Cover

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Title Page, Frontispiece, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-ix

List of Maps

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p. x

List of Award Abbreviations

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pp. xi-xii

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Foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales, Colonel-in-Chief

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pp. xiii-xiv

In 2002, I was enormously proud to become your Colonel-in-Chief, following in the footsteps of my beloved Grandmother, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth  The Queen Mother, who  flled the appointment with love and devotion for sixty-five years.

I was prouder still when, accompanied by my wife, I presented new Queen’s and Regimental Colours to my Regiment in November 2009 on the campus of the University of Toronto.  The Colours I presented that day were a symbol of the loyalty and devotion to duty which marked the service of  The 75th (Mississauga) Battalion in...

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Preface

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pp. xv-xx

Late in and following the Great War, many Canadian regiments set about preparing their wartime histories, while memories were fresh. These were usually written by veterans. There were two early birds in the 4th Canadian Division’s 11th Brigade, to which the 75th (Mississauga) Battalion belonged. The 54th (British Columbia) Battalion, keen to give the men a printed keepsake, produced a short history while billeted in Belgium in 1919; the 102nd (North British Columbians) Battalion’s history appeared in October 1919. Both books relied heavily on the War Diary, a daily...

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Acknowledgements

Timothy J. Stewart

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pp. xxi-xxiv

Many individuals have been strong supporters of this history and of this author. Colonels Donald Vance and Hugh Stewart, both former commanding officers of The Toronto Scottish Regiment, successor to the 75th (Mississauga) Battalion, were always ready to assist me in any way, although sadly they did not live to see our book in print. Over two March school breaks, Colonel Vance, his son Eric, and I together scoured the battlefields of the Western Front. Colonel Vance’s father had served there with the 44th (Manitoba) Battalion, he himself had read extensively on the Great War, and he reminded me often that it was far more interesting to study...

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Introduction The Road Through Vimy

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pp. 1-6

On Monday, 9 April 2007, thirteen of my high-school students and I were standing at Vimy Ridge, exactly ninety years after that historic battle, surrounded by thousands of other students and war veterans from across Canada. We were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Queen, who was going to rededicate the massive and exquisitely restored monument. A beautiful, sunny, and warm day it was, quite unlike the conditions in 1917: freezing rain, turning to sleet, and very cold.

How can one describe such a moment? Having myself visited and explored Vimy several times when no one else was present, I found it a little disconcerting...

Part I Toronto and Mississauga Horsemen (1904–1914)

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Chapter 1 Toronto and Mississauga Horsemen (1901–1914)

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pp. 9-30

It was 1 September 1917 near Lens, France, and Padre William L. Baynes-Reed, chaplain attached to the 75th (Mississauga) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), was drafting yet another condolence letter to send to Canada. (“Mississauga” in the unit’s name referred to the vast territory of the eponymous First Nation and included what is now Toronto). This time, he was sending Mrs. Pearl Hamilton confirmation of her husband’s death and expressions of his sadness. In the early morning of 15 August, Private Alymer Hamilton was struck in the back of the head by shrapnel and died instantly. “In all your sorrow, it will be a...

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Chapter 2 Canada Prepares for War (July–September 1914)

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pp. 31-44

Three sections tell this chapter’s story: the Great Powers stumbled into a world war in the summer of 1914; Canada marched to join Britain’s war; and Militia Minister Sam Hughes raised a Canadian force of 25,000 soldiers to aid the Allied cause in France, elements of which would leave for Britain in October 1914.

Unwitting War (Summer 1914)

Sarajevo and the Alliances (July 1914)

It happened on Sunday, 28 June, in Sarajevo, capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s province of Bosnia–Herzegovina. Gavrilo Princep, a terrorist from the...

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Chapter 3 Samuel Beckett Organizes the 75th (August 1914–July 1915)

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pp. 45-54

This chapter describes the efforts of Samuel Beckett in securing command of the newly formed and numbered 75th Battalion in July 1915 and the labours of the 9th Mississauga Horse in providing recruits, as Canada’s Militia Department redefined the role of cavalry in the new, highly mechanized conflict. A prologue traces the emergence of the Canadian Mounted Rifles, and an epilogue, the fine-tuning of the new Mississauga unit’s historically grounded name.

Prologue: Canadian Mounted Rifles (November 1914)

Toronto militia units began assessing new recruits on the very evening of 4 August...

Part II Beckett’s Fighting 75th (August 1915–March 1917)

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Chapter 4 Shaping Soldiers in Niagara and Toronto (August 1915–March 1916)

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pp. 57-72

In late July 1915, before men and officers headed to the summer camp in Niagara, Sergeant Alfred Zealley, English-born and an accomplished musician, set out with Lieutenant-Colonel Sam Beckett’s permission to organize a brass band for the unit. Even though he was in need of musicians, particularly reed players, Zealley hoped to make his first public appearance with the battalion on Friday, 30 July. He was a veteran of the South African War and had served with the bands of the Grenadier Guards, the East Kent Regiment, and the 6th Battalion, Warwickshire Volunteers, among other units.1 Beckett and other battalion commanders clearly understood...

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Chapter 5 Bramshott and the New 4th Division (April–August 1916)

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pp. 73-88

Although the troopship SS Empress of Britain was a magnificent vessel, the 75th Battalion’s North Atlantic crossing in early April was very uncomfortable. This was largely because of too much materiel and too many people – about 4,000 officers and other ranks, including the 53rd (Prince Albert, Saskatchewan) and the 74th (Toronto) Battalions, plus a few smaller groupings. All had to fit into quarters meant for a peacetime complement of 1,500 civilian passengers. Two other troopships, SS Baltic and SS Adriatic, and two smaller craft, HMS Carnarvon and HMS Drake, completed the convoy.1...

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Chapter 6 St-Éloi: Getting Bloodied (Mid-August–Mid-October 1916)

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pp. 89-104

Hospital ships filled the harbour of Le Havre as the 75th arrived on 13 August 1916. Thousands of wounded men from the Somme had found refuge on board, and waited patiently for the trip to Britain and, for many, the end to their war – a sobering thought for the soldiers of the 75th. For them the boredom and monotony of camp life now gave way to eager anticipation or quiet fear. They all knew there was no turning back. Those who survived would spend almost three years in this tiny corner of northeastern France and northwestern Belgium (Flanders), where many of their comrades still lie. And they would serve in many of the most horrific battles...

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Chapter 7 The Somme: Regina and Desire Trenches (Mid-October–November 1916)

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pp. 105-126

Today, the battlefields of the Somme are a place of quiet tranquillity, very unlike the atmosphere of death and destruction that befell this area during the summer and autumn of 1916. Among the wheat fields and copses (woods) dotting the gently rolling countryside, more than one hundred monuments and nearly two hundred cemeteries contain the graves of soldiers from Britain and what was at the time its empire: Australia, Canada, India, Newfoundland, New Zealand, and South Africa. The red-brick Thiepval Memorial, in the village of the same name, dominates the countryside, standing on what once was the German second line of...

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Chapter 8 Vimy: The Battle in the Snow (December 1916–April 1917)

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pp. 127-170

It was a dreary, overcast summer day in northern France, 26 July 1936, as tens of thousands of Canadian, British, and French veterans and their families gathered for the unveiling of the newly completed memorial at Vimy Ridge. Many historians agreed that Canada’s greatest victory in the war had taken place there nineteen years earlier, in April 1917. Canadians from every part of the country had begun this pilgrimage to Vimy weeks earlier and now stood in awe before the magnificent monument on that sacred ground. The official party, including King Edward VIII, finally appeared, and voices rang out with “God Save the King” and “O Canada.”...

Part III Harbottle’s Shock Troops (May 1917–November 1918)

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Chapter 9 La Coulotte, Lens, and Passchendaele (May–December 1917)

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pp. 173-216

Lieutenant-Colonel Colin C. Harbottle took command of the 75th (Mississauga) Battalion on 16 April 1917. His was a well-known and well-placed family in Toronto before the First World War. A child of Captain Thomas and Euphemia, he was born 31 July 1875 in Hamilton. Unlike his merchant-mariner father and brothers, he sought a life in the militia following an earlier stint as a professional bicycle racer. In 1897, he was commissioned into the 48th Highlanders, becoming its adjutant in 1902, and was promoted to captain in 1903. At the annual militia summer camps,...

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Chapter 10 From Vimy to Arras (January–July 1918)

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pp. 217-252

The year 1918 dawned cold for the men of the 75th. Although they could not know it then, this would be the last year of the war, but not before the Germans made one last, massive attempt in the spring to reverse their likely fate.

The cold weather remained for the first four days of the front-line tour at Vimy, 1–4 January. Low temperatures meant discomfort; higher ones, a thaw and more mud – better chilly discomfort than impossible mud. On the evening of 1 January, the solders of the 75th were manning an observation post. Approaching the...

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Chapter 11 Amiens: The 75th and Le Quesnel (August 1918)

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pp. 253-284

Le Quesnel, 22 km (13¾ miles) southeast of Amiens, along the Amiens–Roye road, is a quaint farming village nestled in the beautiful rolling countryside of Picardy in northern France. In mid-summer 1918, it became the focal point of a bloody battle involving the 75th Battalion  – the launch of the climatic Hundred Days Offensive, or Canada’s Hundred Days. Over forty-eight hours, the 8th and 9th of August, many of the village’s buildings, including the church, sustained heavy damage from artillery fire. Ever resilient, the residents rebuilt on the same stone foundations, so...

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Chapter 12 Smashing Hindenburg: Dury Ridge, Canal du Nord, Bourlon Wood, Cambrai (September 1918)

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pp. 285-320

The sweeping Allied victory at Amiens in August 1918, at the start of the decisive Hundred Days offensive, was a devastating blow for the German army and the morale of its soldiers. Their General Ludendorff called 8 August “the black day of the German Army in the history of this war.” He saw his battle-hardened divisions break and foresaw the war’s end.1 Even so, his soldiers still had lots of fight left and were not of a mind to give up. Their commanders believed that if they could hold on behind their well-constructed fortifications they could create deadlock once again and allow themselves recovery time....

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Chapter 13 The Final Push: Valenciennes (October–November 1918)

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pp. 321-334

The 2nd of October was “wet, nasty, rainy” as superiors gave the remaining men of the 75th the better part of the day to rest in their positions south of Bourlon Wood. Good news from afar – Bulgaria’s surrender – arrived at battalion headquarters and brought a bit of hope while the men coped with the recent loss of so many friends. More good news followed: they were moving back to Quéant on the west side of the canal for continuing rest and reorganization. At 4:30 pm, the battalion marched cross-country and over the canal to Inchy-en-Artois and then Quéant. The rest of...

Part IV Harbottle’s Men Carry On (December 1918–September 1939)

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Chapter 14 The Long Goodbye (December 1918–June 1919)

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pp. 337-352

Dull, cloudy, and cold were good descriptors as late autumn 1918 rolled by for the 75th in Walloon (French-speaking) Belgium, which would host the unit until mid-April 1919 – first in Saint-Symphorien, then at Ramillies for Christmas, and then for several months in La Hulpe, where educational schemes assisted and occupied the restless men. There would follow a stay in Le Havre, the trip home, and finally dismissal at University of Toronto stadium, where Lieutenant-Colonel Harbottle would pass the regimental colours back to (still) Mayor Tommy Church for safekeeping....

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Chapter 15 From 75th to Toronto Scottish (July 1919–September 1939)

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pp. 353-380

After farewells, goodbyes, and promises to keep in touch, the officers and men of the 75th dispersed that June afternoon, home to their families and a new beginning on civvy street. For many, the war left physical wounds and indeterminable scars of the mind. For them, a return to normality would be far more difficult.

Lieutenant-Colonel Harbottle had written his final orders on the train from Halifax to Toronto (6–8 June 1919). In them alluded to the formation of an association with no rank structure, one in which everyone could work in the best interests of the others. He realized that many of his fighters had given their all in the...

Appendices

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A 75th Infantry Battalion: Final Orders

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pp. 381-383

1. ARRIVAL IN TORONTO

The Battalion will reach Toronto tomorrow, Sunday June 8th probably about noon, and will detrain at North Toronto Station. It will form up in the yards, preparatory to taking part in the reception to be accorded to the Battalion by the citizens of Toronto. Dress will be Battle Order, with mess tins and empty packs in haversacks.

2. BLANKETS AND RUBBER SHEETS

Blankets and rubber sheets will be rolled separately in bundles of 10, early tomorrow morning, and placed on the platform on arrival....

B Regimental Lineage, 1901–1936

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pp. 384-385

C Great War Battle Honours

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p. 386

D Honour Roll, 1915–1921

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pp. 387-395

E Awards and Decorations, 1916–1919

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pp. 396-409

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F Captain Bellenden S. Hutcheson, vc mc

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pp. 410-411

For exceptional gallantry, bravery and devotion to duty displayed on September 2nd under most intense shell, machine gun and rifle fire, this officer went through the Quéant–Drocourt Support Line with the battalion and on the ridge where the fire of the enemy was most severe and where the battalion sustained the greatest number of casualties – over 200 – without hesitation and with utter disregard for personal safety he remained on the field until every wounded man had been attended to. When Captain Dunlop was severely wounded, he rushed to his aid and dressed the wound in the midst...

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G Citations for the Award of the Distinguished Service Order

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pp. 412-414

By Royal Warrant the Distinguished Service Order was instituted on 9 November 1866 as an award for senior commissioned officers who displayed meritorious or distinguished service in the field or before an enemy. An amendment on 1 January 1917 ensured that the Order was to be awarded to those serving under fire. The Order was to consist of “a gold cross, enamelled white, edged gold, having on one side thereof in the centre, within a wreath of laurel, enamelled green, the Imperial Crown in gold, upon a red enamelled ground and on the reverse, within a similar wreath and a similar red ground, Our Imperial and Royal Cypher …”...

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H Citations for the Award of the Military Cross

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pp. 415-422

By Royal Warrant the Military Cross was instituted on 28 December 1914 for distinguished and meritorious services by junior officers and warrant officers of the army. King George V was of the opinion that the Cross should be made out of silver, not of iron or black metal. The ribbon was designed by His Majesty and Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War. By 1917, the terms of the award became more restrictive; it was only to be awarded for gallantry under fire.

An award granted on His Majesty’s birthday or a New Year’s Award was common. Those awards were for an accumulation of brave deeds in the preceding months that caught the attention of senior...

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I Citations for the Award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal

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pp. 423-426

“Whereas Her Majesty Queen Victoria by a Royal Warrant dated 30th September 1862, did institute and create a silver medal bearing the words For Distinguished Conduct in the Field, to be granted to sergeants, corporals and privates of the Regular Army, for individual acts of distinguished conduct in the Field in any part of the world.”

Nine others were recommended for the Distinguished Conduct Medal but were approved for the Military Medal instead; another, had his Military Medal upgraded to a DCM....

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J Recommendations for the Award of the Military Medal

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pp. 427-448

On 25 March 1916, in the name of KING GEORGE THE FIFTH and by Royal Warrant, the Military Medal (MM) was instituted. “WHEREAS WE are desirous of signifying Our appreciation of acts of gallantry and devotion to duty performed by non-commissioned officers and men of Our Army in the Field, We do by these Presents for Us Our heirs and successors institute and create a silver medal to be awarded to non-commissioned officers and men for individual or associated acts of bravery on the recommendation of a Commander-in-Chief in the Field.”

Recommendations

A recommendation for an award (decoration or medal) usually started at the battalion level. It did...

K Military Offences in 11th Brigade, August 1916 to 30 April 1917

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pp. 449-450

L Courts-Martial Record, August 1916 to 30 April 1917

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p. 451

M Commanding Officers, 1915–1939

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pp. 452-455

N Regimental Sergeants–Major, 1915–1939

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pp. 456-457

O Regimental Choruses of the 9th Mississauga Horse and the 75th (Mississauga) Battalion

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pp. 458-462

Notes

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pp. 463-496

Index

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pp. 497-528