Legion of Frontiersmen in Canada Timeline (Part 5)

canadatimeline111919 – LOF’s Imperial Casualty Count 50%. While casualty counts for the LOF in WW1 vary, this early appraisal of war casualties is insightful. J. Suffern, captain of the New South Wales command stated that “out of the 13,500 members over 12,000 have been on active service and of this number nearly 6000, or 50%, have been killed or incapacitated by wounds or sickness.” Capt. J. Suffern also commented “Here in New South Wales were 350 members on active service.” THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, “The Frontiersmen… 50 Per Cent Casualties”, page 5, 25 August 1919.

1920 – 210th (Frontiersmen) Battalion Memorial and Depositing of Colours. The final ceremony of the 210th (Frontiersmen) Battalion took place on Wednesday, January 28, 1920, at 5.30 pm at St. Andrew’s Church in Moose Jaw when the depositing of colours took place. Unfortunately, the Church and the Colours were destroyed by fire in 1963; however, the staff heads remained and were refurbished. The Saskatchewan Dragoons, a reserve army unit, perpetuate the 210th (Frontiersmen) Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Moose Jaw Public Library, St. Andrew’s Church Brochure “Depositing of Colours … 210th Battalion”, 28 January 1920.

1920 – L.O.F. Founder Comments about Beginnings, Union Badge, Officers. Roger Pocock the Founder of the Legion of Frontiersmen wrote, 02 February 1920, as follows: “The foundation date is Christmas Eve, 1904, the first membership forming in the Christmas week at my flat, your present office (Headquarters). The big provisional Committee development in the spring of 1905, the London Command formed about April, 1905, second in age to the Newcastle Command which became the Northern Command. It was February, 1906, before the nucleus of the big Committee was described as the Executive Council, for the purposes of dealing with the War Office. The device ‘God Guard Thee’ was from General Gordon’s ‘magic’ ring. I think I struck it as the charge on the Union Jack, but Manuel de Hora, the first Commandant for London, made the present design. The regimental number was stamped on the back, I have No. 1, also the competitive designs.” The founder Roger Pocock proceeds to criticize any Legion rank above that of Legion Captain as: “calculated to lower the dignity of the Society and to prevent the hospitality which was so readily extended when we competed at their [British Army’s] rifle ranges or engaged them in tournaments.” Roger Pocock, letter 2nd February 1920 and reprinted in the Legion of Frontiersmen Journal, pages 25-26, London, June 1922. Compliments the late NZ Historian, Bruce Fuller.

1920 – Circle Cross League [Ladies Parcel Committee]: NZ Women in the Legion of Frontiersmen. “Information received from London headquarters that the proposed formation of the Circle Cross League had been approved and New Zealand given the power to commence the establishment of this new organization. The Circle Cross League is for the ladies who have been assisting the Legion during the war, and who are prepared to organize for the purpose of doing such work in future as they carried on for the past four years, establishing nursing classes, etc. The league will have Empire headquarters at the London headquarters of the Legion and its badge will be a small replica of the center of the Legion badge, surrounded by a circle of blue enamel, the arms of the cross being carried out in white. The constitution of the league as drawn up by Miss M.E. Compton, of Hastings, president of the committee of ladies which rendered such splendid service to the legionaires [sic] on active service has been adopted.”   Indications later mentioned in the article were that during the four years the ”Ladies Parcel Committee” of 1915 to 1918 under Miss M.E. Compton’s leadership sent comforts and packages to the members of the Legion of Frontiersmen. F.V. Longstaff scrapbook files, British Columbia Museum. Quotation from unlabeled N.Z. newspaper clipping, column titled “Legion of Frontiersmen” written by “Frontiersman” dated 29.7.1920.

Note: The late Bruce Fuller, New Zealand L.O.F. historian identified the news reporter as Ernest Gladhill d’Esterre who wrote for the AUCKLAND STAR and the AUCKLAND ILLUSTRATED.

1920 – Maoris Membership and Adoption of the Norfolk Jacket, New Zealand. “The annual Dominion conference of the Legion of Frontiersmen was opened at New Plymouth, on Wednesday with a large attendance of delegates from the North Island. It was decided to invite General Sir Andrew Russell to become Commander of the Legion. A remit, that Maoris be eligible for membership, was carried by 25 votes to 4. It was decided that the present uniform, with the addition of a Norfolk jacket, be adopted. Last night the delegates were the guests of the Taranaki squadron at a banquet.” TIMARU HERALD, “General News”, page 12, 26 June 1920.

1920s – Organizing Officer For Canada. Throughout the 1920s the organizing secretary was S. Bozman of Looma, Alberta. THE FRONTIERSMAN, Winter 1928-’29, located in the British Library by Geoffrey A. Pocock, Legion Historian.

Note. This Frontiersman was living in the rural district of Looma would have been isolated from speedy correspondence and easy access to urban populations, thus limiting effective post war re-organization in Canada. It would not be until about 1928-1930 that events for a significant LOF re-formation occur.

1922 – British Columbia. A partial copy of Orders issued by Legion Captain E.A. Hoare, Adjutant, Legion HQ in London confirm Major Seymour Rowlinson as a Squadron Leader for Victoria and Vancouver Island to be working independently under the direct supervision of Headquarters. THE FRONTIERSMEN, Winter 1928-1929, found in British Library by Legion Historian Geoffrey A. Pocock.

1922 – The Peel Regiment and the Legion of Frontiersmen. “On Sunday November 25th, 1922 a memorial window was dedicated in the Church of the Epiphany on Queen Street, West Toronto to the 3200 all ranks who passed through the Peel Regiment from 1914 – 1918, and the five hundred who had given their lives.” The Legion of Frontiersmen was reported as contributing a total of 280 men for overseas service via the regiment. http://www.kw.lgs.net/-shepard/lornes.htm

1922 – South Africa. Frontiersmen took part in the suppression of a rebellion [labour strife] in Johannesburg. General J.G. Smuts showed his appreciation by becoming a ‘Trooper’ in the Legion of Frontiersmen. A. Mack, HISTORY OF THE LEGION OF FRONTIERSMEN … , c1970.

1926 – Winnipeg, Manitoba. Major Leitch of Winnipeg is noted as having written an article on 26 August 1926 for the “Khaki Call”, the official journal of the Army and Navy Veterans of Canada. Th implication of this detail is a functioning LOF body in Manitoba at the time. THE FRONTIERSMAN, Winter 1928-’29, located in the British Archives by Geoffrey A. Pocock, Legion Historian.

1926 – Larry B. Blaine, Edmonton, Alberta. Larry B. Blaine [Lawrence B. Blain, later RSM, 19TH Alberta Dragoons] of 9006-102 Avenue held a Smoking Concert 27 June 1926 as a farewell to Legion Sgt. (Major) R.H. Darke. Larry Blaine had originally been a member of ‘E’ (Croyden and Purley) Squadron, England. THE FRONTIERSMAN, Winter 1928-’29, located in the British Archives by Geoffrey A. Pocock, Legion Historian.

1928 – Larry B. Blaine, Edmonton, Alberta. Coming to Canada in the 1920s, it becomes apparent that Larry Blaine continued LOF service with other Edmonton members and he successfully recruits the dynamic Louis Scott DCM, formerly a WW1 PPCLI and post war CO of the Edmonton Regiment [49th Battalion CEF] who revitalized the flagging Legion of Frontiersmen in Canada. Newsclipping and notation, Edmonton City Archives. THE FRONTIERSMAN, front page, February 1930.

1928, ’29 – Western Canada Command. The HQ under the command of Louis Scott DCM was located at 715 Tegler Building, Edmonton. This location was one of Edmonton’s preeminent structures of the time. Legion officers were Capt. M. Robertson Aldridge, Capt. C.G. Flavin, Transport Officer 2/Lt. A.M. McGavin, Chaplain Rev. G.G. Reynolds [formerly PPCLI], Treasurer Lt. E.C. Taylor, Hon. Legal Advisor Frtn. E.C. Darling, Hon. Auditor Frtn. G.D.K. Kinnaird.

A Squadron Edmonton, Capt. H.S. Reynolds [formerly RFC] c/o Edmonton City Police. B Squadron Edmonton, Lt. H.H. Sterns VD, 8603-104 Street R Squadron Signals, 2/Lt. H.G. Hearn, 11647-97 Street.

FRONTIERSMAN, Winter 1928-’29, located in the British Archives by Geoffrey A. Pocock, Legion Historian.

1928, ’29 – Royal Canadian Mounted Police. ‘A’ Squadron Quebec sent Paul Bedard and Charles Pouliot on a 3 month RCMP training course at Regina. These were the first Frontiersmen admitted to an RCMP sponsored course. FRONTIERSMAN, Winter 1928-’29, located in the British Archives by Geoffrey A. Pocock, Legion Historian.      

1929 – Renewed Imperial Interest in the Legion. A report indicates a revival of interest in the LOF goes beyond Canada. The NZ Command reported 83 new members plus 295 membership renewals for a total of 378 members with Auckland having 65 of those members. In Egypt headquarters were established in Cairo and activities included riding, shooting, soccer with a match reported between the LOF and the Welsh Guards. THE FRONTIERSMAN, front page, February 1930.

1932 – Historical Commentary at Reunion, Essex Squadron, England.

The reunion meeting of the Essex Squadron took place at the S E Essex Troop Headquarters, The Cliff Hotel, Park Street, Southend – Lieut C.J. Purslow organising officer of the Essex Squadron since 1914 occupied the chair and introduced the Deputy Commandant-General, General Kaid Belton, O.B.E., honoured and respected the world over (applause). He (the Chairman) was also especially pleased to welcome the 1914 members of the Legion. Of the Essex Squadron in 1914, 95% were on active service, 5% being rejected or too old; 57% were at Swaythling Remount Depot 1914-15, 27% were 25th Royal Fusiliers Frontiersmen, 35% were killed in action, died in action, or had since died. One Swaythling comrade was Lieut. W. Dartnell, V.C., (25th RF Frontiersmen). The members stood to attention while Sergt-Trumpeter Sitch played the Last Post and the Reveille. Kaid Belton said that the Legion was formed in 1904 by Roger Pocock, who was still their Commissioner. Roger Pocock was a man who started in the North-West Mounted Police at the age of 16 and he gravitated into a scout, lumberman, soldier, trapper, hunter, missionary and a pilot. It seemed to him that some great brotherhood should be formed to bring together those people who spent their lives on the frontiers of the British Empire. Thus was the Legion of Frontiersmen formed, and from all corners of the world men rushed to join. He (the speaker) joined in 1906 in South Africa. The membership had increased to such an extent that on the outbreak of war 22,000 had actually joined. He believed that 20,000 went to the Colours in various units of various armies, and of that number some 9,000 died in action. It could be safely said that the Legion upheld their traditions – to be ready at any time and at all the time to defend the Empire in any part of the world. (applause) To do that, men had to keep themselves fit, mentally and physically, and they did it at their own expense, being entirely self-supporting. When the call came in 1914 every single Frontiersman was efficient, and the actual Frontiersmen’s unit, the 25th Royal Fusiliers Frontiersmen, which went overseas, did not need training before leaving England. The same situation arose in Canada. The first unit to leave for Flanders was Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, and out of 900 men 700 belonged to the Legion. In 1914 the Legion was practically disembodied. At the end of the war many were dead, many were tired, and did not return to the Legion; but now there had come to many again the old longing. Their Commandant was Col. D.P. Driscoll, DSO, who led the Frontiersmen’s regiment on active service, and was still serving at over 70 years of age as Commandant of the Kenya Defence Force, having held His Majesty’s commission for over 50 years. (applause).

THE ESSEX CHRONICLE, “Imperial Overseas Legion of Frontiersmen”, 15 January 1932. Transcription by Legion Historian, Geoffrey A. Pocock.

1933 – Legion of Frontiersmen Toast. Noticed [but reference unrecorded] in a document file at the University of Alberta, and in a referenced Australian newspaper, the Legion Toast “The 9000” was adopted after the Great War. “In proposing the toast of ‘The 9000’, Major McMillan, M.C., asked members to drink to the memory of the 9000 Frontiersmen who sacrificed their lives in the Great War.” SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, page 14, 26 April 1933.

1934 – Sydney Australia. “The membership of the legion has steadily increased during the past 12 months. Its head- quarters are at 101b George street, where parades are held on Tuesday nights.” THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, “Legion of Frontiersmen”, page 18, 24 March 1934.

1934 – Training Camp, Sydney Australia. “The Legion of Frontiersmen intend holding their bi-annual camp during Easter at Liverpool Military Camp. All squadrons will be assembled, and it is expected that about 100 men will be present under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel C. J. Hill. The syllabus of training for the Easter camp includes a wide range of subjects, such as the function of mounted rifles, map reading, horse management, and guard mounting.” THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, “Legion of Frontiersmen”, page 18, 29 March 1934.

1934 – John Chipman Kerr VC. Kerr’s membership enrolment into Spirit River Troop, Alberta, was recorded. THE FRONTIERSMAN, [issue ?] 1934.

1935 – Founder, Roger Pocock makes World Tour. In perhaps his last adventure the Founder undertook a World Tour for the recruiting and consolidation of Frontiersmen. Pocock reported glowingly of the Legion of Frontiersmen’s history and contemporary potential. He comments that although Empire-wide establishments are small in peacetime, he is confident that battalions of Frontiersmen would be available should the need arise. TIMES, “Frontiersmen, The Legion’s Outposts”, page 17, 16 May 1936.

1936 – Royal Canadian Mounted Police Affiliation.Affiliation. Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The following extract from General Order No. 695, Part 1, week ending 26-9-36, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, is published for the information of all members: By Authority of the Honourable, the Minister in Control of the Force, The Legion of Frontiersmen is hereby affiliated with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in the same manner as Units of the Canadian Militia are affiliated with regiments of His Majesty’s Forces in the United Kingdom.” Geoffrey A. Pocock, OUTRIDER OF EMPIRE, pages 312-313, University of Alberta Press 2008.

1936 – Famous Canadian “Ace” and Bush Pilot. Capt. W.H. May, OBE, DFC was a member of the Legion of Frontiersmen. Exactly when he joined is not known; however, his membership is confirmed as follows: “Frtsm. (Capt.) ‘Wop’ May O.B.E., D.F.C., has something up his sleeve for members who are air minded. Follow the Gazette for an announcement of interest.” THE FRONTIER NEWS, page 8, October 1936.  

Note: Parachute Rescue Operations. The Edmonton Aviation Museum features a display about Parachute Rescue development, the concept and application pioneered under Wop May in Edmonton, Canada during WW2. Edmonton was the major air base of the RCAF and U.S. Army Air Corps supporting the monumental building of the highway to Alaska through Canadian wilderness in defence of potential Japanese invasion. Airman flying supplies were downed in the remote, unpopulated regions. Wop May a legendary bush pilot developed the parachute air rescue concept. He was decorated by the United States of America for this innovation, subsequently copied worldwide.

1937 – Montreal, Quebec. ‘M’ Squadron “looking spic and span” was inspected by RCMP Assistant Commissioner F.J. Mead and accompanied by RCMP Superintendent Royal Gagnon. Assist. Commissioner Mead expressed his pleasure over the large recruitment that had occurred since the first organizational meeting held the previous autumn of 1936. The parade was under the command of Legion Captain (Lieut. Colonel) J.K. Keefler DSO, with Legion Lieutenant (Lieut. Colonel) T.E. Ryder DSO, MC, VD as second in command, with Squadron Sergeant Major Peter T.T. Grant MM as adjutant. Also on parade was Captain Alexander de Livi a 25 year member of the LoF. The trumpet band of the 2nd Montreal Regiment played the march to the church service. The squadron chaplain was the Ven. Archdeacon A.P Gower-Rees MC. MONTREAL GAZETTE, page 15 [front page 2nd section], 10 May 1937.

1938 – Canadian Enrolment Rapidly Rises, Then Depleted Again by War. In Canada the LOF was expanding rapidly due to the organizational talents of Louis Scott DCM in western Canada and M.L. Fitzgerald in eastern Canada. As of May 1938 there were 411 paid subscriptions reported for Canada, doubling the membership of the previous year. THE FRONTIERSMAN, page 22, July-August-September 1938.

Note. See 1939 LOF Fractures. Enrolments gained a great deal of momentum as the concerns of war were growing. In Canada the estimated strength of Canada’s Legion of Frontiersmen [both LF(CD) and CIF factions combined] by 1941 may have peaked at about 2000 to 2500, before rapidly declining as key officers and able men would be re-enlisted for military service as training and administrative staff, or for service in the Veterans’ Guard to oversee POW camps. Roles as Wardens in the ARP [Air Raid Precautions] and as auxiliary Constables in city police forces would utilize the LOF manpower, ultimately leaving the LOF much diminished.

1938 – British Empire Enrolment. The Legion of Frontiersmen, greatly reduced in numbers by the Great War, had slowly re-established to just over 3600 members, an increase of 400 members from the previous year of 1937. The LOF membership numbers effective May 1938 were:

Home [UK] – 2060 New Zealand – 800 Canada – 411 South Africa – 121 East Africa – 75 West Africa – 29 Australia – 64 Tasmania – 04 Hong Kong – 03 Malaya – 03 India – 35 Various -09

THE FRONTIERSMAN, page 22, July-August-September 1938.

Note: As the prospect of war threatened, it is most likely that over the next two to three years membership increased dramatically.

1939 – King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, Visit to Canada. The Frontiersmen were a lauded and efficient auxiliary to the security and crowd control efforts of RCMP during this Royal Tour of Canada. This was to be the high point of LOF affiliation with the RCMP, as the affiliation was terminated in October 1939 largely due to organizational squabbles within the Legion. Geoffrey A. Pocock, OUTRIDER OF EMPIRE, pages 312-313, University of Alberta Press 2008. Letters published A. Mack, HISTORY OF THE LEGION OF FRONTIERSMEN … , c1970.

1939 – Legion of Frontiersmen Fractures in Canada. Although expanding, the Legion of Frontiersmen command in Canada fractures as Brigadier E. Morton’s decision to “decentralize” [see 1938 Annual Report] has a negative impact when he unilaterally divides Canada into autonomous eastern and western commands under M.L. Fitzgerald and L. Scott DCM respectively. This stimulates legal and organizational maneuvering resulting in two Frontiersmen factions within Canada.

  1. Legion of Frontiersmen (Canadian Division) est. 1939, under Lieutenant Colonel Louis Scott DCM headquartered in Edmonton. The highest estimated strength would be 1000 to 1250 members during the early part of WW2.
  2. Corps of Imperial Frontiersmen est. 1940, loyal to Imperial HQ in London, reactively formed under M.L. Fitzgerald and headquartered in Montreal. Reported strengths were noted at 728 uniformed members in 1940 and a letter to IHQ Fitzgerald mentions a numeric strength of 1100 members in the Corps of Imperial Frontiersmen. The new title for the Corps was suggested by senior officers of the R.C.M.P. as one which did not impinge on the Charter of Canadian Division.

Details noted but specific references were not recorded; however they are available University of Alberta L.O.F. Archives. bws/author.

Post WW2 Summation

1960s – LOF Membership [both factions] peaked at about 800 to 1000 in the 1960s. This estimate is based upon numbers recalled in a Legion of Frontiersmen [Canadian Division] Gazette c1961 stating strength of about 630 paid members, and simply estimating the rival Corps of Imperial Frontiersmen with about half the numbers. – Almost all Quebec and a few Ontario based unit left the Corps of Imperial Frontiersmen changing to the Legion of Frontiersmen (Canadian Division). Strengths began a rapid diminishment through the 1980s.

1990s – Fewer legitimate Legion of Frontiersmen reported to a functional HQ. Sadly, the late 20th century saw the evolution of a few sometimes ridiculous, self-appointed independent brands of “Frontiersmen” replete with exalted ranks, spurious or questionable titles, and questionable medals and awards.

2004 – Legion of Frontiersmen Centenary. No more than Squadron strength of legitimate and properly uniformed Legion of Frontiersmen carried on in Canada.

2005 Centenary celebration. Canadian Frontiersmen with representatives also from Australia and New Zealand joined a substantial parade of Frontiersmen through the City of London alongside UK Frontiersmen, both mounted and on foot, where the salute was taken at the Guildhall by the Legion’s Patron, The Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

2008 – OUTRIDER OF EMPIRE. The University of Alberta Press published Geoffrey A. Pocock’s acclaimed biography of the Founder of the Legion of Frontiersmen and the Legion that he brought into existence. Thorough reading of this book is necessary for informed commentary about LOF history.

©Barry William Shandro M.Ed August 11, 2004 with ongoing revisions, last revision January 2015 Edmonton Canada

About Roger Pocock

Co-writer on junkyard.blog. Author of windowsintohistory.wordpress.com. Editor of frontiersmenhistorian.info
This entry was posted in Canada, Frontiersmen, History, Legion of Frontiersmen. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Legion of Frontiersmen in Canada Timeline (Part 5)

  1. Russ Cameron says:

    Very interesting history on the frontiersman
    Can you kindly direct me to any information on the Canadian frontiersman that were members in Victoria during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Thank you


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