The Pawn

Major J. H. Sills
44th (South Saskatchewan) BattalionSills

The Officer Commanding the 44th Battalion who was in England undergoing treatment for a damaged shoulder and his Second-in-command had each been adversely reported on by me, and I had placed Major Sills, a Graduate of the Royal Military College, Canada and who had 16 months experience in France and whom I knew to be a most efficient Officer and capable business man in Command of the Battalion.

(Gen. W. Hughes to Gen. Turner, 20 Mar 1917)

John Hamilton Sills was a civil engineer, militiaman and graduate of the Royal Military College. A descendant of United Empire Loyalists he was born in Frankford, Ontario on 1 May 1882. Sills enlisted with William St. Pierre Hughes’ 21st Battalion in April 1915 and was promoted to July in August 1916.

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The Monocle

Lieutenant Colonel G. E. Sanders, D.S.O.
2nd Pioneer Battalion
Sanders

I would sooner see a man go around and murder people outright than have him peddling this sort of thing [cocaine]. It is apparently the greatest danger and menace against which we must contend. Once addicted to the habit, a man is never cured and is no longer a human being but a beast.

(Sanders, Calgary Herald, 15 Jan 1913, 12)

Born in Yale, British Columbia on 25 December 1863, Gilbert Edward Sanders was a graduate of the Royal Military College and a Calgary police magistrate. A former Northwest Mounted Police inspector, he was also a veteran of the 1885 Rebellion and the Boer War, where he won the D.S.O. Notorious for his harsh sentences, corporal punishment and blatant bigotry, Sanders once remarked, “the cells were the proper abode for many of the coloured men.”

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The Dragoon

Lieutenant Colonel C. T. van Straubenzee †
Royal Canadian DragoonsStraubenzee

It was the C.O.’s intention to ride with “B” Sqdn. Whilst he was walking to his horse from a point where he had been reconnoitring, he was killed by a shell.

(R.C.D. War Diary, 9 Oct 1918, 9)

Charles Turner Van Straubenzee was a professional soldier and veteran of the Boer War. Born on 17 June 1876 in Kingston, Ontario, he was graduate of the Royal Military College and the University of Toronto. In 1898, van Straubenzee joined the Royal Canadian Dragoons as a lieutenant and distinguished himself in numerous battles during the South African campaign. He was promoted to major in 1911.

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The Quiet Man

Brigadier General R. G. E. Leckie
16th (Canadian Scottish) BattalionLeckie_R

Spare of figure, short of stature, with an almost ascetic type of face, a trait which was accentuated rather than disturbed by the scar on the cheek received when he was mauled by a leopard in a big game hunt in Somaliland, the original Commanding Officer of the 16th was of a reserved disposition, even shy. In action he was cool and observant; he talked, and gave his orders, in a conversational tone. He showed not the slightest sign of irritation; and what such a temperament means in battle only the soldiers who have been through the turmoil of it can truly estimate.

(Urquhart, History of the 16th Battalion CEF, 1932, 97)

Born in Halifax on 4 June 1869 Robert Gilmour Edwards Leckie was a soldier and mining engineer in British Columbia. He graduated from the Royal Military College, served in South Africa and Somaliland, and organized the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders in 1910. During a safari on the Somaliland frontier in 1904, a wild leopard attacked him. Of the incident Leckie explained, “I brought the skull and skin home with me.”

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The Concussed

Lieutenant Colonel William M. Davis
54th (Kootenay) & 2nd Pioneer BattalionsDavis

He complains that he cannot apply his mind to things. Until lately, he could not even with difficulty read a novel.

Memory seems clear but patient seems absent minded.

For some time after accident could not read letters or figures unless he traced them with his fingers. At the same time there was evidently some disorientation. He was continually getting lost.

(Medical Case Sheet, 26 Feb 1917)

In 1880, William Mahlon Davis graduated with the first class from the Royal Military College in Kingston. He ranked fourth among the original eighteen cadets. Davis was born on 26 May 1857 in Malahide Township, Canada West. A member of the militia since his schooldays in 1876, Davis organized the 24th (Grey’s Horse) Regiment in 1908.

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The Lawyer

Lieutenant Colonel Henry S. Tobin, D.S.O.
29th (Tobin’s Tigers) BattalionTobin

Colonel Tobin bore testimony to his appreciation of what all those connected with the 29th had done. They had, he said, received splendid support in looking after the sick and wounded and the prisoners of war, and I know he was looking carefully—being a lawyer—after the money that has been so generously sent out to.

(Rev. C. O. Owen, 29th Bn., The Gold Stripe, 1919, 65)

Henry Seymour Tobin was a graduate of the Royal Military College and served with Lord Strathcona’s Horse in the Boer War. He was born in Ottawa on 12 January 1877. After the South Africa campaign, he became a lawyer in the Yukon, Alberta and British Columbia. A major with the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders, Tobin organized the 29th Battalion from Vancouver in early 1915.

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The Arsenalist

Lieutenant Colonel Fred Gaudet
22nd (Royal French Canadians) Battalion Gaudet

The news of Major Tremblay’s promotion to the command of the battalion and of Colonel Gaudet’s illness is absolutely untrue. I cannot understand who spreads these rumors that do no one any good and very often do a great deal of harm. Colonel Gaudet is still with us and I hope he will be with us until the end of the campaign.

(Vanier to Mother, 7 Jan 1916)

Frederick Mondelet Gaudet was a professional soldier and engineer with the Royal Canadian Artillery. Born in Three Rivers, Canada East on 11 April 1867, he was one of the first francophone graduates of the Royal Military College. In 1913, he incurred the wrath of Militia Minister Sam Hughes for criticizing the Ross Rifle. Hughes made trumped-up allegations of corruption and negligence against the militia colonel. One year later, in November 1914, Gaudet was appointed to command the 22nd Battalion, the first all French Canadian unit.

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The Polo Player

Lieutenant Colonel Bart McLennan, D.S.O. †
42nd (Royal Highlanders of Canada) BattalionMcLennan

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.

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The Grenadier

Lieutenant Colonel W. B. Kingsmill, D.S.O.
123rd (Royal Grenadiers) BattalionKingsmill

Feeling very confident that the Battalion will carry on in the future as it has done in the past, I wish one and all, A Happy New Year, and trust that it will please God to see our task completed, and that we will be back in Canada with those we Love in the not far distant future.

(Kingsmill, 123rd War Diary, 1 Jan 1918, 51)

Born in Toronto on 6 May 1876, Walter Bernard Kingsmill was a graduate of the Royal Military College and Osgoode Hall. He joined the 10th Royal Grenadiers in 1898 and became commanding officer of the militia regiment. In November 1915, he received authorization to raise the 123rd Battalion from Toronto.

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