Lieutenant Colonel W.H. Moodie
9th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops
Then the agony began. There we lay in fatal range, many had been killed outright in the charge, and all who had not good cover were in fearful danger and the groans from different points all over the field told too plainly how they were picking off our men. Those of us who had good cover had to stick to it though it was fearful to be there and listen to the calls of the wounded for help.
(W.H. Moodie, 13 Dec 1899)
Born in Quebec City on 22 September 1871, Walter Hill Moodie was a British Columbia civil engineer and Boer War veteran. He volunteered with the Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry and arrived to South Africa in December 1899. In letters home to Kelso, British Columbia he recounted his journey and remarked on his and comrades’ frustration “kicking our heels impatiently for our first engagement.” Two months later he experienced the full agony of modern warfare on Blood Sunday, 18 February 1900.
Lieutenant Colonel Jack Harstone
4th Battalion, Railway Troops
There is no transcontinental railway in operations today on the North American continent which he has not had some part in building.
(The Forty-Niner, Jan 1932, 18)
John Brunton Harstone was born in Port Arthur, Ontario on 15 September 1879. He enlisted as a lieutenant with the 49th Battalion in January 1915. Earning the nickname, “Fighting Jack,” he served in France from October 1915 until he was wounded a year later. While recovering he received the Distinguished Service Order.
Brigadier General C.L. Hervey
4th Battalion, Railway Troops
During my entire service in France I had in addition to my other duties to supply detachments for the moving of His Majesty’s naval siege guns, and certain guns of the Royal Artillery, and to devise the construct emplacements for same.
(Gen C.L. Hervey, US Engineers. 3rd Volunteers, Yearbook, 1918)
Chilton Longley Hervey was an engineering contractor born in Paris, Illinois on 27 April 1872. He served in the Spanish American War as a sergeant with the 3rd Volunteer Engineers. The son of United Empire Loyalists, Hervey moved to Ontario after marrying a Canadian in 1907. As a member of the Corps of Guides, he enlisted in the Canadian Railway Construction Corps in 1915.
Lieutenant Colonel S.P. McMordie
13th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops
His real desire I am sure would be to land in the frontline trenches; however, his age and loss of an eye undoubtedly bars him from that objective. On learning from the press that there were many escapes from internment camps, and that two officers in charge of these camps had been suspended, it occurred to me you needed a tough guy and the Colonel was your man.
(G.W. Nickerson to secretary, Minister of National Defence, 19 May 1941)
Stewart Percival McMordie was born on 15 November 1877 and worked in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, as a contractor. He enlisted in the 48th Battalion in August 1915 and went overseas as a major. Following an instructional tour of the front, he re-joined the 48th which was re-designated 3rd Canadian Pioneers. On 13 June 1916, McMordie was badly wounded by a high explosive shell. A steel splinter resulted in the loss of his right eye.
Lieutenant Colonel Albert C. Garner, D.S.O.
195th (City of Regina) Battalion
The military record of Colonel Garner is a long and gallant one. During the Boer war he served as special scout in Lord Strathcona’s Horse in
1900 and 1901 and was severely wounded. He was honored by “special
mention in dispatches” in the London Gazette, February, 1901, and was
awarded the Queen’s medal and four clasps, the medal being presented
by His Majesty the King, Edward VII, on the 10th of February, 1901.
(Saskatchewan and its People, 1924)
Born on 6 September 1878 in Warwickshire England, Albert Coleman Garner immigrated to Canada with his family in 1888. He fought with Lord Strathcona’s Horse during the Boer War. After returning from South Africa, he joined the 16th Light Horse and the elite Corps of Guides. Before the First World War, he was a land surveyor and civil engineer in Saskatchewan.
Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence T. Martin
257th (Ottawa Railway Construction) Battalion
Ordered to Stop Recruiting
…Make your application without day’s delay. Battalion goes DIRECT to France to railroads. Physical test easier. Age limit 18 to 48. This is a hurry call. It is your last chance to join the 257th. If you don’t join immediately you will lose your chance to get in. Cooks and rockmen especially wanted. Last chance to go to France with Lt-Col. Lawrence Martin.
(Ottawa Journal, 8 Feb 1917)
Born on 11 June 1884 in Arnprior, Ontario, Lawrence Thomas Martin was a Renfrew County railway contractor. In December 1916, he was selected to recruit for the 257th Railway Construction Battalion, was one of the last numbered volunteer units. The 257th sailed for England in February 1917. It was re-designated the 7th Battalion in the Canadian Railway Troops once deployed to France.
Lieutenant Colonel Walter A. McConnell
256th (Toronto Railway Construction) Battalion
This battalion should be very popular, as a very small amount of drill is necessary, and the work of laying railways behind the lines will be particularly interesting.
(Toronto Star, 5 Jan 1917, 16)
Born on 28 September 1878 in Muskoka, Ontario, Walter Adam McConnell was a railway engineer and graduate of the Engineering Corps of the School of Science. In January 1917, he was authorized to raise the 256th Railway Construction Battalion. McConnell and the majority of his recruits had belonged to the 109th Regiment, the Home Guard unit organized by Lieutenant Colonel W. T. Stewart two years earlier. Including the volunteers in the 256th, by 1917 the 109th Regiment had provided a total 200 officers and 5,000 men for overseas service.
Major Warren M. Sage
211th (Alberta Americans) Battalion
Many in this unit have ancestors who fought in 1776 against England, or rather against the tyranny of an English king and against German mercenaries. The descendants of these fighting men of old are proud of their ancestors’ deeds. How could the descendants of those men living through these times of stress, in days to come, answer the very natural questions from their children: “Why did you not fight for the oppressed?”
(S. R. Flowers, The Legion, Dec 1915)
Warren Morrill Sage was an American-Canadian civil engineer and militia officer in Calgary. Born in New York on 28 January 1886, Sage moved to Alberta after graduating from the Columbia School of Mines in 1906. He joined the 103th (Calgary Rifles) Regiment as a private and was reputedly a “crack shot” with a rifle. At the outbreak of the war, Sage joined the 56th Battalion as a captain and later the 137th as second-in-command. After Militia Minister Hughes created the American Legion battalions in 1915, Sage offered to recruit a unit from Alberta and British Columbia.
Lieutenant Colonel Archie Earchman, D.S.O.
228th (Northern Fusiliers) Battalion
Col. Earchman was the most popular officer ever connected with a hockey club, and he drilled it into his men to play that game. They carried this out at all times. The best wishes of every player, fan and citizen go with the Battalion.
(Porcupine Advance, 21 Feb 1917, 6)
When Archibald Earchman began organizing the 228th Battalion in early 1916, he was as much interested in putting together a championship hockey team as he was an effective military unit. In total, he recruited over sixty semi-professional and amateur players. Earchman entered a team into the 1916/1917 season National Hockey Association but they were forced to withdraw when the battalion was ordered overseas in February 1917.
Lieutenant Colonel Tom Perrett
68th (Regina) Battalion
Lt. Col. Perrett was severely wounded by splinter from bomb which entered head. He was adm. YPRES Dressing Station.
(5th RW Bn., War Diary, 29 Sept 1917, 13)
He has risen above his misfortune, however and has determined to “carry on” at home…
(Morning Leader, 10 Aug 1918, 17)
Thomas Edwin Perrett was a school inspector, teacher and principal. He was born on 13 February 1871 in Pembroke, Ontario and moved west in the 1890s to teach in Manitoba. He later became superintendent of schools in the North West Territories and principal of the Regina Normal School. In spring 1915, Perrett enlisted as a major with Lieutenant Colonel Edgar’s 68th Battalion, raised from Regina and Moose Jaw.