London’s Lord Mayor and the Frontiersmen

Chilliwack Lord Mayor photo 1973Topic October / November 2022.  When the Lord Mayor of London, The Rt. Hon. Lord Mais, stepped onto the train at Agassiz Station late in the evening of Tuesday August 14th 1973 to continue a train journey across Canada it was the end of a very busy day around Vancouver and part of British Columbia around the Fraser River close to Vancouver. Together with his wife he had visited the University of British Columbia, Hudson Bay Fort and on to the town of Chilliwack, where they were given a civic reception and the Lord Mayor officially opened the 101st Chilliwack Exhibition. The citizens of that town had the distinct impression that the Lord and Lady Mayor thoroughly enjoyed their visit to the town. What would probably have surprised them was that much of the security was provided by the local members of the Legion of Frontiersmen and not by the R.C.M.P.. Although the Frontiersmen were no longer affiliated to the R.C.M.P. the Mounted Police still used the Frontiersmen as their auxiliaries. The R.C.M.P. did provide a mounted constable for the Exhibition wearing the original uniform of of what was then called the North-West Mounted Police, also their motorcycle display team put on a show. As the area commandant of the Legion wrote: Continue reading

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The First Adjutant

Charles Cory Kernick London 1906

Topic August / September 2022. To follow the previous topic page, another instance of a sad and early death is that of Charles Cory Kernick. Kernick was a world traveller and this was before the days when travellers to less civilised countries of the world could be inoculated against unusual and tropical diseases. You took your chances – plus a bottle of whisky and some quinine and hoped for the best. Kernick did not survive, and left behind him a young and deeply grieving widow.

The First Adjutant.
Charles Cory Kernick.

It is not strictly accurate to call Charles Cory Kernick the first Adjutant of the Legion of Frontiersmen, although that was his duty if not his title. He was the Legion’s first Secretary, as at first it was organised more as a club and it was not until men such as Lt.Col. Driscoll came to prominence in the Legion that it took a more military style and semi-military ranks. In the early days many members and supporters in London, where the Legion had its power base, were either titled aristocrats or semi-retired senior officers. These men were always known by their titles or ranks. Such a man was Lord (Charles) Frederick Brudenell-Bruce, the youngest son of the 3rd Marquess of Ailesbury who held the rank of Major in the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry. Continue reading

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The Perils of Hurried Handwriting

3rd Baron HaldonTopic June / July 2022.  One of the tasks assigned to History and Archives when it was set up in 2001 was to demolish the many myths which have sprung up around the Legion of Frontiersmen. One of the earliest corrections of a myth posted on the topic pages in 2004 was that Lord Haldane was an early member of the Legion of Frontiersmen.

He was not.

How did this happen? There is a simple explanation. Continue reading

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A Frontiersmen Magazine Centenary

Topic April / May 2022.  Apart from the 1918 War Issue, the Frontiersman magazine had not been produced since the summer of 1914. Everyone wanted a Legion magazine, but it had always struggled to break even. There was a shortage of money – and jobs – after the end of the war. Although every Frontiersman was expected to buy the Legion magazine not everyone could afford it. There was certainly a demand across what was then the British Empire, but a copy could take weeks or even longer to reach the more remote areas. Sometimes if the mail missed the regular boat it was held up for a long time waiting for the next one.

Frontiersman Gazette 1922

The Executive Council thought they had found a solution and the first issue of the new series to go on sale was the May 1922 edition – one hundred years ago. In this article we will see some of the many ways the world has changed, while the Legion of Frontiersmen has many, but not all, similarities to that time. Below is an interesting extract from the Legion Headquarters editorial piece from that first post-war issue: Continue reading

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A Gallimaufry of Untold Tales

Topic Feb/Mar 2022. A constant stream of stories pass over the desks of the official Legion of Frontiersmen historians. Most of these stories are too brief to form a Topic page. In this topic page we will pause to tell a few of the tales of some men, to shed a little light on past Frontiersmen who should never be forgotten.

We begin by featuring the application form of Adolph Fredrekson. What a life this man had led in his forty-odd years and what stories could he have told! It is a sobering thought that an application form with such a life story was far from unusual for the Legion of Frontiersmen.

Fredrekson – Application form 1937

A totally different character was John Martin Harvey (from 1921 Sir John Martin-Harvey) 1863-1944. Martin Harvey’s life had been dedicated to the stage and yet he became a Lieutenant in the Legion of Frontiersmen, admittedly an Honorary Lieutenant, but still a uniformed one. Martin Harvey could fill a theatre anywhere in Britain, also in Canada which he visited a number of times with his company of actors. For the Frontiersmen it was comparable today with having a famous film star or T.V. star on stage in Frontiersmen uniform. During the first two years of WW1 he toured British theatres on a recruiting drive for the army and also raising great sums of money for the Red Cross. On every occasion he appeared on stage in his Frontiersmen uniform. Continue reading

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Keeping Clear of Politics

Topic Dec 21 / Jan 22.  We saw in the previous topic page how Kaid Belton was dissatisfied because the Frontiersmen were not doing enough to counter the “Bolshies”, either in the original Legion of Frontiersmen or the breakaway Independent Overseas Legion of Frontiersmen. He set up his own “Imperial Legion” to fight, perhaps even violently, against communism, or what was then known as “Bolshevism.

The Legion has always prided itself on being strictly non-political – but what is “political”? Political in one decade is not in another. Between the wars Fascist parties were considered mainstream, but left-wing socialism was thought to be an arm of Russian attempts to promote revolution. In recent years those views have been reversed. The Frontiersmen have done everything they could to steer clear of politics. Of course they are Royalists, swearing allegiance to the Sovereign when joining, and that would put them in conflict with republicans. The early uniform was either a navy or a black shirt, except in hot countries where it was khaki or fawn. The uniform of the crew of the “S.S. Frontiersman” on their ill-fated attempt at supporting world-flight in 1923 was clearly black shirt and black trousers. Once Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts came on the scene the Frontiersmen had to surrender their comfortable dark shirts, even for working dress, and adopt the patrol jacket rather than be mistaken for what the Founder described as “politicians in uniform”. Continue reading

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An Oddity: “The Imperial Legion” and the Kaid

Imperial Legion BadgeTopic Oct/Nov 2021.  Andrew Belton has appeared before on these pages in Tasting Adventure and Revolution regarding his adventures in Morocco in 1908. From what has been written about him in various places (most of it based on his own versions) he appears to have had a very adventurous life. The very reliable pioneer Frontiersman Robert A. Smith in a letter described Belton as “a human kaleidoscope” and “not invariably accurate in his facts”. ¹ He was born in 1882 and at the age of 17 left home to join the Imperial Yeomanry serving in South Africa. In March 1908 he arrived back in London, according to him “full of malaria”. After the South African War he had served in the Natal Police where he claimed to have risen to the rank of captain. He was also a pioneer Frontiersman in South Africa. In his “Chorus to Adventurers”, Roger Pocock records “Sergeant” Belton, the Treasurer of Capetown Command, arriving at 6 Adam Street and producing an efficient copy of the accounts.² A reference in a newspaper to a rebellion in Morocco caused this adventurous young man to travel there without informing his family. In later life he gave a rather colourful and glamorised version of his Moroccan adventures to a South African newspaper “Southern Cross”: ³ Continue reading

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Not All Battles – But Definitely Some Conflicts

Canadian Division UK Belgium Sept 1964

Topic August / September 2021.  We show on this website how busy the Frontiersmen have always been both in war and peace. They have carried out many duties and served their communities and their countries. Behind the scenes, not everything went smoothly. This time we will take a look at the disciplinary files. We will not be giving names and the events described all happened fifty and more years ago.

For many years the Frontiersmen visited Belgium where they were welcomed due to the Frontiersmen’s links with the 3rd Belgian Lancers. There are many photographs of the Frontiersmen at official parades. The Frontiersmen always took their ladies or their partners making it also a pleasant social event. But of course there was the occasional problem. The Canadian Division (U.K. Command) also attended. The following is an official complaint to Commonwealth Headquarters by an n.c.o. of Canadian Division: Continue reading

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Legion of Frontiersmen Medals

LMSM LCM LSEM

Topic June / July 2021. The Legion historians and archivists regularly receive enquiries about Legion medals. So far we have hesitated, the reason being that, whilst the story is reasonably straightforward until about 1975, the picture afterwards becomes extremely cloudy. Commands, independent units and breakaway groups all proceeded to introduce medals for all sorts of reasons – and of variable quality. It is not our duty to judge these medals or the proliferation, so we will concentrate here on the three Legion medals which were, and still are, issued by Headquarters with universal agreement and issued throughout all official Commands. At an Executive Council meeting in 2012 the Commandant-General of what has become Countess Mountbatten’s Own Legion of Frontiersmen reiterated that only the three medals should be awarded. This was confirmed by the Executive. Continue reading

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Not All Battles and Conflicts

Roger Pocock sketch of Trooper 1902

Topic Apr / May 2021Frontiersmen Artists.  It is well known that Frontiersmen have always brought special skills of many kinds to the Legion. These were men of action, but it has not often been realised that there were also men of artistic skills. Quite a number believed they could write poetry and yearned to follow in the footsteps of Rudyard Kipling. Unfortunately what they wrote was verse, and sometimes bad verse. One or two even got into print, although they were often more followers of William McGonagle than of Rudyard Kipling. What the Legion did have over the years was a number of skilled artists, including at least two who exhibited at the Royal Academy.

Even the Founder, Roger Pocock, had some skills as an artist. He produced a number of drawings when he was in the N.W.M.P.. The early drawings were somewhat naive, but by the time he had travelled to South Africa to fight in the Boer War his sketches of other soldiers had much improved. Continue reading

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