British Journal of Canadian Studies

‘Natural leaders of a democratic army’: Parliament goes to war ‘Les dirigeants naturels d’une armée démocratique’: Le Parlement s’en va t’en guerre

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2017), 30, (1), 23–44.

Abstract

During the First World War, 25 Canadian members of the federal Parliament and provincial legislatures recruited infantry battalions from their constituencies. Perceiving themselves to be Canada’s ‘natural leaders’, middle-aged parliamentary colonels believed prominence and success in public life exemplified the qualities of moral leadership and strong character necessary for military command. After landing in England, however, the vast majority of the units were broken up and most of the former commanders were denied front-line positions due to age and unfitness. This article details how the colonels coped with the loss of their battalions, which undermined their self-image as natural military leaders and challenged their masculine authority. Defending their reputations against accusations of cowardice and self-interest, the colonels were forced to reinterpret their sense of duty and manliness, thereby emphasising civic responsibility in place of battlefield service.

Pendant la Première Guerre Mondiale, 25 membres canadiens du Parlement fédéral et des législatures provinciales ont recruté des bataillons d’infanterie dans leurs circonscriptions. Se considérant comme les ‘dirigeants naturels’ du Canada, des colonels parlementaires d’âge moyen pensaient que la notoriété et la réussite politique illustraient les qualités de direction morale et de force de caractère nécessaires au commandement militaire. Une fois arrivés en Angleterre, pourtant, la grande majorité des unités ont été démantelées et la plupart des anciens commandants se sont vus refuser les positions de front en raison de leur âge et de leur inaptitude. Cet article examine comment les colonels ont fait face à la perte de leurs bataillons, ce qui a eu pour conséquence de saper leur confiance en eux en tant que dirigeants militaires naturels et défié leur autorité masculine. En défendant leur réputation contre les accusations de lâcheté et d’intérêt personnel, ces colonels ont dû réinterpréter leur sens du devoir et leur virilité, soulignant ainsi la responsabilité civique au lieu du service sur le champ de bataille.

Access Token
£25.00
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

‘A Fantasy’, 1916, Gasper (24 July), 20. Google Scholar

‘A Political Colonel’, 1918, Toronto Globe (30 May), 4. Google Scholar

Arthurs, James, 1917, Letter Frank Macfie. 2 February, in John Macfie (ed.), Letters Home. 1990 (Meaford, ON: Oliver Graphics Inc.). Letters Home Google Scholar

Baker, George Harold, 1917, A Canadian Soldier, ed. John W. Cunliffe (New York: Columbia University Press). A Canadian Soldier Google Scholar

‘Ballantyne’s Answer to Lemieux’s Taunt’, 1917, Toronto Globe (17 November), 11. Google Scholar

Barrett, Matthew, 2016, ‘“Absolutely incapable of Carrying on:” Shell Shock, Suicide, and the Death of Lieutenant Colonel Sam Sharpe’, Canadian Military History, 25:1, 1–31. “Absolutely incapable of Carrying on:” Shell Shock, Suicide, and the Death of Lieutenant Colonel Sam Sharpe Canadian Military History 25:1 1 31 Google Scholar

Bederman, Gail, 1995, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States (Chicago: University of Chicago Press). Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States Google Scholar

Berger, Carl, 2013 [1970], The Sense of Power: Studies in the Ideas of Canadian Imperialism, 1867–1914 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press). The Sense of Power: Studies in the Ideas of Canadian Imperialism, 1867–1914 Google Scholar

Blondin, Pierre, 1917, ‘Lt. Col. Blondin Gives Reasons for Going to the Front’, Montreal Daily Mail (21 April), 7. Lt. Col. Blondin Gives Reasons for Going to the Front Montreal Daily Mail 7 Google Scholar

Brennan, Patrick, 2006, ‘Good Men for a Hard Job: Infantry Battalion Commanders in the Canadian Expeditionary Force’, Canadian Army Journal, 9:1, 9–28. Good Men for a Hard Job: Infantry Battalion Commanders in the Canadian Expeditionary Force Canadian Army Journal 9:1 9 28 Google Scholar

Brennan, Patrick, 2009, ‘“Completely worn out by service in France”: Combat Stress and Breakdown among Senior Officers in the Canadian Corps’, Canadian Military History, 18:2, 5–14. “Completely worn out by service in France”: Combat Stress and Breakdown among Senior Officers in the Canadian Corps Canadian Military History 18:2 5 14 Google Scholar

Clarke, Nic, 2015, Unwanted Warriors: The Rejected Volunteers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press). Unwanted Warriors: The Rejected Volunteers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Google Scholar

‘Col. Lennox Will Try to Have University Closed for War’, 1916, Toronto Daily Star (6 November), 4. Google Scholar

‘Conservative M.P.’s are Coming Back’, 1916, Toronto Globe (12 December), 7. Google Scholar

Currie, John A., 1916, The Red Watch (Toronto: McClelland, Goodchild & Stewart Ltd). The Red Watch Google Scholar

Denison, S.J.A., 1898, ‘A Lecture’, Toronto Globe (19 February), 3. A Lecture Toronto Globe 3 Google Scholar

Doyle, Arthur, 1976, Front Benches & Back Rooms: A Story of Corruption, Muckraking, Raw Partisanship, and Intrigue in New Brunswick (Toronto: Green Tree Pub. Co.). Front Benches & Back Rooms: A Story of Corruption, Muckraking, Raw Partisanship, and Intrigue in New Brunswick Google Scholar

Doyle, Arthur, 2005, ‘Political Leadership in the First World War’, in David MacKenzie (ed.), Canada and the First World War: Essays in Honour of Robert Craig Brown (Toronto: University of Toronto Press), pp. 76–95. Political Leadership in the First World War Canada and the First World War: Essays in Honour of Robert Craig Brown 76 95 Google Scholar

English, John, 2005, ‘Political Leadership in the First World War’, in David MacKenzie (ed.), Canada and the First World War: Essays in Honour of Robert Craig Brown (Toronto: University of Toronto Press), pp. 76–95. Political Leadership in the First World War Canada and the First World War: Essays in Honour of Robert Craig Brown 76 95 Google Scholar

Grodzinski, John R., 2006, ‘“We Few, We Happy Few …” Canadian Generalship in the First World War’, Canadian Military Journal, 7:3, 75–87. “We Few, We Happy Few …” Canadian Generalship in the First World War Canadian Military Journal 7:3 75 87 Google Scholar

Harris, Stephen, 1988, Canadian Brass: The Making of a Professional Army, 1860–1939 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press). Canadian Brass: The Making of a Professional Army, 1860–1939 Google Scholar

Haycock, Ronald, 1986, Sam Hughes: The Public Career of a Controversial Canadian, 1885–1916 (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press). Sam Hughes: The Public Career of a Controversial Canadian, 1885–1916 Google Scholar

Holman, Andrew, 2000, Sense of Their Duty: Middle-Class Formation in Victorian Ontario Town (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Press). Sense of Their Duty: Middle-Class Formation in Victorian Ontario Town Google Scholar

House of Commons, 1915, Debates, 12th Parliament, 5th Session. Vol. 1 (8 April) Ottawa: J. de Labroquerie Taché. Google Scholar

House of Commons, 1916a, Debates, 12th Parliament, 6th Session. Vol. 1 (7 February) Ottawa: J. de Labroquerie Taché. Google Scholar

House of Commons, 1916b, Debates, 12th Parliament, 6th Session. Vol. 1 (24 January) Ottawa: J. de Labroquerie Taché. Google Scholar

House of Commons, 1917a, Debates, 12th Parliament, 7th Session. Vol. 6 (14 September) Ottawa: J. de Labroquerie Taché. Google Scholar

House of Commons, 1917b, Debates, 12th Parliament, 7th Session. Vol. 3 (22 June) Ottawa: J. de Labroquerie Taché. Google Scholar

House of Commons, 1917c, Debates, 12th Parliament, 7th Session, Vol. 1 (6 February) Ottawa: J. de Labroquerie Taché. Google Scholar

House of Commons, 1917d, Debates, 12th Parliament, 7th Session. Vol. 1 (18 January) Ottawa: J. de Labroquerie Taché. Google Scholar

House of Commons, 1917e, Debates, 12th Parliament, 7th Session. Vol. 1 (26 April) Ottawa: J. de Labroquerie Taché. Google Scholar

House of Commons, 1917f, Debates, 12th Parliament, 7th Session. Vol. 1 (3 May) Ottawa: J. de Labroquerie Taché. Google Scholar

House of Commons, 1917g, Debates, 12th Parliament, 7th Session, Vol. 3 (4 July 1917) Ottawa: J. de Labroquerie Taché. Google Scholar

House of Commons, 1917h, Debates, 12th Parliament, 7th Session. Vol . 4 (13 July) Ottawa: J. de Labroquerie Taché. Google Scholar

House of Commons, 1918, Debates, 13th Parliament, 1st Session. Vol. 1 (10 April) Ottawa: J. de Labroquerie Taché. Google Scholar

House of Commons, 1919, Debates, 13th Parliament, 3rd Session. Vol. 1 (17 March) Ottawa: J. de Labroquerie Taché. Google Scholar

House of Commons, 1924, Debates, 14th Parliament, 3rd Session. Vol. 1 (3 March) Ottawa: F.A. Acland. Google Scholar

Hughes, Sam, 1917, ‘Some Observations on the War’, in Alfred Hall (ed.), Empire Club of Canada (Toronto: Bryant Press), pp. 265–74. Some Observations on the War Empire Club of Canada 265 74 Google Scholar

Hynes, Samuel, 1991, A War Imagined: The First World War and English Culture (New York: Atheneum). A War Imagined: The First World War and English Culture Google Scholar

Macfie, Arthur, 1917, Letter to Frank Macfie. 14 February, in John Macfie (ed.), Letters Home, 1990 (Meaford, ON: Oliver Graphics Inc.). Letters Home Google Scholar

Mangan, J.A., 2000, Athleticism in the Victorian and Edwardian Public School (New York: Routledge). Athleticism in the Victorian and Edwardian Public School Google Scholar

Mantle, Craig Leslie, 2013, ‘Stripes, Pips and Crowns: A Preliminary Study of Leader-Follower Relations in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War, 1914–1918’, PhD dissertation (Calgary: University of Calgary). Stripes, Pips and Crowns: A Preliminary Study of Leader-Follower Relations in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War, 1914–1918 Google Scholar

Maroney, Paul, 1996, ‘The Great Adventure: The Context and Ideology of Recruiting in Ontario, 1914–1917’, Canadian Historical Review, 77:1, 62–98. The Great Adventure: The Context and Ideology of Recruiting in Ontario, 1914–1917 Canadian Historical Review 77:1 62 98 Google Scholar

Morton, Desmond, 1970, Ministers and Generals: Politics and the Canadian Militia, 1868–1904 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press). Ministers and Generals: Politics and the Canadian Militia, 1868–1904 Google Scholar

Morton, Desmond, 1982, A Peculiar Kind of Politics: Canada’s Overseas Ministry in the First World War (Toronto: University of Toronto Press). A Peculiar Kind of Politics: Canada’s Overseas Ministry in the First World War Google Scholar

Moss, Mark, 2001, Manliness and Militarism: Educating Young Boys in Ontario for War (Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press). Manliness and Militarism: Educating Young Boys in Ontario for War Google Scholar

Nelson, Robert, 2011, German Soldier Newspapers of the First World War (London: Cambridge University Press). German Soldier Newspapers of the First World War Google Scholar

O’Brien, Mike, 1998, ‘Manhood and the Militia Myth: Masculinity, Class and Militarism in Ontario, 1902–1914’, Labour / Le Travail, 42, 115–41. Manhood and the Militia Myth: Masculinity, Class and Militarism in Ontario, 1902–1914 Labour / Le Travail 42 115 41 Google Scholar

‘Ottawa’, 1915, Vancouver Daily World (16 November), 13. Ottawa Vancouver Daily World 13 Google Scholar

Pegram, Aaron, 2015, ‘Politicians at War: The Experiences of Australian Parliamentarians in the First World War’, Papers on Parliament, 63, 95–108. Politicians at War: The Experiences of Australian Parliamentarians in the First World War Papers on Parliament 63 95 108 Google Scholar

‘Personal Notes of Interest’, 1917, The Clansman, 1.8 (17 February), 8. Google Scholar

Radley, Kenneth, 2006, We Lead, Others Follow: First Canadian Division, 1914–1918 (St Catherine’s: Vanwell). We Lead, Others Follow: First Canadian Division, 1914–1918 Google Scholar

Rutherdale, Robert, 2004, Hometown Horizons: Local Responses to Canada’s Great War (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press). Hometown Horizons: Local Responses to Canada’s Great War Google Scholar

Savage, Charles Henry, 1936, Memoir. Canadian Letters & Images Project. Available from: http://www.canadianletters.ca/content/document-8359 (accessed 20 February 2017). Google Scholar

Seal, Graham, 2013, The Soldiers’ Press: Trench Journals in the First World War (London: Palgrave Macmillan). The Soldiers’ Press: Trench Journals in the First World War Google Scholar

Senate, 1917, Debates, 12th Parliament, 7th Session, Vol. 1 (23 January) Ottawa: J. de Labroquerie Taché. Debates Google Scholar

Senate, 1918, Debates, 13th Parliament, 1st Session. Vol. 1 (23 May) Ottawa: J. de Labroquerie Taché. Debates Google Scholar

Senate, 1920, Debates, 13th Parliament, 4th Session. Vol. 1 (26 May) Ottawa: Thomas Mulvey. Debates Google Scholar

Sharpe, Robert, 2009, The Last Day, The Last Hour: The Currie Libel Trial (Toronto: University of Toronto Press). The Last Day, The Last Hour: The Currie Libel Trial Google Scholar

Shaw, Amy, 2009, Crisis of Conscience: Conscientious Objection in Canada during the First World War (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press). Crisis of Conscience: Conscientious Objection in Canada during the First World War Google Scholar

‘The 133rd Norfolk’, 1917, Toronto Daily Star (19 February), 6. Google Scholar

Ugolini, Laura, 2013, Civvies: Middle-Class Men on the English Home Front, 1914–18 (Manchester: Manchester University Press). Civvies: Middle-Class Men on the English Home Front, 1914–18 Google Scholar

Vance, Jonathan, 1997, Death So Noble: Memory, Meaning, and the First World War (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press). Death So Noble: Memory, Meaning, and the First World War Google Scholar

Wood, James, 2010, Militia Myths: Ideas of the Canadian Citizen Soldier, 1896–1921 (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press). Militia Myths: Ideas of the Canadian Citizen Soldier, 1896–1921 Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Barrett, Matthew