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.

Continue reading

The Millionaire

Major A. Hamilton Gault, D.S.O.
Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light InfantryGault

Princess Patricia—or Lady Patricia Ramsay as she is now, spoke a few moving lines to us, walked through the ranks talking and chatting with the men—some of whom had been in the regiment when 25 years before this same gentle lady, then a young and extremely beautiful woman, had inspected the “Originals”.

On one side of her stood that grand old warrior “Hammy” Gault VC. [sic] Etc. who had given his leg to the cause in the last war and who would gladly do the same in this if he had any say in the matter…

(James Baker, P.P.C.L.I. to Mom, 11 Feb 1940)

Andrew Hamilton Gault was a gentleman militia officer and founder of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. Born on 18 August 1882 in Kent, England, he was a member of a successful and influential Montreal manufacturing family. Gault embraced an active outdoors lifestyle as he engaged in various pursuits from safari hunting to biplane flying. He served with distinction during the Boer War and joined the Royal Highland Regiment of Canada (Black Watch). By 1912, Gault controlled an estate valued at over $1.75 million.

Continue reading

The Maverick

Lieutenant Colonel Agar Adamson, D.S.O.
Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light InfantryAdamson

What really makes a real man? The best men I have known always openly say they are cowards and hate the situation they find themselves in and really are afraid, perhaps it is partly their education which helps them to realize the danger, but there is a great deal in being one of a long line of soldiers in a family, although this only partly accounts for it, for men who never saw a soldier and for generations have led useless lives, have behaved in a similar manner when put against it out here...

(Agar Adamson to Mabel Adamson [wife], 4 Mar 1915)

Agar Stewart Allan Masterton Adamson was the first Canadian-born commander of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. A native of Montreal, he was born on 25 December 1865. A member of an influential family, Adamson became a socially connected civil servant and militia officer in Ottawa. Despite being forty-eight and having poor vision, in August 1914 the Boer War veteran enlisted as a captain with P.P.C.L.I. under Lieutenant Colonel Farquhar.

Continue reading

The Berserker

Major Axel “Rass” Rasmussen †
97th (American Legion) BattalionRasmussen

Rasmussen was a big, handsome man; fearless in war and pitiless to four-flushers anywhere, any time.

(J. W. Pegler, Evening News, 26 June 1918, 2)

“But so far I’ve always found that a man has time to get down to avoid the fragments— if he moves fast. If it’s got your initials on it— well, no one but a prime so-and-so wants to live forever!”- Maj. Rasmussen

(E. S. Johnston,  Americans vs. Germans: the First AEF in Action, 1942, 33)

Axel Thorvald Rasmussen was one of the American Legion’s most famous members. The thirty-eight year old, Danish-born resident of Oregon was a veteran of the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection. During the Mexico Revolution, he fought in support of General Obregón’s army. Regarding his previous fights as “mere skirmishes,” in 1916, Rasmussen traveled to Canada in order to join Lieutenant Colonel Wade Jolly’s 97th American Legion.

Continue reading

The Principal

Lieutenant Colonel E. W. Hagarty
201st (Toronto Light Infantry) Battalion

Hagarty

I saw a mock funeral to day up to the 201 Batt they are being split up tomorrow, their Col. lost his job as they have less than 600 men. They dug a grave and buried a dummy representing their Col. They hated him, he was a whiskey soak, so on top of the grave they put a cross, a whiskey bottle, cig or some branches for flowers. Some reporters took a picture of it so likely it will be in the papers.

(L. E. Johns, 161th Bn. to Mother, 20 Sept 1916.)

Edward William Hagarty was principal of Harbord Street Collegiate from 1906 to 1928 and  member of Orange Order Lodge No. 344. He was born on 7 September 1862 in Brantford, Canada West. He served four years with the Queen’s Own Rifles while an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto. An influential figure in the cadet movement for twenty-five years, Hagarty was selected to raise the 201st Toronto Light Infantry in January 1916.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading