Recollections of a Nonagenarian
of Service in The Royal Canadian Regiment (1916-19)
Part 6

by Robert England, M.C.



This memoir is personal and assumes reader will look to published histories for the World War I background and story of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France.

  1. R.C. Fetherstonhaugh, The Royal Canadian Regiment (1883-1933), Montreal, 1936.
  2. Gerald W.R. Nicholson, Canadian Expeditionary Force 1913-19 (Ottawa, 1962).
  3. The Times History of The War Vols I-XXII (London 1921), Vol XVI, pp. 269-70.
  4. Ralph Hodder-Williams, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry 1914-19, Vols I & II (London, 1923).
  5. Canada in the Great World War (Six volumes, Toronto, 1920).
  6. A.F. Duguid, Official History The Canadian Forces in Great War 1914-1919, Ottawa, 1938.
  7. D.E. Macintyre; Canada at Vimy (Toronto, 1967).
  8. Detail Service, Robert England, 1916-19 in The Royal Canadian Regiment, Appendix.

NOTE: This memoir is personal and assumes reader will look to published histories for the World War I background and story of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France. The Fetherstonhaugh history relied on an advisory committee of six permanent forces officers of the R.C.R. for guidance and information and had the help of Milton Gregg, V.C., though he was not a member of the committees. It is useful to compare the Ralph Hodder-Williams' Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry history as maps and battle areas cover similar areas as those in Fetherstonhaugh. Hodder-Williams had served with the P.P.C.L.I. and clearly checked records with his surviving old comrades, but as an academic historian his approach was critical as well as sympathetic. Fetherstonhaugh was confronted by much material and professional soldiers as a History Committee. He also had to fit 1914-18 into a regimental history of 1883-1933. He did well, the Regiment should be grateful to his committee, to Milton Gregg, V.C., and Major H. T. Cock, M.C., and to the author, for the main story stands. Every combatant sees a battle differently as this memoir indicates.

For night of 28th and most of 29th [September 1918] the R.C.R. had no C.O. and I did what I could to maintain communication as records show. Col. Willets was wounded on 28-9-18 (not 29-9-18 as Fetherstonhaugh given on p. 436) and asked me to carry on and I arranged the burial of dead by Capt. Andrew and Milton Gregg. W. C. Wurtele and I made a reconnaissance on 29th and found the proposed attack impossible but on our return to Regimental Headquarters we found it had been canceled. I do not know times of Major Topp's return to Regiment and never met him. I do not know upon whose reconnaissance report further attack was ordered by Brigade-attacks which accomplished little. * When Col. Willets visited me in the 3rd London General, Wandsworth, London after his recovery from wounds, he was very angry about the decimation of the Regiment; none of this seems to have been recorded or noticed in any way. However, it is difficult for a front-line soldier to be unaware of the past, which sometimes appears throughout the sixty years since in my memoir Living, Learning, Remembering (1980), Discharged: A Commentary on the Civil Re-Establishment of Veterans in Canada (1943), Twenty Million World War Veterans (1952) and other publications, now available in the Public Archives of Canada No. MG30C181.

* Fetherstonhaugh, op cit. p 361 in lines 13 and 14 elide "28, and on the" Replies of companies to Hdqrs. indicated companies despite losses were still functioning on night of 28-29 September. See Appendix B.

Appendix A

Record of Service of Robert England

World War I

Pp. 276, 282, 283, 294, 352, 362, 432 in Chapters XIX, XX, XXI and XXIV in The Royal Canadian Regiment 1883-1933 by R. C. Fetherstonhaugh.

Service: Commissioned Lieutenant in 95th Saskatchewan Rifles 9/1/16. Camp Hughes (Shilo), commissioned Lieutenant in 203rd Battalion C.E.F. 15/4/16.

Shornecliffe, Lieutenant/General List 23/8/16 to 10/10/16. Lieutenant the Royal Canadian Regiment 10/10/16 to 17/7/19.

Military Cross: (London Gazette, March 21, 1919, Notice as follows):

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during the operations near Cambrai from September 27th, to October 1st, 1918. During the night prior to the attack he reconnoitred a village and later returned with a party and mopped up enemy posts. During the operations as Scout Officer he kept the battalion commander accurately informed of the situation, being wounded in obtaining information."

Appendix B

Sundry items returned with my effects to hospital:

a.     Report on Officers proceeding Overseas.

b.     Few scraps from 28th and 29th September 1918 while keeping communication with no senior officer available.

c.     Letter from Milton Gregg, V.C., M.C. Bar, signed "Groggy," his nickname with friends.

d.     Letter from Major Algy Willoughby, M.C.