The Gambler

Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Stewart, D.S.O. †
Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light InfantryStewart_C

The letters from the regiment after his death read, “The men would follow him anywhere; he seemed to bear a charmed life.” Yet what was his life until the War gave him his chance? A life of adventure wearing down into plain middle-aged failure.

(Charles Ritchie [nephew], My Grandfather’s House, 1987)

Born on 14 December 1874 in Halifax, Charles James Townsend Stewart was a North West Mounted Police constable, sportsman, soldier, womanizer and all-round lovable scoundrel. After being expelled from the Royal Military College for gambling in 1892, he moved back to Halifax before joining the NWMP in 1896. After he was kicked out of the police for bullying and bad behaviour, he drifted throughout the Northwest and the Yukon. A veteran of the Imperial Yeomanry during Boer War, Stewart joined the P.P.C.L.I. as a lieutenant in August 1914.

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The Superhuman

Lieutenant Colonel A. E. G. McKenzie, D.S.O. †
26th (New Brunswick) BattalionMcKenzie

…he followed the immediate centre of his Battalion, and seeing his men held up by most destructive fire of all kinds, he pushed forward to personally lead them and was killed while so doing. On the way, prior to his death, he showed an extreme coolness and an almost superhuman courage.

(Capt. McGillivray to 5th Brigade O.C., 26th Bn. War Diary, Aug 1918, 32)

Archibald Ernest Graham McKenzie was a New Brunswick lawyer, Liberal Party campaigner and militia officer. He was born 21 January 1878 in Campbellton, McKenzie served as second-in-command with the 26th Battalion when it arrived in France in September 1915. By May 1916, he had replaced an ill Lieutenant Colonel James L. McAvity as commander of the battalion.

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The Immortalized

Lieutenant Colonel Harry Baker, M.P. †
5th Canadian Mounted RiflesBaker

It has been the lot of other nations to have their legislators, their parliamentarians, even their kings put on the uniform of soldiers and go forth to battle and meet a patriot’s death, but so far it has been the lot of Canada only once.

(Arthur Meighen, Debates, 3 Mar 1924, 49)

George Harold Baker was the only sitting Canadian Member of Parliament killed in action during the First World War. Born in Sweetsburg, Quebec on 4 November 1877, Baker was Conservative MP for Brome (1911—1916) and commanding officer of the 13th Scottish Light Dragoons. He died in the battle of Sanctuary Wood on 2 June 1916. He is commemorated with a life-sized bronze statue in the Centre Block of the House of Commons.

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The Kentuckian

Lieutenant Colonel W. W. Stewart †
86th (Machine Gun) BattalionStewart

The cost of this tremendous war cannot be stated in terms of the Stock Exchange, for life and happiness mean infinitely more than dollars and cents.

Who can assess the value of a genial disposition, a kindly, sympathetic nature, a forceful personality, a large heart, a noble, earnest spirit?

(The Canadian Machine Gunner, June 1917, 12)

Born on 1 June 1871 in Covington, Kentucky, Walter Wilson Stewart immigrated to Canada with his family as a boy. He pursued a career in architecture, working in Hamilton and Cleveland, Ohio. In the Canadian militia, he served for two years with the 13th Regiment and twelve years with the 91st Highlanders. Beginning in 1915, he organized the 86th Battalion based in Hamilton with former 4th Battalion commander Robert H. Labatt.

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The Methodist

Lieutenant Colonel Sam Sharpe, D.S.O., M.P. †
116th (Ontario County) BattalionSSharpe

But it is awful to contemplate the misery and suffering in this old world & were I to allow myself to ponder over what I have seen & what I have suffered thro the loss of the bravest & best in the world, I would soon become absolutely incapable of “Carrying on.”

(Sharpe to Muriel Hutchison, 21 Oct 1917)

Samuel Simpson Sharpe was a militia major and Conservative Member of Parliament for Ontario North (1908—1918). Born on 13 March 1873 in Zephyr, Scott Township, Ontario, he was a graduate from the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall. During his university days, he was a champion tennis player and became a prominent solicitor in Uxbridge.

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The Best Friend

Lieutenant Colonel J. V. P. O’Donahoe, D.S.O. †
87th (Canadian Grenadier Guards) BattalionO'Donahoe

You, Officers and men of the 87th have lost a gallant leader. And I have lost a trusted and dear friend. The whole Canadian Corps has lost a tried and able soldier.

(Brig-Gen. Odlum’s eulogy, 87th Bn. War Diary, 12 May 1918, 30)

On 8 May 1917, James Vincent Patrick O’Donahoe succeeded Major H. LeR. Shaw as commander of the 87th Battalion. Born on 27 May 1881 in Brockville, Ontario, O’Donahoe had served as a major with the 60th Battalion in France. In January 1917, he assumed command of the 199th Battalion for a tour of Ireland following Harry Trihey’s controversial resignation.

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The Ypres Three

Lieutenant Colonels
Birchall, Hart-McHarg & BoyleYpres3

The more details I learn of the battle before Ypres, the greater to me does the resourcefulness and bravery of brigadiers, battalion commanders, and individuals become apparent.

(General Horace Smith-Dorrien, Apr 1915)

The Canadians had many casualties, but their gallantry and determination undoubtedly saved the situation.

(Lord Kitchener, April 1915)

This week marks the one hundredth anniversary of the second battle of Ypres, the first major action of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The battle saw 5,000 Canadian soldiers wounded and nearly 1,000 killed including three battalion commanders. On 23 April 1915, Arthur Birchall (4th Battalion) was struck down leading his men armed only with his cane. On 24 April 1915, William Hart-McHarg (7th Battalion) was shot and killed while on a reconnaissance operation. On 25 April, Russell Boyle (10th Battalion) died of severe wounds and loss of blood at a clearing hospital. All three had belonged to the 2nd Brigade under the command of Brigadier General Arthur Currie.

The Father

Lieutenant Colonel Tommy Raddall, D.S.O. †
8th (90th Winnipeg Rifles) BattalionRaddall

He was smiling as he kissed us all goodbye, but his eyes were full of tears, like ours.

I can still see the trap trotting away, the driver flicking his whip and the man in khaki dabbing at his eyes with a handkerchief. Three years later, almost to the day, he was lying dead on the battlefield of Amiens.

(T. H. Raddall Jr., In My Time: A Memoir, 1976, 26)

Born on 9 December 1876, Thomas Head Raddall was a professional British soldier and an instructor at the Hythe Musketry School. In 1913, Raddall and his family transferred to Halifax, Nova Scotia. In September 1914, he joined the 8th Battalion at Valcartier with the rank of lieutenant. He was the father of Thomas Head Raddall Jr. (1903—1994), Canadian author of historical fiction who was made member of the Order of Canada in 1971.

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The Irishman

Major General Louis Lipsett †
8th (90th Winnipeg Rifles) BattalionLipsett

General Lipsett is not only a fine soldier but a sympathetic Irishman, with the power of inspiring personal affection and devotion among those under him to a very unusual degree.

He inspires such confidence that I cannot imagine any man showing fear in his presence. To have Lipsett by your side would be enough to give a coward courage. “He never asks anyone to do a thing that he is not ready to do himself,” his men say. “He never forgets a man. He knows everybody’s name and all about us.”

(F. A. McKenzie, Through the Hindenburg Line, 1918, 9)

Born on 14 June 1874 in Ballyshannon, Ireland, Louis James Lipsett was a professional soldier with the Royal Irish Regiment. He served for five years in India on the Northwest Frontier. A veteran of the Tirah Campaign and the Boer War, he participated in an officer exchange program with the Canadian militia in 1911 and relocated to western Canada. After the outbreak of the Great War, he secured British Columbia coastal defences and assumed command of the 8th (Little Black Devils) Battalion, based in Winnipeg.

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The Legacy

Lieutenant Colonel G. T. Denison †
2nd Division Cyclist CompanyDenison

Lieut.-Col. Denison’s death is a great personal loss to me as an old friend. It must be a splendid satisfaction to his family to know he upheld the traditions of the first military family in Canada. As to the loss to Col. Denison, I can only say that when I left him this morning he was bearing his grief like a Christian gentleman and a soldier.

(Crown Attorney Seymour Corley, Toronto Star, 15 May 1917, 2)

On 8 May 1917, George Taylor Denison IV was killed in action at the battle of Fresnoy. His father, Toronto police magistrate Colonel George Taylor Denison III (1839—1925) was a long-time Conservative militia leader, imperialist activist and patriarch of one of the city’s most influential Loyalist families. When the death of Denison was announced during a session of his father’s police court, the elder judge sat motionless before quietly exiting to his chambers. He was later heard to remark, that his son “would wish no better death than to die for his country.”

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