July 13, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)


William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)


My constituents went over there to fight-not to have a convivial time.
< Mr. OLIVER: I do not think the hon. ' gentleman need draw any comparison between his constituents and mine. Perhaps my constituents have been a little more unfortunate than the hon. gentleman's, and got a little closer to the front, and consequently have had more casualties to report. I have stated a certain case, according to my understanding of it, but I will not ask the House to depend on my word in the matter. I have here a clipping from the Ottawa Journal of June 30. It reads as follows:
(Special Correspondence to The Evening
Telegram from Douglas S. Robertson.)
London, June 12.-England contains many dissatisfied Canadian officers to-day, and no doubt many have arrived in Canada with grievances. These are the senior officers, who, there being no vacancies for them, have under the now more stringently enforced regulations, either to revert to lieutenancies or go home.
It does seem hard, and it is hard, that captains, majors and lieutenant-colonels who have recruited enthusiastically in Canada, and rallied thousands of men to the colors, should on arrival find themselves in such plight. Many a colonel has told me his story. After gathering what he deemed with proper pride "one of the finest battalions in Canada" about him, spent much of his own hard cash on it, learned to know his men personally, and generally put his whole soul into the work, he is told that the battalion must be broken up for drafts, and stands broken-heartedly by as company after company is sent off to reinforce other regiments.
As for himself, failing some job at the base, there is only one finale. After a brief sojourn in England, perhaps a two-weeks' tour of the front, if he be lucky, and a taste of the real thing in the trenches, he must go home. A lieutenant-colonel cannot become a subaltern.
. With the majors it , is scarcely less hard. A lieutenancy is no small step down in pay, and for married men with families a positive financial barrier forbids the reversion. Majors, too, are generally on the elderly side for lieutenants' work. So they, too, unless one of the rare base jobs comes their way, must, after an interval, take ship hack to Canada.'
For captains there is less excuse. Most of them are youthful enough for subaltern duties, though in the case of captains with families the consequent reduction in pay is also a serious, matter.
"They put it up to me," declared a Toronto captain not long over with a battalion which has been broken up. "They told me I would have to revert to lieutenant or go home. Well,
I told them that I would revert if they could assure me that I would be sent to France at once, but they couldn't. Now, scores of lieutenants are waiting to go over, and soma

have been waiting months. I guess I will go home. I can't afford the long reduction in pay." This captain is a young married man with a wife and two children.
"Just picture me going back to Canada, back to the town where I recruited a battalion, and facing the mothers whose sons they thought would be under me at the front! What am I to tell these people? What will they think of me for not going to France?" Such was the lament of one lieutenant-colonel I talked to.
He goes on to say:
The whole iniquitous system of raising battalion after battalion in Canada with full complements of officers, in face of what was happening on their arrival in England, was the [DOT] fault of the old regime at Ottawa. The reserve battalion system should have been adopted long ago.
I have a clipping from the Montreal Star which quotes an article from the New York Evening Post from Lieut.-Colonel Henry J. Trihey, who commanded the now disbanded regiment of Irish Canadian Rangers. He says in part:
At the end of 1916 the Canadian Government having given evidence of its desire to feature battalions representing different shades of national sentiment in Canada, with a view to encouraging voluntary enlistment, was asked by me for authority to raise an Irish Canadian regiment for overseas service. This authority having been granted, patriotic Irish Canadian citizens provided a fund of $40,000 to defray the cost of recruiting and of organizing.
In February, 1916, the organizing of the Irish Canadian Rangers was begun. The first poster issued bore the legend "Small nations must toe free." The particular appeal was to those who desired to share in the honor of representing, in this unit, Irish Canadian loyalty to Canada, at the front/ fighting for the principle proclaimed on the poster.
Two members of Sir Robert Borden's
Cabinet-one of them Minister of Militia_________
from platforms, in the city of Montreal, stated that the Government of Canada pledged itself that the Irish Canadian Rangers would go to France as a unit representing Irish Canadians. This statement was made at recruiting meetings as a special inducement to Irish Canadians to enlist in this regiment. Relying on this pledge and animated by loyalty to Canada, Irish Canadians volunteered, despite the aftermath of the Irish rebellion of Easter, 1916. The Irish Canadian Rangers, fully organized, arrived in England on December 26, 1916. On January 3, 1917, I learned that the disbandment of the regiment had been officially decreed in England, but that it was the intention of the English Government first to send the Irish Canadian Rangers to parade through Ireland. On confirming this I tendered my resignation as officer commanding and returned to Canada. All efforts from Canada were unavailing; the parade through Ireland occurred and the regiment was disbanded May 23, 1917.
The disbanded men were scattered among English Canadian regiments.
Not one of the Irish Canadian officers, not even our Catholic chaplain was sent with the

men. The officers were not used; they were simply ignored.
This is a case in the province of Quebec.

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