The Rifleman

Lieutenant Colonel W. Hart-McHarg †
7th (1st British Columbia) BattalionHart-McHarg

There was much gloom and sorrow among the British Columbians that night for they all loved their colonel and they knew that there was very little hope for him. He died the following day at Poperinghe. Thus died one of the bravest of the Canadians, a splendid soldier, the champion sharpshooter of America, for that matter of the world. He had always displayed great coolness and daring, and British Columbia will always cherish and revere his name.

(Col. Currie, 15th Bn. The Red Watch, 1916, 233)

William Frederick Richard Hart-McHarg was one of three CEF colonels killed in action at the second battle of Ypres on 24 April 1915. A veteran of the Boer War, he was serving as second-in-command of the 6th Regiment at the outbreak of the Great War. The militia colonel, J. H. D. Hulme, stepped aside in order for Major Hart-McHarg to organize the 7th Battalion at Valcartier. Puzzled why Hulme would miss “the chance of a lifetime,” Hart-McHarg reasoned, “But with me it is different. I have only a couple of years to live in any case.”

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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 Myth Maker

Brigadier General Alex Ross, D.S.O.
28th (Northwest) BattalionARoss

…the barren earth erupted humanity. From dugouts, shell holes and trenches, men sprang into action, fell into military formations and advanced to the ridge–every division of the corps moved forward together. It was Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific on parade. I thought then, and I think today, that in those few minutes, I witnessed the birth of a nation.

(Brig. Gen. Ross, History of the 28th Battalion, 1961, preface)

Alexander Ross was a Saskatchewan lawyer who rose from a militia lieutenant to brigadier general of the 6th Infantry Brigade. Born on 2 December 1880 in Forres, Harashire, Scotland, Ross immigrated to Regina in the Northwest Territories with his family at the age of six. After graduating from the University of Manitoba with a law degree, Ross became a barrister with King’s Counsel and joined the 95th Rifles. In December 1914, he enlisted as a company commander with the 28th Battalion recruited from Saskatchewan.

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The Unlucky

Lieutenant Colonel Victor C. Buchanan, D.S.O. †
13th (Royal Highlanders of Canada) BattalionBuchanan

We then start to dig in where Col. Buchanan and Maj. Peterman had been buried but find their dead bodies. They must have died instantly. Apparently something must have exploded the gasoline and the shock brought in the weakest part of the dugout.

(Lieut. H.A. McCleave, 13th Bn., Diary, 28 Sept 1916)

During heavy German bombardment on the evening 26 September 1916, a shell struck the 13th Battalion headquarters. The explosion killed several senior officers including Lieutenant Colonel Victor Carl Buchanan. It was his forty-seventh birthday.

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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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The Commandant

Lieutenant Colonel F. F. Clarke, D.S.O.
127th (12th York Rangers) BattalionClarke

“We hold the record for railway building in France. We had a very difficult piece to build, because it was in full view of the German lines in daylight for about 1½ miles across a valley.

When the air cleared on Thursday the Germans saw the railway track from their observation balloon and started to shell it, and, after sending over about 200 shells, they broke a rail, which was repaired in a few-minutes. This line can only be used at night, without light or noise

(F. F. Clarke, Railway Age Gazette, 1918, 404)

Frederick Fieldhouse Clarke was an engineer and surveyor in northern Ontario. Born on 22 August 1878 in Hamilton, Clarke had moved north during the mining rush around Cobalt. He served for three years with the Royal Canadian Regiment and nearly twenty with the 12th York Rangers. Through his work with northern railway development, Clarke helped to found the town of Kapuskasing in 1911

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The One-Eyed

Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Buller, D.S.O. †
Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Buller

The question of the command of the battalion is now, I am glad to be able to tell you, admirably settled in the appointment of Buller with the temporary rank of Lieut.-Colonel. Although Farquhar can never be replaced, Buller will make a splendid commanding officer. He has, as of course you know, the absolute confidence of us all and is eminently qualified for the arduous duties which lie before him.

(Maj. Gault to Sam Hughes, 20 Apr 1915)

Hebert Cecil Buller succeeded Lieutenant Colonel F. D. Farquhar as commander of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry on 21 March 1915. The son of British Admiral Alexander Buller, he was born in 1881 in England. He joined the Rifle Brigade in 1900 and later became aide-de-camp to Governor General of Canada Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught. In August 1914, Buller joined P.P.C.L.I. as the battalion adjutant.

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The Princess & The Guardsman

Colonel-in-Chief Princess Patricia of Connaught
PrincessPat&
Lieutenant Colonel F. D. Farquhar, D.S.O. †
Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light InfantryFarquhar

So poor Francis Farquhar is dead; killed, as he would have wished it himself, in action, fighting for his own dear country and her Allies.

(London Times, 30 Mar 1915, 14)

Francis Douglas Farquhar was a Coldstream Guard and military secretary to the Governor General of Canada Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught. Born on 1 September 1874 in England, Farquhar had been a professional soldier and veteran of the Boer War and Somaliland.

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The Operagoer

Lieutenant Colonel F. S. Meighen

14th (Royal Montreal Regiment) & 87th (Canadian Grenadier Guards) Battalions

Meighen

Colonel Meighen was a very thorough and painstaking officer, very much loved by his men. Several companies of his battalion were French Canadians and they fairly worshipped him. He was a model trench commandant, never tired of strengthening the works, and always ready himself to do anything that he asked of his officers or men. He had made an excellent battalion out of his corps, and as we had alternated with them in the trenches until this turn, we knew their worth.

(Col. J. A. Currie, 15th Bn. The Red Watch, 1916, 199)

Frank Stephen Meighen was a Montreal businessman, mining director and patron of the arts. He was born on 26 December 1870 in Perth, Ontario. After inheriting the family fortune after the death of his father, Meighen pursued various business interests in Montreal. As a trained pianist, he held a particular interest for arts and culture. He founded the Montreal Opera Company, but it only ran for three seasons between 1910 and 1913.

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The Amputee

Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Webb, D.S.O., M.C.
47th (Western Ontario) BattalionWebb

A shell dropped in among the troops and twenty-two Winnipeg men and Col. Webb were wounded. Webb’s leg was completely severed near the hip. The colonel took out his pocket-knife and cut off the mangled remnants, then tied up his arteries with a shoelace. He afterwards underwent the necessary surgical operation without an anesthetic in Etaples field hospital. Recovering in England, he never used a crutch. He secured an artificial limb and left the hospital walking upon it. Within five months after his leg was blown off, he was back in France with his unit, with the artificial member.

(Winnipeg Tribune, 17 Nov 1924, 4)

Ralph Humphreys Webb succeeded Lieutenant Colonel M. J. Francis as commander of the 47th Battalion on 14 December 1917. In September 1914, the twenty-eight year old Webb had enlisted as a lieutenant with the Canadian Army Service Corps. Webb was born at sea on an ocean liner sailing from India on 30 August 1886. Raised in England, he immigrated to Canada in 1902.

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