” as prior military service.
Lieutenant Colonel W. H. Price, M.P.P.
204th (Beaver) Battalion
It seems to me to be a crying shame that having raised and trained this battalion at a cost of $2000, it should after a year need further training so men taken to reinforce units not from Toronto and its senior officers cast adrift as if they were useless.
(Price to Borden, 4 Apr 1917)
William Herbert Price was an Ontario lawyer and Conservative MPP for Parkdale (1914—1937). He was born in Owen Sound on 25 May 1877. In spring 1916, Price competed with multiple battalions in Toronto to gather volunteers for the 204th. Despite having no militia experience, the popular politician was well positioned to organize the recruitment campaign.
Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Blondin, M.P.
258th (Canadien-Français) Battalion
Sir Wilfrid Laurier: I cannot give him a better answer than this: Mr. Blondin took off his coat—
Sir Sam Hughes: Pardon me, Colonel Blondin.
Sir Wilfrid Laurier: I stand corrected. There are so many colonels in this country that I had forgotten one. I am blessed with a pretty good memory, but there is a limit even to counting, and I do not know whether the ex-minister himself knows how many honorary colonels he has appointed. But let that pass.
(Debates, 18 June 1917, 2400)
Pierre Édouard Blondin was Conservative MP for Champlain and prominent French-Canadian minister in the Borden Cabinet. He was born on 14 December 1874 in St-François du Lac, Quebec. First elected to parliament in 1908, he became Minster of Revenue in 1914 and Secretary of State in 1915 before being appointed Postmaster General.
Brigadier General W. A. Griesbach, D.S.O.
49th (Edmonton Regiment) Battalion
I had an idea at one time, that after the war over half of the Canadian parliament would be men who had served in the war. I had an idea that it would be hardly possible for a man to be elected to parliament who had not served his country in the war on active service. Yet in the present parliament we have in the commons some nine men out of 235—no I beg pardon, 234, for one is a woman—who have served overseas.
(Griesbach speech, Ottawa Citizen, 3 May 1923, 3)
William Antrobus Griesbach was an Edmonton barrister, Conservative political figure and member of the 19th Alberta Dragoons. He was born in Fort Qu’Appelle, North-West Territories on 3 January 1878. A veteran of the Boer War, he was authorized to raise the 49th Battalion In January 1915. By October 1915, Griesbach and his Edmonton volunteers had deployed to France as part of the 7th Infantry Brigade in the 3rd Canadian Division.
Lieutenant Colonel Jesse Wright
169th (109th Regiment) Battalion
“Vote for King,” shouted a man.
“There is a friend over there that says he is going to vote for Mr. King,” said Col Wright, pointing to a man in the hall. “But one King is enough for Canada. That is his majesty King George and not Mackenzie King who claims his ancestry from a man who was a blooming traitor” and Col. Wright sat down amid a storm of cheers and jeers.
(Toronto Star, 3 Dec 1921, 9)
Born on 9 July 1877 in Collingwood, Ontario, Jesse Green Wright was a Toronto druggist, member of Loyalist Orange Lodge No. 900 and militiaman. He had belonged to the Queen’s Own Rifles and the 12th York Rangers. After outbreak of the Great War, he joined the new 109th Regiment organized by William Thomas Stewart. In January 1916, Wright received authorization to raise the 169th Battalion from Toronto.
Lieutenant Colonel Donald Sharpe, M.P.P.
176th (Niagara Rangers) Battalion
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.
Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Glenn
96th (Canadian Highlanders) Battalion
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.
Brigadier General J. A. Clark, D.S.O.
72nd (Seaforth Highlanders) Battalion
“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.”
Colonel Jack Currie, M.P.
15th (48th Highlanders) Battalion
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.