Lieutenant Colonel Royal Ewing, D.S.O., M.C.
42nd (Royal Highlanders of Canada) Battalion
They were looked on as a necessary evil. War diaries were presumably for the benefit of historians, if you will, and were prepared as carefully as could be under the circumstances.
(Ewing’s testimony at Currie Libel Trial, 25 Apr 1928, 1)
Royal Lindsay Hamilton Ewing enlisted in the 42nd Battalion as a subaltern, rose from platoon leader to adjutant, and returned home as the commanding officer in 1919. Born in Montreal on 12 November 1878, he was a real estate agent and member of the Black Watch regiment. Having served with the 42nd throughout the war, Ewing was twice mentioned in dispatches, received the Distinguished Service Order and Bar, and won the Military Cross.
Lieutenant Colonel J. A. Gunn, D.S.O.
24th (Victoria Rifles) Battalion
I would like to sound this note of warning. This war has united the soldiers into the most powerful force for good or evil in this country. If we use this force to promote our own selfish purposes we will have forgotten the high ideals for which we fought.
(Gunn, Toronto Globe, 18 Mar 1919, 9)
A native of Toronto, John Alexander Gunn was born on 5 August 1873. He had first joined the Queen’s Own Rifles in 1897 but transferred to the Victoria Rifles when he moved to Montreal in 1901. In October 1914, Gunn was appointed to command the 24th Battalion. At a reception before he departed overseas with his unit, Gunn defended the war as a just cause: “It means the triumph of honor, or of dishonor; the preservation of centuries of progress or a reversion to brutal militarism with its battle cry of iron and blood– in fact the whole future of the human race is at stake.”
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.
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 Allan A. Magee, D.S.O.
148th (McGill C.O.T.C.) Battalion
“You are told that Montreal’s record for recruiting is wonderful. I tell you Montreal’s record is simply rotten,” said Lt.-Col. Magee at His Majesty’s Theatre last night in a stirring speech…
“We have tried to stir up the patriotism of Montreal but it seems as though we must give up because there is nothing left to stir.”
(Ottawa Journal, 1 March 1916)
Allan Angus Magee was a Montreal lawyer and graduate of the University of Toronto. He was born on 17 February 1881 in London Ontario. At the outbreak of the war, Magee joined the Canadian Officer Training Corps at McGill University as second-in-command. In November 1915, he was selected to raise the 148th Battalion from Montreal.
Lieutenant Colonel L. H. Archambault
41st (Canadien-Français) Battalion
The 41st, under Col. Archambault, had more than its share of desertions. The Colonel naturally was uncommunicative, but it was learned on fairly good authority that 150 men drooped away utterly…
(Toronto Daily News, 23 Oct 1915)
Born on 10 October 1879 in Montreal, Louis Henri Archambault was a lawyer, militia officer and Inspector of Cadets. He had served with the 64th Regiment for nearly twenty years. In early 1915, he transferred from the 22nd Battalion to raise the second French Canadian unit from Quebec, the 41st.
Lieutenant Colonel Harry Trihey
199th (Duchess of Connaught’s Own Irish Rangers) Battalion
Moreover the confidence of those interested in the Regiment is absolutely in Colonel Trihey, Should his perhaps too hasty action result in his being deprived of its command and prevent his leading it to the front, the reward of the sacrifices he has made and is willing to continue to make, will be that he will be held up to the public as having deliberately deceived and misled these men.
(Doherty to Borden, 9 Feb 1917)
Henry Judah Trihey was an amateur hockey player for the Montreal Shamrocks between 1897 and 1901. Regarded as one of the best forwards of his time, Trihey won two Stanley Cups with the team and played a crucial role in defending the championship during three challenge games. He was born on 25 December 1877 in Berlin, Ontario. After his hockey career, he became a barrister in Montreal.
Lieutenant Colonel C. C. Ballantyne
245th (Canadian Grenadier Guards) Battalion
Mr. HUGHES: The hon. gentleman on his return from overseas, was one of the most wrathy men I ever met.
Mr. BALLANTYNE: Disappointed.
Mr. MCMASTER: The remarks of the ex-Minister of Militia may be very interesting, but I would ask him to speak a little louder, so that we all may get the benefit of them.
Mr. HUGHES: I was saying that the present Minister of the Marine and Fisheries, on his return from England was—I will not say the maddest man, but one of the most intensely disappointed men that it has ever been my privilege to meet.
(Debates, 10 Apr 1918, 597)
Born on 9 August 1867, Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne was a Montreal industrialist and millionaire through marriage. He raised the 245th Battalion in late 1916 and departed for England with less than three-hundred volunteers in May 1917. After the breakup of his unit, Ballantyne became one of the hundreds of unemployed senior officers in London.
Lieutenant Colonel Joseph A. Dansereau
69th (Canadien-Français) Battalion
I made Lieutenant Dansereau my acting adjutant. He was my scout master and signalling officer, and when I went into the trenches either he or one of the other young rascals would step up smartly and start a conversation when I was passing a dangerous spot. I noticed that these escorts always got between me and the German lines so that if a bullet came they would get it first. This touched me very deeply but I made them stop it. No commanding officer was ever served more devotedly by his officers than I have been.
(J. A. Currie, The Red Watch, 1916, 176)
Born on 15 November 1890 in Montreal, Joseph Adolphe Dansereau was the son of Clément-Arthur Dansereau (1844—1918), influential Liberal journalist and editor of La Presse. A graduate of the Royal Military College and member of the Corps of Guides, the twenty-five year old Dansereau was one of the youngest CEF colonels when he was appointed to raise the 69th Battalion from Montreal in July 1915.