Canadian Mounted Rifles - Other Units

The Canadian Mounted Rifles (1-13) were raised under two Mounted Rifle Brigades, plus additional unabridged units, from existing Militia Cavalry Regiments from coast to coast.

When first recruited as mounted rifles, all units were known as numbered Regiments of Canadian Mounted Rifles. The name change, for all CMR units came at the end of  December 1915 when these units were redesignated as infantry, which meant the number of men was increased to that of an infantry battalion. Accordingly, two CMR Regiments were dissolved (3rd and 6th), the men being separated between units. The 1st CMR and 2nd CMR received men from the 3rd CMR; the 6th CMR was absorbed into the 4th and 5th CMR.

The 1st Regiment CMR was raised in Brandon, Manitoba from the 5th Princess Louise's Dragoon Guards, the 22nd Saskatchewan Light Horse, the 12th Manitoba Dragoons and six other mounted regiments in Military District 10.

The 2nd Regiment CMR was raised in Victoria from the 30th Regiment, British Columbia Horse.The regiment was mobilized at Willows Camp, Victoria and recruited from 30th B.C. Horse (Vernon) and Victoria Squadron of Horse.

The 3rd Regiment CMR was raised on the 15th March in Medicine Hat and Edmonton, Alberta from the 21st Alberta Hussars and 19th Dragoons.

These three Regiments served in France and Flanders with the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles Brigade from the 21st September 1915 until the 1st January 1916, when they were reorganized and redesignated the 1st and 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifle Battalions of the 8th Infantry Brigade.

The 4th Regiment CMR was raised in Toronto from the Governor General's Body Guard and the 9th Mississauga Horse. 

The 5th Regiment CMR was raised in Sherbrooke from the 7th Hussars and the 11th Hussars.

The 6th Regiment CMR was raised in Amherst and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

These three Regiments served with the 2nd Mounted Rifle Brigade from the 21st September 1915 until the 1st January 1916 when they were reorganized and redesignated the 4th and 5th Canadian Mounted Rifle Battalions of the 8th Infantry Brigade. (The 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles along with the 8th Trench Mortar Battery and the 8th Machine Gun Company, formed the 8th Infantry Brigade of the 3rd Canadian Division).

To clarify:

In 1915 the 1st Regiment CMR was part of the 1st CMR Brigade (with the 2nd and 3rd Regiments), in the 2nd Canadian Division. (The 1st and 2nd CMR Brigades were attached to the Canadian Cavalry Brigade for the period September to December 1915).

From 1916 the 1st CMR Battalion was part of the 8th Infantry Brigade, in the 3rd Canadian Division.

Other Canadian Mounted Rifle Units:

7th CMR: Raised in London, Ontario from the Governor General's Body Guard, the 9th Mississauga Horse and the
1st Hussars. The battalion (less 'A' Squadron) formed the Canadian Mounted Rifle Depot in England.  'A' Squadron
was reorganized in Canada as the 2nd Divisional Cavalry Squadron.

All of the following battalions were
raised on the 15th March 1915 and disbanded on the 15th November 1920, and
were broken up to provide for reinforcements in the field. 

8th CMR: Raised in Ottawa from the 4th Hussars.

9th CMR: Raised in Lloydminster from the 22nd Saskatchewan Light Horse.

10th CMR: Raised in Regina and Portage La Prairie from the 22nd Saskatchewan Light Horse. 

11th CMR: Raised in Vancouver from the 30th Regiment, British Columbia Horse.

12th CMR: Raised in Calgary from the 15th Light Horse. 

13th CMR: Raised in Pincher Creek from the 21st Alberta Hussars. 

Link to Mounted Rifle Cap Badges -

Sources: C.H.Stewart "Overseas" 1970, and D.W.Love "A Call To Arms" 1999 via the Canadian Expeditionary
Force Study Group and the 'Matrix' resource. Bruce Tascona 'The XII Manitoba Dragoons'

These don't appear to be on the 'Matrix': (Last two pages of 3rd's diaries detail how the squadrons were reallocated)
Link to War Diaries of 3rd CMR -

Link to War Diaries of 6th CMR -

Extracts from 3rd and 6th CMR War Diaries held by Library and Archives Canada for 31st December 1915:-

(3rd CMR)
"...Instructions received that the three Regts 1st CMR Brigade would be formed into two Battalions to be known as the 1st & 2nd Battalions CMR. The 3rd Regt. CMR would be absorbed and cease to exist.                                                                                                              WM [Lieut. William McIntosh]

"A" Squadron under Major A.J.MORT        }  To be transferred to 1st Regt CMR.
"C"        "              "     Capt. J.C.BIGGS        }  the whole to be known as First Battn
M.G.S.                 "     Lieut.T.H.FENNELL }  CMR.

"B" Squadron under Major BATY with H.Q. Staff to be transferred to 2nd CMR. the whole to be known as 2nd Battn
CMR. The 3rd Regiment CMRs ceased to exist as a Regiment at midnight, after twelve months service, three months of which were spent on the Western Front.
The total casualties amount to
                                                   Killed    Wounded
                                    Officers      3.              4.
                            Other Ranks     11.            22.                                                                ..."

(6th CMR)
"...Meteren 31/12/15

Regiment started infantry training.
Weather Fine.
"Morning" Infantry training
"Afternoon" Infantry training
Weather:- Rainy..."

Banner Image:
Copyright All rights reserved by David W. Lacey shows 2nd & 3rd CMR Originals in France 1919. His Grandfather, Thomas Love (3rd & 2nd CMR) posed for the photos for this statue:-


Compiled and Edited 

By M. S. HUNT 

(Captain R.O.) 

Halifax, Nova Scotia:

The Nova Scotia Veteran Publishing Co., Limited


All Rights Reserved 

Copyright, Canada, 1920, by

M. S. Hunt.




                   _THE 6th CANADIAN MOUNTED RIFLES._



The 6th Canadian Mounted Rifles was recruited from the different

Maritime Provinces Militia Cavalry Regiments—

“A” Squadron from the 8th P.L.H. [8th Princess Louise's New Brunswick Hussars] (headquarters Sackville, N.B.), and 36th P.E.I. Light Horse [36th Regiment Prince Edward Island Light Horse] (headquarters Charlottetown, P.E.I.);

“B” Squadron from the 28th N.B. Dragoon Guards (headquarters St. John, N.B.), and

“C” Squadron from the 14th King’s Canadian Hussars (headquarters Canning, Nova Scotia).


The establishment of officers and warrant officers consisted of the



O.C., Lieut.-Col. R. H. Ryan, South African, Russian-Japanese,

American-Mexican Wars;

2nd I.C., Lieut.-Col. A. E. Ings, Militia Long

Service Medal;

Capt. and Adj., Capt. B. W. Roscoe (later Capt. J. W.


Q.M., Major R. A. March;

O.M., Major Colin Macintosh;

Chaplain,Capt. G. A. Kuhring;

M.O., Capt. F. A. R. Gow;

Sig. Off., Capt. H. R.Emmerson;

Asst. Adj., Lieut. E. M. Arnold;

Vet. Off., Lieut. J. S. Roy;

R.S.M., L. W. Long.


_“A” Squadron_—O.C., Major A. J. Markham;

2nd I.C., Capt. B. W. Roscoe;

Lieut. A. T. Ganong,

Lieut. G. N. D. Otty,

Lieut. G. R. Barnes,

Lieut. W. D. Atkinson,

Sqd. Sgt.-Major N. Dawes.


_“B” Squadron_—Major C. H. McLean;

2nd I.C., Capt. M. A. Scovil;

Lieut. E. J. Mooney,

Lieut. E. A. Thomas,

Lieut. H. S. Everitt,

Lieut. Geo. Morrisey,

Sqd. Sgt.-Major J. M. Lamb.


_“C” Squadron_—Major T. A. Lydiard;

2nd I.C., Capt. J. C. Gray;

Lieut. H. H. Pineo,

Lieut. J. P. Knowlton,

Lieut. W. J. Brown,

Lieut. H. L. Bowness,

Lieut. B. M. Beckwith,

Sqd. Sgt.-Major George Gill.


Colonel Ryan and many of the officers and other ranks had volunteered at

the outbreak of the war but owing to the expected necessity for the

employment of mounted troops in the Maritime Provinces (the 14th K.C.H.

having actually received orders for mobilization) their services were

not accepted. It was also intimated to Colonel Ryan, who was at

Valcartier, when the First Division was mobilized, that in the event of

the Maritime Province Cavalry not being mobilized as Militia Units for

home service he would be permitted to raise a Cavalry Regiment from

these Units and would be given command thereof, owing to his previous

service and experience in the field.


Accordingly Colonel Ryan returned to Nova Scotia and in December, 1915,

received orders to recruit the Regiment.



                            AT AMHERST, N.S.


The Regiment was mobilized at Amherst, N.S., mobilization dating from

March 17, 1915.


The period during which the Regiment was quartered at Amherst was spent

in perfecting the organization, taking on recruits and training the

latter, owing to restrictions being largely confined to setting-up

exercises, arm drill and route marching with inspections by various



While at Amherst a draft of two hundred volunteers was sent as

reinforcements to the Infantry Regiments in England to make up for the

losses sustained by the Canadians in the Second Battle of Ypres. These

were replaced by new recruits.



                          AT VALCARTIER CAMP.


In May, 1915, the Regiment was moved to Valcartier, being brigaded with

the 4th and 5th C.M.R.’s, under command of Colonel (later

Brigadier-General) C. A. Smart.


Training at Valcartier was intensive and performed on foot, as horses

had not been received, the Cavalry formation being however retained.

Here the Unit received instruction in musketry and rather prided

themselves in their ability in this line.


While at Valcartier and also when at Amherst they were asked if they

would volunteer to serve as dismounted troops, and the answer was always

that “we will serve in any way we are needed.”






The 6th C.M.R. left Valcartier early in July for England, embarking at

Quebec on the slow South American cold storage boat _Herschel_.

Naturally the accommodations were not of the best, as there were six

hundred men and four hundred horses on a boat without practically any

passenger accommodation. Their eleven days’ voyage ended at Devonport,

where they got a great reception. At Exeter they were met at the station

by the good ladies of that town and given bags of food and fruit, and

had their water bottles filled with hot coffee and tea. Many times since

has this been spoken of in grateful words by the men, who were hungry

and cold from the long train journey. On arrival at Camp in Dibgate they

found themselves once more camping in the sand. As active service in

Egypt had been spoken of, the Unit thought the authorities must be

trying to accustom it to its future surroundings.


While at Dibgate the Unit received a draft of officers and men from the

8th C.M.R., under command of:

Lieut. T. D. Johnstone (later Capt. In Command of “B” Co., 5th C.M.R., wounded):

second in command, Lieut. H.N. Bate (transferred to R.C.D.’s, when Regiment was broken up).

Many of the men who had been sick, owing to the strenuous training, had been transferred to hospital, and when convalescent were sent to the Cavalry Reserve Depot. These had been replaced by the draft of men from the 8th.





The Regiment proceeded to France on October 24, 1915, the Brigade being

attached to General Seely’s Cavalry Division, operating as Corps Troops

in the areas of Ploegsteerte and Messines.


The following officers and warrant officers went to France with the

Regiment and saw service at Ploegsteerte and Messines during the fall

and early winter months of 1915.


O.C., Lieut.-Colonel Shaw (later O.C. 1st C.M.R., killed in action June

2, 1916).

2nd I.C., Lieut.-Colonel Ings:

Adjt., Capt. J. W. Long:

Q.M., Major R.A. March (later to 4th C.M.R. Battalion);

P.M., Major C. McIntosh (later to Can. Artillery);

M.O., Capt. F. A. R. Gow (later to Can. Artillery);

Sig. Officer, Capt. H. R. Emmerson (later Major 219th Infantry


Vet. Officer, Lieut. J. A. Roy (later to Fort Garry Horse).


_“A” Squadron_-Major A. J. Markham (later to Fort Garry Horse),

Capt. B.W. Roscoe,

Lieuts. A. T. Ganong,

G. N. D. Otty,

G. R. Barnes,

T. D. Johnstone;

Sqd. Sgt.-Major N. Dawes.


_“B” Squadron_—Major C. H. McLean,

Capt. M. A. Scovil,

Lieuts. E. J. Mooney,

E. A. Thomas,

H. S. Everett,

George Morrisey;

Sqd. Sgt.-Major J.M. Lamb (all later to 4th C.M.R. Regt.).


_“C” Squadron_—Major T. A. Lydiard (later to R.C. Dragoons),

Capt. J. C. Gray,

Lieuts. H. H. Pineo,

J. P. Knowlton,

B. M. Beckwith,

H. N. Bate;

Sqd. Sgt.-Major Geo. Gill, D.C.M., later R.S.M. 5th C.M.R.


Lieut.-Colonel Ryan transferred to the Artillery, in which he served

with distinction to the end of the war being decorated for conspicuous

gallantry in the field.



                        REORGANIZED AS INFANTRY.


The Division was withdrawn from the trenches in December, 1915, and

orders were subsequently received that the 1st and 2nd C.M.R. Brigade

should be reorganized into the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade, consisting

of 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Battalions of Mounted Rifles. The junior

Regiments in each Brigade, namely the 3rd and 6th C.M.R., were split up

between the two senior Regiments, thus forming four Infantry Regiments.


The ostensible reason for this was the necessity of relieving infantry

in trenches and the unsuitability of the cavalry formation for that

purpose. The change in formation necessitated the transfer to England of

officers of senior rank.


The command of the reorganized Brigade was assumed by Brig.-Gen. V. A.

S. Williams on January 1, 1916, and training in infantry drill and

tactics was gone at in dead earnest by all ranks.


This training continued both in the line and out and the Brigade

occupied the Ploegsteerte area until March, 1916, when it was moved to

the Ypres Sector as part of the newly-formed 3rd Division, commanded by

General Mercer, and took over the Hooge-Hill 60 Sector.


The disposal of the various Squadrons of the 6th C.M.R. was as follows:


“A” and “C” Squadrons were formed into “D” Company of the 5th C.M.R.

Battalion, the company officers and warrant officers being:


Captain B. W. Roscoe (later Major, D.S.O., 2nd I.C. 5th C.M.R.

Battalion, wounded June 3, 1916, at Sanctuary Wood);

2nd I.C., Captain H. H. Pineo (later killed in action at Mt. Sorrell, Ypres Sector, July,1916); Lieuts. A. T. Ganong, G. N. D. Otty, G. R. Barnes; Lieut. J. P. Knowlton (later to record office at Rouen, and received promotion there to Captain);

C.S.M. George Gill (later R.S.M. 5th C.M.R. Battalion);

“B” Squadron was formed into “D” Company of the 4th C.M.R. Battalion, the

company officers and warrant officers being:

Major C. H. McLean (later 2nd I.C. 4th C.M.R. Battalion);

Capt. M. A. Scovil;

Lieut. George Morrisey.




                            SANCTUARY WOOD.


The first serious engagement in which the Brigade was concerned was the

Battle of Sanctuary Wood, which began June 2, 1916.


The disposition of the Brigade was: 1st and 4th C.M.R., front line and

close support; 5th C.M.R., Battalion H.Q. and three Companies in support

at Maple Copse; one Company in reserve at Zillebeke Bund; 2nd C.M.R. in

Brigade reserve near Poperinghe.


The morning of June 2nd was clear with good visibility. About 8 a.m. the

Hun started a heavy bombardment, which grew in intensity, and

information was received that an attack was in progress on the sector

held by the 7th and 8th Brigades. The bombardment continued unabatingly,

and about twelve o’clock mines were seen to be blown. The whole of the

area held by the two Brigades was being systematically and furiously

shelled, and communication with the forward area was impossible.


About 2 p.m. Captain Roscoe received orders to reinforce with his

Company, the remainder of the Battalion at Maple Copse. There was no

route specified, the officer conveying the order remarking that he hoped

they would get through.


The only other officer with the Company at this time was Lieut. G. N. D.

Otty, but it developed that the N.C.O.’s had the requisite requirements

of leadership and judgment. The Company, led by Captain Roscoe, advanced

to the support of the remainder of the Battalion, and in full view of

the enemy, through an extremely heavy barrage of fire, reached Maple

Copse with few casualties, reporting to Lieut.-Colonel G. H. Baker, then

commanding the Battalion.


Orders were then received to connect up with the 7th Brigade on the

left, to dig in and hold the Copse to the last. Then it was that the

N.C.O.’s showed those qualities of leadership and judgment, which later

were to be recognized in a substantial manner.


C.S.M. George Gill, with twenty men was ordered to occupy and hold a

strong point whose garrison had been killed. This he did with great

bravery, showing much skill in defending the position. Sgts. George

Chase, H. McGarry and T. W. Martin led detachments through the Copse and

dug in on the edge next the enemy. Lieutenant Otty was absolutely

fearless in assisting in the disposition of the Company, refusing to

avail himself of anything that looked like shelter. He remarked to the

Company Commander that if he was to be killed that would happen and that

his men were his first consideration. Unfortunately he was hit and

killed within a short time after arrival at the Copse.


The enemy made several ineffectual attempts to break through the line,

and at each repulse his artillery fire became more severe. There was

absolutely no shelter from his fire, and the Copse was like an inferno.

The Company held the position, and were reinforced the next morning by

the 2nd C.M.R.’s. After this things quieted down and the remnants of the

Company marched out that night.


At the roll-call on relief only one officer (Lieutenant Barnes) and

twenty men answered their names, the remainder of the Company which went

into action 130 strong, having been either killed or wounded.


Captain Roscoe had been wounded on the morning of June 3rd, after the

2nd C.M.R.’s had arrived, and the command of the Company was taken over

by Lieutenant Barnes, who was the Battalion Bombing Officer, and with

his bombers had been active in the defence of the position. Lieutenant

Barnes made several very daring patrols, practically between the posts

of the enemy, who had attempted to push down hill in the long grass. It

was through his efforts that the Unit was able to concentrate its rifle

fire on the dangerous places and dislodge several machine guns.

Lieutenant Barnes afterward got the M.C. for his work on this occasion.


The Battalion, reduced to some 300 all ranks, moved into rest billets,

and the losses were filled by a large draft of officers and other ranks

from England.


In the reorganization of the Battalion

Major D. C. Draper (later Brigadier-General Commanding the Brigade) became O.C. (Lieut.-Colonel Baker having been killed in the engagement);

Captain Roscoe was promoted to be second in command, awarded the D.S.O. for his work on the occasion and mentioned in despatches.

The command of “D” Company was taken over by

Lieut. H. H. Pineo (later promoted Captain), with

Lieutenant Barnes, 2nd I.C.


Sergt. Harold McGarry was promoted to C.S.M. in place of George Gill,

who was awarded the D.C.M. and promoted to be Regtl. Sgt.-Major for his

meritorious services and bravery evinced during the battle.

Sergt. Geo.Chase, who was severely wounded, was awarded the Military Medal and slated for a commission.


The 4th C.M.R. Battalion also lost heavily in the battle, and “D”

Company of that unit thereafter practically lost its identify as a

Maritime Province Company, owing to the casualties suffered.


The command of the Brigade was taken over by

Brig.-General J. H. Elmsley, D.S.O. (afterward Major-General), replacing General Williams, taken prisoner in the battle, while the command of the Division devolved upon

Major-General Lipsett, D.S.O. (later killed in action), the Divisional Commander, General Mercer having been killed during the action.


The Brigade, and incidentally the Company, under the new command had

another very strenuous period of training, and after an initiation trip

for the new men the whole Company moved up again to take their place in

the line. While in training they had the benefit of the advice of a

C.S.M. from the Welsh Guards, which was a great help, especially to the

N.C.O.’s. This training showed later on the Somme.



                      THE BLUFF—MOUNT SORREL LINE.


On the first trip in after the June fight, the Unit took over the line

on Mount Sorrel. The first night in, the Hun started his regular trench

mortar strafe. One of the first of these landed on the signallers’

dugout, next company headquarters, and buried the men on duty there.

Captain Pineo and Lieutenant Barnes, together with some of the men,

started in to dig them out. At that time they could still hear the men

groaning. Almost immediately afterward the Hun threw over another trench

mortar. The men saw it coming by the trail of sparks, and all scattered

up and down the trench. Captain Pineo was struck and instantly killed.

The work of rescuing the men who had been buried need not have been

performed by him. It was his anxiety for his men that cost him his life.

Lieutenant Barnes at once took over the command of the Company. Word was

here received that the Hun had dug some mines under the trench occupied

by the Company, and to be on the lookout. During the night a party who

were digging out in front uncovered a mine sap and on pulling up some

planks from the roof saw a man with a lighted candle passing under the

lines. Explosives were immediately obtained and the sap blown. This

evidently put the “wind up” the Hun for he blew the remaining mines,

some of which were hardly clear of his wire.




                             AT THE SOMME.


Shortly after this the Unit left for the Somme, arriving in Albert on

September 1st, after a long, hard march, and severe training. They moved

up in support and were selected as one of the two Companies to be first

over the top. In this engagement, owing to previous officer casualties,

the sergeants had to lead Platoons. The attack on September 15th between

Moquet Farm and Courcellette was the first occasion in which the Tanks

were used. The Unit had wonderful success on this day, losing very few

men in the attack. Afterward, out of one hundred and twenty, forty were

killed and sixty wounded, holding the trench. Lieutenant Barnes was

awarded the bar to the M.C. and his majority for his work on this

occasion. No one could speak too highly of the way in which he led his

men, and it was largely due to his dash that the attack was so

successful. Mention should be made here of Sergeant Lowther, who was

left behind with a party of ten men to garrison the trench until

relieved by incoming troops. He lost a leg and several of the men were

killed and wounded before the relief was accomplished. Sergeant Lowther

was awarded the M.M. Sergt.-Major McGarry, who had been recommended for

a commission, was killed in this action.


The Unit’s next attack was on October 2nd when “D” Company was in

support. The objective was Regina Trench, strongly held by two divisions

of German Marines, who had just been brought from Ostend to try and stop

the Canadians. This was one of the stiffest hand-to-hand fights the

Company ever had, and naturally the casualties were very heavy. Several

times the Company managed to bomb several hundred yards of trench clear,

but each time the Hun would come back with reinforcements. At daybreak,

with bombs and ammunition completely exhausted, the few survivors were

forced to withdraw to the jumping-off trench. Every officer engaged was

either killed or wounded. Sergt.-Major Holmes, who led the Company on

this occasion, after the officers were knocked out, was awarded the M.M.

Captain Beckwith, who had been detailed as O.C. of the 8th L.T.M.

Battery, and had joined the Company for this occasion was wounded in the

face. His leadership and energy were of great assistance, and it was

largely due to him and his battery who were carrying ammunition that the

Company was able to hold on as long as it did.


The remainder of the time at the Somme was spent in relieving and

holding front-line positions. The Battalion was complimented by the Army

Commander for its fine work while at the Somme, a personal visit being

paid by him to Battalion Headquarters for that purpose.


In addition to the decorations mentioned as being won here, many of the

officers of the Battalion were cited for bravery and gallantry in the

field. Sergeant T. W. Martin was awarded the M.M. and slated for a

commission for a daring reconnaissance of the enemy line under artillery






                           ON THE VIMY FRONT.


The Unit’s next move was to the Vimy front, where it was soon apparent

that preparations were being made for a terrific onslaught on the Hun.

Some time was spent here in assisting in the work of preparation, after

which the Unit was withdrawn with the rest of the Brigade for a period

of intensive training in attack over a taped layout of the enemy

trenches. The Unit was then moved up to its part of the line, being in

close support to the 4th C.M.R. Battalion.


The Battle of Vimy Ridge will live in history as the great achievement

of the war, owing to the position being considered impregnable and the

fact that it was captured with inconsequential losses, mainly due to a

well considered plan of attack, absolute co-operation between all

branches of the service and thoroughness of preparation.


The Company carried on with the usual steadiness during the engagement

and rendered valuable assistance, its losses being negligible.



                          ON THE DOUAI PLAIN.


For some time after the capture of Vimy Ridge it was found impossible to

bring up the artillery within range, as the Hun had retired to a line on

the outskirts of Lens and Douai. The Company, with the rest of the

Battalion, pushed over the Ridge and were in position as a sacrifice

Battalion to fight to the last man, in the event of a counter attack

being launched to retake the Ridge. Trenches were constructed, deepened

and strengthened, but the expected did not happen, and finally the guns

were able to get up within range, from which time ordinary trench

routine was resumed.


During a tour in the trenches on this front a raid was attempted by the

Hun on the Company front. It was unsuccessful, the enemy being repulsed

with heavy loss.


Lieutenant Holmes was awarded the M.C. for his work on this occasion,

displaying great coolness and gallantry in holding off single-handed,

until reinforced, a party of Huns.


The Battalion at this time was under the command of Major Roscoe,

D.S.O., who the day following the attempted raid received a message from

the Divisional Commander complimenting the Battalion on their steadiness

during the attack. A few days after the Brigade was withdrawn from this



The Company, which up until now had been practically all Maritime

Province men, under the new reinforcement scheme drew their men from

Quebec, and for a while the Company was made up almost entirely of

French-Canadians. After Passchendaele, during which the Company gave its

usual assistance to the Battalion, the wounded men began to come back as

well as some of the N.C.O.’s who had been granted commissions, and once

again it became a Maritime Province Company. It was at Passchendaele

that Capt. L. C. Eaton was killed, just before going over the top.


In the winter of 1917 the Unit moved back to their old front at Vimy. In

March, 1918, the Battalion put on a raid of 250 men. Lieutenants Gillis

and Young of the old “D” Company took part in this, and were both

awarded the M.C. for their work. Gillis in particular had done some very

fine work during the second attack on the Somme. He had come back from

hospital with an unhealed wound in his arm, and although it was too late

for him to secure a rifle and the necessary equipment, he took a

pick-axe handle and joined his Company in going over the top. He brought

back the prisoners, sixty in all, taken on that occasion.


After a pleasant spring spent in reinforcing different parts of the

line, in August the Unit once again took the road south for Amiens. The

work done by the Company during this attack was spectacular. One of

their accomplishments was the capture of a 5.9 Battery in action at

point-blank range. One of the old 6th men was awarded the D.C.M. for his

work on this occasion and Lieutenant Barnstead was awarded the Croix de

Guerre for his leadership.


Lieutenant Smith was very seriously wounded during the next scrap in

front of Arras, called the Second Battle of Arras. He had been a

stretcher-bearer-Sergeant with the old Company and was awarded a

commission in the spring of 1917. He was given the M. C. for his work at

Arras in the taking of Monchy. He afterwards died of wounds in London.

His work all the time he had been with the Battalion had been

exceptional and the award of his M.C. was very popular.


The next fight was for Cambrai, which as far as this Company was

concerned consisted of a hunt for Huns through the ruins, collecting

souvenirs by the way. The Company had a brush with the Bosche on the

other side of the town, but they were merely scouts left behind and

pulled out as soon as fired upon. The Company was sitting down having

dinner when the English troops came through. As there had been no

barrage they did not know that the town had been taken. From here the

Company went to Valenciennes and then on to Mons. Lieutenant Gillis was

wounded at Valenciennes and invalided to England.




The following other ranks of the 6th C.M.R. Regiment, who went to “D”

Company of the 5th. obtained commissions with the Battalion for

gallantry and devotion to duty on the field:

J. W. Lewis, M.C. (later Capt. 8th Bgd. Light Trench Mortars);

L. C. Eaton (later Capt. O. C. “D” Company, killed at Passchendaele);

A. C. Wiswell, wounded June 2, 1916(later Div. Bombing Officer, Bramshott); W. O. Barnstead, Croix de Guerre;

C. G. Dunham, M.C., wounded June 2, 1916;

H. A. Smith, M.C.,died of wounds received at Monchy, Aug. 28, 1918;

L. J. Young, M.C.,wounded June 2, 1916, and at Monchy, Aug. 28, 1918;

A. E. Gillis, M.C.,wounded three times;

A. H. Weldon, wounded June 2. 1916;

T. W. Martin,M.M., wounded Aug. 9th at Vimy;

W. J. Holmes, M.C., M.M., wounded at Lens, 1916;

F. I. Andrews, M.M., wounded June 2, 1916, and November, 1918;

Gordon Campbell, wounded twice;

C. W. McArthur, M.M., wounded twice;

A. H. Whidden, wounded June, 1916;

A. Desbrisay, wounded June,1916, died since returning home.


Cadets undergoing training when Armistice was signed:

Duncan Chisholm,

Campbell McLellan,

Wm. H. Graham, M.M.,

J. A. Cameron, D.C.M.,

Walter Anderson, D.C.M.


The following were gazetted to other Regiments:

A. Rogers,

N. Rogers,

D.B. Holman,

Stuart Roy,

B. Elliott,

Geo. Morrison.


“B” Squadron and Headquarters, 6th C.M.R.’s, went to the 4th C.M.R.

Battalion and formed “D” Company of that Battalion under the command


Major C. H. McLean, D.S.O (later 2nd i/c 4th C.M.R.’s);

Capt. M. A. Scovil, 2nd i/c (seriously wounded and taken prisoner June 2, 1916).

Lieut. H. S. Everett, bombing officer 4th C.M.R., was wounded at

Sanctuary Wood, May, 1916.

Lieut. E. A. Thomas was killed in action at Sanctuary Wood.

Lieut. Geo. Morrisey, Intelligence Officer of 4th C.M.R., was killed in action June 2nd, 1916, while attempting to save a comrade’s life.


The following N.C.O.’s received commissions from the 4th for gallantry

and devotion in the field:

C. W. Hicks, wounded June 2, 1916 (afterwards bombing officer, 34th Reserve, Seaford).

J. H. Craigie, gazetted to the Imperial Infantry;

N. McKenzie, commission with the 85th N.S. Highlanders;

J. O. Spinney, commission with the 52nd Battalion;

H. B. Fenis, Lieutenant R.A.F.;

J. J. Rowland, 4th C.M.R.;

J. H. Harris, Depot Battalion, St John;

W. C. Wetmore, 236th Battalion.

With illustrations –  (Greg's Fonds at LAC)

The Edge Of Hell (from Legion magazine)

March 1, 2007 by Tim Cook

Dear old Governor,
This is Good Friday, and I am spending the day girding myself for action. For our Easter Sunday, with peace on earth and good will towards men, I take part in the greatest battle in Canada’s history and perhaps in the history of the world. So this is to say farewell in case I go down.

This ‘last letter’ was posted on April 7, 1917, by Lieutenant Gregory Clark to his father, only a few days before he was about to go into his first battle. It was at Vimy Ridge, a name that he could not mention to his kin at home for security reasons, but also one that they would not have recognized either. That would change in the months and years ahead as Vimy took an epic place in Canada’s pantheon of national signposts and historical events.

In April 1917, however, Clark and his companions in the Canadian Corps only saw the ridge as a hulking obstacle, heavily fortified and nearly impregnable. Previous offensives against the seven-kilometre ridge by French and British troops had failed. The attempt by the French occurred in the early summer of 1915 while the Canadians were at Festubert and Givenchy. The French threw many divisions at the ridge and were repulsed in a bloody slaughter that saw the loss of more than 100,000 French and approximately 80,000 German soldiers.

Clark well understood the magnitude of the task facing the Canadians, and that there was a good chance they would be defeated and that he might not come home.

He was 24 when Canada went to war in August 1914. At the time, he was at his cottage with his girlfriend, Helen. They had been courting for about a year and cared deeply for one another. Gregory and Helen returned to Toronto on Aug. 15, and were more than a little surprised to find that the Dominion had been at war for almost two weeks. But they were nonplussed by the event and Clark, an inveterate writer and outdoorsman, returned to his post at the Toronto Star newspaper. He penned in his private diary: “The war is still raging. It does not stir us at all deeply…. It seems so far away.”

Clark worked on the newspaper’s crime beat throughout 1914, but increasingly he was interested in the families of soldiers. Toronto was rocked by terrible casualty figures after the titanic battle of Ypres in April 1915, where the Germans unleashed chlorine gas for the first time in the history of warfare and more than 6,000 Canadians were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. Clark interviewed family members and publicized their stories through his articles. The war was coming home. His father and brother were deeply patriotic; brother Joe soon enlisted, while his father urged able-bodied men to do their duty in widely published newspaper editorials. Clark increasingly felt pressure to serve his country, but his love for Helen was strong, and he could not bear to leave her.

The strain of knowing that others were fighting on his behalf eventually drove Clark to make the gut-wrenching decision; he enlisted as a private in the 170th Battalion on March 27, 1916. Standing a mere five feet, two and a half inches, and weighing 110 pounds, he nonetheless had the education and bearing to be an officer. He was quickly promoted, then commissioned, and spent much of 1916 in officer training schools in Canada. He also married his beloved Helen. For a couple that had barely been apart longer than a day, he would ship out to England four days after the wedding, and not see her again for another 1,039 days.


By the end of 1916, Clark was transferred to the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, a former light cavalry unit that had been converted to gravel-crunches, as the Western Front proved that horsemen had little chance against high explosives, shrapnel and deadly small arms fire. Clark arrived in France at the end of 1916, immediately joining his unit in the strange, desolate, troglodyte world of the trenches.

Like most soldiers, Clark found the fighting on the Western Front alien and threatening. Throughout the winter of 1916-17, his trench experience consisted largely of dullness and drudgery, but he suffered through some of the terrible artillery bombardments that left men quaking and hugging the mud. “I had seen something of the terror,” he wrote in his diary, “the vast, paralyzing, terrific tumult of battle: a thing so beyond humanity, as if all the gods and all the devils had gone mad and were battling, forgetful of poor, frail mortals that they tramped upon.” But word came down that an offensive would be planned against Vimy, and all knew that the fighting there would be even more intense and lethal.

The 4th CMRs spent months preparing, planning and training for their role as one of the lead attacking infantry battalions in the forthcoming Vimy show. Clark would command 15 Platoon–about 45 men–in the battle. On the night of April 7, the Canadians began to form up in the rear trenches. For the last five days, shells had shrieked overhead, day and night, from the guns that pounded the enemy positions.

On Easter Sunday, April 8, 1917, the lead elements of the 4th CMRs set off for the front at midnight, moving through one of the engineering marvels of thebattle, Goodman Tunnel. During the long preparatory phase, the Canadians had built more than a dozen underground tunnels to bring troops close to the front for zero hour. Most were several hundred metres long, but Goodman was over a kilometre in length. It was tall enough for men to stand upright in, although it was not for the faint of heart or the claustrophobic.

In the cold, dark hours of April 9, Clark assembled his platoon in what were called the “jumping off trenches” outside of Goodman Tunnel. Every man was left alone with his thoughts. Would this be his last day on Earth? Prayers were said, lucky talismans fingered, last letters written for loved ones at home. Above them the shells hurtled over their heads towards the German lines, bursting in massive explosions. The minutes ticked down painfully slowly to zero hour.

Then, at 5:30 a.m. on Easter Monday, the full might of the artillery hammer crashed down on the German lines with 983 guns, howitzers and mortars unloading a continuous stream of death and destruction. The Canadians, who had rehearsed for weeks before the battle, would follow a creeping artillery barrage into the enemy lines. This moving wall of shells and explosions rent the air, as it slowly crawled over the battlefield. But there was a big difference from the pre-battle practice assaults where officers had carried flags to signify the barrage, moving forward a hundred yards every three minutes, and the reality of following an ear-shattering barrage that was tearing up the earth.

At three minutes past zero hour, Clark rose from the trench, shouting, “Come on, boys,” even though most of his words were lost in the cacophony of explosions. His platoon followed his lead, along with dozens of others within sight, and hundreds of others along the ridge. The Canadians were off, and chasing their creeping barrage.

Gregory Clark recounted the sensation: “In one sense, it was a beautiful sight. It was still quite dark. Sleet was falling. There before us, frightfully close, was the edge of hell. It blazed, flashed and flickered, the bursting shells; white and coloured flares were fired frantically by a distracted enemy. And the flashing, flickering lights showed an infernal wall of twisting, boiling smoke and flame, against which stood out the distorted silhouettes of men advancing into it.”

Forward they went in a measured walk, behind their creeping barrage that was tearing up the enemy lines. They passed craters the size of houses; barbed wire had been torn apart; dead Germans lay splayed out in grisly poses of death. All were passed in the steady march up the ridge. The iron discipline of the troops took over. Every three minutes they halted, lying down–waiting for the barrage to jump another hundred yards. Forward they went through more than a dozen jumps, and each time they lay tense under the umbrella of fire. Occasionally, the sound of the heavy German MG-08 could be heard firing above the din, but on Clark’s front they encountered no Germans except those prisoners fleeing back, hands in the air.

But men were killed all around Clark, as bullets and shrapnel whirled over the battlefield. For 35 minutes they continued this advance until they hit the main enemy reserve trench. Here, the artillery barrage paused for 45 minutes, raking the enemy lines, but allowing straggler units to catch up. There was not much for the infantry to do, and so they dug in to the craters, smoked cigarettes, and relieved heavy bladders. The entire front continued to be obscured by the hurtling artillery shells.

During this wait, Clark and a small group of men were in a crater, studying the front, eyeing their watches for when to move off again. Without warning, an enemy shell landed in the bottom of the crater–putting paid to the superstition among soldiers that a shell never landed in the same hole twice. In Clark’s words, it “blew us all in the air, smashing the cigarette case Sergeant Windsor had in his hand, cutting Bertrand’s rifle in two at the breech and heaving us in all directions.” Stunned and shaken, Clark’s small group patted frantically at arms and legs to make sure everything was still attached. Almost miraculously, no one was hurt.

After checking on his platoon, Clark heard the change in the sound of the barrage, and off it went again, like some fiery rake tearing through the enemy lines. Clark scrambled forward, slithering over the muddy, cratered ground, following the barrage. By 7:05 a.m. they were on their final objectives, with neither Clark nor any of his men firing a single shot. That was not the case for other platoons in his company, nor with the other 22 attacking battalions along the line in the first wave. Yet it was far from over. Capturing the ridge was only half the battle; the Canadians had all been trained to prepare for the expected German counter-attack to recover the important terrain.

Clark and his men dug in on their lines, creating a series of strongpoints to hold off a German attack. On top of the ridge, they could look down on the Douai Plain below and see the Germans frantically pulling back their artillery units. The forward line was established on the eastern slope of the ridge, which gave them good fields of fire. But not all Germans had yet been cleared from the front, and the battle still raged on the far left where the 4th Division was in a desperate engagement to capture the highpoint of Vimy around Hill 145. Even on the 4th CMR’s front, German troops were dug in and hidden on the lower slope, where the Canadian guns had been unable to bombard.

Throughout the day, Clark’s platoon and several others kept up a firefight with these Germans. Artillery fire had also begun to slam into the ridge, both from the enemy and from Canadian shells firing short. In the early afternoon, his friend and fellow officer, Lieut. W.G. Butson, was about 20 yards from Clark trying to organize his men into rifle pits, when he fell to the ground. Clark raced over to help him and saw to his horror that a bullet had passed through his head, ripping out both of his eyes. Clark nearly vomited. As one of the men wrapped Butson’s head in bandages, Clark held his friend’s hand as he cried out deliriously for his mother.

Now, all of his superior officers had been wounded or killed, and he was left to co-ordinate the defence. The rest of the day was spent digging in and dodging enemy shells. There were a few random enemy counter-attacks down the line, but Canadian gunners, directed by their forward observers on the ridge, rained down punishing fire. A few German planes flew low over the hill, sweeping it with machine-gun fire, but there was no attack.

After being subjected to artillery fire for much of the 10th, the CMRs were desperate for a relief on the 11th, with Clark and most of his men now having gone without sleep for three days. Snow fell heavily. Exhausted, hungry and with bloodshot eyes, Clark continued to visit the men in their shallow trenches and gun pits, reassuring them that relief was coming soon.

A fellow officer, Lieut. L.C. Johnston, invited him to come out of the muck and share lunch in the cellar of a ruined building on the hill called Cable House. Clark thought it too dangerous since the Germans had been shelling around it all day, so he went back to his muddy trench after failing to convince Johnston to join him. He was sitting there munching on cold canned meat with one of his trusted sergeants, too tired to speak, when they heard a shell strike the Cable House.

“Then Johnston’s leg, severed at the hip, landed in the trench, striking Mackie’s helmet and my feet,” wrote Clark. “I do not remember a more horrible moment. Then over our heads sailed the rest of Johnston, landing 40 yards from where he was first hit.” In shock, they tossed Johnston’s leg out of the trench, but when they got their nerves back, they retrieved it and laid it beside Johnston, who was “mutilated beyond recognition.”

This was the start of an inferno of enemy shelling, which fell all along the front. Clark and his men tensed for the counter-attack. Cries of pain and shouts for stretcher-bearers could be heard in between the shelling. No attack came, although the CMRs lost a considerable number of men as their bunched troops–ready to repel an attack–provided greater targets during the saturation bombing. The shelling ceased around dusk, and Clark remembered the eerie sight of a padre making his way along the front, stopping at mass graves full of bodies where he gave a communal set of last rites.

At sundown on the 11th, the 4th CMRs were finally relieved. Clark and his men stumbled to the rear. Although some men were cheering and singing about the victory, many more were silent with tears in their eyes. They had left behind too many friends on the ridge. Battlefield reports note that the 4th CMRs lost 43 men killed, 118 wounded and 18 missing. “I fell asleep that night hardly caring if I ever woke up, yet my spirit filled with a far, faint exultation. I was alive.”


Lieut. Gregory Clark was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery and inspirational leadership during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. His citation read: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He assumed command of and led his company with great ability, gained his objective, and consolidated the position. He set a fine example of courage and initiative.” Indeed he did, but the battle nearly used him up, and he admitted that his nerves were badly shaken and he was suffering from a hacking cough from breathing poison gas. A sympathetic commanding officer sent him to the rear to rest for a few weeks, but he returned to the front, serving until the beginning of August. He was again pulled back to a “bomb-proof” job at battalion headquarters, but returned to the front as a major and company commander for the devastating series of battles that were known as Canada’s Hundred Days, which lasted from August to November 1918. Several times he avoided death only by inches, and, during those grim hours, “I had my mind fully made ready to meet my maker and was feeling very sad for Helen and Mother and Dad.” But he survived and was sent back to Canada in September 1918, where he was to be a war journalist. The Armistice was struck before he had a chance to write in an official capacity, and so he was demobilized, beginning his life again with Helen.

But the war had changed him. Gregory Clark returned to his job at the Toronto Star, but then moved to the newspaper’s Star Weekly. He was no longer content with the crime beat, and instead turned towards humour. Clark and his lifelong cartoonist partner Jimmie Frise–another veteran of the war–began to tell stories about Canadians. They were good-humoured, gentle tales of human foibles, and they appealed to Canadians across the country. He also indulged in his passion for fishing and the outdoor life. Clark would become one of the best-loved writers of his generation before his death in 1977.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge had been the defining moment in his young life, as it was for Canada up to that point in its young history. Speaking years after the war, Clark reflected on his experience: “I got back greatly enlarged by the war in mind and in spirit and in personality. I was a bookworm, a quiet little bookworm when I went, and I came home a rather tough character.” The same might be said for Canada as a whole. The “tough” Dominion would never be the same after being forged in the fire of the First World War.

More from Greg Clark - 

One of his letters is rather descriptive of the 4th CMR on the march, and illustrates Greg's 'outhouse humour':


119 Crescent Road                                                                                                                                   September 25, 1953



The Canadian Press

55 University Ave


Dear Mr. Purcell;

You may have heard some stories about sex in the first war, most of which are exaggerated. But here is one I would like you to know about, and it is authentic. In the early stages of my service as Adjutant of the 4th CMR I fell off the Colonel's second horse which was a brown bastard nobody else would ride because he was too tame, and I was persuaded to accept Cpl. McPheerson's little black mare, Pissin' Jinny, 15 hands high, and known as a tartar because she detested riders of more than 130 lbs or so, such as stall fed officers, and I only weighed 106½ lbs, so we became very good friends.

Jinny was a very touchy horse, and the whole regiment used to turn out to watch her being thrown and laid flat in order to be clipped. She was a farter. And I must say that such small gifts as I brought her such as oats, etc., were designed to increase this talent in her.

On the march, it is the Adjutant's duty to ride beside the commanding officer, and periodically to leave the head of the column, ride down it, chiding any company officers whose companies are straggling, report to the second-in-command at the rear of the column, see that the transport is all present and correct, and ride with the second-in-command for a little while, and then, at a smart walk, ride back up the column to the commanding officer and report all present and correct, sir.

Well, it was my custom, on this return journey to the head of the column, to greet each officer as I passed with a small salute from Jinny. Two farts for a lieutenant, three for a captain, and the whole works of whatever Jinny had on hand for a major. All I had to do was give Jinny a small touch with my off heel (I never wore spurs, and Jinny was extremely touchy) and I could play her like a dulcimer. In eight months, she never failed me.

This little whimsy created no end of good morale in the regiment, the marching troops loved it like a play, and Jinny was the best beloved of all the horses in the regiment. 

Yours truly, 



‘NONE ELSE OF NAME’ by Major Gregory Clark M.C. 


"OLD MEN FORGET," says King Henry V in Shakespeare, the early morning before Agincourt, "yet all shall be forgot." 

Yes, all forgot, except the battles. But battles are only incidents in war. 

During past weeks and months, I have been reading the books, feature articles, watching the TV shows and listening to the radio in the commemoration of this fiftieth anniversary of the start of the old, 1914-1918 war; the great battles of the second war, in Normandy; the folly and stupidity of field marshals and generals, on all sides. But that isn't war, as we old fellows remember. 

Let's see. How old are we? 

If a man was born in August, 1900, he could barely make it to the 1914-18 war. It would give him only four months to get there; and then it would be over. He would be sixty-four now. 

So most of us are in our late sixties and seventies. Some of us in our eighties, God bless them. And no doubt a few in their nineties. God rest them kindly. 

Oh, of course, there were a few beloved liars among us. Kids of sixteen and seventeen, who bedevilled their poor parents into silence as they lied their way into eighteen. We caught some of them, before it was too late, and put them in the Boy's Brigade in England. The old fellows, on the other end of the spectrum, were a little harder to catch in time. 

They would go to a strange town and get a real smart haircut and a shave, buy a good youthful three-dollar shirt and, beaming, swear before the recruitment officer that they were forty-three, when they were fifty-one. They were harder to catch. But sooner or later, when they got to the front line, and they couldn't shave every day, the white stubble would begin to show; maybe the cold and the wet would stiffen them more than the twenty- and thirty-year-olds. In every battalion, battery and company of engineers, we had them; and we watched our chance, and eased them out. If there was time. 

Private Tommy Holmes, V.C., for example, joined my regiment when he was only seventeen. He had barely turned eighteen when he performed the feat at Passchendaele that won him the proudest of British honours, nobility included. Being assistant adjutant of the battalion at that time, and a newspaper man in civil life, I was entrusted with the writing of the recommendation, with ninefold copies, for the Victoria Cross for Holmes. I already had the twenty or thirty written eyewitness reports of his exploit from other officers and men of the battalion: how he had hopped, from shell hole to shell hole, closer and closer to the dread concrete pill box that was holding up the entire operation. And how, at last, he got within throwing distance, and lobbed the Mills bomb onto the machine-gun emplacements and into the entrance of the pill box. And how what was left of the battalion rose up out of the mud and charged. 

But, for truth, I got Tommy in a dugout in the Canal Bank at Ypres, after the battle, and sent everybody out of hearing. 

"Now, Private Holmes," I said, "tell me just what happened." 

Holmes had the radiant flushed cheeks and the eyes of a boy. Anybody should have known he was hardly of age. 

"Well, sir," said Tommy, "to tell you the truth, I don't know what the Sam Hill got into me!" 

But I have a younger one yet. Corporal James Post, one of my five favourite soldiers. He was part Negro. In the Battalion history, he is listed as Private Post, D.C.M. But he had been up through lance-corporal, corporal to sergeant time and again, and always back down to private for some misdeed out of the line. Never in the line. In the line, he was a fighting man. Out of the line, he was a roisterer. If we had known, he was a juvenile delinquent; if we had known what that was, in 1917. 

You know the nimbus or aura that is painted around the heads of saints, in the old pictures? Post wore a nimbus of courage. All he had to do was swagger up to you, and you felt your courage ebbing back into you, as if he were charged with it, radioactive. He joined the Battalion in March, 1916, and therefore survived the slaughter of the unit at Mount Sorrel, the practical destruction of it at the Somme, the splendid victory at Vimy; and then, at Passchendaele, he won the Distinguished Conduct Medal for much the same performance as that of Tommy Holmes, creeping up on the blind corner of another pillbox, climbing onto the roof and dropping Mills bombs down its ventilator. He became a sergeant again, then, for several weeks. 

In June, 1918, leave to Paris came through for the Canadians, as a little novelty, in contrast to the old familiar leave to London. 

Jimmie Post took it. 

He was back in three days, in custody of a British military police escort., for conduct to the prejudice of good order and  military discipline, in that he did dance the can-can with some lady friends on the Champs Elysées. Followed by punching a military policeman in the nose. 

I was adjutant by now, and we were getting into shape for the great Amiens battle, the Last Hundred Days. 

Corporal James Post D.C.M., sent for me, his old platoon commander and friend, to see him in the guard house, which was a tent. 

"You'll be my friend, sir?" he said amiably. 

That is what you call your lawyer in the army - "friend of the accused." 

"Jimmy, I can't! I'm the adjutant. I prosecute!" 

"Well, sir," he said joyously, "you won't prosecute me!" 

"I can't get out of it," I said. 

"You won't have to," said Post. "I am under age." 

I have known incredulity in my time. But I have never experienced such an instant of incredulity as this. 

"Jimmie!" I cried. 

"Yes, sir," said he. "My girlfriend in England has my birth certificate." 

Jimmie had girlfriends in Canada, England, France: wherever girls are to be found. 

"I stashed it with her," he said, "just in case. Captain, you know I've taken a lot, in this man's war. But when they butt into your leave, when all you're doing is kick up your heels..." 

"Corporal," I said, remembering, "where's this birth certificate?" 

I sent a DRLS, Special, via Division, to Argyle House, London, giving the address of Miss Daisy Somebody in Bloomsbury. In five days, back came the actual document, authenticated by cable from Canada. Jimmie Post was in his seventeenth year, having joined us when fifteen. 

He thus moved out of the jurisdiction of his commanding officer. He shook hands with five hundred officers, non-commissioned officers and other ranks of his battalion, a legend, a living legend, a black man, a mischief-maker, a hell-raiser; and went off, under his own recognizance, to Britain, to join the Boy's Brigade. Private James Post, D.C.M. 

No, Henry V, it is not the battles we old fellows remember. It is things like that. 

You had, "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers." It was not like that in the 1914-18 war. We were mostly Strangers. 

As each Canadian division reached the front, it was flung into death and glory. The First Division had hardly got accustomed to the mud and lice before it met the gas attack at St. Julien and was decimated. The Second Division got it at St. Eloi. The Third at Sanctuary Wood and Mount Sorrel, the Fourth got its baptism at the dreadful folly of the Somme. 

My battalion, of the Third Division, had three officers and seventy-eight men answer the roll call June 4, 1916, out of the twenty-two officers and six hundred and eighty men who had stood at Sanctuary Wood on June 2. Four months later, they had lost more than a thousand officers and men in the six weeks at the Somme. 

How was this possible? How can you lose a thousand officers men out of a fighting strength of about seven or eight hundred? 

By reinforcements, of course. We Strangers. 

I think the vast majority of us who survive joined our units as Strangers. 

Well, there I am, a bookworm, a collector of butterflies, a man proud to know the names of all trees in his beloved native land. By night, on a crowded ship of Strangers, I have crossed the English Channel. By day, in a French train, hommes 40, chevaux 8, I have crawled through France to Abbeville. On a horse-drawn lumbered wagon, I have come into a country of desolation and ruin that no earthquake could equal. 

Here in the night, I am walking a mile, two miles, through ditches, dignified by the name of trenches, behind a speechless guide. It is an eerie land, the like of which has never been seen before, and may never again. A ribbon, four to five miles wide, an unbroken ribbon, stretching across old tired Europe from the North Sea to Switzerland, hundreds of miles. A ribbon of stealth, where no man walks above ground, and all men speak in undertones. 

In a hole in the ground, I meet my new commanding officer. He wears shiny spectacles. He commands the remnant, after the Somme, of what is to become my beloved Battalion. He is alive today, in his nineties, and is the father of our present Minister of Finance, Walter Gordon. He stands up to shake my hand. He accepts my documents.  He assigns me to D Company. 

Night. And an incredible stillness, broken, insanely, every few minutes, by the screech of shells going nowhere, aimed at nothing. Loud crashes. Remote cracks; nearby cracks. The chatter of machine-guns, fired on whim. 

"Pomazon!" calls the Colonel. 

A runner appears from behind a damp blanket used a curtain in that hole in the ground. 

Private Pomazon, without words, leads me through some more zig-zags of ditch, where we meet shadows of men going the other way; and we crowd over to pass one another. Ghostly light, from time to time, flickers and ebbs. These are the flares I have been trained to expect. Flares lobbed into the night, by watchful sentries, theirs or ours. 

We come, after a few hundred yards, to a new sort of ditch. It is not zig-zag. It is like the frets on an antique Grecian vase, right-angled joints. I am in the front line. 

In each bay, as we called them, shadowy statuary. One man standing, belly to trench wall, staring into the night. At his feet, sitting facing in, his mate, rifle between knees. He makes way with his feet, as Pomazon and I pass. Shadows. 

"Here we are, sir," says Pomazon, saluting to his tin hat. About turns, and leaves. 

In the darkness, I perceive a little square of darker darkness. With my walking stick (the mark of the officer) I explore. It is a hole. With my foot, I explore. There is a step. 

Far down, forty feet, I can detect chunks of light. 

Cautiously, being a Stranger, I descend, step by step. I am about twenty steps down when a trench-mortar shell explodes on the roof of the dugout. It is stunning, anaesthetic. 

Arse over kittle, I roll down the last twenty steps. At the foot is hung on nails an army blanket soaked with vermoral spray solution to keep gas from entering the dugout, and to afford a little privacy. I hit the bottom edge of the blanket, tear it from its nails, and it falls on top of me. 

Major Lex Mackenzie, M.C. and now a member of the Ontario Legislature, Captain Bill Muirhead, his second-in-command, and Lieutenant Bill Butson, a schoolmaster from Staffa, Ontario, are engaged in a small game of poker, to while away the time. 

The blast from the trench-mortar has blown out their three candles. 

Lieutenant Butson relights them. 

Major Mackenzie, behind the plank table, is facing the dugout stairs. 

In horror, he sees the blanket on the floor, moving. 

I was a very small man, one hundred and six pounds, five foot two and three-quarters of an inch, undersized by army requirements. (But I had pull.) 

"My God!" says Major Mackenzie, pointing. 

Captain Muirhead turns, leaps, and yanks the blanket off me, expecting only part of a man. 

He raises me to my feet. My helmet is over my face. My gas respirator under my chin, my haversack, my binoculars, my prismatic compass, my .45 revolver, are in an incredible tangle. 

Captain Muirhead (who was to become my idol in the year before he was killed at Passchendaele) straightened me up, untangled me, set my helmet plumb. 

"Well," said Major Mackenzie, very Scottish, "and who might you be, sir?" 

I was aware that first impressions are all important at social occasions, military as well as otherwise. Dazed, a little. But aware. 

I sprang to attention, in that candlelight.  I saluted, magnificently, fingers extended, thumb close, palm to the front, forefinger touching the edge of my helmet. 

"Reinforcement, sir!" said I. 

They were wonderful. 

For eight, nine, ten seconds, they contained themselves. Then they burst. And such laughter a man never heard, to echo down the years, unforgettable, all else forgot. 

Captain Bill Muirhead unharnessed me, sat me down on a box of small-arms ammunition, the usual seating accommodation in dugout. 

"Sir," he said to Major Mackenzie, whose face was still torture, "I think, under the circumstances, that this young gentleman might have a small modicum." 

"Right-o," said Major Mackenzie. 

(We didn't say "Right!" in that 1914-18 thing.) 

From under the chicken-wire bunk on which he was sitting, Captain Muirhead drew a jug, a gallon jug, which resembled the vinegar jugs I had known in my grandmother's home. 

It had red wax sealing its cork, which had already been breached. He drew the cork with his teeth. 

With an incredibly graceful gesture, Captain Muirhead swung the jar up toward his right shoulder and brought it to rest on his bent elbow. 

He reached to the table for a white granite mug. 

"Major," he paused. "How many glugs?" 

"Oh," he suggested, "two?" 

Glug, glug, said the rum jar. 

Captain Muirhead extended the mug to me. It had about half an inch of what appeared to be blackstrap, or molasses. 

"Down it," said Captain Muirhead, solicitously, "and don't breathe for three or four seconds." 

I downed it. I did not breathe for six seconds. Fire raced down my gullet, into my chest, into my arteries, veins. It was my first taste of hard liquor of any kind. 

They questioned me as to my history, what training I had, where I came from, what special courses I might have had. 

"I will give you," said Major Mackenzie, "Sixteen platoon. It had four platoon commanders at the Somme, and has had none since. They may take a little time getting used to you." 

"Yessir," said I. 

"Butson," said Major Mackenzie, "take Mr. Clark up and show him the layout, and introduce him to Sixteen." 

Up the dank, sour stairs I followed Lieutenant Butson, who was to die in my arms five months later. 

We came out into the eerie night. 

"We'll stand here a couple of minutes," he said, "until you get your night vision." 

Then he took me along the trench. 

The shadows of men. Faceless. These were to be my men. Pair by pair, we came to them. In undertone, Lieutenant Butson introduced to the men standing, the men seated. Their hands were cold, strong, tight. 

Shadows, silhouettes of men. I got to know their faces well, and to respect and admire them, and give them the deep affection that men may express in war. 

But it is as silhouettes, as shadows of men, as first I met them, that I remember them most dearly. And we who are left remember too that in that four-mile-wide, hundreds-of-miles-long ribbon of stealth across Europe, and on its fringes, hundreds of thousands, some say millions, of them lie, British, French, German, Canadian, Australian, New Zealander, Moroccan, Hindu, Gurkha; men of every race and clime. 

So, Henry V, there you sit in your Pavilion, the afternoon after Agincourt. Your Pavilion would probably be a marquee, such as the YMCA had for us, with writing tables; or the bigger circus tents of the Dumbells at their concerts for us. A Pavilion handsomer, I imagine, with its royal banner, and the banners and pennons of the nobles and knights who were with you. 

The Herald enters, with two pieces of writing. 

First, Henry V asks for the count of the French dead, and it staggers him: princes, dukes, knights by the hundreds, the flower of the chivalry of France, ah, dead there on the field of Agincourt. 

Then King Henry asks for the second list: 

Where is the number of our English dead? 

Edward the Duke of York, the Earl of Suffolk,  

Sir Richard Ketly, Davy Gam, esquire: 

None else of name. 

None else of name, Sire. 

Just us. 

(DRLS stands for "Despatch-Rider Letter-Service")


'THE BABY' by Major Gregory Clark M.C. 

IT SEEMS to me an unmanned intercontinental missile can't quite be the thing it is cracked up to be. You always have to have a man.

In human affairs, you always have to have a man.
Of course, I am prejudiced. Besides, I am getting old. I was eleven years old when two fellas down in North Carolina, interested in bicycles, got the crazy idea that they could take a kite, put a gasoline engine in it, and make it fly.
And by the holy, on Dec. 17, 1903, with a kite weighing, with pilot, 750 pounds, powered with a twelve-horsepower, four-cylinder engine, they flew 850 feet at thirty miles per hour before crashing.
That was the first manned aircraft. Lots of people had flown kites.
Less than fifteen years later, when I was twenty-six, I was a major of Infantry. I was sitting in a deck chair in a temporarily disused gun pit. It was disused because the Germans had just pulled their cannon out of it, and our eighteen-pounders had not yet arrived to take it over. Our artillery are very polite. They always allow us Infantry to occupy enemy gun pits, as you might say, interim.
The reason I had a deck chair in a gun pit was that my batman, Pte. George Bertrand, was a man of humour who loved robbing generals. And he had robbed a British general in my interest. He had got me a deckchair in which to sit at mine ease, with my binoculars, watching air fights.
This lovely morning, in October, 1918, we were in front of the French city of Cambrai, in the last glorious triumphal sweep that was to end the war. My company sergeant-major, Leslie Rule, was with me, as well as Bertrand, and a company runner by the name of Castle.
We were all air-conscious. We were all twenty-six years of age. Every one of us could remember 1903, when the Wright brothers, those bicycle repairmen, had hoisted their kite, at thirty m.p.h., and zoomed it 850 feet.
And here in the lovely sunlit October morning, that was the reason we were sunning ourselves in the gun pit, watching the sky filled, FILLED, with fighting aircraft. It was unbelievable.
Low down were the R.E.8s, with here and there a Bristol Fighter, doing artillery reconnaissance. Up above were the Sopwith Camels, S.E.5s, Sopwith Dolphins, triplanes, in flights of five and six, cruising north, cruising south, glinting beautifully in the sun.
And high above them were the damn' Fokker D7s and other eerie enemy fighters, in five and sixes, waiting their chance to dive.
How we hated them.
"Sawn-major," I said to Leslie Rule, "here, take the glasses. Look at that!"
Up from the south came a flight of six camels, at about 6,000 feet.
In arrowhead formation, they soared along.
But the flier on the right rear end of the arrowhead was faltering. He was out of formation.
"Another baby," said the sergeant-major glumly.
In my deck chair, I elucidated the situation.
"Boys," I said, "here's another tragedy impending. See that kid on the right wing of the flight? This is probably his first flight over the lines. He's probably just arrived over from England last night. He's probably just turned eighteen. Maybe he's a liar. Maybe he is still seventeen. He has had about six week's training. He's had maybe four hours solo."
We stared skyward, into the blue sunlight.
"Sawn-major, pass the glasses."
Bertrand had a look, and then Castle..
The Camels held steadily northward. The baby on the right flank faltered more and more. He dropped ten lengths, twenty lengths, back of formation. White fumes blew from his tail.
"Engine trouble," said Castle.
All our eyes were on the higher sky.
For, any moment, out of the sky would streak the Fokker D7s, two of them reaching far ahead, the other four staying back, to provide gallant cover.
And the leader, a black and white checkerboard painted demon, would swipe, guns crackling like far off lady firecrackers; and the baby, staggering along out of formation behind his flight, would crumble and come crazily, smoking, rather slowly, to earth.
"Why," I shouted, "doesn't that fool flight commander signal the kid to go home?"
For the baby, now, was 300 yards, 400 yards out of position, while his comrades held steadily to their course.
He wobbled, he teetered. We could imagine him fighting with his throttle, his mixture, the few tools in that primitive Camel.
"Here they come!" roared Bertrand.
We had seen this tragedy day after day for the past two months.
Always the baby, the newcomer.
With breath cramped, we looked where Bertrand was pointing. Steep as a cliff, the Fokkers were diving, from high in the blue French morning. Leading, the Iron Crosser, the Pour le Merite, the hero. A little in his rear, to guard him, his second. And some distance back, the four, ready to join in the brief scuffle, when the Camels, seeing their baby go down in flames, would turn.
"The devils!" I said, and closed my eyes.
"Hey!" gasped Sergeant-Major Rule.
The baby, in a miraculous nick of time, had seen them coming out of the sun.
With a wild burst of fumes, he arched in a panic dive.
The Fokker was on his tail.
It opened fire; the little firecrackers.
Down they came. The baby, in a frenzy, was not even flying. He was weaving crazily from side to side.
The Fokker could not get him in his sights.
Down they came straight for us, the baby leading, the first Fokker almost on top of him, the second Fokker close behind.
And above, in a shapeless melee, the five Camels turning, and the four supporting Fokkers banking to engage them, a dogfight.
But oh, our eyes were on the baby.
Down, down, to 2,000, to 1,000 . . .
Suddenly the baby, full out for death on the fields of Cambrai, swung up in a horrible tight loop that made our stomachs gripe.
He caught the second Fokker in the exact intersection of his loop and the Fokker's dive. It exploded. Continuing his wild loop, the baby came round under, where the leading Fokker, the Iron Crosser, the Pour le Merite, was flattening out in a weird stalling turn. It exploded.
Two dreadful things, orange and black, tumbled out of the sky to the ground a quarter of a mile from us.
Far off, the five Camels chased the four Fokkers, farther, farther.
And over us the baby broke out from the wings of his Camel two bright ribbons, as he coursed thundering this way and that, low down, over his victims.
Ribbons of a Squadron commander.
"Collishaw! Collishaw!" I screamed at my boys.
For we all knew it would be Raymond Collishaw. And it was.

What I mean is: Now, if, in an intercontinental missile, we could rig a Collishaw. . .
What I mean is: You always have to have a man.

(I'm thinking this may have occurred on the 14th October 1918. The 4th CMR War Diary says: 'The 14th sees continuing good weather and the men spend a good rest day out in the open.' They were outside Cambrai at Inchy-en-Artois and pulled back to rest billets in the old Hindenburg Line.
A few facts that may be mixed with previous memories: The 'triplanes' mentioned - both Sopwith and Fokker versions had been withdrawn from frontline service by then. Collishaw's last victories of WW1 were the previous month on September 26th and too far away at Lieu-Saint-Amand. Greg was writing these 'shorties' from 1952, when he was 60, onwards.



5th CMR:

Lieut.-Col. Rhoades paid tribute to the memory of the late Lieut.-Col. Harry Baker, who organized the regiment, and died at its head, and the many other who had given their lives from the 5th C.M.R. During the war. He said that the regiment had lost 18 officers and 467 other ranks killed in action, while four officers and 150 other ranks had died of wounds. In addition to this the records showed missing or prisoners of war, four officers and 221 other ranks; wounded, 81 officers and 2,000 other ranks, making a total casualty list for the regiment during the war of 107 officers and 2,943 other ranks.

Lt. Allen Otty and the 5th CMR at Passchendaele, Oct 30, 1917


Capt Richard Alfred Ireland CAMC and M.O. to 5th CMR

Lt. Lawrence Browning Rogers M.M. (5th CMR stretcher bearers and teddy bear)

Lt.-Col. Draper 5th CMR and 8th CIB

(Capt. Leonard Carl Eaton, ex-6th CMR 29th October 1917)

Major Kenneth Locke Duggan (24) "A" Coy O.C. 30th October 1917

Capt. Melvin Ohio Johnson MiD 30th October 1917

Lt. Lawrence Fitzgerald Webster 30th October 1917

Lt. Lawrence Browning Rogers MM 30th October 1917, i/c Stretcher Bearers

Lt. Terence Smythe Hall (21) "A" Coy 30th October 1917

Lt. Allen Otty MiD "D" Coy (29) 30th October 1917

Capt. Richard Alfred Ireland CAMC & M.O. to 5th CMR Jan 13 1889 - 30th October 1917

Morning Glory: Canada's own WWI war horse

Posted: Nov 10, 2012 4:27 PM ET

Morning Glory lived on a farm in Brome County, Que., after she was returned to Canada at the end of World War One.
Morning Glory lived on a farm in Brome County, Que., after she was returned to Canada at the end of World War One.
The novel and stage play War Horse, also a Steven Spielberg film, is the story of a horse from Devon that goes to France

during the First World War. There is an equally moving but little known true story about a Canadian horse and her rider

who took part in the "war to end all wars." That horse, Morning Glory, was shipped to France from Brome County in

Quebec’s Eastern Townships in 1915. Her owner was Lt.-Col. George Harold Baker, known to friends and family as Harry.

Baker was a lawyer in the small town of Sweetsburg (now part of Cowansville, Que.) and Montreal. He was also the

member of Parliament for Brome, and a part-time soldier in the equivalent of what today would be called the reserves.

By the end of the World War One, Canada had provided well over 10 per cent of the horses used on

Europe's Western Front. Every year at least a quarter of them were killed in battle.

Baker commanded the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles. He and his men practised charges and shooting from the saddle

when they were on manoeuvres in Canada, mostly on parade grounds and playing fields near Sherbrooke, Que.

At the age of 38 he could easily have stayed home or worked behind the lines, but Baker volunteered to go overseas.

When he went to France in 1915 he took Morning Glory with him.

Horses on the battlefield

Unfortunately, there was little glory for the millions of warhorses in the First World War.

There were few cavalry charges on the Western Front — the machine gun changed the way wars were fought, and the

rapid fire kept men pinned down in trenches. Mounted soldiers couldn't charge machine guns, so horses were used behind

the lines and to haul equipment.

This statue in the House of Commons in Ottawa honours Lieut.-Col. Harry Baker, the only MP killed in action in the First World War. He was the member of Parliament for Brome, Que.
This statue in the House of Commons in Ottawa honours Lieut.-Col.
Harry Baker, the only MP killed in action in the First World War. He was the Member of Parliament for Brome, Quebec.

Canada sent about 130,000 horses overseas during the First World War, according to Steve Harris, chief historian of the

directorate of history and heritage at the Department of National Defence. By the end of the war, Canada had provided

well over 10 per cent of the horses used on Western Front. Every year at least a quarter of them were killed in battle.

“Eight thousand horses went overseas with the first contingent of Canadians in the fall of 1914. As of July 1917, about

82,000 horses [had been] shipped overseas — 42,000 to the British Army, 15,000 to the French and 25,000 to the

Canadians,” Harris said.

Going separate ways

When Baker and his Mounted Rifles arrived in England they were reclassified as infantry and sent to the trenches.

The men were separated from their horses, which were also sent to France.

Morning Glory was lucky, avoiding the fate of so many of the other horses, such as dragging guns under fire through the

mud. She caught the eye of a battalion commander who took her for his personal mount.

Baker was separated from Morning Glory, but he saw his horse from time to time. He mentioned her in a letter home from

Belgium dated May 5, 1916.

“I saw Morning Glory day before yesterday; she is in the pink of condition. I hope some day to have her back.” It was to be

his last visit with her. Baker was killed around 8:30 p.m. on June 2, 1916, at Maple Copse in Sanctuary Wood during the

battle of Ypres.

German artillery started shelling the Canadian trenches around eight that morning. It continued non-stop for more than

12 hours. A slight man of about five foot eight, Baker reportedly moved along the trenches trying to keep his soldiers calm.

"Colonel Baker had just fallen mortally wounded while walking up and down behind a new trench his men were digging

under heavy fire and encouraging them by his coolness and example," wrote Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook) in his book,

Canada in Flanders. The man who went to war thinking he would be leading the charge on his horse died instead in the

mud in Flanders under unrelenting shellfire.

Lt.-Col. John McCrae, the Canadian doctor who wrote In Flanders Fields, manned the medical station nearby. He survived

the battle, but died of influenza in 1918. Baker was one of the many men whose deaths inspired the poem every Canadian

knows, and he is buried in a military cemetery in Flanders.

There is a statue to Baker in the House of Commons in Ottawa, because the MP for Brome was the only member killed in

action in the First World War of the more than 50 MPs and senators who enlisted.

Return of the war horse

Morning Glory came home to Canada in 1918 at the end of war, even though it was unusual for a horse to be shipped

back from overseas. General Dennis Draper, a friend of Baker's, brought Morning Glory back to Quebec. "The horse never

went into battle, which is why he came back to Canada," says Arlene Royea, managing director of the Brome County

Historical Society, which operates a museum in Knowlton, Que. Morning Glory initially lived on Draper's farm at Sutton

Junction in Brome county.

The plaque honouring the Canadian war horse Morning Glory, placed on her grave near Baker Pond, Que.
The plaque honouring the Canadian war horse Morning Glory, placed on her
grave near Baker Pond, Que.

"General Draper made sure Morning Glory came back," said Arlene Royea. "Eventually she was with Bill Coughtry, who

used her on his mail route to give her a bit of exercise." She added there is little other information about Morning Glory in

local historical records. "We don't know as much as we would like to about the horse— we cared more about the men at

the time," Royea said. "But we do know she was cared for on local farms after she came home."

What is known is that the horse lived out the rest of her life peacefully in Quebec. Morning Glory is buried behind Glenmere,

the house at the family’s summer home at Baker Pond, where a large bronze plaque is attached to a rock on a hill. The

inscription is blackened in places and hard to read: "Here lies Morning Glory, a faithful charger who served overseas

1915-1918. Died 1936 aged 26 years."

Second and Third Contingents for the Boer War

The 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles and 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles were raised, as part of the second contingent  for the war, although they were rebadged in August 1900 after arrival in South Africa as The Royal Canadian Dragoons, and the Canadian Mounted Rifles, respectively, and numbered 371 men each, divided into two squadrons and a headquarters staff.

The unit arrived at Cape Town on 27 February 1900, the day that the Boers surrendered at Paardeberg. Despite concerns that the war would end before the unit saw action, in March and April, it took part in the expedition to suppress a rebellion by Boers in the western Cape Colony before joining the march to Pretoria and beyond. While the battalion did well, it was hampered to a certain extent by changes in the ranks of its senior officers caused by battle casualties and the departure of the commanding officer, North-West Mounted Police Commissioner L.W. Herchmer, whose health broke down. He was replaced by Lieutenant-Colonel T.D.B. Evans, an officer from the Royal Canadian Dragoons. The battalion nonetheless distinguished itself on a number of occasions, and earned a reputation for aggressive scouting. 

These units served throughout 1900, with the Second Contingent leaving South Africa on 12th December 1900. 

In Jan 1902, a Second 2nd Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles, paid for by the British, would serve briefly in South Africa. 

When the unit sailed from Canada in January 1902 it was a six-squadron regiment of 901 officers and men. Together with the 10th Canadian Field Hospital, it formed the third Canadian contingent.

Appointed to command the new unit was Lieutenant-Colonel T.D.B. Evans, who had earlier earned a reputation as the best Canadian leader of mounted troops while in command of the Canadian Mounted Rifles in the second contingent. The majority of the officers and at least a quarter of the men had previously served in South Africa.

The mounted rifles participated in a number of major drives that resulted in the destruction of at least twenty percent of the Boer forces in the western Transvaal, most of these being captured. It was not all one sided, however. On 31 March the unit fought as part of an outnumbered British force at the Battle of Harts River (Boschbult). Casualties were heavy, including 13 Canadians killed, 40 wounded, and seven missing. With the exception of the first engagement at Paardeberg on 18 February 1900, Harts River was the bloodiest day of the war for Canada.

The unit participated in a number of other drives to round up Boers before the war ended on 31 May 1902. It returned to Canada at the end of June. While its tour of operations had not been long, the 2nd Regiment, Canadian Mounted Rifles had proven to be a worthy successor to the units of the first and second contingents.

In total, from 1900 to 1902, 7,368 men would serve in all of the different Canadian units in South Africa, of whom 89 were killed or died of wounds. Some 252 were wounded, 135 more died by accident and disease. 

3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th Regiments, Canadian Mounted Rifles

In April 1902, the British requested from Canada a fourth contingent of 2,000 men recruited and funded on the same basis as the 2nd Regiment. The contingent was recruited in April 1902 and organized into four regiments of Canadian Mounted Rifles. Each regiment had 26 officers, 483 men and 539 horses, organized into a headquarters and four squadrons. The contingent therefore could field 16 squadrons, three more than the combined strengths of the second and third contingents, and Strathcona's Horse.  

Each regiment was commanded by a veteran of previous service in South Africa, and included a large number of veterans in both its commissioned and non-commissioned ranks. These units arrived in South Africa after the war had ended, however, and returned to Canada in July 1902 at which time they disbanded.

Sources: / Canadian War Museum

Unit Listings - 1902

This is part of a listing of the units of the Canadian Army in 1902.

Permanent Active Militia (Permanent Force)


  • "A" Squadron, Canadian Mounted Rifles

Non-Permanent Active Militia

Canadian Mounted Rifles

Independent Militia squadrons located across Canada.

Lt.-Col. John Poyntz French

4th April 1876 - 2nd October 1954.

Lt.-Col. John Poyntz French was born on 4th April 1876. He married Effie Laura Fenwick, daughter of Kenneth N. Fenwick, on 22nd December 1906. He died on 2nd October 1954 at the age of 78. He was the son of John French and Frances Mary Judge. He was with the Canadian North-West  Mounted Police between 1894 and 1899. He fought in the Boer War between 1899 and 1901, with the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles. He gained the rank of Lieutenant between 1901 and 1906 in the service of the South African Constabulary. He was in the Zululand Rebellion as Captain, Johannesburg Mounted Rifles in 1906. He fought in the First World War, where he was mentioned in despatches four times. He gained the rank of Lieutenant in the service of the P.P.C.L.I. and Major with the 1st Mounted Rifles. He was decorated with the award of Companion, Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.) in 1917. He gained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the service of the Canadian Army. He lived at Fort Qu'Appelle.                                                                                        Source:

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