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103rd Regiment 1910-21
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10th Battalion 1914-19
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 Apr 1915

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19 Jul 44

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12 Aug 44

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22 Sep 44

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2 Oct 44

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14 Oct 44

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31 Oct 44

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 14 Apr 45

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26 Apr 45

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Commanding Officers, 10th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force

Lieutenant Colonel JG Rattray 2 Sep 1914 - 27 Sep 1914
Lieutenant Colonel RL Boyle 27 Sep 1914 - 22 Apr 1915
Major Dan Ormond 22 Apr 1915 - 23 Apr 1915
Captain Geoff Arthur 23 Apr 1915 - 24 Apr 1915
Major Percy Guthrie 25 Apr 1915 - 25 May 1915
Captain Geoff Arthur 25 May 1915 - 28 May 1915
Major Dan Ormond 28 May 1915 - 2 Jun 1915
Lieutenant Colonel JG Rattray 2 Jun 1915 - 8 Sep 1916
Major Alexander Thomson 8 Sep 1916 - 29 Sep 1916
Major Dan Ormond (promoted Lieutenant Colonel late 1916) 29 Sep 1916 - 24 May 1918
Major  Eric Whidden MacDonald (promoted Lieutenant Colonel) 24 May 1918 - 1919

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Brigadier General John Grant Rattray, CMG, DSO

JG Rattray was a pre-war Militia officer.  Born in Banffshire, Scotland, in 1867, he moved to Manitoba and in 1910 raised the 20th Border Horse, commanding it as a Lieutenant Colonel.  During his long pre-war militia service in Manitoba, Rattray served with Dan Ormond, another officer destined to command the 10th Battalion.   In civilian life he was an inspector for the Canada Life Assurance Company in Winnipeg.  After briefly commanding the 6th Battalion (Fort Garry Horse), he took over the 10th Battalion. His first command of the battalion was embarrassingly brief.  As a politically active Liberal in Manitoba, he was not to the liking of the Conservative militia minister, Sir Sam Hughes, who was the organizing force behind the CEF.  When Hughes encountered Rattray on the parade ground in front of his battalion, awaiting the minister's inspection, he was greeted with a curt "Colonel Rattray, what are you doing here?"   Hughes was not interested in the reply and bellowed "Get the hell out of here!"  Rattray made a humiliated retreat.  The battalion's officers were privately appalled, and Hughes left without inspecting the battalion.

Rattray was bitter about his experience, but stayed active within the CEF, acting as a divisional staff officer in England, then procuring the post of president of the Permanent Board of Enquiry at Shorncliffe.   

He again joined the 10th Battalion as commander on 2 June 1915, at Givenchy, aged 51.

He left the battalion on 8 September 1916, promoted to Brigadier and given command of a training brigade.  In 15 months of combat, he had proven himself a competent officer, though not, in the words of the battalion historian, a great field commander.

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Lieutenant Colonel Russell Lambert Boyle

Russell Lambert Boyle was born in Port Colbourne, Ontario, on 29 October 1880.

On 7 June 1894, he enlisted in the Canadian Field Artillery and served continuously in the Militia from then until 1914, with the exception of his service in South Africa as a sergeant in the artillery.  He returned to Canada with a war wound, and three clasps to the Queen's Medal.

He engaged in ranching near Crossfield, Alberta, emerging as a member of the school board and the municipal council.   He also became a major in the local Militia unit, the 15th Light Horse.  From May 1910, he commanded the Crossfield squadron of the unit, and passed the militia staff course and also gained a certificate from the School of Signalling. 

Tall and mustachioed, Boyle was a fearsome figure.  He joined the battalion at Valcartier and took over after Lieutenant Colonel Rattray's humiliation at the hands of Sir Sam Hughes.  Upon reaching England, Boyle drew up the battalion, took off his coat, and issued a challenge to his men.  Noting that some of the men on ship had said they wanted to "punch the hell" out of him, he told the men that anyone who would like to try was welcome to it, right then and there.  No one took him up on the offer.
 

Boyle led the battalion in their first action at Kitchener's Wood, during the Second Battle of Ypres.   "We have been aching for a fight," he told the men, "and now we are going to get it."  The men were impressed by his courage.  during the initial attack into the wood, Boyle was among the first men hit by automatic weapons fire.   Major Ormond later recalled that "The colonel got five bullets from a machine-gun in his left groin - made a wonderful pattern of two and a half inches."   He moved eventually to a hospital at Boulogne.  Fellow patient Lieutenant William Lowry - also hit at Kitchener's Wood - remembered "We did not dream he would peg out.  He was always...talking of getting back to the regiment."   Despite his optimism, Boyle died on 25 April 1915.

coormond.jpg (14563 bytes) Brigadier General Dan Ormond, DSO and Bar

Major Dan Ormond, the Adjutant, took over the battalion after the Commanding Officer and Battalion Second in Command were both injured during the attack on Kitcheners' Wood.  He was himself wounded on the 23rd of April.   He recovered from his shoulder wound and took temporary command of the battalion again on 25 May 1915, designated as Second in Command.  He relinquished command on 2 Jun 1915.

Ormond was selected once again to Command the 10th Battalion in September 1916.  Lieutenant Colonel Rattray lobbied for his appointment, unknown to Ormond at the time, by writing directly to General Currie, the divisional commander.  Currie was skeptical, stating that "you have a higher opinion of Ormond than I have, but I will take your word for it."  Rattray told Currie he would be not disappointed.

His first major action was scheduled for mid-October 1916, during the Somme fighting.  Ordered to make an attack against fortifed German positions secure behind uncut barbed wire, Ormond sent a reconnaissance report to General Currie outlining the situation - Currie cancelled the operation as soon as he read the report.  No major actions were undertaken, and the Division left the Somme front in the following weeks.  By November, Ormond was a Lieutenant Colonel.

On 24 May 1918, after successfully handling the battalion at Vimy Ridge followed by numerous other battles, Dan Ormond - by now known as "Dangerous Dan" was promoted to Brigadier General and given command of the 9th Canadian Brigade.  He remained active in the Militia after the war, including a four year stint as commander of Military District 13.

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Major Geoff Arthur, DSO

Captain Arthur had been a realtor before the war, and at one time had been secretary of the Calgary General Hospital Board.  He took over command of the 10th from Major Ormond after his wounding.  The battalion was amalgamated with the 7th Battalion on the 24th, and placed under command of Major Victor Odlum.  He was recommended for promotion to Major by Major Guthrie, and placed second in command of the battalion after the fighting at St. Julien was over. He took temporary command again at the end of May 1915, from the 25th to the 28th, after Major Guthrie was wounded by a shell.  He turned over the battalion to Major Dan Ormond on 28 May 1915.   Arthur took ill shortly ater, was struck off strength in July 1915, and was sent home to Canada.  He finished the war as a major, and was the first officer of the 10th to win the Distinguished Service Order.

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Major Percy Guthrie

Major Percy Guthrie took over the battalion on the afternoon of the 25th of April (when it was split once more from its amalgamation with the 7th Battalion to revert to a seperate entity); he is described as a "tall, handsome...former New Brunswick politician" in the battalion history by Dancocks.   Major Guthrie was responsible for the sobriquet "White Gurkhas" which he wanted applied to the battalion, but aside from other nicknames sometimes used in newspaper articles (such as Terrible Tenth), the name that eventually stuck was the simple, and fitting, "Fighting 10th."

Major Guthrie commanded the battalion during the Festubert fighting, and was wounded by a shell on 25 May 1915.  Declared unfit for further service, the 33 year old officer was invalided home to Canada in December 1915.

Major Alexander Thomson, DSO, MC

Major Thomson was born in Scotland, and had been one of the first officer casualties of the 10th Battalion, being injured in March 1915 even before the battalion was committed to its first major battle.  Lieutenant Colonel Rattray called him "an officer who did not know what fear was."  He temporarily took command of the 10th when Rattray left for England on 8 September 1916; Dan Ormond had already been selected to command the battalion.  However, Ormond was not available until late September, so Thomson led the battalion in action on the Somme front.  After Ormond took over, he let Thomson lead the battalion in a large scale attack scheduled for 26 September.  "Whether he was ordered to do so or exercised his own discretion is unknown," according to the battalion history.  He again led the battalion into action, fighting for 36 hours and by request of the commander of the 5th Battalion - organized the night relief on the Second Brigade front.  On the 28th of September, the 29-year-old officer relinquished command to Major Ormond. He transferred to the 4th Battalion where he was their youngest battalion commander. He was killed by a sniper on 19 November 1917.

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Lieutenant Colonel Eric Whidden MacDonald, DSO and 2 Bars, MC

Major MacDonald had already won the Distinguished Service Order and the Military Cross by the time he took command of the 10th Battalion on 24 May 1918.  By war's end he had gained the distinction of being the only officer of the 10th to be awarded the DSO three times.

He guided the battalion through the last months of the war, and as a Lieutenant Colonel marched at the head of 316 returning survivors when the 10th returned to Calgary on 23 April 1919.

 


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