Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry: Canadian Men with Previous Military Experience

Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry

Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry: Canadian Men with Previous Military Experience

The first battle the Canadian Expeditionary Force engaged in during World War I was the Second Battle of Ypres. However, a group of soldiers did participate in earlier engagements. These men were members of Princess Patricia’s regiment.

Who were the Patricias?

When World War I erupted, Canada had a very small army called “the permanent force”. This force had only a few thousand individuals, too small to serve the nation’s needs in war.

Princess Patricia’s was founded in August 1914 by Capt. Andrew Hamilton Gault. He offered the government a battalion that he would finance and equip. After receiving parliamentary approval, the government provided equipment.

Its official name was Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry.

The unit was named after one of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters. Her father was governor general of Canada, the representative of the British monarch, for five years during the 1910s.

The majority of the 1,098 men who served in the battalion had previous military experience, having fought in the Boer War and/or with the British Army.

World War I Legacy

The battalion entered the trenches in January 1915, having trained separately from the rest of the CEF. Lt. Col. Francis Farquhar, the military secretary to the governor general and a veteran, trained the battalion.

The first major battle the battalion took part in was the Battle of Frezenberg in May 2015. Gault was seriously wounded, and several other officers were killed. The battalion suffered 461 casualties.

Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry
Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry

In December 1915, the battalion became part of the 3rd Canadian Division but maintained its name.

At the beginning of the war, it was a largely British born (85 percent) force, commanded by British officers. By the war’s end, however, the officers were mainly Canadians from all parts of the country.

The battalion earned 21 awards and suffered 4,076 casualties.

 

 

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Updated: 22 October 2020
Melina Druga
Most kids have an active imagination. My imagination has stayed strong into adulthood, and I’ve funneled that creativity into a successful writing career. I write history, both fiction and nonfiction, because although your school history classes may have been boring, the past is not. My goal is to bring the past to life in all its myriad of colors.
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