Maj. Coote

Major A. Leslie Coote
47th (British Columbia) BattalionCoote

Objecting to being relegated to duty in a safety zone while men he had recruited were “in the line”, Col. Coote entered a strenuous protest but militia trained senior officers were a drug on the market in England just then while juniors and men for the ranks were badly needed. This being the case, while hundreds of other Majors returned to Canada, Col. Coote resigned his commission, enlisted in the King Edward Horse as a trooper…

 (Chilliwack Progress, 29 Apr 1920, 1)

Born in Tynemouth, England on 9 February 1868, Andrew Leslie Coote was a farmer and senior officer in the 104th Regiment. As second-in-command to Lieutenant Colonel W. N. Winsby in the 47th Battalion, Coote often assumed responsibility for the unit on the front when his superior was away at brigade conferences and headquarters meetings.

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Lt. Col. Tait

Lieutenant Colonel John S. Tait
29th (Tobin’s Tigers) Battalion

Tait

Major J. S. Tait, acting-lieutenant-colonel since Colonel Tobin went to a higher post, had a narrow shave two days ago, being buried by a shell. Although badly shaken up and suffering from shell shock, he has refused to leave the boys and is sticking to it.

(Vancouver World, 6 Oct 1916, 3)

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Colonel Runaway

Colonel Jack Currie, M.P.
15th (48th Highlanders) Battalion
CurrieJA

As was the case to be in many Canadian battalions, Lt.-Col. Currie was an M.P. and very much more of a politician than an officer.

 He was one of the type of civilian-soldier who is simply worshipped by the poorer element among the ranks, but to serve under whom, for an officer, is sheer misery.

(Lt. Ian Sinclair, 13th Bn. personal diary)

The conduct of John Allister Currie at the second battle of Ypres in late April 1915 was the subject of much controversy and insinuation. According to some of his men in the 15th Battalion, he had fought “like a hero” with rifle and bayonet. However, by most accounts, Currie remained in a dugout well behind the lines, shell shocked and possibly drunk during the German gas attack on his unit at St. Julien.

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The Piano Salesman

Lieutenant Colonel Milton Francis, D.S.O
47th (British Columbia) BattalionFrancis

This officer appears before the Board after one month’s extension of leave. He feels very much better and fit to return to duty. Former hospital papers and medical Board puts his disability as V.D.H. [Valvular Disease of the Heart] which is an old lesion & in the opinion of the Board was not the cause of his present breakdown, which was due to nervous overstain,

(Medical Board Report on a Disabled Officer, 1 Mar 1918)

Born in London, Ontario on 26 March 1884, Milton John Francis was manager of a Fort William music store selling pianos and gramophones. He first enlisted with the 44th (Manitoba) Battalion and transferred to the 46th as second-in-command before assuming command of the 47th just before the Vimy offensive in April 1917 .

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The Brockvillian

Lieutenant Colonel W. S. Buell
3rd and 36th Battalions Buell

This officer was wounded on April 23rd near Ypres as described in A.F.A.45 of the 27th Aug’15. He now has very free movement at the shoulder, and has no pain and has considerable strength in the arm. His nervous condition, however, is not yet normal and this board recommends another month’s leave from this date.

(Proceedings of Medical Board, London, 11 Jan 1916)

Born on 11 October 1868 in Brockville, Ontario, William Senkler Buell descended from one of the oldest Loyalist families in Ontario. His ancestors had fought for the British in the American Revolution and the War of 1812. He followed his grandfather and father in politics and military affairs, becoming mayor of Brockville in 1900, president of the Liberal Association and commanding officer of the 41st Regiment in 1910. In August 1914, he helped to organize the 4th Battalion and was appointed second-in-command.

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The Philanderer

Major Laurence Clark
211th (Alberta Americans) BattalionClarkEL

He is a high strung individual and a “worrier.” He complains of insomnia and that he dreams a great deal.

He is markedly nervous and is 18 Ibs under weight. The Board is of the opinion that this Officer will not improve in this climate and recommend that he be invalided to Canada

(Proceedings of a Medical Board, 9 Aug 1917)

Laurence Erastus Clark was a traveling auditor for a New York banking firm. He was born in Buffalo on 17 February 1883 and had been an officer in the state National Guard. After the formation of the 97th American Legion in Toronto, Clark enlisted as a lieutenant. By February 1916, he had transferred to the 211th Alberta Americans to become second-in-command.

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The Worn-Out

Lieutenant Colonel Billy Evans, D.S.O.
52nd (New Ontario) BattalionEvans

Marked spells of general weakness, occasionally shortness of breath, easily fatigued, spells of nervousness with trembling of whole body. Has no confidence in himself and lacks concentrating powers.

(Medical History of an Invalid, 17 Jul 1919)

William Barnard Evans was a Montreal businessman with fourteen years’ service in the 3rd Royal Victoria Rifles. He was born in Toronto on 31 October 1875. On the formation of the 60th Battalion in spring 1915, he became second-in-command to Lieutenant Colonel Gascoigne.

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The Liaison

Brigadier General John Embury
28th (Northwest) BattalionEmburyJFL

Words can but inadequately express our feelings. Your personality at work or at play was an inspiration to all ranks, your personal disregard of danger, your sympathy with the wounded, and your human understating of our frailties will always dwell in our memories.

(Illuminated address to Embury from 28th Bn. Officers, 1920)

John Fletcher Leopold Embury was a Regina lawyer and commanding officer of the 95th Saskatchewan Rifles. Born on 10 November 1875 in Hastings County, Ontario, he was a graduate of the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall. In late 1914, Embury was authorized to form the 28th Battalion from the Northwest. The battalion’s official history declared, “No better choice could have been made. The colonel was a man’s man and won the confidence of all ranks…”

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The Double Colonels

Lieutenant Colonel A. J. Oliver
&
Lieutenant Colonel W. J. Douglass
34th (Guelph) Battalion

This officer was sent from the trenches in France Sept. 1916 suffering from nervous exhaustion due to shell fire, was in hospital in England one month then returned to Canada. At present he complains of sleeplessness, loss of strength, loss of appetite, and is easily startled and is 12 lbs. underweight.

(Douglass, “Medical History of an Invalid,” London, ON, 8 July 1916)

In January 1915, Andrew Joseph Oliver, commanding officer of the 29th Highland Light Infantry was appointed to raise the 34th Battalion from Oxford, Perth, Wellington, Waterloo, Huron and Bruce. William James Douglass, commanding officer of the 32nd Bruce Regiment was appointed second-in-command. Born on 25 May 1862 in Ashton, Canada West, Oliver was a prominent Galt manufacturer and nineteen-years member of the 29th Regiment. Born at sea on 1 January 1872, Douglass was a Walkerton accountant with nearly thirty years’ experience in the militia.

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The Londoner

Lieutenant Colonel W. G. Coles
Canadian Army Service Corps

…he is still suffering from nervousness, which takes the form of an indigestion and at times a depression of spirits. He has some sleeplessness, appetite poor, but is gaining slowly in weight. Condition is improving.

(Proceedings of Medical Board, London, ON, 5 Apr 1916)

Born in London, Canada West on 25 July 1865, William George Coles was a businessman and member of the city Board of Control. A long time militiaman, he deployed to France in early 1915 as part of the Canadian Army Service Corps. After several months in the field, he returned to Canada in January 1916 suffering from “nervous shock.”

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