The terms for the Victoria Cross (VC) are:
"For most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy."
Seven Orangemen have been identified as having been awarded the Victoria Cross, although many records have been lost or destroyed so this number is not certain.
On 21 December 1914 at Rouges Bancs, France, Private Acton and another soldier went out from their trench and rescued a wounded man who had been lying exposed against the enemy's trenches for 15 hours. On the same day they again left their trench under heavy fire to bring in another wounded man. They were under fire for 60 minutes whilst conveying the wounded men to safety.
He was killed in action, Festubert, France, on 16 May 1915 at the age of 22 and he has no known grave.
His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Whitehaven - The Beacon (Whitehaven, Cumbria, England).
LOL 46, Fraserville, Ontario.
Canadian Chaplain Service - attached to the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry
(Later M.P.P. in Ontario and Colonel in Canadian Chaplain Service)
A tall, rugged Presbyterian minister, Honourary Major the Reverend John Weir Foote, 41, on February 12 became the 14th Canadian to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the Second Great War, and the first member of the Canadian Chaplain Services ever to win the Empire's highest award for valour.
The gallantry of the former chaplain of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment) was shown in no sudden blaze of violent action, but coolly and calmly through eight hours of the gruelling, terrible battle of Dieppe, in which, says the official citation, "with utter disregard for his own safety he exposed himself to an inferno of fire and saved many lives by his gallant efforts."
Then, at the end of his trial by fire, he climbed from the landing craft that was to have taken him to safety, and walked courageously into the German positions, that he might be taken prisoner and so minister to his men whose fate for the next three years was to be barbed wire and chains.
Thus Major Foote's heroism was a continuing thing which did not end with battle. He wore the chains with the others of that gallant Dieppe company. For three days after his capture he was marched barefooted over rocky roads and cindered railway tracks. He surrendered his rights to the preferential treatment of an officer prisoner-of-war to live in a "Stalag" and minister to the ranks, and finally he took part in that terrible 37-day march across Germany by which the Germans sought to prevent the release of British and Canadian prisoners by the advancing Russians.
The story of Major Foote's gallant deeds on the beaches of Dieppe was obscured for so long because those who knew how much he did on that bloody, bitter Aug. 19, 1942, were shut off like himself in German prison camps. Among them was Lieut.-Col. R.H. Labatt, Officer Commanding the R.H.L.I.
"No one will ever know, and I can't tell you what John Foote meant to me and the regiment," Colonel Labatt said.
It has only come out in full now, the epic story of the padre who, fully exposed to enemy fire from point-blank rifle and heavy shell, attended the wounded, administered opiates, bandaged up men and carried them to the safety of the landing craft for the whole eight hours of the Dieppe operation.
Thought for his own safety seemingly never crossed his mind.
He saved scores of lives, inspired others to save more. As each landing craft nudged the shore he was the first to carry men out to its shelter through heavy fire and refused again and again to be evacuated himself.
Finally, as evening came down over the blood-drenched beaches and the last of the landing craft arrived to evacuate troops, he refused his last chance to leave and leaped ashore after depositing the last of the wounded in the craft. His choice was to stay with the remnant of the men whom he had served for three years and go with them into the hardship of the German prison camp.
...Carrying men to the landing craft through the surf with his army boots sodden and waterlogged was slow business. So Major Foote took off his boots to speed up operations. That was why when the Germans rounded him up with others left on the beaches the R.H.L.I. padre was barefoot. And barefoot he tramped for two solid days over broken stone, along the cinder bed of railway tracks and over rough country in a march which was taxing the endurance of well shod men.
Eventually Col. Labatt managed to scrounge a pair of French army boots for him, size 13. Big and unshapely as they were, they were Major Foote's most prized possessions.
With other officers of the regiment he was taken to Oflag VII B. He did not stay long at this officers' camp. Stalags, the camps for the men, needed him more and at the first opportunity he transferred and for two years carried on his great work among the "other ranks" until released on April 25, 1945, by the British Grenadier Guards.
"The King has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the Victoria Cross to Honourary Captain John Weir Foote, Canadian Chaplain Services.
...Upon landing on the beach under heavy fire, he attached himself to the regimental aid post which had been set up in a slight depression on the beach, but which was only sufficient to give cover to men lying down. During the subsequent period of approximately eight hours, while action continued, the officer not only assisted the regimental medical officer in ministering to the wounded in the regimental aid post, but time and again left this shelter to inject morphine, give first aid and carry wounded personnel from the open beach to the regimental aid post. On these occasions, with utter disregard for his personal safety, Honorary Captain Foote exposed himself to an inferno of fire and saved many lives by his gallant efforts.
During the action, as the tide went out, the regimental aid post was moved to the shelter of a stranded landing craft. Honorary Captain Foote continued tirelessly and courageously to carry wounded men from the exposed beach to the cover of the landing craft. Also he removed wounded from inside the landing craft when ammunition had been set on fire by enemy shells. When landing craft appeared, he carried wounded from the regimental aid post to the landing craft through heavy fire with no consideration for his own safety.
On several occasions this officer had the opportunity to embark but returned to the beach as his chief concern was the care and evacuation of the wounded. He refused a final opportunity to leave the shore, choosing to suffer the fate of the men he had ministered to for over three years.
Honorary Captain Foote personally saved many lives by his efforts and his example inspired all around him. Those who observed him state that the calmness of this heroic man as he walked about collecting the wounded on the fire-swept beach will never be forgotten." ...
It was reported, yet kept secret, that Foote "seized a Bren gun, although wounded in the left arm, and climbed a small knoll from where he laid down fire to cover the final withdrawal of the unit."The Rev. Foote donated his Victoria Cross to the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. The "John Weir Foote, VC, CD" Armoury in Hamilton commemorates his name.
A member of 'Ontario' LOL 2226, Vancouver, British Columbia, Bro. Hanna was an Irish born member who emigrated to Canada as a teenager.
He was 30 years old, and a Company Sergeant-Major in the 29th (Vancouver) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
On 21 August 1917, at Hill 70 Lens, France, CSM Hanna's company met with most severe enemy resistance at a heavily protected strong point, which had beaten off three assaults and all the officers of the company had become casualties. This warrant officer, under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire, coolly collected and led a party against the strong point, rushed through the wire and personally killed four of the enemy, capturing the position and silencing the machine-gun. This courageous action was responsible for the capture of a most important tactical point.
He later accepted the rank of Lieutenant. He died Mount Lehman, British Columbia in 1967 and is buried at the Masonic Cemetery, Burnaby. Plot 49. Section C. Grave 2. To this day he is thought of in Kilkeel, Ireland, and his personal sword is on the wall of Kilkeel British Legion club.
LOL No. 720, St. Catharines, Ontario
Graham Thomson Lyall was born in Manchester, England, on 8 March 1892, the son of the Reverend Robert Henry Lyall and Agnes Lisette Wells of Darwen, Lancashire. He was educated at Nelson Municipal Secondary School. On graduation from Secondary School, he studied mechanical engineering before emigrating to Canada in 1912. He first settled in Welland, Ontario, and then moved to Chippawa, when he took employment with the Canadian Niagara Power Company in Niagara Falls.
Three days after the outbreak of The Great War, Lyall joined the 19th "Lincoln" Regiment in St Catharines, Ontario. He was placed on Active Duty and posted to the Welland Canal Field Force which provided guards along the canal, at hydro electric facilities in the Niagara Peninsula, and at the international bridges to the United States.
Lyall served in the 19th Regiment until September 1915 when he was accepted by the 81st Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force. That battalion recruited heavily in the Niagara area, although its headquarters were at the Exhibition Grounds in Toronto. He sailed for England with the battalion on 16 May 1916.
The 81st Battalion was broken up in England and its men sent as reinforcements to battalions already in France. The 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles had suffered 89% casualties at Sanctuary Wood, Belgium, on 2 June 1916, and the next day only 76 out of 702 men answered roll. By the end of the month 350 men, Lyall amongst them, joined 4 CMR (Toronto) as reinforcements. Lyall wrote in 1919 that he had transferred to 4 CMR as a Private, but the regimental history gives his rank on TOS as Corporal.
Lyall served with the battalion with distinction during the Battle of the Somme in September of 1916 and during the Battle of Arras, 1917. The capture of Vimy Ridge took place during this last battle, and Lyall received a battlefield commission for his conduct during the operation. He was sent to Officers' Training School at Bexhill-on-Sea, England.
On graduation, Lieutenant Lyall was posted to the 102nd (North British Columbia) Battalion, C.E.F., which had been in France for some time. The battalion was part of the 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade and took part in the Ypres campaign in 1917 and the Battle of Amiens, 1918. In September of 1918, the Canadian Corps was tasked to breach the Hindenburg Line on the Canal du Nord in a drive to capture Cambrai.
The 102nd would pass through units of the 10th Brigade after they had secured the crossing of the canal and capture the southern flank of Bourlon Wood. It was during this operation that Lyall won the Victoria Cross. His citation reads:
14 December 1918
The King has been pleased to approve the award of the Victoria Cross to the following Officers, Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men:-
Lieutenant Graham Thomson Lyall
For Most conspicuous and skilful leading during the operations north of Cambrai.
On September 27th, 1918, whilst leading his platoon against Bourlon Wood, he rendered invaluable support to the leading company, which was held up by a strong point, which he captured by a flanking movement, together with thirteen prisoners and one field gun and four machine-guns. Later, his platoon, now much weakened by casualties, was held up by machine-guns at the southern end of Bourlon Wood. Collecting any men available, he led them towards the strong point, and, springing forward alone rushed the position single-handed killed the officer in charge, subsequently capturing at this point forty-five prisoners and five machine-guns. Having made good his final objective, with a further capture of forty-seven prisoners, he consolidated his position and thus protected the remainder of the company.
On October 1st, in the neighbourhood of Blecourt, when in command of a weak company, by skilful dispositions, he captured a strongly defended position, which yielded eighty prisoners and seventeen machine-guns. During the two days of operations, Lieutenant Lyall captured in all three offices, 182 other ranks, twenty-six machine-guns, and one field gun, exclusive of heavy casualties inflicted. He showed throughout the utmost valour and high powers of command."
The Brigade recommendation for the VC stated he had captured 10 guns, not one, a fact to which he referred in a letter to the Commanding Officer of the 19th Regiment.
King George V presented Lyall with his Victoria Cross at an investiture on 15 March 1919 at Buckingham Palace. Just over a month later, Lyall married Elizabeth (Elsie) Moffat Frew, and settled in Airdrie, Scotland. He became Managing Director of Aerocrete (Scotland) Limited, a building construction industry.
Lyall joined the British Territorial Army, and in 1939 was a Major commanding the 3rd AA Division Workshop Company, Royal Army Ordnance Corps. On outbreak of war, he was placed on Active Duty and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. He proceeded overseas to North Africa in 1940.
In October 1941 he was promoted Colonel and appointed Commanding Officer of the 87th Lines of Communications Sub Area of the 8th Army.
He died in his sleep of a heart attack on 28 November 1941 and is buried in the Halfaya Sollum Cemetery, located on the main coastal road from Mersa Matruh, eleven miles from the Libyan border.His VC and war medals are on long-term loan from the family to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Museum of Technology.
12th Battalion the Royal Irish RiflesCitation: For most conspicuous bravery on 1 July 1916, at Hamel, the Somme. He advanced to the assault with his platoon three times. Early next morning, hearing a rumour that his platoon officer was lying wounded, he went out seven times to look for him, under heavy shell and machine-gun fire, each time bringing back a wounded man. The last man he dragged on a waterproof sheet from within yards of the enemy's wire. He was seven hours engaged in this most gallant work, and was finally so exhausted that he had to give it up.
Robert Quigg was a prominent member of Aird LOL 1195 and was also an enthusiastic musician with the local flute band which accompanied the lodge. He was a member of the Royal Black Institution, belonging to the 'William Johnston Memorial' Royal Black Preceptory No. 559.
"Gideon's Chosen Few" L.O.L. 342, Toronto
#2204279 Private Rayfield was 36 years old, and in the 7th (1st British Columbia) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the V.C.
"From 2/4 September, 1918 during the operations east of Arras, France, Private Rayfield, ahead of his company, rushed a trench occupied by a large party of the enemy, bayoneting two and taking 10 prisoners. Later, after engaging with great skill an enemy sniper, he rushed the section of the trench from which the sniper had been operating and so demoralised the enemy that 30 others surrendered to him. Subsequently, regardless of personal safety, he left cover under heavy machine-gun fire and carried in a badly wounded comrade.
His indomitable courage, cool foresight and daring reconnaissance were invaluable to his company commander and an inspiration to all ranks."
- The London Gazette 14 December 1918
Walter Leigh Rayfield was born at Richmond, Surrey, on Oct. 7, 1881, and attended school in London. Prior to WW I, he moved to Canada where he went into the real estate business in Vancouver. In 1914, he was twice rejected for military service, but was finally accepted by the British recruiting office in Los Angeles, Calif., and later became a member of the 7th Canadian Infantry Battalion. Besides earning the VC, he was awarded the Royal Order of the Crown of Belgium. After the war, he returned to Canada and spent some time in hospital before taking up farming. Eventually, he moved to Toronto where he served as Sergeant-at-Arms at Queen's Park. He later became governor of the Toronto Don Jail. He was commissioned and promoted to Captain in the Queen's Own Rangers.
Rayfield died in Toronto on Feb. 19, 1949, and was buried in the Soldiers Plot at Prospect Cemetery, Toronto. His medals are in the Canadian War Museum.
Born in Cavan, Ireland, was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery during the Indian Mutiny and was recommended on 3 other occasions for the same award. He served in the 34th Regiment of Foot, later the Border Regiment. Private Richardson later emigrated to Canada and served with the Prince of Wales Royal Rifles of Canada seeing action during the invasion of Canada by members of Clan Na Gael.
Robert Dixon LOL 2442, Toronto serving with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry
Lieutenant J.McCormick from Canada.
Lt-Col Colin Harbottle, CMG, DSO, VD, 'McKinley' L.O.L. 275, Commanding Officer of the 75th "Mississauga" Battalion in WW 1. He was awarded a bar to his Distinguished Service Order instead. (The 'Mississauga Battalion' was later re-named 'The Toronto Scottish Regiment' at Bro. Harbottle's request)
LOL 2566, Edmonton
Canadian Chaplain Service
Originally attached to the 138th (Edmonton) Battalion, Bro. Rev. Davis was later transferred to the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles after the 138th was disbanded to reinforce other units.
The official history of the 4 CMR states:
Vimy Ridge, April 1917
Captain W.H. Davis, Chaplain, joined (the battalion), who at once became endeared to the men. The first glimpse they had of their beloved Padre in action was seeing him in the twilight on the crest of the Ridge, his steel helmet hung over his arm, prayer-book in hand, burying the dead, regardless of shells dropping around him.
Vimy Ridge, July 1917
Captain Davis, the Chaplain, was with the men as usual in the front line, doing everything he could for their comfort. For three days he worked with a party of ten men, giving Christian burial to the dead who had been left unburied in the area; his courage and scorn of danger endeared him to all who knew him.
Passchendaele, October, 1917
Late in the afternoon by common uncommunicated consent, without notification or sanction, both sides suddenly decided on a temporary armistice to look after their wounded and dead. It was one of those spontaneous things, arranged without agreement. It just happened. It suited both sides. Some think that the Germans were probably awed by the unusual sight of Padre Davis with such a large party nonchalantly walking about and as soon as they realized what he was doing, decided to do likewise. Suddenly large numbers of Germans got out of their trenches and commenced to search for their wounded. The idea was mutual...
The Last Hundred Days, August, 1918
The Battalion lost their Chaplain, Captain W.H. Davis...Every officer and man mourned for their beloved Padre. He came from Western Canada but he had retained his Irish heart and Celtic charm. If he knew what fear was he never showed it. His remarkable disregard for danger while carrying out what he considered his duty, became a regimental tradition. In the daily life of the Battalion, in billets or in trenches he was always thinking of the men's welfare. On this day as on former occasion he was preparing to carry out his practical mission of mercy and was gathering around him his little band of stretcher-bearers when he and one of his men were hit by a shell. No officer was loved for his character or more admired for his bravery than Padre Davis.
Bro. Davis died at Amiens on August 9th, 1918 at the age of 34. He was born in King's County, Ireland and migrated to Saskatchewan and Alberta. He is buried at Le Quesnel Communal Cemetery, Somme, France.
Duncan William #7640
LOL 325, Winnipeg
2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Died: November 7, 1914, Belgium. (believed to be first Orangeman from Canada to fall in the Great War)
At the Grand Lodge of British America in 1885, the Grand Master, W.J. Parkhill, spoke on the role of the Orangemen who had volunteered for service in the Riel Rebellion:
"Every Canadian must feel proud of those brave men and can well say `God Bless our Volunteers'. And now that this arch rebel and his dupes have been caught, I hope there will be no more pandering to Popery, but that the government of today will do its duty, and punish those men as they deserve."
A large percentage of the soldiers who put down both Rebellions were Ontario Orangemen. In the minutes of Hackett L.O.L. No. 805, London, Ontario the following motion was adopted in 1885:
"That all members of the lodge who are serving at the front with the 7th Fusiliers remain in good standing until their return home." This lodge had a strong connection with the military since their inception in 1878, and in 1880 it was reported that they had celebrated `the 12th' in Hamilton and had hired the band of the 26th Battalion at a cost of eighty dollars.
A prominent Orangeman who served in the 2nd Rebellion was John Hughes of L.O.L. No. 311, later to become the Grand Master of Ontario East. As a boy of 16 he had enlisted in the 45th West Durham Battalion of Infantry during the Fenian Raids of 1866. He served as a major with #5 Company of the 45th in the Northwest Rebellion, later becoming the second in command of the regiment. This company which comprised forty-seven men served with the Midland Regiment and Hughes and his company were the ones who led the final charge at Batoche. When the unit was split and the 46th Battalion was formed in Durham County, he became its first commanding officer.
During World War 1 Colonel Hughes was commander of Valcartier Camp and
later was made Inspector-General of all forces in Canada. He later served as Reeve of Clarke Township and on his death on April 14, 1932 he was given a full military funeral in Orono.
Thomas Scott, who had been born in Ontario in 1841 was the owner and editor of the `Perth Expositor' in 1870. That year he was given command of a company of the 1st Ontario Rifles and took part in the Red River Expeditionary Force, returning to Ontario in the winter of 1871. Later that year he commanded the second military force sent to Manitoba when it was thought that the Fenians would try to invade the province. He was promoted to lieutenant-colonel in 1871 and on the outbreak of the 1885 rebellion he organized the 95th Battalion of Winnipeg and became its commanding officer during the rebellion. He retired from the military in 1887 and took an active part in Manitoba politics, serving as the mayor of Winnipeg in 1887 - 1888, and as M.P for Selkirk from
1882 - 1887. He along with Thomas Hickey and Johnson Cooper were the founding members of L.O.L. No. 1307. Scott later served as the Orange County master of Selkirk, whose boundaries included the city of Winnipeg.
In 1935, Ontario L.O.L. No. 142 of Toronto changed its name to the Colonel Francis W. Brown Memorial Lodge. Colonel Brown had been a member of this lodge and had served with the York Rangers during the rebellion. Two of his sons, Lieutenant-Colonel B. H. Brown and Major F. F. M. Brown, also officers of the York Rangers were members of this lodge at the time of the name change.
R. J. Bull, a member of Grouse Hill L.O.L. No. 191, was wounded in the second rebellion. He returned to Ontario and was later to serve as the Reeve of Weston from 1904 - 1912, and as Warden of York County in 1911.
David Lynch Scott was the only soldier to hold every rank in the 36th Battalion from private to commanding officer. When the 36th was incorporated he was a lieutenant in volunteer company #3. He moved to Saskatchewan and in 1883 was elected as mayor of the newly created city of Regina. In 1885 at the outbreak of the second rebellion he organized a home guard. This militia corps was known as `The Blazers' because of the red bandanas that they wore. It would be interesting to know if perhaps another reason for this nickname was Lynch's Orange roots in Peel County and his association with the `Town Line Blazers', an unofficial Orange group that operated for many
years in and around Brampton, and which was responsible for numerous attacks on William Lyon Mackenzie and his Reformers whenever they met in Peel County.
Lieutenant-Colonel William Edward O'Brien, M.P., who commanded the York and Simcoe Regiment during the second rebellion was a noted Orangeman from Ontario. He raised the 35th Regiment, the `Simcoe Foresters', and he had also served in the military during the Fenian Raids. Colonel O'Brien was later to become famous in Canadian Orange history for his participation in moving a motion against the Jesuit Estates Bill in the House of Commons in 1889, thus being remembered in Orange circles as one of the famous `Noble Thirteen'.
Hereward Senior in his book `Orangeism: the Canadian Phase,' stated that, "this rebellion was suppressed with purely Canadian resources and the percentage of Orangemen in the volunteer militia may have been greater than in 1836….Orangemen could be found among the newly organized North West Mounted Police and a lodge was established among them at Fort Walsh in 1881." This was the first Orange Lodge in what is now the Province of Saskatchewan and the warrant number was 1493.
Professor Senior is certainly correct in his observations. To the Orangemen of that time this rebellion was a struggle between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. They were determined that the future of the Canadian west would be decided by both British and Protestant sentiment. Apologists for Riel and those who would distort history have pictured the Orange involvement in the two Riel Rebellions as some kind of covert plot aided and abetted by the government of the day. The truth of the matter is that Orangemen simply saw it as their duty to join the military and put down anyone who opposed the Canadian government. The fact that Orangemen were so heavily involved simply shows their numerical strength and involvement in the military life of the Canada of that time.
"you Williamites so true, of the Orange and the Blue,
that dwell in this country all round, round, round,
O! May they increase and multiply in every place,
And join to keep rebellion down, down, down.
Perhaps one of the greatest indicators of Orangeism's strength in the military of this period is the number of people holding military rank on the petition to incorporate the Grand Orange Lodge of British America in 1890. This petition to the Parliament of Canada included the following members holding rank in the military:
Lieutenant-Colonel A. J. Armstrong, Lieutenant-Colonel Honourable Mackenzie Bowell, M.P., Captain William Anderson J.P., Major James Bennett, Major H. A. L. White, Captain John Woodward, Lieutenant-Colonel James Barr, Captain John Niblock, Captain Isaac
Jekill, Captain Joshua Wright, Major A. J. Vaningen, Captain John McCaughey, Captain Stephen Wetmore, Lieutenant John S. Millar, M.P.P., Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Tyrwhitt, M.P., Captain William Adamson, Major Samuel Hughes, Major A. Carmichael, Captain A. J. Sinclair, Major John Hoey, and Lieutenant-Colonel Kearns, M.P.P. Many of the other signers had also served in the military but only those still holding military rank are listed here.
Many of the above mentioned people while prominent in the military were just as prominent in the Orange Association and in their communities. William Anderson served as the Grand Treasurer of British America for thirty-two years and was elected to the legislative assembly of the United Provinces in 1861 and in 1870 had been elected to the Ontario Legislature representing Prince Edward County.
James Bennett served as Grand Master of Ontario West from 1881 - 1884, as did H. A. L. White from 1885 - 1887. John Woodward served as the Grand Master of Quebec from 1879 - 1883. James Barr served as Grand Master of Quebec in 1884. A. J. Vaningen, who served as a major in the 40th Battalion for twelve years was the Grand Secretary of Ontario East for twenty-four years and in his private life was the collector of customs at Newcastle, Ontario.
John McCaughey was the County Master of Northumberland and served as the Grand Lecturer of British America in 1885. John Niblock served as Grand Master of the Northwest Territories and his son later served as Grand Master of Alberta. He continued in an active role in the Orange Association until his death at the age of ninety-nine in 1914. A. Carmichael was the County Master of Grenville in 1902. A. J. Sinclair was for many years a director of the Ontario Mutual Benefit Fund, the forerunner of Orange Insurance. He served as the Clerk of Cannington, Ontario for several years in the 1880's. He was a member of L.O.L. No. 568 and served in #10 Company, Ontario Battalion.
John Stewart Millar who served as the County Master of Lennox and Addington in the 1880's was the clerk of the municipal council of Camden, Ontario from 1875 - 1886 and was elected to the Ontario Legislature as the Conservative member for the riding of Addington in 1886. William Kearns was a lieutenant-colonel in the 20th Battalion
and had served as reeve in Burlington for four years. He was the Conservative member for the riding of Halton in the Ontario Legislature from 1883 - 1898. William Adamson had served as an alderman in Toronto for several years and was the second Orange County Master of Toronto, serving in that office from 1861 - 1879.
At the 1888 annual sessions of the G.O.L. of New Brunswick, the Grand Master, Major Andrew J. Armstrong, reported that he had attended a meeting of York County in which many of the members present were members of the Infantry School Corps of Fredericton and who at the meeting wore the red coat of their services. He commented that the country would be safe in the hands of "An Orangeman and a soldier", and that the regalia worn by these members, together with the scarlet tunics referred to made the sight an imposing one.
At the 1889 sessions Armstrong reported that during the military summer camp held at Chatham, New Brunswick he had instructed Newcastle L.O.L. No. 47 to call a special meeting at Chatham. Through the Orangemen of the Military School he notified all Orangemen in the camp of the special meeting and as a result a large turnout of members attended the meeting. He commented that as he walked home that evening with so many soldiers and Orangemen that he felt that he was surrounded by men
who were prepared to "defend to the last the Queen, the Constitution, and the Protestant Faith."
THE SOUTH AFRICAN WAR
"the Orangeman is a man of peace,
but purity peace precedes,
and when ills increase he cannot cease
to be warlike in his deeds."
The South African War was to be the first conflict in which Canadian Orangemen were to become involved in that necessitated their leaving Canada and fighting overseas. To many of them it must have seemed a great adventure. It must also have given them a new perspective on the Orange Association. Doubtless they must have met Orangemen from different parts of the Empire and perhaps for the first time they fully realized that Orangeism was a worldwide fraternity and not just a local phenomenon.
Canadian Orangemen once again enlisted in large numbers and fought alongside the British against the Boers in South Africa. Indeed, in 1895 the 36th Peel Regiment held their annual summer training camp at Beeton, Ontario. During the tenure of the camp a County Lodge meeting was held and Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Tyrwhitt, the Commanding Officer and a staunch Orangeman, gave all Orangemen serving in the
Battalion the day off in order to be able to attend the meeting. Not surprisingly, almost the entire Regiment announced that they had strong Orange sympathies.
Tyrwhitt had began his military career as Captain of #8 Company of the Simcoe Foresters and assumed command of the 36th in 1886, the same year that he was in charge of the Canadian rifle team competing at Wimbledon, England. He remained as commanding officer of the 36th until 1899 and is remembered as one of the Orange `Noble Thirteen'.
The Grand Master of Canada at the outbreak of the war was Nathaniel Clarke Wallace, M.P. His son Tom who was a member of L.O.L. No. 28, served overseas with the Canadian contingent. He had been a captain in the 36th Peel Battalion and had resigned his commission and enlisted as a private in order to allow him to go overseas with the first Canadian contingent. He was awarded a general service medal with three clasps and mentioned several times in despatches. Wallace reported on life aboard the troopship taking him to South Africa with the following:
"we have not much room to drill on board but we are kept busy doing something all the time….We had target practice on board….and I happened to make enough to be classed as a first class marksman."
Wallace was one of the first Canadians of the Royal Canadian Regiment to see action in this war. On December 31, 1900 Lieutenant-Colonel Pilcher of the British Army took a small unit composed of R.C.R.'s, Queenslanders [Australians], and British troops out of Belmont in search of a party of Boers. Tom Wallace who was in `C' Company wrote
that his company "was chosen to go and I was lucky enough to get a place and so we were the first Canadians under fire."
The Grand Lodge published a list of members and sons of members who had enlisted and it was announced that L.O.L. No. 1527 of Fort McLeod, Alberta, had closed down because so many of its members had gone to war. Clarke Wallace reported to Grand Lodge in 1900:
"Great Britain has once more been called upon to assert her rights in defence of the integrity of the Empire and justice and equality to her subjects in the Transvaal. In the ranks of the contingents are many Orangemen who, true to the teachings of the Order - to be loyal subjects of the Queen. Allow me to quote from a letter written on
the 13th February, 1900 by that true Orangeman and friend of Canada, Wm. Johnston, M.P., Ballykilbeg, Ireland. With reference to this subject he says:"
"At a very successful meeting in connection with the Hamilton Loyal Orange Lodge at Hackney, I referred to Canada's contribution to the armies of the Empire amid enthusiastic applause. While we rejoice at this splendid example of loyalty and courage on the part of Canada's sons, our sympathy must go out to the fathers and mothers and relatives of those who have fallen with their faces to the foe. And we must not forget that our sympathy should also go to those who have lost loved ones by death from sickness and disease. Even now there are many fathers and mothers waiting so anxiously for news from the field to learn of their loved ones. This gathering of the Empire and her colonies is but another step in the direction of the federation of
Britain and her colonies."
Wallace was a close friend of William Johnston and as early as 1893 he had stated in the Canadian Parliament that Orangemen were prepared to assist Protestants in Ireland against Home Rule. The following is a copy of a 12th of July resolution that was sent to Wallace by the County Lodges of Durham, Northumberland, Peterborough and Victoria, endorsing his comments.
"….it is also resolved that we consider such sentiments loyal ones and that we heartily endorse Bro Wallace's words and promises and we declare that the Orangemen of the Counties of Durham, Northumberland and Peterborough and Victoria here assembled are prepared to give such aid to their suffering brethren in Ireland whenever called upon - And further - that we shall ever be found ready and willing to go to battle for the upholding in the British Empire of the Protestant Constitution Civil And Religious Liberty and an Open Bible."
The Grand Secretary's report contained the following: "Great Britain has once more been called upon to assert her rights in defence of the integrity of the Empire, with justice and equality to her subjects in the Transvaal. At the call of duty, volunteers were offered by the Colonies; that from Canada, though somewhat tardy to the mind of
loyalists, came at last, and noble response was made by the Sons of the Dominion."
D. M. Jermyn, Grand Master of Ontario West, reported in 1900 that there were many Orangemen among the contingents sent from Canada. He also added:
"for Orangemen are always ready if need be to offer their lives in defending the honour and glory of the Empire. All honour to those sons of Canada who have gone to South Africa."
Dr. George Sterling Ryerson who had served during the Northwest Rebellion also saw duty during the South African War. He was one of the top ranking Canadian commanders during the war and he was awarded the Queens Medal for his service. Of interest is the fact that in 1896 he had been one of the people that was instrumental in founding the Canadian Red Cross Society. He was elected to the Ontario Legislature as the Conservative member from Toronto in the 1892 elections, and in 1894 he was returned to the legislature for Toronto East, this time running on behalf of the Protestant Protective Association.
American Orangemen took note of the role being played by Orangemen throughout the British Empire in the South African War. In 1900 David Graham, Past Supreme Grand Master, sent the following letter to Canadian Orangemen.
"At a very enthusiastic meeting of over two thousand members of the Loyal Orange Institution of Greater New York [that does represent over twenty-one thousand affiliated members], David Graham, Past Supreme Grand Master, occupied the chair. The following resolutions were promptly and unanimously adopted, as follows: Whereas, a state of war exists at the present time between our Mother Country and the Boers in South Africa, and as the matter is being made much of, by the enemies of Great Britain, as well as the enemies of civil liberty in all countries, in the attempt to curb freedom. Be it resolved that this mass meeting of over two thousand members
of the Loyal Orange Institution of Greater New York, do offer to our brethren of the Orange Order, especially the Grand Orange Lodges of England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia, our dearest and heartfelt sympathies in the present severe and very trying ordeal which they are presently passing through, and that the Grand Old British Empire, and that they have our heartiest cooperation; also, that our prayers are with the gallant colonial members of our Order, who, true to our principles, have gone forth to strike a blow for the Queen and Country, and that our sincere prayers are that they will come out of this battle crowned with success, with pride and honor."
The 1900 annual meeting of Ontario East, held at Prescott, saw the Grand Secretary list the names of forty-five members from that jurisdiction that were currently on active service in South Africa. He also mentioned that the list was far from complete as many lodges had not yet reported. The following year's sessions saw references to the death of two Ontario East Orangemen while serving in South Africa. Robert Bradley was drowned while on duty with `B' Battery on April 13, 1900 and Edward A. Tilson of L.O.L. No. 482 died on November 6 of the same year from wounds received while in action.
`The Belleville Intelligencer' reported the following public ceremony held in conjunction with the above mentioned sessions to welcome home veterans of the South African War. The ceremony was hosted by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ontario East and was attended by prominent public officials.
"Many prominent citizens of Belleville were present when, at a few minutes past three, the following veterans marched up the stairs; Colonel Biggar, Sergt. Hulme, Sergt. Mills, Corp. McNair, Privates Tilley, Frye, Lynn, Cunnington, Large, Gibson, Austin, Bolyea,
Phillips and Gunner Gillespie. They marched into the City Hall and up to the stage amid wild cheering and waving of flags. Among those on the platform, besides the khaki boys, were Mayor Graham and ex-Mayor Johnson, and, of course, the officers of the Grand Lodge.
The first speaker was Most Worshipful Bro. John W. Bell, M.P. for Addington, and Imperial Grand Master of the world. He begged to move, in his official capacity as Grand Master, a vote of thanks to them. [Loud Cheering] The Grand Orange Lodge welcomed and congratulated the boys with all its heart, and wished them success in their several avocations….Bro. Wm. Johnson, Past Grand Master, then introduced the
veterans personally, his remarks being very happy and pertinent. Belleville, he said, had sent twenty-one men to South Africa….
Colonel Biggar said that words failed him when he tried to express, on behalf of himself and comrades, their thanks for this grand welcome. His Worship Mayor Graham heartily thanked the Grand Lodge for the reception given to the Belleville boys who had been to South Africa….The Grand Master then pinned badges on the breasts of the
Khaki boys, they to be kept as souvenirs, and everybody sang `God Save the King.' Hearty cheers for King Edward and the Khaki boys brought the proceedings to a close."
One prominent Orangeman who took a great interest in the Boer War was Alexander Muir. In 1906, the year of his death, `The Sentinel' published the following tribute to him:
"Worshipful Brother Muir was a staunch advocate of loyalty to the British Crown and Protestant principles. He was a familiar figure at patriotic demonstrations and public celebrations, where he took a prominent part in the programme. The many occasions at lodge banquets and other public assemblies where he thrilled his audiences with a
recital of the encounter at Hart's River in South Africa when our brave Canadian boys were inspired to glorious deeds by `The Maple Leaf Forever', will never be forgotten by those who had the privilege of being present."
In 1900, the Reverend H. A. Fish, a member of L.O.L. No. 904, Hawkestone, Ontario was appointed as chairman of a committee to compose a resolution of condolence to the family of Fred Wasdell of Bracebridge who lost his life in South Africa. Wasdell was a member of the 3rd Victoria Rifles, Royal Canadian Regiment.
Sam Hughes, who was later to play such a prominent role during World War One, served in the Canadian military during the South African War. He had began his military career as a lieutenant with the 45th Battalion in 1873, rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1897. In South Africa he served as the chief of the intelligence staff of
Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Warren. He later commanded a mounted brigade in the capture of Douglas and Orpen's Heights and later was the officer in charge of the capture of three hundred Boers near Kuruman.
The years following the South African War and those leading up to W. W.1 , saw thousands of Orangemen in positions of influence in the Canadian military. Many regiments had Orangemen as their commanding officers and they provided a strong voice in favour of maintaining a strong volunteer Canadian militia and of maintaining close ties with the British Empire.
Alexander McNeill, who had been one of the `Noble Thirteen', who had opposed the Jesuit Estates Act was one such member. He represented the riding of North Bruce in Ontario from 1892 - 1901, and in 1896 he had moved a motion in the Canadian Parliament "assuring Her Majesty's Government that, in the event of war, in no part of the Empire would more substantial sacrifices be made to maintain the integrity of the
Empire than in Canada." In reality he was only voicing the opinion of the Canadian Orange Association.
During the 1913 sessions of the Grand Lodge of Ontario West a public meeting was held in the Windsor Armories. `The Windsor Evening Record' reported the following:
"When the parade started for the public meeting in the Armouries Wednesday night the streets were lined with thousands to see the parade and many of the spectators were of a different faith. Yet the 21st Regiment Band, which led the procession, played martial music dear to every loyal Canadian….and the throngs, which lined the sidewalks looked on with the utmost respect….The 21st Regiment band played `Boyne
Water', and `The Protestant Boys', and other airs dear to the man from Ulster, between the speeches."
The early part of the twentieth century saw Orange strength growing by leaps and bounds. At the 1911 sessions of the Grand Lodge of Ontario West, held in Barrie, the following information was given. It was reported that the year 1911 had seen Ontario West institute 23 new Orange Lodges, initiate 3300 new members, receive 943 members by certificate, and had reinstated 634 members. It was also reported that since Ontario West had last met in Barrie in 1899, that 26,000 new members had been initiated and 178 new Orange Lodges had been instituted.
This then was the beginning. It was not to be the end. We have seen the involvement of the Orange Association with the Canadian military during Canada's formative years. The greatest carnage that the world was ever to witness stood waiting on the threshold. It remained to be seen whether Canadian Orangemen would be ready for the task that was to be World War One.
"I won't give up the Orange cause,
let men say what they will;
I've learned to love old Britain's laws
and mean to love them still
the bulwark of our Brotherhood-
the Orange and the Blue
the brave old banner of the past,
to it I'll still be true."