Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Another "First to Fight" — The Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry

Contributed by Jim Patton

Regimental Badge

The Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry was formed on 10 August 1914 by Andrew Gault, who pledged CD$100,000 to raise in Canada a regiment of men with prior military experience to serve in the British Army. Gault got approval from Governor General the Duke of Connaught (a brother of King Edward VII), father of the regiment’s patroness, Princess Patricia of Connaught. Thus, the PPCLI was unusual in that it wasn’t exactly British and it wasn’t exactly Canadian, as it wasn’t under the control of Sir Sam Hughes’s Ministry of Militia and Defence. The PPCLI were the first Canadians to fight on the Western Front, beginning on 6 January 1915, and they served with the British 80th Brigade until December, when they were absorbed into the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Princess Pat's in Camp in England Before Moving to Western Front
(Initially over 80 Percent of the PPCLI Was English-Born)

At the battle of Frezenburg on 8 May 1915, the PPCLI lost half of its strength and at the end was commanded by a lieutenant. The regiment won three VCs in the Great War. Pvt. Guy Dwyer was the first Canadian casualty of the war. Members of the PPCLI served with the 260th Bn. CEF in Siberia in 1919. 

Princess Patricia Decorating the Regimental Colors in 1919

Much later, in 1951 the 2nd Battalion greatly distinguished itself at the Battle of Kapyong in Korea, for which the regiment won a U.S. Presidential Unit Citation. Familiarly know as "The Patricias," the regiment still exists, three battalions strong, plus a fourth of reservists (also known as the Loyal Edmonton Regiment). Recently they served in Afghanistan until May 2010.


  1. I trained with the Princess Patricias in Alaska in the 1960s. They were for me a great bunch of colleagues.

  2. War is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.