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.
Lieutenant Colonel H. J. M. R. DesRosiers
163rd (Canadien-Français) and 22nd Battalions
I do not believe a more competent O.C. than Lieutenant Colonel DesRosiers could be found in the C.E.F. The breaking up of the battalion would demoralize us. If allowed to go to the front as a unit, we will try our best to be a source of pride to our race and credit to Canada.
(Maj. Asselin to Arthur Mignault, Nov 1916)
Henri Joseph Marie Romeo DesRosiers was born in Vaudreuil, Quebec on 11 July 1880. A prewar member of the 65th Regiment, DesRosiers enlisted with the 14th Battalion in August 1914. A veteran of Second Ypres, DesRosiers was recalled to Canada in early 1916 to take command of a new French-Canadian battalion.
Major Georges Vanier, D.S.O., M.C.
22nd (Royal French Canadians) Battalion
I need not tell you that after the shock of losing a leg and the consequent inaction I am not in good condition.
I am happy at the thought that I had the courage to return to my boys in 1916 and that God gave me the strength of body and mind to do my duty under fire. It is a tremendous consolation that will comfort me until my dying day.
(Vanier to Mother, 13 May 1919)
Georges-Philéas Vanier was one of Canada’s most well-known veterans of the First World War. He became a high-ranking military officer, diplomat and 19th Governor General of Canada. Born in Montreal on 23 April 1888, Vanier was a graduate of Université Laval and a lawyer. In early 1915, he helped organize the 22nd Battalion under the command of F. M. Gaudet. After four years in the trenches, he had been shell shocked, multiple times wounded and lost his right leg.
Brigadier General Tommy Tremblay
22nd (Royal French Canadians) Battalion
I am confident that the French Canadians will defend all their trenches with fierce vigour and will hold on at any price, even the price of death. Let us not forget that we represent an entire race and that many things—the very honour of French Canada—depend upon the manner in which we conduct ourselves. Our ancestors bequeathed to us a brave and glorious past that we must respect and equal. Let us uphold our beautiful old traditions.
(Tremblay, Diary, 1916)
Thomas-Louis Tremblay would prove to be the 22nd Battalion’s most famous commanding officer. Notorious for his strict discipline, he was determined to prove the only all French-Canadian unit serving in the field was the finest in the CEF. Born in Chicoutimi, Quebec on 16 May 1886, he was a graduate of the Royal Military College, a civil engineer and member of the 1st Canadian Field Artillery.
Lieutenant Colonel Onésime Readman
167th (Canadien-Français) Battalion
As to Col. Readman, he thought he was sincere and a man who had a clear past. Colonel Readman was a man who had offered to do his bit for his country and this should be weighed in the sentence, and if he had not received what was due him, he should get it from the Government and he hoped he would be given full justice.
(Quebec Telegraph, 22 Apr 1918, 1)
In August 1914, Onésime Readman enlisted to defend King and Country; after charges of corruption and forgery four years later, he was forced to fight against the Crown in a Quebec courtroom. Born on 4 June 1877, Readman was a flavouring extracts manufacturer and militia officer. Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, he assumed command of the 4th (Chasseurs Canadiens) Regiment.
Lieutenant Colonel R. A. de la B. Girouard
178th (Canadien-Français) Battalion
There is a fine fibrillary Tremor of hands & tongue on Exam.
Insomnia with frequent migraine over left side & is all the time “nervous.” Is unable to walk a mile at ordinary Military rate. Says he notices he is very irritable at times & has “fits of depression.”
(Medical History of Invalid, 24 Apr 1919)
René-Arthur de la Bruère Girouard traced his family linage to the earliest French settlers in the 17th Century and was a direct descendant of Governor Pierre Boucher (1622—1717). A native of Quebec City, Girouard was born on 29 January 1882. He joined the Royal Leister Regiment at eighteen but left the army to work as a civil engineer and supervise track construction of the Pacific Railway in British Columbia.
Lieutenant Colonel Hercule Barré
150th (Carabiniers Mont-Royal) Battalion
If it had been intended to punish me and my battalion for a breach of discipline, no more drastic measure could have been adopted than the order to break it up and disperse its men, without their Officers, through the cadres of four different English speaking battalions.
Even if the necessity of breaking the cadre were conceded, from every point of view, the dispersion of the men is indefensible.
(Barré to Edward Kemp, 14 Feb 1918)
Born on 31 March 1879 in Montreal, Hercule Barré was a Quebec advertising manager with eighteen-years’ experience in the 65th Regiment. Wounded in the leg while fighting with the 14th Battalion during the second Battle of Ypres, Barré was invalided to Canada on board RMS Hesperian. When a German U-boat torpedoed the ocean liner off the coast of Queenstown, Ireland, Barré assisted the crew in evacuating the ship and loading the lifeboats. Sam Hughes praised the major, noting that his “conduct was only keeping with his splendid service at the front.”
Lieutenant Colonel L. J. Daly-Gingras, D.S.O.*
2nd Battalion, Quebec Depot
* His Majesty the King has directed that Ludger Jules Oliver Daly-Gingras, late Lieutenant-Colonel, 22nd Battalion, Canadian Infantry, shall cease to be a member of the Distinguished Service Order to which he was appointed January 1, 1917, and that his name shall be erased from the Register of the Order.
(Canadian Gazette, 11 Feb 1919, 3434)
For two years Ludger Jules Oliver Daly-Gingras fought with the 22nd Battalion until he was shell shocked at the Somme. For heroic gallantry during the battle, he received the Distinguished Service Order. By August 1918, Daly-Gingras was facing a court martial for allegedly embezzling a thousand dollars from the Quebec Depot battalion. His defence counsel strenuously defended the war hero, claiming, “If he was in his right mind he would never have jeopardized his entire career and sacrificed his 31 years of service, and his hard-won honors for that paltry sum.”
Lieutenant Colonel E. Leprohon
233rd (Canadiens-Français du Nord-Ouest) Battalion
Lieut-Colonel Leprohon is already one of the veterans of this war, but not satisfied with what he has already done, he is off to the front again in charge of the French-Canadians.
(Vancouver World, 31 Aug 1916, 16)
Gassed at Ypres in summer 1915, car-wrecked in 1916, train-wrecked in 1917 and ship-wrecked in 1918. A reserve officer with the 65th (Carabiniers Mont Royal) Regiment, Edouard Leprohon was born in Montreal on 16 November 1866. In August 1914, he volunteered with the 14th Battalion and earned a promoted from lieutenant to captain to major. He was invalided to Quebec for recovery in late 1915. Eager to get back to the front, he first enlisted with the 150th before receiving authorization to raise a French-Canadian battalion based in Edmonton.
Lieutenant Colonel Fred Gaudet
22nd (Royal French Canadians) Battalion
The news of Major Tremblay’s promotion to the command of the battalion and of Colonel Gaudet’s illness is absolutely untrue. I cannot understand who spreads these rumors that do no one any good and very often do a great deal of harm. Colonel Gaudet is still with us and I hope he will be with us until the end of the campaign.
(Vanier to Mother, 7 Jan 1916)
Frederick Mondelet Gaudet was a professional soldier and engineer with the Royal Canadian Artillery. Born in Three Rivers, Canada East on 11 April 1867, he was one of the first francophone graduates of the Royal Military College. In 1913, he incurred the wrath of Militia Minister Sam Hughes for criticizing the Ross Rifle. Hughes made trumped-up allegations of corruption and negligence against the militia colonel. One year later, in November 1914, Gaudet was appointed to command the 22nd Battalion, the first all French Canadian unit.