Thursday, 28 August 2014


Seventeen days since the first recruiting posters went up Gault and Farquhar’s objective had been achieved. 

Parade through Ottawa Streets
The entire Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, dressed in their khaki uniforms with combat webbing, and led by their pipes, marched through the streets of Ottawa to the train station. Among the many well-wishers present that day to see the Regiment off were Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden, Sam Hughes and Sir Wilfred Laurier, and other government officials. The Duke and Princess Patricia had said farewell to the men privately at Lansdowne Park. 

Parade through Ottawa Streets

Upon its arrival in Montreal, the Patricia’s again marched through the city’s streets to much fanfare as thousands of people watched the Regiment board the liner Megantic destined for war-torn Europe. The next morning, the ship pulled out of harbour, saluted by the whistles of every other ship, and began its journey to Europe. As they approached Quebec City, however, a signal from Ottawa order them to halt. The Admiralty had declared that no troops would cross the Atlantic unless in convoy. To the great frustration of Gault and Farquhar, the battalion was forced to remain in Quebec City until the First Contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) set sail for Great Britain. 

Gault was furious, suspecting that Sam Hughes, with a hidden agenda, had chosen to thwart the Patricia’s initiative to charge to the front. Farquhar made the difficult announcement to the men in the mess. Regimental Sergeant Major W.H. Marsden, a Canadian regular soldier, told of the Regiment’s reaction. 

“When we were told at Quebec that we would have to disembark, it is beyond me to describe how the men took it. At one time, it looked like mutiny. The men said they would not leave the ship….Nearly all these men were Reservists from the Army and Navy and could have joined their units if they wished. Colonel Farquhar addressed the Battn. and told us how hard he had tried to have the order cancelled. He told us that the Governor-General had been in contact with the War Office in London but they could not interfere with the Canadian Government….(Hughes) had objected to us going over before his army was raised. He was jealous of the Patricias….The minister never once visited us and I am glad he did not do so, the Battn. would have booed him. We were ordered to go to Valcartier camp and wait for his 35,000 troops to assemble there. Colonel Farquhar told us he would not take us to Valcartier, he would take the regiment to Camp Levis or take us back to Ottawa.”

Whether or not Hughes was behind the order for the CEF to sail in convoy, including the Patricia’s, the men were certainly convinced he had. To maintain morale, Farquhar arranged for the battalion to disembark at Camp Levis instead of entering the chaos at Valcartier under Hughes’ command. Gault and Farquhar made the best of the situation and took the opportunity to intensify training drills and further prepare the men. 

PPCLI Troops with Ross Rifles at Levis


Princess Pat’s Light Infantry

Years of thought and constant study
Preperation, cruel war,
Havoc, death, destruction bloody.
Nations fight and cannons roar.
‘Cause the War-Lord in a vision,
Saw himself alone, supreme,
Driving all into submission,
Realizing ev’ry dream.

Europe would be wrecked and battered.
So the tyrant’s dream foretold,
But his dreams were sorely shattered.
By a people wise and bold.

Pat’s Pets heard the bugle calling,
Men to arms, the other day.
Yes, they heard the Kaiser brawling;
That was why the joined the fray.

Full of fight and expectation,
Would not be refused—Oh, no.
Longed to be off to the station,
On their way to fight the foe.

P’raps you’ll see them, grim and solemn,
Kiss their wives and kids good-bye.
Then depart and join the column,
Determined to do or die, —

For Old England, Home and Beauty
And the flag of liberty, 
Ready at the call of duty.
Princess Pat’s Light Infantry.

Pte J.W. Lewthwaite.

PPCLI, No. 1 Co.
PPCLI Officers in front of the Aberdeen Pavillion, Lansdowne Park, August 27th, 1914
A Few of the PPCLI Boys at Ottawa August 27th, 1914
PPCLI 2 Company Officers and NCOs Group photo

Saturday, 23 August 2014


On August 23 1914, the Regiment celebrated its first formal parade at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa. With the mobilization process complete, it was time for the Regiment to be presented to Canadians through a church parade.

It was a simple but poignant service and emotions ran high for these men that had come to serve again as they expected to be sailing overseas within the week. A sense of patriotism and loyalty to the new found Regiment heightened the intensity of the occasion. 

There was a keen awareness of the Regiment's unique spirit which served to enhance the men's dedication and pride. A greatly adored Princess graciously consented to give her name to the Regiment and would serve as their Colonel in Chief. Even the unusual title of 'Light Infantry', established by Gault, contributed to the prestige. The title of Princess Patricia's Light Infantry was made complete with the addition of the designation 'Canadian' added by Sam Hughes.

Princess Patricia presented the men with a colour which she herself had designed and crafted which they proudly marched past to "Blue Bonnets Over the Border" played by their pipe band. It was not meant to be an official Regimental Colour approved by the College of Heralds, but was intended It featured a maroon flag with a gold fringe with a dark blue circle at the centre. Princess Patricia stitched her cipher ‘VP’, for ‘Victoria Patricia’ in gold thread within the blue circle simply to mark headquarters of the Battalion in the field and, unlike a Regimental Colour, could be taken into battle with them.

Presentation of Colours Lansdowne Park August 23, 1914

Princess Patricia would later recount, “I was very anxious to give the Battalion some present to take overseas and I first thought of a set of Bugles, since these seemed suitable to a Light Infantry regiment; but Colonel Farquhar much wished for a Camp Colour instead, such as the Brigade of Guards have; so a Camp Colour it was. There seemed no possibility of getting one made in the short time of two weeks which was available - so I set to work to design and work the Colour myself - I had never done any work of this kind before, and had no idea how to do it - so I just did it the best way I could! - and with the best materials I could obtain in the short time. The staff, too, was home-made being fashioned by our house carpenter from walnut wood grown in Government House grounds.”
Presentation of Colours Lansdowne Park August 23, 1914
It held much greater power, however, than a mere camp colour to the Regiment. Soon known affectionately as the Ric-A-Dam-Doo, it attained an almost mystical significance as the Regiment carried it with them into every battle which it fought in the First World War. However, tattered and torn, it was given special recognition throughout the British forces fighting in Europe and consecrated as the Regimental Colour after the war, in February 1919, in a ceremony on a snow covered Belgiun Parade ground. 

The meaning of the name Ric-A-Dam-Doo is mysterious. One explanation suggests that the name was rooted in the Highland traditions of the British Black Watch. The Black Watch Regimental Colours were called the rikk u dan du, a Gaelic term meaning “the cloth of our mother.” This theory goes further to suggest that former members of the Black Watch serving with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry gave the Camp Colour its name. 

When the Colour was presented by the Princess at Lansdowne, she declared “I have great pleasure in presenting you with these colours, which I have worked myself. I hope they will be associated with what I believe will be a distinguished corps. I shall follow the fortunes of you all with the deepest interest, and I heartily wish every man good luck and a safe return.” 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


Enlistment in PPCLI was for one year or the duration of the war and successful applicants would be paid at the Canadian pay rates, one dollar and 10 cents per day from arrival at Lansdowne Park, Ottawa. 

In the days following the founding of the Regiment, Hamilton Gault prepared for mobilization. Letters from friends gifting their horses to the new Regiment arrived, the most precious offer being a chestnut pony named Sandy who carried Gault faithfully through the war.  He researched the best quotes from Cunard and CPR for two ships to carry the Regiment and its horses, transport and equipment to Europe.  He travelled to Toronto to solicit support from the Chief of Police and the Army and Navy Veterans Association.  

Arrival of Legion of Frontiersmen
In ten days recruiting was complete. The response from across Canada had been overwhelming as almost 3,000 volunteers travelled to Ottawa to enlist, most coming from the West where many veteran soldiers had settled after releasing from the Army. The quality of recruit was exceptional, many with experience from the Boer war and all representing a vast array of trades and professions. “The Legion of Frontiersmen”, for example, arrived dressed in a uniform of cowboy hats, khaki shirts and bandanas. Sergeant Major Fraser, a former guardsman, reported at Ottawa with a full company of volunteers by the end of the first week. The Edmonton Pipe Band, in full Highland dress and wearing the Hunting Stewart tartan, announced on arrival that” they had come to play the Regiment to France and back”. 

Legion of Frontiersmen Moose Jaw August 1914
Lieutenant-Colonel Farquhar worked tirelessly, personally inspecting and interviewing each applicant. When all was said and done 1,098 officers, NCOs and soldiers were selected to serve with the Regiment. 1,049 were veterans, 456 with wartime service, 771 wore decorations or medals. The volunteers represented all but one regiment in the British Army and included sailors and marines with service in the Royal Navy. Not surprisingly, fewer than 10% of the "Originals" were born in Canada. 

PPCLI recruits, Lansdowne Park August 1914
As recruiting proceeded, Captain Buller established a headquarters in Lansdowne Park in Ottawa and the Regiment began training soldiers as soon as they enlisted. For the most part it was a matter of refreshing old skills. 

PPCLI Guard at Lansdowne Park  August 1914
Gault felt strongly that the morale of his men was directly related to the proper administration of the Regiment. His stalwart leadership was a pleasant surprise to the recruits as they found their most basic needs, food and clothing, were being well taken care of. Gault had hired a master fitter and eight tailors to ensure all uniforms would fit perfectly. He’d hired chefs from the best hotels to organize the kitchens and ensured that only competent cooks were recruited. Gault’s reputation for providing good food for them men endured through to the end of the war.   

PPCLI QM Stores, being outfitted with service equipment 

Monday, 11 August 2014


The first recruitment posters for PPCLI appeared on August 11th, 1914 in several major Canadian cities across the country. Hamilton Gault and Lt-Col Farquhar rallied the support of friends and associates to fill the most prominent positions of command while a steady stream of letters arrived with offers from old allies to join the Regiment. Recruiting stations were set up in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Captain “Teta” Buller, the new Regimental adjutant, established headquarters at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa prior to the expected arrival of recruits from all over the country. The majority of recruits were from Western Canada where many veterans had sought new lives after leaving the military. Preference was given to "ex-regulars of the Canadian and Imperial forces" and "men who saw service in South Africa." Recruits were expected to be physically fit, no more than 40 years of age, and in possession of "good" certificates of discharge. Most of the prospective officers had previous experience as regulars in the British Army. According to The Globe newspaper, the Toronto recruiting centre selected 87 volunteers on the first day of recruiting. The paper reported that the Regiment "will be as fine a body of infantry as has ever left Canada, since the men enrolled have seen service in either the Imperial or Canadian forces."

Sunday, 10 August 2014


Seven days after Gault brought his proposal to Ottawa, the Regiment was founded. 

August 10th marks the centennial anniversary of the founding of PPCLI. 100 years ago today Minister Sam Hughes signed the Regimental charter formally establishing the new Regiment as Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. The Charter of the Regiment was embodied in a report from the Committee of the Privy Council of Canada underlining Hamilton Gault’s contribution to finance and equip an infantry battalion. 

"As regards the expense entailed in raising, clothing, equipping, pay, transportation, feeding, maintenance and all other expenditure connected with this Battalion in and out of Canada, the sum of one hundred thousand dollars will be provided by Captain Hamilton Gault of Montreal. The remainder will be defrayed by the Department of Militia and Defence for Canada." 

The Paymaster General was authorized to pay personnel at the Canadian Expeditionary Force rate "from the date each Officer is gazetted and each soldier is attested." 

The Regiment would have special status, distinct from all other Canadian units. Neither as Militia nor with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, PPCLI would serve as a Canadian Regiment within the British Army. No provisions were made, however, for the supply of reinforcements to maintain the battalion at full strength. 

On this same day, Farquhar worked to set-up recruiting stations in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton. Mobilization of the Regiment was to begin immediately.  


Friday, 8 August 2014


The British War Office sent a telegram providing formal authority to raise and equip the new regiment on Saturday, 8 August 1914. Hamiliton Gault settled the financial arrangements with Colonel Fiset, Deputy Minister of Militia and Defence, based on the estimates provided by General D.A. MacDonald, CMG, the Quartermaster-General. Gault committed to pay $100,000 (nearly $2.4 million in 2014 dollars) towards the raising of a full strength infantry battalion. Any remaining expenses would be borne by the Government of Canada. When all was said and done, it cost $99,043.56 to equip the new regiment.


The Canadian Government authorized mobilization in an order-in-council on 6 August 1914. 226 Militia commanding officers and the division and district headquarters received lettergrams on Friday, 7 August 1914 stating that mobilization would take place at Valcartier, Quebec and providing instructions on the physical requirements for soldiers wishing to serve in the first Canadian contingent. Each unit was directed to submit the details of men who passed a medical inspection so that the Militia Headquarters could establish quotas and ensure that all units were represented. Final selection would be made at the camp at Valcartier. For many commanding officers, these were the first orders received during the war and the first information received from an official source. Although Militia Headquarters claimed that there was "no trouble at all about equipment or arms, and that there are sufficient supplies available for the active Militia," they were busy placing rush orders for tents, ammunition and thousands of Ross rifles.

It was already apparent that there was a growing requirement for home defence. German agents were reported to be operating across Canada and the first incidents of war hysteria were reported in the press. District commanding officers were instructed to arrest German and Austrian reservists as prisoners of war. Soldiers were called out to protect critical infrastructure and vital points, including Canada's Great Lakes canal system, which included 74 miles of canals and 49 locks. Eventually 9,000 soldiers were employed on security and coastal defence tasks.

The Netherlands, Norway and "Roumania" declared their neutrality as fighting spread across Europe. In the East, the Russians were reported to have suffered setbacks in Poland in East Prussia. Austria formally declared war on Russia and fighting was ongoing around Belgrade. In the West, the Battle of the Frontiers was in progress. The Belgians were holding the Germans at the fortress of Liege and preparing a second line of defences around the fortress of Namur. The Germans were bringing up their siege artillery to deal with Liege. The French forces under Commander-in-Chief Joseph Joffre began to execute Plan XVII, a major offensive into Alsace and a German trap. The first elements of the 120,000 strong British Expeditionary Force led by Field Marshal Sir John French landed in France. Naval engagements were reported in the North Sea and in the Pacific. New technology was already making its presence felt on the battlefield. Aircraft had already been used for reconnaissance and attacks against ground forces. German Zeppelins had already carried out their first bombing missions and the first Zeppelin was brought down by a Belgian "aerogun" at Harve.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014


By early morning on August 6th, 1914, Farquhar had been given approval from the Governor General, the Duke of Connaught, to lend his daughter's name to the developing project. 

He was also granted a release from his duties as Military Secretary and permission to command the new Regiment. The planning then continued with the Duke, Gault and Farquhar in a closed meeting with Princess Patricia. This marked the beginning of her sixty year relationship with the Regiment.

Later in the day they received notice the Canadian Government formally agreed to Gault's offer and offered full cooperation in raising an infantry battalion to serve with the British Expeditionary Force. They cabled the War Office for authority to raise it immediately.

It was agreed that Farquhar would command and Gault would be second in command. Captain Herbert Cecil Buller of the British Rifle Brigade, and also of the Duke's staff, became the Regiment’s first adjutant. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014


On the morning of August 5th, 1914, Hamilton Gault received a telegram from Col Farquhar telling him to come at once to Ottawa, that he had a plan. 

When Gault arrived he learned that it was very likely his proposal would be accepted by the Canadian Government but that he wouldn't be permitted access to recruits from the Militia. The government would use every trained officer and soldier for it's own expeditionary force. 

Farquhar went on to discuss his plan with Gault. There were thousands of former soldiers from the British Army as well as experienced veterans of the Boer War that would make excellent recruits and need minimal training before going overseas. 

The following was Farquhar's Project Outline:

1. The raising of two double companies, organized as a self-contained half battalion, strength all ranks 500 men. 

2. Recruiting.
The scheme of recruiting not in any degree to clash with the Militia, my object being to make use of the many men now in Canada who have seen service and who are not at present enlisted in any unit. These men should shake down quickly. 

3. Sources of Recruiting. 
(a) Police forces such as the CPR, Toronto and Winnipeg police, etc. 
(b) Various veterans' societies or associations.
(c) Advertisement in papers. 

4. Qualifications. 
(a) Having seen active service (?)
(b) Age 35 or less
(c) Physically fit. 
(d) Ed-regular soldiers to have at least a 'fair' character certificate. Other recruits to have an analogous 'character'. 
(e) Any man drawn from the Militia to produce written permission to enlist from the O.C. his Militia Battalion.

Lt-Col Francis D. Farquhar, 1874-1915

Gault had confidence in Farquhar and they talked long into the night until an outline was drafted for the formation of the Regiment. Farquhar volunteered to be the Commanding Officer and Gault would be his senior major.

A senior officer with the Coldstream Guards and Military Secretary to the Governor General, Farquhar would make an excellent choice as commander of the Regiment. 

Born in England in 1874, Farquhar was highly educated and spoke many languages. He served in South Africa during the Boer War and was awarded a DSO. He served as intelligence officer in Somaliland after the Boer War and then on the General Staff at the War Office until coming to Canada in 1913. He was charming and Gault very much enjoyed his company as they shared a common interest in international and military affairs.

Gault, having originally been interested in a cavalry unit, had thought 'Light Horse' would be fitting in the name of the new regiment. However, with the proposed infantry unit, he thought that 'Light Infantry' had "an irregular tang to it" that appealed to him. Farquhar suggested they ask the Duke of Connaught's permission to name the new regiment after his beautiful and much admired daughter, Princess Patricia. 

Monday, 4 August 2014


"Gault’s Light Infantry” Leaked to the Canadian Public 

On August 4th, 1914,  Britain  declared  war  on  Germany  in  response  to  the  invasion  of  Belgium.  Due to a deeply entwined alliance structure, war  in Europe had erupted. With its Dominion status, Canada would follow Britain into conflict.  

On that same day, Gault was horrified to learn that a Toronto newspaper, the Toronto Mail & Empire,  had  run  a  story  about  his attempts  to  raise  “Gault’s  Light  Infantry.”  His  proposal  to Hughes  in  Ottawa  had  been  leaked  to  the  public.  Gault  received  a  telegram  from the Minister in Ottawa with the message, “Regret conversation overheard and not understood to be confidential.” This was Gault’s first realization that he could not entirely trust Sam Hughes.

Gault's rough ideas on raising a Regiment

Sunday, 3 August 2014


Sam Hughes, Minister of Militia and Defence
By the beginning of August, Hamilton Gault moved to actualize his goal of raising a regiment. There were concerns in the political realm that by the time Canadian militia were mobilized, the war in Europe would be over. Gault’s initial idea was to immediately form a cavalry regiment at his own expense ensuring that he would not miss the war. He already had a preliminary list of officers who would join his regiment if their’s were not mobilized in time. The formation of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse Regiment, raised with private funds in 1899 to join the Boer Wars, had set a precedent for Gault’s ambition.

Gault wired the Minister of Militia and Defence, Sam Hughes, in order to set up an appointment to discuss his plans personally with the Minister in Ottawa. Gault secured his meeting and, on August 3rd, travelled on the early morning train from Montreal to Ottawa to make a verbal proposal to Hughes. 

During a break in a war-planning meeting, Gault made his proposal. Hughes listened intently and promised Gault the Government would consider his proposition to raise his own regiment. Hughes suggested, however, that an infantry regiment would be more useful to the government. Without hesitation Gault agreed to alter his plan. 

Before he returned to Montreal that day he met briefly with Lt-Col Francis Farquhar, Military Secretary to the Duke of Connaught, Governor General of Canada. Farquhar was already aware of Gault’s proposal to Sam Hughes and offered to help in any way he could. 

Saturday, 2 August 2014


Hamilton Gault’s service in the Boer Wars, hardened his ambitions for a further career in the military. His performance during the campaigns secured him a recommendation for a commission in the British regular army, a path he was eager to pursue. 

Mrs. Marguerite (Stephens) Gault 
Gault arrived in England however, only to be turned away by the British forces. In the demobilization process following the campaigns in Africa, the British military had too many officers to be able to offer Gault a place among its ranks. Disheartened but not willing to forgo his career, Gault returned to Montreal and re-joined the 5th Royal Scots. 
In 1904, Gault married Marguerite Claire Stephens, the daughter of another wealthy Montreal family. Marguerite 
shared Gault’s love for the outdoors.

In August 1912 by the age of 30, Hamilton Gault gained full control of his inheritance estate.  It was estimated that his net worth at this time was $1,750,000. Today, Gault’s fortune would be worth approximately $40,000,000. 
Now a respected Captain in the Canadian military, Gault recognized that the turmoil in Europe would soon become a crisis. If war was to come, Gault was determined to take part. 
Gault was aware however, that his position in the militia regiment would slow any part he was to play in the war. As a reserve officer, Gault was not guaranteed to have a fighting role at the outset of the conflict. Further, it was expected that the conflict would be short. As the militia was ill equipped, Gault worried the Canadians would not be ready in time to serve before the conflict came to and end. 
Hamilton Gault, Pre-War