In 1915, the 49th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (today the Loyal Edmonton Regiment) was recruiting for overseas war service. To speed the recruiting process each Company (A, B, C, D) recruited distinct bodies of men.
While the 49th Battalion’s recruiting poster clearly specifies each body of men, the composition of D Company has been completely misunderstood, possibly for want of background information.
Commandant Justus Duncan Willson of the region’s Legion of Frontiersmen was appointed as the officer commanding “D” Company of the 49th Battalion CEF and the recruits who were from the Legion of Frontiersmen were directed to “D” Company.
The “Frontiersman” (notice capital ”F” in this basic rank) belonged to a quasi-military association under command of Justus Duncan Willson. Records indicate thousands of Frontiersmen were organized, uniformed and practicing military skills in support of Empire. Immediately at the 1914 call-to-arms these Frontiersmen (vs the generic word “frontiersmen”) rushed to the colours of many of the Empire’s regiments.
Edmonton’s Legion of Frontiersmen commandant along with his unit of Frontiersmen (referring to rank and file) were obviously requested by Lieutenant Colonel William Griesbach to form a Company for the 49th Battalion CEF. Quoting directly from the 49th Battalion’s recruiting poster:
A Company “is composed largely of sportsmen”
B Company “consists entirely of “Scotchmen”
C Company “consists largely of men from outlying districts”
D Company “Captain Willson’s company is composed of Frontiersmen”.
While the composition of companies A, B, and C has been repeatedly reported as indicated; sadly, the colourful irregular unit that formed D Company has in publications past been an ignored or a misrepresented aspect of the Edmonton regiment’s unique beginnings.
Statement for historical clarity:
The commandant of the Legion of Frontiersmen was appointed as the officer to command D Company and was tasked to form a company composed of the Legion of Frontiersmen, within the 49th Battalion, CEF.
Website © Copyright 2002-2015 Geoffrey A. Pocock.
Article © 2010 Barry William Shandro. All rights reserved.