The Legion of Frontiersmen was founded in London, on Christmas Eve 1904. Immediately following on 26 December 1904 a letter in British National newspapers suggested an organization to organize Imperial campaign veterans, adventurers, patriots and men with experience of in the world’s frontier regions. The Legion was to act as an irregular force of mounted rifles, scouts, guides, pioneers (military labourers and craftsmen with fighting ability) and especially intelligence gatherers. This new Legion of Frontiersmen was to react as a ready force until the regular Imperial forces could be deployed to the regions; or to immediately enlist if called upon.
At inception the LOF had the support of influential persons including support from Lord Lonsdale, The Earl of Onslow, Prince Louis of Battenberg of the Admiralty, Canada’s Sir Sam Steele, officials several of the Civil Forces, Municipal Police, Fire Brigades, etc. and such units as the Federated Malay State Volunteers, Newfoundland government, and the army of the Sultan of Jahore.
The Legion had three classes of membership. “A” class pledged to uniformed service in defence of the Empire including overseas service. “B” class pledged to uniformed service as scouts and guides in support of local/regional operations. “C” class non-uniformed membership pledged to support the aims and objectives of the L.O.F.
“The organization has about 100 squadrons and maritime branches in the United Kingdom, Mediterranean, Canada, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Brazil, Peru, West Indies, Solomon and Fiji Islands, Transvaal. Cape Colony, British East Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Manchuria, Tientsin, Shanghai, Hongkong, Philippines, Straits Settlements, Burma, Australia and is now helping to raise 12 squadrons and one maritime branch in New Zealand.” [also the Argentine, and Falkland Islands]. Auckland Star, 1912
At the “call to arms” in 1914 Canadian commands of the LOF had formed in Dawson City, Whitehorse, and Carmacks in the Yukon, Victoria region, Vancouver region, BC interior, Lac St. Anne, Edmonton region, Calgary region, Lethbridge, Moose Jaw region, Regina region, Saskatoon region, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa-Kingston region, Montreal, and various locations in the Dominion of Newfoundland.
7000 ON ACTIVE SERVICE BY 1915
Thousands More Followed
ENLIST IN VARIOUS MILITARY UNITS
Total Casualties WWI, 9000
Chief Executive Officer Reported:
Lieutenant-Colonel D.P. Driscoll DSO, commanding the 25th Royal (Frontiersmen) Fusiliers enroute to British East Africa, writes as the CEO of the Legion of Frontiersmen that “some 7000 men of the Legion are on active service”. He then states “nearly 50 per cent of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry are members of the Legion”. DAILY MALTA CHRONICLE, 1915.
- “ The 9000 “ – The 1930s toast to LOF casualties.
- Stone Cenotaphs to LOF war dead
Hastings Lake, Alberta, Canada
National Park, New Zealand
Ashburton, New Zealand
- Wearing of 3rd Belgium Lancers’ pendant.
Edmonton LOF Enlistments by 1916:
A 1916 letter responding to the 218th (“Irish Guards”) Battalion CEF stated to that time 1600 Legion of Frontiersmen of Edmonton Command had already enlisted for military service, etc.
Some Examples of Enlistments Follow
OVERSEAS BEFORE CANADIAN ARMY
Regina Command, 50 men
Victoria Command [Elliot’s Horse], 80 men
3rd BELGIUM LANCERS
Formed 5 Platoon, in action early, YSER Medal
LOF arriving in England placed breaking horses
METROPOLITAN POLICE MOUNTED RESERVE
LOF served City of London throughout WW1.
2nd KING EDWARD’S HORSE
60 LOF were recruited from Remounts
25th ROYAL (FRONTIERSMEN) FUSILIERS
British East Africa Campaign
SAMOAN INVASION FORCE
LOF detail assigned at request of Fiji Governor
EAST AFRICAN MOUNTED RIFLES
LOF form one of the six squadrons
CAPE COMMAND, SOUTH AFRICA
Immediately 268 men ready within 48 hours
- NEWFOUNDLAND REGIMENT:
Over 150 Inf. Reg’t. RNVR or Home Defence
OTAGO MOUNTED RIFLES, NEW ZEALAND
LOF squadron strength rode into camp to enlist
PRINCESS PATRICIA’S CANADIAN LIGHT INFANTRY
Hundreds of LOF enlist and assist formation
- 4th HUSSARS / 8th CANADIAN MOUNTED RIFLES, CEF
Kingston area Troop joined
19th ALBERTA DRAGOONS
LOF gravitate to the area’s mounted unit
30th FIELD ARTILLERY REGIMENT
Surplus LOF applicants to PPCLI enlist as Drivers
31st (ALBERTA) BATTALION , CEF
LOF enlist. logical (news/names/situation)
43rd DUKE OF CORNWALL’S OWN RIFLES
Surplus LOF applicants to PPCLI enlist as Rflm.
49th (EDMONTON) BATTALION, CEF
Form ‘D’ Company under own Commandant
50th GORDON HIGHLANDERS / 16th BATTALION, CEF
Initially granted wearing their own LOF uniforms
210th (FRONTIERSMEN) BATTALION, CEF
Formed at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
EDMONTON BATTALION RESERVE MILITIA
LOF home guard as politically acceptable EBRM
CANADIAN ARMY MEDICAL CORPS
Edmonton LOF active Ambulance trg, conducts Canada’s 1st Nursing course to men. By 1916 at least 20 Edmonton LOF in Medical Corps.
- MANY OTHER REGULAR & IRREGULAR SERVICES
The above article has been contributed by Barry William Shandro M.Ed.
my father, who fought throughout the first world war in the nz engineers was a ? member of the Legion of Frontiersmen in Taranaki during the second world war.i am just interested in
what exactly this entailed.
What exactly did the legion do?
Hi Marjorie. Thanks for your comment. I have passed it on to the historians and will post their reply here for you as soon as I have it.
In the meantime you can find a lot more information by looking at other articles on the blog, or visiting the main history site (link is under the banner).
Further to my earlier reply, your comment has been forwarded on to a lady who runs the New Zealand frontiersmen archives, whose late father may well have known your father. She will be in touch and will hopefully be able to give you some further information. Thanks again for your message.