The First World War
Officers of The Royal Canadian Regiment

Lt.-Col. Charles Richard Edward Willets, D.S.O.

Soldiers of the First World War database entry - C.R.E. Willets

Lieut. C.R.E. Willets

Lieut. C.R.E. Willets
(November 1908)

Lieut. C.R.E. Willets

Lieut. C.R.E. Willets (1912)

Lt.-Col. C.R.E. Willets, D.S.O.

Lt.-Col. C.R.E. Willets, D.S.O. (1918)


First World War Mentions in Despatches

Distinguished Service Order (DSO) Citation:

SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 26 JULY, 1917; Issue number: 30204, Page number: 7619

Maj. Charles Richard Edward Willets, Inf. - For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He went forward to the front line under very heavy fire and organised the defence of the position with great skill. He has at all times displayed the greatest courage and initiative.

Lt.-Col. C.R.E. Willets, D.S.O., shown after being presented his Distinguished Service Order by His Majesty King George V.

Lt.-Col. C.R.E. Willets, D.S.O., shown after being presented his Distinguished Service Order by His Majesty King George V.

Col. C.R. Willetts Dies at Age of 51
A.A. & Q.M.G. of Military District No. 3 was Distiguished Soldier

The Montreal Gazette, 2 Sep 1931
(By The Canadian Press)

Kingston. September 1. – Lieut.-Col. C.R.E. Willetts, D.S.O., one of the best known officers at the Kingston military district. Died suddenly at his home today. Col. Willetts had been in usual health and yesterday assisted in moving to a new home in the city. He died shortly after rising this morning.

The late Col. Willetts had a distinguished military career. He went to South Africa in 1901 with the South African Constabulary from the Royal Military College and served with distinction there, winning the Queen's South African Medal. In 1906 he was gazetted Lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Regiment, becoming Captain in 1912 and Major in 1915. He was overseas from 1915 to 1918, serving in France and Belgium and being wounded twice. He won the 1915 1916 (sic) Star, the British War Medal. and the Victory Medal, as well as the Distinguished Service Order. After the war he became Lieutenant-Colonel and Commander of the Princess Patricias Canadian Light Infantry and four years age was appointed assistant adjutant and quartermaster general of Military District No. 3. which post he held to the time of his death.

The late Col. Wllietts was born at Windsor, N.S., and was educated at King's College School and the Military College. He was fifty-one years of age. He is survived by his widow and two daughters, and his mother, Mrs. Charles Willetts, of Windsor, N.S., where interment will take place.

The Connecting File, Vol X, No. 4; October 1931

Lt.-Col. C.R.E. Willets, D.S.O.

Lt.-Col. C.R.E. Willets, D.S.O.

It is with the deepest regret that we have to announce the death of Lieut.-Col. Charles Richard Edward Willets, D.S.O., P.P.C.L.I. (formerly of The R.C.R.), at Kingston, Ont., on September the first [1931].

The late Lieut.-Col. Willets was born at Windsor, Nova SCotia, on the 21st of May, 1880.

He was educated at the Windsor Collegiate and in 1899 he entered the Royal Military College of Canada as a Gentleman Cadet (College No. 516).

In 1901, when in his second class year, Lieut.-Col. Willets applied for his discharge from the College in order that he might see active service in South Africa. He joined the South African Constabulary in which ccorps he served with commissioned rank until 1906. On his return to Canada in the same year he applied for a Commission in the Permanent Active Militia of Canada and was gazetted as a Lieutenant in The Royal Canadian Regiment at Halifax, N.S.

In peace and war he served The Regiment with that unfailing loyalty and devotion to duty that made him an oustanding example to all ranks.

In 1917 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and in the same year realized the ambition of a life time when he was appointed to command the Regiment on active service. His tenure of appointment was unfortunately terminated in October, 1918, when he was seriously wounded and evacuated to England.

On the reorganization of the Permanent Force in 1920, Lieut.-Col. Willets was appointed to command the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, in which capacity he served with distinction until appointed to the Staff at Ottawa in 1927 and later as A.A. & Q.M.G., Military District No. 3, Kingston, Ont.

So much for the facts of his career. His personality is harder to guage and his influence to compute. In a humble effort to sum up a character of many great qualities the outstanding characteristic seems loyalty in peace and war to his old Regiment and the new, and a sense of justice towards friends and less than friends.

Few, I am sure, can recall a harsh criticism from his lips. "Fair Play" was his motto, not that he ever put it into words; he was not given to many words, but he lived by that and by that he will long be remembered and honoured.

The Regiment and the Militia of Canada as a whole mourn a gallant soldier and a good friend.

The Connecting File, Vol XI, No. 3; July 1932

The unveiling and dedication of a tablet in memory of the late Lieut.-Col. C.R.E. Willets and dedication of altar cloths and lectern were features of the closing day service held in Hensley memorial Chapel at King's Collegiate School at 9.45 a.m. Monday morning, 13th June, 1932. The table, placed in the chapel by Mrs Willets, is inscribed:

In Loving Memory of
Served with Distinction in
South Africa and the Great War
This Tablet was Placed Here by His Wife.

Date of Birth - 21 May 1880