Canada’s Call to Arms: 5th Regt. RHC (Black Watch), No 4 Divisional Area, Aug. 6th 1914.

13th Battalion RHC FC CEF, organised at Valcartier Camp were not the (Black Watch), 5th Regt. RHC, owing when 13 BATT., was authorised, consisted of fussing 3 parent regiments, a 4th fallowed, not forgetting the “legal Attested” matter; the lines indicated in Expeditionary Force War Establishments, 1914 (pp. 121-126). Considering it took the Otter Committee, decades of grief, “come hell or high water,” establishing a connection, in which other parent regiments were forgotten, contributors’ too all FC Battalions. Its true fact, during post war changes were made in the Canadian militia throughout the Dominion, while certain battalion’s, PF were perpetuated by new or redesignated Regiments. The Minister of Militia and Defence, Col. Samuel (the wise) Hughes, believed only him alone, possessed the capabilities, and military knowledge in the creation of FC CEF, “His Boys,” by discarding the 1911 mobilisation plans, “War Book.” In 1911 CGS Col. W. G. Gwatkin, a British General Staff Officer was appointed by the “War Office,” heading a mobilisation committee, drafted a plan while under the Chief of General Staff, Brig.-Gen. W. D. Otter. While Otter’ instructed his successor, British officer CGS Maj.-Gen. C. J. Mackenzie, with Gwatkin drew up mobilisation plans for active OS.S, submitted on October 1911. Canada’s contribution consisting of one division and one mounted brigade a total of 24,352 men allotted for Imperial service, 22,154 for division, and 2,198 for the mounted brigade. By March 1912 under direction of CGS Mackenzie, made changes to the scheme, and throughout its development placed a small margin of credence, regarding it as a “project,” rather than a scheme. Under the authority of Borden the plan was prepared and issued, revisions were made for the next five months, without knowledge or authority of the new MDD Samuel Hughes, supposedly left in the dark. The scheme gathered dust for one year as CGS Mackenzie contemplated lines of Com’s, amount of troops dimmed necessary, with the War Office, unofficially consulted, with an understanding, Canada wasn’t obligated in providing a contingent, for Imperial OS.S. Unrelated to the scheme, CGS Gen. Mackenzie called it quits, pending his resignation taking affect, on May 5th 1913 MMD Hughes bewildered, informed the acting CGS Col. Gwatkin concerning the scheme for OS.S. Hughes stated while he had conversations in general terms concerning OS force “a score of times” with the CGS, confirming the existence of a definite plan. CGS Col. Gwatkin stood firm replying, he had certainly informed Hughes, on its progression to a definite plan. The MDD foresaw the advantages at first, having a scheme for Imperial war service, considering only the lines of communications, allotted number of men, with a few other discrepancies. Gwatkin, was instructed to carry on with the scheme, with provision on revision on lines of Com’s and units. Within three weeks, Hughes had a change of hart, instructed Gwatkin to shelf the plans, until future notice. The mention of a scheme at MHQ, only surfaced on July 30th 1914, when the divisional and district commanders were ordered to ignore the scheme.

By 1914 the scheme had a proper footing and foundation, with 3 years of preparation, could’ve been easily implemented without the need of Hughes’, arrogant incompetence, creating chaos, confusion, and animosity throughout Canada’s militia. This mobilisation scheme for OS.S, was created after lessons learnt, post Second South Africana’ War, in preparation for Imperial OS.S or if the need arose. (Memorandum C.1209) required commanders of division and district with the sole responsibility of raising the required units and men from their respective commands in the event of mobilisation for Imperial service. Hughes on July 31st 1914 despatched a telegram, the officers commanding units received secret instructions to regard “as purely tentative” the scheme outlined in Memorandum C.1209, to “consider what procedure you would adopt on receiving orders that troops were to be raised in your command for service overseas” (.3 3. A.G. to O.C. 5 Div. [Cdn. Militia], 31 Jul 14, M.D. No. 5 file 5-D s/016.) The original plan called for assembly of the mobilisation force at Petawawa, however in 1912, Hughes, requested a central training camp for Québec, evaluating 5 different locations, acquired 4,931 acres of land. Located 21 kilometres NW from Québec City, the new training camp would accommodate 5,000 men every summer. Training exercises at Camp Petawawa circa, 34,000 men participated during the summer of 1914; however other official accounts differ on the number. Clauses to the militia Act of 1904, on Canada’s raised force for Imperial overseas service under British high command, were vague on numbers, etc. The authorised establishment of the Canadian Militia in July 1914 (as distinct from actual strength) was 77,323 all ranks, distributed as shown in the following table:-

Established force


On August 6th, Hughs, ordered the Adj. Gen. Col. Willoughby Garnons Gwatkin, dispatch a night lettergram directly too 226 unit COs’, invoking a blizzard of confusing, contradictory orders, across the dominion. This action arouse indignation, rattling officers commanding Militia Divisional Areas, Districts and Brigade Division’s, which only received a copy by telegram, as a matter of good form:-

Telegram to all Officers Commandin Divisions and Districts 11th August, 1914.

Instruct immediately all Officers Commanding unit in your Division (or District) that all volunteers for Overseas Contingent must be enlisted immediately in the Canadian Militia Stop Enlistment in the Contingent will be carried out at Valcartier. ADJUTANT-GENERAL.
The regiments COs’ were instructed no later than August 12th a “descriptive roll,” of volunteers from 18-45 years of age meeting the prescribed physical standard, must be forwarded to Militia Headquarters. Unbeknown too many the mobilisation plans of 1911, were null and void under review, a letter sent on 31st July, voiding the 1911 scheme, nor provide one in its place. The Military District staff overlooking organisation of such a force, informed their services were no longer required, nor too discuss or contact Militia HQ concerning this matter. Hughes devised a new brilliant scheme, by the minister’s order, Militia Headquarters, directly communicated with unit commanders bypassing Divisional Area’s and Military District Commanders.

“The Governor in Council may place the Militia, or any part thereof, on active service anywhere in Canada, and also beyond Canada, for the defence thereof, at any time when it appears advisable so to do by reason of emergency.” (Militia Act, section 69, 4 E. VII, c. 23, s. 70.)

A request was forwarded on August 5th, that the King should bring the volunteers under sections 175 and 176 of the Army Act. His Majesty on August 9th, ordered the Governor General to raise the troops for service as an, “expeditionary force.” Every recruit when attested were cautioned that they’d be subject to the British Army Act. The call for volunteers on August 6th declared “the force will be Imperial and have the status of British regular troops,” the declaration was repeated in Militia Order 372 on August 17th 1914. The PC approved plan Aug. 10th, called for “25,000 troops allotted on a provincial basis generally proportionate to population.” Infantry, Artillery brigade commanders were only notified on the 8th, by Hughes staff, as they cabled infantry regiments authorising, 125 all ranks, either from rural regiments or from small city corps. Numerous large city regiments throughout the dominion were alarmed by the request, owing many, already surpassed the allotted number. They vigorously contacted MHQ, voicing their grievances while falling on death ears, despatching a statement in response, the final selection on the allotted men, would be determined at Valcartier Camp, few days later after the uproar. “DHH OH 1938: From the outbreak of war to the formation of the Canadian Corps, Aug. 1914 – Sept 1915,” p.45-46, as fallows:-

“Contributions from other units varied for several reasons. Infantry units as a rule had be called upon by Districts to provide a quota, but some, by the time they received this notification, had already recruited over strength and in a number of cases direct appeal to the Minister resulted in exceptions; eight regiments-in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver- raised over 500 each.”


This caused potential employed recruits, especial those with high salaries from the NPAM, taking into consideration whether it was logical in discarding established employment, knowing they would be replaced, pending a decision taken at Valcartier weeks later, of their legibility for first contingent. On August 10th the Privy Council (PC) approved the formation to be composed:-

P.C. 2080: CERTIFIED copy of a Report of the Committee of the “Privy Council,” approved by His Royal Highness the Governor General on the 10th August 1914. The Committee of the Privy Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Militia and Defence, advise that authority be granted for the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force to be composed in accordance with the accompanying table.

RODOLPHE BOUDREAU, Clerk of the Privy Council.


The Canadian Contingent Quota for FC CEF.


P.C. 2097: Certified copy of a Report of the Committee of the Privy Council, approved by His Royal Highness the Governor General on the 10th August, 1914. The Committee of the Privy Council have had before them a Report, dated 10th August, 1914, from the Minister of Militia and Defence, recommending that an order be given to the Ross Rifle Company for 30,000 Rifles, 30,000 screw Elevating Sights therefore, and 30,000 bayonets complete with scabbards, for delivery during the calendar year 1914.

The Minister states that under the terms of the contract existing between theGovernment and the Ross Rifle Company it is provided that in case of war, actual or threatened, or any national emergency, the Contractor shall do his utmost to manufacture at his Factory and deliver to the Government all such rifles as may be reasonably required and shall, if need be, operate his factory at any time to twenty four hours per day until delivery of the Rifles required is completed.

The Minister further states that this order shall be subject in all respects to the provisions of the existing contract with the Ross Rifle Company for the manufacture and supply of Rifles, and subject also to the following further conditions:—

  1. That the Rifles shall be Long Ross, Mark III, Pattern, and the screw Elevating Sight shall be the Pattern which was adopted for that Rifle. Also that the said Sights shall be’ attached to, and delivered with, the Rifles alluded to above.
  2. That the Bayonets and Scabbards shall be of the Pattern authorized for use with Mark III Rifles.
  3. That in accordance with the provisions of Orders in Council dated 7th April, 1913 and 7th November, 1913, the price of the Rifles is to be $26,90 each’ without the Screw Elevating Sight; the price of the Sights $1.10 each; and the price of the Bayonets, each complete with Scabbard, $5.25 each.
  4. That delivery will be taken by the Department of Militia and Defence at the Inspection premises of the Chief Inspector of Arms and Ammunition, Quebec, delivery of the entire lot to be completed on or before 31st December. 1914.

The Committee concur in the foregoing and submit the same for approval.

(Sgd.) RODOLPHE BOUDREAU, Clerk of the Privy Council.


The Quebec Chronicle, Wed. Aug. 5th, 1914 MONTREAL GLAD NOW ENGLAND HAS TAKEN PLUNGE.

Accepted announcement as the inevitable-great enthusiasm prevails.

Montreal. Aug.4- The news of the declaration of war was received by the citizens of Montreal pretty much as they might have received word of the result of an election except that in this case there was no surprise and they were practically unanimous in accepting it as the inevitable thing. After two or three days of anxious waiting the people seemed almost relieved to learn that at last Britannia had taken the plunge. Extra editions bougar up in different sections of the city, and many thousands of people were in the streets and in front of the bulletin boards until after midnight. Cheering and flag-waving were indulged in by thousands of enthusiastic young men and there was a repetition of the streets or four nights in support of the streets demonstrations, however, was more earnest than those preceding it.

Throughout the city there is unanimity in the belief that Britannia’s quarrel is a just-one, and the people generally are in sympathy with the patriotic fervour shown this week by the various military organizations of volunteers in this city, as was made plain tonight by the crowds in the street cheering and singing “God Save the King,” “Rule Britannia,” And “Le Marseillaise,” and declaring their willingness to go to wars. Even the older people, while seeming to realize the serious import of the news, spoke of war as the only way out of the present situation.


Owing too conflicting confusion from MHQ, the first 10 days recruitment regiments presumed they were raising a force representing, per say: 5th Regt. RHC would provide a battalion and named as such. Some regiments establishing a sense of belonging, identity, tradition, while recruits were drawn too the regiment’s name, past family affiliation, reputation, badges, uniforms. Recruiters using this tactic too attract potential recruits, once regiments COs’ etc., were informed bluntly, this wasn’t the case from MHQ, two weeks pre Valcartier Camp, some units ignored MHQ quota, preceded with the states quo, reaching 800-1000 all ranks. The Canadian Expeditionary Force was created as a separate military force, part of the Imperial British Army, with no connection too the parent recruitment regiments. Part of Canada’s Permanent active Militia (PAM) known as Permanent Force (PF) and Non Permanent Active Militia (NPAM), in this day and age, Reserve Units. Volunteers across the country would be assembled into numerical battalions, without any connection: Therefore 4 recruiting regiments’ merged, providing a force for one Battalion, or scatter one parent regiment recruits, throughout the battalion’s of FC CEF. Hughs exclaimed: “First Contingent was different from anything that had ever occurred before.”

In the Dominion of Canada, all drill sheds, rifle clubs and armouries, were in high alert, a call to arms, due too yellow journalism, war mongering Imperial sentiment, championed by press, members of parliament, war profiteers, etc., voicing their narrative. On August 5th a proclamation calling for special War Session of Parliament, on August 6th the calling out of the Active Militia, as required for active service and mobilisation of volunteer enlistments, for overseas service was authorised. That same day, appeared in the Montréal papers the following advertisement for, 5th Regt. RHC, as fallows:-

Members of the Regiment and others wishing to enrol in the Contingent which will be sent by the Regiment for Active Service abroad, will make application at the Orderly Room after 9 a.m. on Saturday, the 8th instant R. McCuaig, Major, Regimental Adjutant. (D.R. McCuaig, Major commanding Reserve Corps, 3rd and 4th Battalion 5th Regt. RHC) Considering Mother’s reputation and proud Canadian Militia record, responded without hesitation, as previous in the Second South African War, etc.

His Royal Highness, Duke of Connaught in 1912, presented the Regiment new Colours (gift from the Ladies of the St. Andrews’ Society), on Parade held at McGill, Fletcher’s Field; named after Scotsman, Lieut. -Col. John Fletcher CMG of the “old” Montreal Light Infantry, with assistance from Major Benjamin and later Captain Henry Lyman, both Scottish brothers serving with the MFBMB, former Officers of the “old” Rifles, transferred rank and file from Flecther’s Montreal Fire Brigade Militia Battalion on Jan. 31st 1862, providing cadres to, 5th Battalion, Volunteer Militia Rifles, Canada. On this occasion His Royal Highness stated:-

Lt. -Col. Cantlie, officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the 5th Regiment Royal Highlanders of Canada: “It gives me very much satisfaction to present you with these new colours to replace those which were presented in October 1862, at Logons Park by Lady Monck, (gift from “The Laddies of Montreal” women’s auxiliary), wife of the then Governor-General of Canada. This Regiment, like many other units, has been through many vicissitudes. In the early part of the year 1862, the Regiment was known as the Royals. The Regiment then passed through the phases of Royal Fusiliers, Royal Scots Fusiliers, and Royal Scots of Canada, until you now hold the proud name of the Royal Highlanders of Canada. The Regiment has always borne itself with the greatest credit. It took part in the Fenian Raid of 1866, and in 1870 I had the honour of being brigaded with the Regiment at St. Johns. It took part in the South African War and it has twice been inspected by the King. The Regiment is allied with the first Battalion of the 42nd Highlanders, the Black Watch, and the War Office has sent out Lieut. -Col. Rose and Captain Stewart to represent them on this occasion and associate your services with the British Empire. Officers and men of the Royal Highlanders, I have heard with pleasure of your strong sense of duty and of the esprit de Corps that exists throughout the Regiment from the highest to the lowest. I hope that you will ever be proud of the uniform you wear and ever be devoted to the country you serve. These colors should aid you in your devotion to your country, your sovereign and your Empire. May you ever cherish these colors and may they be in your safe keeping for many a year.

I congratulate you, Lieut.-Col. Cantlie, on the very excellent appearance and drilling of the Regiment.”

According too accounts from mainstream historians: The 13th Canadian Infantry Battalion organised at Valcartier in September, 1914 under Camp Order 241 dated 2 September 1914. The battalion was raised from Montreal soldiers (Military District 4).1

[1] Barbara Wilson Thematic Guides: Guide to Sources, p.72, David W. Love, p.137, Charles H. Stewart, p.7. (As for; raised from “Montreal soldiers,” Military District 4; I certainly think not).

The commandant, Lt.-Col.’s, Cantlie and 1st Bn. Ross, sec.-in-com., were in England sipping tea, at an English country Club, when news reached them on Canada’s, and the regiment’s involvement.  Considering tradition, Cantlie wasn’t pleased, rattled missing the formation, command of the regiment with first contingent, he assumed a battalion solely raised by 5th Regt. RHC. As it downed on him, sailing back, enlisting wasn’t feasible, later Cantlie was critical when telegrammed: Major Loomis would take command with the brevet of Lt.-Col. I belive Cantlie and Ross served with the rank of lieutenant, in the 5th Royal Scots Fusiliers, on January 26th 1898 both Lt.-Col’s had been promoted, Captain George Stephen Cantlie, and Capt. James George Ross, with 5th Battalion, Royal Scots of Canada, renamed on May 8th 1900, 5th Regiment, Royal Scots of Canada; in May 2nd, 1904, 5th Regt. Royal Scots of Canada, Highlanders; on October 1st 1906, 5th Regt. Royal Highlanders of Canada. Commading 2nd Batt. Lt.-Col. A.F. Gualt was also indisposed, while in their absence, Maj. Peers Davidson, temporarily, firmly grasped the reins, the night of 6th, “callout for assembly,” as the armoury recruiters, press, etc., for weeks agitated the fickle public frenzy, congregated too points of interest in the city. The Major slightly shaken and steered by the inherited responsibility, belted back a few last swigs of scotch, from his silver pocket regimental flask, within minutes in a pitched firm voice, addressed the Regiment and onlookers as the two large armoury doors were wide open facing de Bleury Street. (Named after Lt.-Col. Clément-Charles Sabrevois de Bleury, of the “Rifles,” being it’s major since the 1837-38 Rebellion, promoted, CO of the Montreal “Rifles,” on July 7, 1848., perpetuated by the “Rifle Rangers”). As the Major’s., stirring speech resonated throughout the armoury, while ending, he called on the Rank and File, alike, “to rally to the colours for service overseas.” The crowed gather, erupted in jubilant support, reverberating throughout, down to rue Saint Catherine till up, Sherbrooke Street. The overwhelming response hastily prompted Mother, in dispatching a telegram to MMD Hughes, “offering a battalion of Highlanders for what ever service might be required of them.” On Friday August 7th, recruiting was actively begun, all armouries, regiments in the Dominion of Canada selected in giving birth to first contingent, were a buzz of activity. In Montréal HQ, 1st Regt. Canadian Grenadier Guards, 3rd Regt. Victoria Rifles of Canada, The Montreal Heavy Brigade, C.G.A., 21st (Westmount) Battery, C.F.A. Laval Contingent, C.O.T.C., 65th Carabiniers (Mont-Royal), 64th Chateauguay and Beauharnois Regiment etc., were called out for active service, part of 4th Divisional Area, recruited with authorisation by GO 142.


GENERAL ORDERS 1914 HEADQUARTERS, OTTAWA, 6th August, 1914. G.O. 142.—CALLING OUT OF TROOPS ON ACTIVE SERVICE: In virtue of an order by His Royal Highness the Governor General in Council, numbered P.C. 2068, dated the 6th day of August, 1914, and made under the authority of section 69 of the Militia Act, the corps and parts of the Militia hereinafter mentioned are placed on Active Service.

Pre Militia Act 1855 the Dominion was divided into Militia Districts, furthermore in the 1862 “Trent Affair,” post 1867 confederation the Canada’s were divided into Military Districts which assumed responsibilities within their District; administration of militia unit’s, recruitment, training, etc., further sub-divided into Brigade division. Per-say, from 1868 –July 1914, “Military District No 5; 1st Brigade Division H.Q. Montréal, by the 1911 scheme only one month prior to war, designated by G.O. 142, August 6th, 1914:—Calling out of Troops on Active Service: “Montréal part of, No. 4 Divisional Area.” 5th Regt. (RHC), at outbreak of war, part of 12th Infantry Brigade 4th Divisional Area, HQ Montreal, P.Q., 1st Batt. (8 Coy’s) 2nd Batt. (8 coy’s) with two reserve battalions.


  • In virtue of an order by His Royal Highness the Governor General in Council, numbered P.C. 2068, dated the 6th day of August, 1914, and made under the authority of section 69 of the Militia Act, the corps and parts of the Militia hereinafter mentioned are placed on Active Service.

The 1911 scheme consisting of 62 units (Division Nos.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6: Military District 10 and 13th). In March 1912 changes to the scheme by CGS Gen. C.J. Mackenzie, MD 10, Saskatchewan and Manitoba wasn’t approved, owing the western infantry “had had no training to speak of,” while the quota would surpass the total amount of troops that previously trained a year before. Military District No. 10 organised on the 6th August, while Military District No. 11 was organised for active service on August 10th: Sessional Paper 1914 Vol. I p. 31; extract from the Canada Gazette. Canadian Militia, 1914. Headquarters, Ottawa, August 10. 1914.

Further reading see link: C.E.F. First World War Military District’s Accounts Enduring a Century, Debunked!


The contingent, weren’t designated a battalion’ number, and till they reached Valcartier Camp, known as the “Active Service Contingent” of the Parent Regiment. For the 5th Regt. RHC, on the night of Friday 7th, the Rank and file assembled at the Armoury Mess’s, in their commitment of service and support of the Regiment (Mother), enrolment started unofficially that night with circa 200 enlisting plus 90 on a later date. The Men’s and Sergeant’s Mess were in a heated debate, whether “Billy,” would join the Highlander’s overseas contingent. The files’, “Sergeants Mess,” pride and joy, would settle this matter, owing to his regimental loyalty and fighting spirit, with enlistment papers firmly gripped, gingerly demanded the RSM allow his application for overseas service, while grumbling the RSM gave his authority with reservations.

On Saturday 8th, lines of men, onlookers surrounded the armoury waiting with enthusiasm, as the door of the Regiment’s O.R. recruitment office opened at 09:00 without a second to spare, as potential recruits congregated on masse to the colours. Montréal wasn’t the main source of recruits, nor would the 5th Regt. RHC, be the sole contributor to this FC CEF Battalion. While this was unbeknown to Mother, the 5th organised recruiting parties in Montréal, Mont-Royal, Verdun, Ville Saint Laurent, Sherbrooke and surrounding areas. They came from America, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland as other parts of the Dominion; recent immigrants from Scotland, Ireland, and Briton, enlisted on their own accord, owing many were in dire need of work.


CEF & Reinforcements proceeded overseas prior to March 31st 1915.


Major F. O. W. Loomis, was appointed command of the new battalion with the rank of Brevet Lt.-Colonel, enlisted at the age of 16th with the 53rd Militia Battalion, twelve years later earned him a commission, in 1903 moved to Montréal, transferred to the 5th Regt. Royal Scots of Canada, Highlanders. Recruits cascaded in faster then could be processed; however under the Col’s supervision and overwhelming effort of his staff as concerned individuals, the doors were left open turning the enlistment wheel. The bureaucratic government red tape, sent mixed messages too the Parent Regiments, creating difficulties, and disposed as seemed best by the recruiters, however many of the points that arose needed to be settle by MHQ. On Parliament hill the big wigs and high military Brass, were surrounded by their own chaos and mayhem, raising a large force, requesting instruction from Ottawa, most often met without response.


The Montreal Gazette Aug 14 Friday 1914. Montreal Regt.'s recuiting advertisements.

The Montreal Gazette Aug 14 Friday 1914. Montreal Regt.’s recuiting advertisements.


As Mother became agitated by MHQ lack of clarity, initiative, on outfitting, training the new recruits, Col. Loomis and officers took matters into their own hands. The status quo for the Government in 1913-14 pre War of 1812, was encouraging public funding, of the “old” Sedentary Militia Battalion’s. Post 1855-56 Militia Act, NPAM regiments, armouries, drill halls, rifle associations, purchasing their own supplies, uniforms, equipment and weapons if needed, releasing the Government of responsibility and financial strain to Canada’s coffers. Seeing the need, Mother called on honorary members of the regiment, “The Click,” business leaders and interested individuals of high stature in the city. Without hesitation contributed, hastily placing at the CO’s disposal a sufficient amount of funds, carryon with whatever was needed, as Captain J.K.L. Ross offered to take the battalion to England at his own expense. Furthermore the recruiting activities, organisation, drill, uniformed of the men already enlisted, continued in earnest. Robert Collier Featherstonhaugh, official history on the 13 RHC CEF, as other Historians, authors state: “About 65% to 75% of the recruits were Old Country men, the remainder native Canadians, with a small scattering of total outsiders who for one reason or another had decided to join up.” The men enlisted at the armoury in Montréal, circa 40% had military experience, 291 counting “Billy,” were members of 5th Regt. RHC, 13 former members of the Scot Black Watch, as Royal Scots, 6 Americans previously served with US Army, Navy, not including Lawford Miss J., a Montrealer having served in the U.S.M.C. After the battalion was reshuffled in Valcartier and Briton, circa 430 + 290 had previous service with British or Canadian regiments. Therefore 70% of 13th Battalion RHC FC, when first landed in France, had previous service with 5 months of preparation by Jan 1915, in which over 250 were sharpshooters, participating for years in team competitions. As the month progressed, a rumour resonated throughout the armoury, press, streets, started by the Coy’s ranks, “that soon the Battalion would go under canvas.” The news was given credence when announced, “Col. Sam Hughes was to inspect the unit previous to its departure.” The inspection was duly held on “Champ de Mars,” a memorable occasion in which pictures by press, etc., recorded the moment. A historic site from past sacrifices, Montreal militia rank and file echoed gallantry, enshrined in Canadian accounts.


5th Royal Highlanders Inspection by Gov Gen at Champ de Mars 1914. .©University of Victoria Libraries, Special Collections, William Okell Holden Dodds fonds, #SC345.

5th Royal Highlanders Inspection by Gov Gen at Champ de Mars 1914. .©University of Victoria Libraries, Special Collections, William Okell Holden Dodds fonds, #SC345.


P.C. 2112: Certified copy of a Report of the Committee of the Privy Council, approved by His Royal Highness the Governor General on the 14th August, 1914.

The Committee of the Privy Council have had before them a Report, dated 11th August, 1914, from the Minister of Militia and Defence, recommending, with the approval of the Imperial Government, that authority be granted for the formation of a battalion under the style and title of “Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
The Minister states that the battalion will be organized on the lines indicated in Expeditionary Force War Establishments, 1914 (pp. 121-126); and when it embarks it will leave behind a regiment depot for recruiting purposes. That towards arming, clothing, equipping, paying, subsisting, transporting and towards any other expense connected with the formation, training and maintenance of the Battalion, whether in or out of Canada, the sum of one hundred thousand dollars will be contributed by Captain Hamilton Gault, of Montreal, the remainder being defrayed by the Department of Militia and Defence. The Minister further recommends that authority be granted to the various branches of the Department of Militia and Defence to issue the arms, accoutrements, ammunition, vehicles, clothing, equipment, stationery and other articles comprised in the “War Outfit” of a battalion; to provide horses (riding and draught); and to issue such stores and supplies as may be required during the process of organization, at Ottawa or elsewhere. That to enable officers, non-commissioned officers and men to join the battalion, transportation requisitions will be supplied to them by Officers Commanding Divisions and Districts; and the Quartermaster-General is hereby authorized to issue the necessary orders.

That the pay of all ranks will be at the same rate as that approved for the other battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force; and the Accountant and Paymaster- (General is hereby authorized to issue it from the date on which each officer is gazetted and each man attested.

That the principle of the financial relations between Captain Gault and the Department of Militia and Defence is that all payments will, in the first instance, be made by the Department, and that a total sum of one hundred thousand dollars will be received, subsequent, from Captain Gault. That the foregoing arrangements are to hold good until the discharge of the officers and men after the return of the Battalion to Canada. The Committee concur in the foregoing recommendations and submit the same for approval. (Sgd.) RODOLPHE BOFDREATT, Clerk of the Privy Council. Know All men by these presents that I, Hamilton Gault, of the City of Montreal, in the Dominion of Canada, Merchant, am held and firmly bound to the Government of the Dominion of Canada in the penal sum of Two Hundred Thousand Dollars of lawful money of Canada, to be paid to the said Government for which payment well and truly to be made, I bind myself, my heirs, executors and administrators, respectively, firmly by these presents.

Sealed with my Seal and dated at the said City of Montreal, this………day August, A.D. 1914.

Whereas at my request His Royal Highness the Governor General in Council, by an Order in Council dated the………… day of August, One Thousand Nine Hundred and Fourteen, has authorized the formation of a Battalion to be styled the “Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry,” and Whereas the said Government, at my request, has undertaken to arm, clothe, equip, pay, subsist, train, transport and maintain the said Battalion both in and out of Canada, and Whereas in consideration of such undertaking on the part of the said Government I have promised and agreed to pay to the said Government the sum of One Hundred Thousand Dollars on or before the First day of September, 1914.

Now the condition of this bond is such that if I, the above bounden Hamilton Gault, my heirs, executors or administrators, do and shall well and truly pay or cause to be paid to the said Government the said sum of One Hundred Thousand Dollars on or before said First day of September, 1914, then this obligation shall be void, otherwise to remain in full force and virtue.

Signed, Sealed and Delivered in the presence of SEAL.


Extract from Montreal Gazette, August 16th, 1914.


I call for volunteers-volunteers, mark you. I have insisted that it shall be a purely volunteer contingent. Not a man will be accepted or leave Canada on this service but of his own free will, and, if I know it, not a married man shall go without the consent of his wife and family.

And when the Canadian men meet the enemy-as they are going to do-and vanquish them-as they are going to vanquish them they are going to do it fighting as free men, as free subjects of His Majesty. Canada is sending 20,000 men to the front, and it would realize the dearest ambition of my life, could I lead the boys-I may do that yet, I am not sure. If I can possibly manage it I shall cast politics to the winds and go to the front. . . .

. . . I have no fear as to the results of this war. If the millions in Germany cannot be driven back by the first, I feel sure I voice the sentiments of Canada and the Empire when I say that if necessary, ten, yes.

Men that participated in the inspection stated; it downed on them a reality, a feared certainty of sacrifice, and enduring perseverance, expected of them. As the night worsen lowed thunder rumbled in, lightning flash, reflected on the bayonets, and pools of water, a sobering, dire grim warning, on what was to unfold. Days after the inspection the routine of training fallowed it’s coarse when orders were received, the Battalion will entrain and proceed to Valcartier on the evening of August 24th.


Telegram from Adjutant-General to Officers Commanding Divisions and Districts.

15th August, 1914.

Report by wire immediately on state of preparedness of volunteers, medically fit from each unit in your district or division, and when they will be ready to entrain for Valcartier Camp. Rural Corps will move first. From what station will transport rural corps be required. Instructions as to movement city corps and artillery will be given you later. The Quartermaster-General will give you instructions as to transport, but all must be prepared to move at the earliest possible moment. No delay is permitted. The railways will accept your telegraphic orders for transport when necessary. Men will not bring rifles. Those without uniform will proceed in civil clothes. Artillery unites will mobilize at local Headquarters. Other arms will be issued with clothing and equipment at Valcartier Camp.

On August 17th, first Canadian contingent was authorized, to consist of one Infantry Division and Army troops; subsequently increased by one Cavalry Brigade and other units. This and all later contingents were equipped and maintained at the expense of Canada.


MILITIA ORDERS Headquarters, OTTAWA, 17th August, 1914.


The following instructions (provisional) are issued for general guidance:–

  1. It has been decided to mobilize for service Overseas a “Canadian Expeditionary Force” consisting of:–

(a) One Division (less a brigade of howitzer artillery); and

(b) Army Troops-i.e. certain units (such as the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry) in excess of divisional requirements.

  1. The Division and the units described as Army Troops will be organized as closely as possible on the lines indicated in Expeditionary Force War Establishments, 1914; and the Force will be equipped in a manner similar to that of the British Regular Army.
  2. The Canadian Expeditionary Force will be Imperial and have the status of British regular troops.
  3. (a) An officer before being appointed as such, and a man before being enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, will be required to sign a declaration (copies of which will be issued from Militia Headquarters) to the effect that he accepts the conditions therein set forth, and that he engages to serve for a term of one year, unless the war lasts longer, in which case his services will be retained until the conclusion of the war; provided that if employed with a hospital, depot, or a mounted unit, or as a clerk, etc., he may be retained after hostilities until his services can be dispensed with, but in no case for a period exceeding six months. Officers or men may be attached to any arm of the service as required.

(b) Subject to authority and with their consent officers of the Permanent Staff and Force may be appointed for general service, such service will count towards promotion and pension in the Permanent Staff and Force after the conclusion of the war, subject to authority and with their consent men of the Permanent Force may be enlisted for general service. Only in special cases will it be possible to accept the-service of men who belong to the Permanent Garrisons of Halifax, Quebec, or Esquimalt.

  1. Men must be physically fit for service in the field; minimum height 5′ 3″; minimum chest measurement 33}”; under 45 years and over 18 years of age; preference will be given to men who have previously served; or, who have undergone some form of military training. In regard to musketry and general proficiency a high standard will be required.
  2. Enrolment is voluntary for all ranks, applicants will be selected in the following order:–

Unmarried men. Married men without families. Married men with families.

The senior officers of units, will, through officers commanding companies, etc., collect the names of volunteers who should be medically examined by an Army Medical Corps Officer, where available. When all the names have been received officers commanding units will submit direct to Militia Headquarters, descriptive rolls of those who have passed the required medical examination and such volunteers as do not already belong to the Active Militia will be enlisted therein forthwith. Commanding Officers will assemble at regimental headquarters, for instructional purposes, all volunteers who have passed the medical examination and have been enlisted in the active Militia. Officers and men so assembled will receive pay and allowances at rates laid down in Article 620, as amended by G.O. 189 of 1913, and Article 822 Pay and Allowance Regulations, together with subsistence allowances at the rate of $1.50 per diem for officers, and .75e. per diem for non-commissioned officers and men. This is to take effect from date of assembly, but not prior to 12th August.

  1. Division and Army Troops will concentrate at Valcartier, P.Q., where mobilization will be completed; except the Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry, which will concentrate and mobilize at Ottawa. In accordance with detailed instructions which will be issued separately to all concerned, Divisional and District Commanders will take the necessary steps for the entrainment of volunteers ordered to proceed to Valcartier.
  2. For purposes of discipline all ranks will be subject to the Army Act, to King’s Regulations, and to such other ordinances as apply, or may be made to apply to the British Regular Army.
  3. The rates of pay and allowance will be as laid down in Appendix II (not reproduced but see. Appendix 91). Officers on appointment to the Canadian Expeditionary Force will be granted $150.00 towards defraying expenses of their outfit, and an advance of $60.00. These amounts will be paid at Valcartier Camp, Quebec.
  4. Officers, non-commissioned officers and men will be permitted to assign a portion of their pay, not exceeding four fifths of the monthly amount, to their relatives. The amount assigned must be in dollars only (no cents), and the maximum amount which may be assigned by a private soldier will be $25.00. Militia Form D 902 will be supplied to the commanding officer of each unit on arrival at Valcartier by the Camp Paymaster. On these forms officers commanding squadrons, batteries, companies will enter the nominal rolls of all officers, non-commissioned officers and men in their units, stating in each case the name and address of the next-of-kin, and, in addition, in the case of those desiring to assign a portion of their pay, each individual is to sign the form, giving the name and full postal address of the person to whom the assignment is made, with the monthly amount assigned. When these forms are completed and certified by the Commanding Officer they are to be returned to the camp paymaster in triplicate. One copy will be retained by the Camp Paymaster, and that officer will forward the duplicate copy to the Accountant and Paymaster General, Militia Headquarters, and the triplicate copy to the Camp Commandant. Arrangements will be made at Militia Headquarters for the payment of assigned pay at the beginning of each month direct to the person to whom the assignment has been made.
  5. As the number proceeding to Valcartier will exceed the numbers required to embark, final selection and acceptance for service will be determined at Valcartier, at which place enlistment in the Expeditionary Force will be carried out. Men will be enlisted in all cases as private soldiers on a special form of attestation (to be issued from Militia Headquarters). Men will be posted whenever possible to the units for which they express preference. .
  6. All ranks of the Canadian Expeditionary Force will be clothed and equipped on the scales given in Appendix 1 (not reproduced). Officers will provide all articles at their own expense.
  7. Instructions regarding the purchase of horses will be issued to purchasing agents; and units which do not receive their horses at places of assembly will receive them at Valcartier.
  8. With a view to the provision of technical vehicles special instructions will be issued from Militia Headquarters. Vehicles of a non-technical nature will be provided at Valcartier.
  9. Medical and veterinary equipment will be issued at Valcartier.
  10. Concurrently with the mobilization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, arrangements will be made for its upkeep in the field; recruiting and remount depots will be organized and reserves of stores will be accumulated.

VICTOR A. S. WILLIAMS, Colonel, Adjutant-General.


Canada didn’t need Parliamentary approval to be at war, Canadian law provided, by Minister of Militia and Defence, at the time Sir Frederick Borden, put it before Colonial Conference of 1907, “that if it is desirable to contribute a force to Imperial defence abroad, Parliament shall be called together.”

On August 18th. Special War Session of Parliament opened.

“As to our duty, all are agreed; we stand shoulder to shoulder with Britain and the British Dominions in this quarrel. And that duty we shall not fail to fulfil as the honour of Canada demands” (Sir Robert Borden, Prime Minister).


(P.C. 2048 of 4. viii. 14) summoning Parliament to meet in emergency session on 18th August, and a cablegram to the Secretary of State for the Colonies (the Rt. Hon. Mr. L. Harcourt) on the 1st August:–

Urgent. My Government desire me to send you the following:–

“My advisers while expressing their most earnest hope that peaceful solution of existing international difficulties may be achieved and their strong desire to co-operate in every possible way for that purpose, wish me to convey to His Majesty’s Government the firm assurance that if unhappily war should ensue the Canadian people will be united in a common resolve to put forth every effort to make ever sacrifice necessary to ensure the integrity and maintain the honour of our Empire.”

This was followed next day by another cablegram:–

In view of the impending danger of war involving the Empire my advisers are anxiously considering the most effective means of rendering every possible aid and they will welcome any suggestions and advice which Imperial Naval and Military authorities may deem it expedient to offer. They are confident that a considerable force would be available for service abroad. A question has been mooted respecting the status of any Canadian force serving abroad as under section sixty-nine of Canadian Militia Act the active militia can only be placed on active service beyond Canada for the defence thereof. It has been suggested that regiments might enlist as Imperial troops for stated period, Canadian Government undertaking to make all necessary financial provision for their equipment, pay and maintenance. This proposal has not yet been maturely considered here and my advisers would be glad to have views of Imperial Government thereon.

To these Mr. Harcourt replied:–

With reference to your telegram 1st August: His Majesty’s Government gratefully welcome the assurance of your Government that in the present crisis they may rely on wholehearted co-operation of the people of Canada. Publish With reference to your cypher telegram 2nd August, please inform your Ministers that their patriotic readiness to render every aid is deeply appreciated by His Majesty’s Government, but they would prefer postponing detailed observations on the suggestion put forward, pending further developments. As soon as situation appears to call for further measures I will telegraph you again.19 this with your telegram. I am publishing in tomorrow morning papers here.18

On 3rd August–With reference to your cypher telegram 2nd August, please inform your Ministers that their patriotic readiness to render every aid is deeply appreciated by His Majesty’s Government, but they would prefer postponing detailed observations on the suggestion put forward, pending further developments. As soon as situation appears to call for further measures I will telegraph you again.


The Canadian Forces in the Great War 1914-19 GS Series VOL.I p.28 states: Militia recruiting unites had, as far as possible, supplied uniforms to volunteers from regimental stores. Two Highland militia regiments- the 5th and 48th– completed the clothing and outfighting of their contingents locally, and the expense incurred- $51,361.78- was later made good in full by the Department of Militia. Another regiment-the 2nd– which asked for similar local provision was told “your unit will be clothed at Valcartier.


The Armoury metamorphosed into a frenzy of activity, without ample time to accomplish all the necessary tasks on departure. Men still being outfitted uniforms, webbing, dark blue glengarries, 5th Regt. RHC Boar head cap badges, red hackles too selected individuals, etc., fully supplied by Mother’s expense account, too slightly over 1000 all ranks in under 3 weeks of organisation. In the afternoon hundreds of curious onlookers congregated around the Armoury doors, sneaking a look or trying to get inside, in anticipation guards were posted at the doors with specific orders. Tickets were issued for authorised entry too individuals doing business with the regiment, family members, close friends, biding adieu. In hindsight, familiar with the armoury parade floor and cubic feet inside dimensions, it was bursting at the seams, considering the battalion parade inside, 1017 strong, that evening, according to RCF official history. The main doors closed on the eve of August 24th, circa 8.30 p.m., all ranks were ordered on the parade floor, Coy’s in their designated place for inspection, as the Pipes & Drums spear headed the contingent inside the armoury. Hundreds of Montréal’s congregated, surrounding the armoury and thousands gathered on route to the train station. Col. Loomis at 9.15 p.m. gave “the sharp” command, as the Pipe Major called on the bagpipes to skirl, shrilled into a wailing tone, simultaneously the two immense armoury doors swung open. Montréal inhabitants, visitors gathered, erupted in jubilant anticipation, lead by, the Col., as the pipes and drums fallowed with a sharp left turn, the contingent Coy’s “quick march,” pouring onto de Bleury Street. They marched down reaching the crossroad on St. Catherine Street turning right, while heading west as the crowds fallowed, surrounding them through the dense merchant street. Previously the mob never witnessed a sceptical of significant magnitude in the streets of the city, as the pot steered for two months leading up to this point. The contingent overwhelmed, while being carried away by prevailing excitement which filled the air, people cheering, waving, chanting, holding banners, without taking into consideration the horrendous horrors this men would endure, while many would be buried overseas never returning back, on the “Road of Heroes,” Saint Catherine street. The Police were out in full force, lacking command, control, and communication, hastily subdued by the overwhelming crowd, at times blocking the progression of the un-number, named battalion raised by 5th Regiment (RHC). Family members, girl friends/fiancées, close friends, exclaimed well wishes and last adieus as unknowns walked alongside the men, in repartee. The rank and file reached the crossroads of Peel Street as the Colonel ordered to turn left, heading south while the crowds became denser, once the skirl of the approaching Black Watch Pipers were heard, resonating throughout the cities buildings while the echo carried through the streets. The Police by this time hand lost all control, the Coy’s were repeatedly broken up by the jostling, pushy crowd, quickly reassembled by the Captains as the parade staggered into the tranquil surroundings of Windsor Station, in anticipation properly guarded to the relief of the officers and NCOs’. Two reserved trains were waiting too accommodate 1000 men, while the Coy’s Captains leading down the chain of command supervised, as the men entrained in an efficient manner. The first train rolled out of Windsor Station at, the second steamed out a few minutes later leaving Montréal, destination Québec City. It’s to be noted the same scenario played out with the majority of organised City and Dominion recruiting parent regiments, contribution for overseas service.


5th Regt RHC 1914 Muster Roll of Officers.



© Spañard 2014.




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