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Regimental Museum and Archives - Virtual Tour Page 2 (10th Battalion)

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The 10th Battalion

The next gallery chronicles key components of the history of the 10th Battalion in the First World War.

On entering the 10th Battalion gallery, the viewer will find on their right hand side two display cases with various artifacts brought back from the trenches of World War One.  At centre is a column devoted to the Japanese-Canadians who fought with the 10th in the Great War; while some other battalions held Japanese-Canadians in disdain, the Tenth Battalion employed many of them without prejudice, and decorated several for bravery in combat with the enemy.  Some of the proud veterans of the trenches would view their service with some bitterness after 1941; some of those same decorated soldiers would be forced to live in Canadian internment camps during the Second World War.

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Major William Ashton Cockshutt served in all three units perpetuated by today's Regiment, and was instrumental in forming the Calgary Highlanders.  A display devoted to him is central in the Tenth Battalion Gallery.

Major Cockshutt was born in 1892, the eldest son of W. F. Cockshutt, a long-standing member of Parliament, from Brantford, Ontario. His uncle, James Cockshutt, founded the Cockshutt Plow Company which was known throughout Western Canada.

When Ashton was fourteen, he was not expected to live past the age of twenty. His doctors recommended the only possible cure for his asthma was to live in Western Canada. Cockshutt moved to Calgary, where he lived on a farm until his health improved. He attended Western Canada College, where he was introduced to the values of a military lifestyle.

In 1909, he entered the Calgary office of the family business. While in Calgary, he joined the 103rd Calgary Rifles as a private and later commissioned as a Lieutenant. In the Spring of 1914, Lieutenant Cockshutt was among the first contingent of 300 men, from the 103rd Calgary Rifles, who left for Camp Valcartier to join the 10th Battalion.

In Europe, he fought at the Battle of Ypres, Festubert and Givenchy, where he was wounded and eventually was returned to Brantford, Ontario. In Brantford, he joined the 125th Battalion and was promoted to Captain. He continued training and went overseas with the 125th Battalion where he attained the rank of Major.

musevc.jpg (8789 bytes)In the fall of 1918, he returned to the Calgary office of the Cockshutt Plow Co. and rejoined the 10th Battalion. Ashton was one of three Officers who assisted in the formation of the Calgary Highlanders. Cockshutt remained a o Highlander until 1922, when he was transferred to Edmonton with the Cockshutt Plow Co.. He held senior positions within the company and with other large corporations.

William Ashton Cockshutt was one of the few Officers to serve in all three Regiments which perpetuate the Calgary Highlanders. He lived to be ninety-seven, a remarkable feat for a boy not expected to live past the age of twenty.

To the left of the Cockshutt display are photos and replica medal groups of the Battalion's two Victoria Cross holders - Acting Sergeant Arthur Knight and Private Harry Brown.  Both VCs were earned late in the war, and both awards were unfortunately posthumous; neither man would ever know that he had been awarded the highest medal for gallantry in the British Empire.  The text of the citations are also included in the display and serve as but two examples of the extreme heroism displayed by men of the Tenth Battalion throughout the First World War.


10TH BN. C.E.F.

Harry Brown was born in Gananoque, Ontario, on the 11th of May, 1898. The events described in the citation took place during the second day of fighting for Hill 70, the 16th of August, 1917. Private Brown is buried in Noex-les-Mines Communal Cemetery, four miles south-east of Bethune, France.

For most conspicuous bravery, courage and devotion to duty:

After the capture of a position, the enemy massed in force and counter-attacked. The situation became very critical, all wires being cut. It was of the utmost importance to get word back to headquarters. This soldier and one other were given the message with orders to deliver the same at all cost. The other messenger was killed. Pte. Brown had his arm shattered, but continued on through an intense barrage until he arrived at the close support lines and found an officer.

He was so spent that he fell down the dug-out steps, but retained consciousness long enough to hand over his message saying "Important Message". He then became unconscious and died in the dressing-station a few hours later.

His devotion to duty was of the highest possible degree imaginable, and his successful delivery of the message undoubtedly saved the loss of the position for the time and prevented many casualties.

-The London Gazette, 17th October 1917.

10TH BN. C.E.F.

Arthur George Knight was born near Lewes, Sussex, England, on the 26th of June, 1886. In 1911 he came to Canada where he worked as a carpenter prior to the outbreak of war. He joined the 46th Battalion in December, 1914, went overseas in the following year, and was sent to the 10th Battalion in France. He served a total of three years in France before he was fatally wounded. Sergeant Knight was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the Belgian Government in November, 1917, for his outstanding service. The action which won him the Victoria Cross took place on the 2nd day of September, 1918, at Villers-lez-Cagnicourt, France. Knight and Sussex Crescents in Coventry Place, Regina, Saskatchewan, are named in his honour. He is buried in Dominion Cemetery, Hendecourt-lez-Cagincourt, France.

For most conspicuous bravery, initiative, and devotion to duty when after an unsuccessful attack, Sgt. Knight led a bombing section forward, under very heavy fire of all descriptions, and engaged the enemy at close quarters. Seeing that his party continued to be held up, he dashed forward alone, bayoneting several of the enemy machine-gunners and trench mortar crews and forcing the remainder to retire in confusion. He then brought forward a Lewis gun and directed his fire on the retreating enemy, inflicting many casualties.

In the subsequent advance of his platoon in pursuit, Sgt. Knight saw a party of about thirty of the enemy go into a deep tunnel which led off the trench. He again dashed forward alone, and having killed one officer and two N.C.O.'s, he captured twenty other ranks. Subsequently he routed, single-handed, another enemy party which was opposing the advance of his platoon.

On each occasion he displayed the greatest valour under fire at very close range, and by his example of courage, gallantry and initiative, was a wonderful inspiration to all.

This very gallant N.C.O. was subsequently fatally wounded.

The final section of the Tenth Battalion gallery is a life-size depiction of the Battalion's first Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Russ Boyle, who was killed in the unit's first combat action.  The Battle of Kitcheners' Wood was part of the overall Second Battle of Ypres; and began on the night of 21-22 April 1915 when the Germans launched the first poison gas attack of the war on the Western Front, routing two divisions of French colonials and territorials and causing the First Canadian Division to be hurriedly thrown into action. 

Lieutenant Colonel Boyle was leading the Tenth and Sixteenth Battalions in a hastily organized counterattack when he was struck five times by a German machine gun.  He died a few days later, but the Tenth Battalion gained everlasting fame in their successful attack, earning the Calgary Highlanders the right to wear a prized Oak Leaf shoulder badge in commemoration of this attack.

St. Julien's Day is commemorated annually; Kitchener's Wood was located near the town of St. Julien where much fighting occurred after the initial counterattack of the Canadians at the Wood.

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