Lieutenant Colonel Tommy Raddall, D.S.O. †
8th (90th Winnipeg Rifles) Battalion
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.
Major General Louis Lipsett †
8th (90th Winnipeg Rifles) Battalion
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.
Lieutenant Colonel G. T. Denison †
2nd Division Cyclist Company
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.”
Lieutenant Colonel E. W. Jones, D.S.O. †
21st (Eastern Ontario) Battalion
I have a presentiment that I am going into this fight probably to be killed.
(Lieut.-Col. Jones to W. R. Givens, Renfrew Mercury, 6 Sept 1918)
Elmer Watson Jones was killed in action on 8 August 1918 during the first day of the battle of Amiens. He had succeeded Brigadier General W. S. Hughes as commander of the 21st Battalion on 18 July 1916. A native of Brockville, Jones was born on 23 March 1874. He had served for eight years in the 41st Regiment and joined the 21st Battalion in charge of “A” company. He received a field promotion to second-in-command in January 1916.
Lieutenant Colonel Bart McLennan, D.S.O. †
42nd (Royal Highlanders of Canada) Battalion
His death is an irreparable loss, not only to the Battalion, which he loved, and for which he rendered such brilliant and devoted service, but also to the Brigade and Division. All ranks who had the privilege of serving under his command had learned to love him as a friend and counsellor, and to admire him as a brilliant and gallant soldier and gentleman.
(42nd Bn. War Diary, 3 Aug 1918, 4)
Bartlett McLennan succeeded Major S.C. Norsworthy as commander of the 42nd Battalion on 6 April 1917. Born on 10 November 1868, McLennan was a graduate of the Royal Military College and president of the Montreal Transportation Company. He advanced philanthropic initiatives in the city and promoted amateur sports as a means of social progress. An enthusiastic sportsman, McLennan was an accomplished equestrian, hunter and polo player.
Lieutenant Colonel A. T. Thomson, D.S.O., M.C. †
4th (Central Ontario) Battalion
The fourth will not forget him
Although his stay was short,
For he proved to be a soldier
Far above the average sort.
His ways were very quiet
But in action he was strong;
He was absolutely fearless
And his judgment was seldom wrong.
To the men he was a leader
Whom they were proud to serve,
Never say a word against him
Or you’ll regret that word.
He is gone but not forgotten
By those who knew him best,
For we know that safe in heaven
He has found eternal rest.
(4th Bn. Scout Section, 1917)
Born on 27 February 1888 in Port Credit Ontario, Alexander Thomas Thomson was a member of the 36th Peel Regiment. He was assigned to the 10th Battalion at the rank of lieutenant when the First Contingent assembled at Valcartier in August 1914.
Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Birchall †
4th (Central Ontario) Battalion
A few years ago it was thought that a soldier was a machine, and should never be allowed to think for himself; the South African War altered all that, as far as our Army was concerned; the soldier is now taught to use his brains and to take advantage of ground and cover, with results which have been amply justified during the present war. In other words, our men are regarded as intelligent human beings.
(Birchall, Rapid Training of a Company for War, 1915, 29)
Arthur Percival Dearman Birchall was one of three CEF colonels killed in action during the second battle of Ypres in April 1915. Born on 3 July 1877 in Gloucester, England, Birchall was a professional soldier and fourteen-year veteran with the British Army. Before the World War, he participated in an officer exchange program with the Canadian militia and relocated to western Canada. As a military instructor, he attempted to transform citizen militiamen into effective soldiers prepared for war.
Lieutenant Colonel G. B. Laurie
1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
I used to be up at cockcrow when a small child on Christmas Day, to see what Santa Claus had brought me, and I shall be up early enough to-morrow in all conscience too, but for a different reason—standing to arms—so that I shall not get my throat cut.
Best of love to you for Christmas. Whilst you are in church I shall be in the trenches, but both doing our rightful duty, I trust.
(Lt-Col. Laurie to Wife, 24 Dec 1914)
On 25 December 1914, George Brenton Laurie described the Christmas truce in No Man’s Land as “English and German, begin to swarm out to meet each other.” Suspicious, Laurie initially held his men back before going to investigate himself. The Germans complimented the colonel on his battalion’s marksmanship and were eager to learn if the Canadian Division had arrived yet. The armistice held for two days until both sides resumed the fighting.
Lieutenant Colonel W. Hart-McHarg †
7th (1st British Columbia) Battalion
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.”
This site normally profiles majors, colonels and generals—but for Remembrance Day, I focus on a private soldier, my great-great uncle, H. J. Barrett.
Private Harry John Barrett
204th and 3rd (Toronto) Battalions
Whist in the act of firing his Lewis Machine Gun during Military operations in the vicinity of UPTON WOOD, Private Barrett was shot by a bullet from the rifle of an enemy sniper and instantly killed.
(H. J. Barrett, Circumstances of Death, 30 Aug 1918)
Harry John Barrett was born in Peterborough, England on 31 March 1900. He immigrated to Canada with his family in 1907 and worked as a labourer in Toronto. Despite being only one month over sixteen, Harry enlisted in the CEF on 26 April 1916. Claiming to be eighteen years old , he joined the 204th Beavers commanded by Parkdale MPP, Lieutenant Colonel William Herbert Price. Harry’s older brother, George William Barrett, had signed up earlier in April with the 208th Irish Fusiliers, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Lennox, another Ontario MPP.