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

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Canadian Expeditionary Force Alphabet

Order Now
Written by P. (otherwise unidentified) and quoted in the highly entertaining and informative We Wasn't Pals: Canadian Poetry and Prose of the First World War; edited by Barry Callaghan, Bruce Meyer. Some of these entries are bit mysterious to the editor and we would appreciate some guidance from the readers. These include the identities of: Messrs. Lipsett, Mercer, Turner, and Dave Watson. Also, are the "Pats" the Princess Patricia's Light Infantry? And, whoever they are, why don't they advertise?


  1. Major General David Watson Commander 4th Canadian Division

  2. Major General Louis Lipsett commanded 3rd Canadian Division from July 1916 until Sept 1918. KIA while commanding British 4th Division in Oct 1918.
    Major General Malcolm Mercer commanded 3rd Canadian Division from 1914 to July 1916. KIA at Mt. Sorrel.
    Major General REW Turner commanded 1st Canadian Division.

  3. Correction Turner commanded 2nd Canadian Division

  4. The Pats are the PPLI. The regiment was raised by a wealthy native of Montreal , Hamilton Gault, at his own expense. I believe that the PPLI did advertise when recruiting. Perhaps the fame they won in France lessened the need for subsequent ads. See "First in the Field" by Jeffrey Williams for a biography of Gault

  5. The "advertise" line comes from Gault's biography, mentioned above:

    First in the Field, Gault of the Patricias, p. 72:

    Hamilton Gault roared, "Roffey, I know bloody well that Jerry knows we are here but you don't need to advertise the fact!"

  6. C is for Canada, Connaught, and Currie.

    CONNAUGHT & the PPCLI - Princess Patricia's CANADIAN Light Infantry
    Connaught is the Western, and smallest, of the four Irish provinces and holds the five counties Mayo, Galway, Leitrim, Sligo, and Roscommon.
    Colonel Farquhar, Military Secretary to Canada's Governor-General, asked the Duke of Connaught for permission to name the regiment after his daughter, PRINCESS PATRICIA of Connaught. She was pleased to accept this honour and thus the Princess Patricia's were established. The name Light Infantry in the battalion name was chosen by Captain Gault, who served during the Second Boer War and liked the impression of an irregular force that the name inspired.

    Louis James LIPSETT was born (1874) in Bundoran, County Donegal,north of Leitrim. In 1911 he was appointed General Staff Officer Western Canada with the rank of major. "He helped train, influence, and inspire many of the officers who would lead the brigades and battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, including Arthur William Currie." (more at Canadian Dictionary of Biography)

    CURRIE was born 1875, Ontario, Canada.Currie taught school before going into business in Victoria, B.C. He enlisted in the militia and rose from the ranks to become lieutenant colonel of artillery. In spite of this minimum of professional training, he was given command of a battalion in the first Canadian contingent sent to assist Britain in 1914. He advanced steadily, winning distinction at the battles of Ypres and Saint-Julien in Belgium and at the battle of Vimy Ridge in France. Within three years he became lieutenant general and commander of the four divisions of the Canadian Corps, succeeding the British general Sir Julian BYNG. He was one of the most successful and effective corps commanders in any army during the war’s final months. Currie was knighted in 1918. After the war Currie served as inspector general of the Canadian militia and became the first general in the Canadian Army. In 1920 he accepted the position of principal and vice chancellor of McGill University, Montreal, and retained this post until his death in 1933.