Friends of "Red" Arnott in the 2nd. Battalion
The 2nd would continue to fight until the end of the war. They would fight in some of the final battles of the Great War including Amiens, Arras, Canal du Nord, and eventually the push through to Mons. Their war ended with the Armistice of November 11, 1918. The killing was finally over and at such a great cost, the 2nd Battalion had suffered 3,305 casualties, loosing 52 officers and 1,227 men in the three and a half years of their existence.
It was back to England, onto the SS Olympic, the same ship IKA had sailed over on, and back to Kingston, Ontario. On the morning of April 24, 1919, at Barriefield Camp, the Battalion assembled for the last time. Colonel L.T. McLauglin, their Commanding Officer, under the stress of deep emotion, thanked the men for their service. Three cheers were given to McLaughlin by the men. At 8:30am the 2nd Battalion was dismissed.
Pte. Arnott had served with 2nd Battalion for 9 months. The men of this Battalion lived, ate, slept, fought and sometimes died together. It was an awful way to have spent their youth. But they had to make the best of it when it was possible. IKA, like any soldier, formed friends in the Battalion, probably saw some of them die, probably saw some suffer terribly, but through it all, he had friends who would help each other out in the worst of times and enjoy themselves at every opportunity. On a sad note, the 2nd Battalion lost over 300 men during IKA's time with the Battalion.
After the war, 2nd Battalion Associations were set up throughout the country, one was in the Windsor-Detroit area. "Red" Arnott was an active member as were several others who served with the 2nd. What exact relations these men had with IKA during the war years may never be known, but they were great friends afterwards, especially Hugh Smith, 'Slim' Auckland and Jim Campbell.
The following are some of those men and what they accomplished with the 2nd Battalion.
Privates Thomas (Tommy) White, L.R. (Slim) Auckland, Gordon A. Parker, Jim Campbell, W.A. Bailey, H. Casselman, G.H. Campbell, S. Dell and H. Freid were all wounded while serving with the 2nd.
Pte. Jim Campbell served with IKA. Prior to the attack on Vimy Ridge, Campbell was with a group of men who staged a daylight raid into enemy territory. Two men were badly wounded and Campbell attempted to carry one to safety, but due to enemy fire, he could not. However, for his gallantry he was summoned to Divisional Headquarters, where he met General Arthur Currie, the commander of the 1st Division (soon after he became the Commanding Officer of the Canadian Corps) who commended him. He was also treated to the outline of the great attack on Vimy Ridge that was to follow.
Sgt. Wilfred (Wilf) Berry started with the 2nd as a corporal, and worked his way up to sergeant. He was awarded with "Mentioned in Despatches" (Specifics unknown.)
Pte. J.D. Dell (served with IKA) and Sgt J.D. Lightfoot were awarded the Military Medal. Dell got his at Passchendaele (Specifics Unknown) The Military Medal was awarded to men, other than officers, for acts of bravery.
Corporal Victor Saren served at the same time as IKA. He was a scout in the Scouts & Sniper Section of the 2nd. At the Battle of Fresnoy, Cpl. Saren manned a forward post, relaying information back to Battalion Headquarters. This information was vital to the success of the 2nd at Fresnoy. At the Battle of Passchendaele, Saren was awarded the Military Medal for his actions. (Specfics unknown.)
Sgt. J.W. Connoy served at the same time as IKA. He was awarded the Distinquished Conduct Medal, given to men other then officers, for acts of gallantry while in charge of men, at Hill 70 (Aug. 1917). He showed "conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during enemy counter-attacks. He was in charge of a platoon in an advanced position and continued to hold it though for a time cut off from the main line"
In April of 1919 (Bramshott, England), Company Sergeant Major Connoy was a member of the recieving party of the 2nd Battalion when it was officially presented with their Regimental Colours by the Minister of Militia, Sir Edward Kemp.
Captain Hugh Smith also served at the same time as IKA. This man was one of the most highly decorated men to serve with the 2nd Battalion during the war. Smith joined the 2nd as a corporal, and would earn the Military Medal for his reconnaissance work at Hill 60 (Ypres Salient, west of Ypres, Belgium), in July 1916. At that time he was a scout in the Scout & Sniper Section. He was promoted to Lieutenant after the Battle of the Somme (Sept/Oct 1916) and was given command of a platoon (40 men). His greatest, yet most tragic moment came at the Battle of Hill 70 (near Lens, France). In the early morning hours of August 18, 1917, after the Canadians had captured the Hill 70, the Germans counter-attacked, 21 times. At the time, Smith's company commander was Major Okill Massey Learmonth. One of the counterattacks was directed at Learmonth's company. It included the Germans' use of a relatively new weapon of death, the 'flame-thrower'. Smith killed the German, took his 'flame-thrower', which he returned to Battalion headquarters for inspection. On another counterattack, Learmonth himself offered stout defence as the battle raged furiously. At times he was seen standing on the trench parapet, directing his men and on several occasions was forced to throw back the German grenades that had been tossed his way. He was twice wounded during the fierce hand to hand combat that followed. Despite a third wound, he continued to direct his company while lying in the bottom of a trench. Finally, Learmonth could go on no more, he turned his company command over to Lieut. Smith. Even though he was dying, Learmonth insisted on been taken to Battalion Headquarters so he could verbally report the situation. Major Learmonth later died from his wounds. For his courageous efforts, the 23 year old was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. He was later buried in the Barlin (France) Cemetery.
For his gallant efforts, Smith was awarded the Military Cross. This was a bravery decoration given to junior officers. It is very likely that Learmonth earned his Victoria Cross because of Smith's recommendation, since Smith was one of the highest ranking officers to wittness this act of gallantry. Smith would later earn a bar on his Military Cross, again for bravery, during the Battle of Canal du Nord (September 3/4, 1918). Also, during the battle, he was slightly wounded twice, but refused to be attended to.
After the Battle of Passchendaele (Nov. 1917), Smith was promoted to Captain and given command of one of the four companies of the 2nd Battalion, Company "A". He would remain in position until the end of the war with exception of several special assignments with Battalion Headquarters. Smith was truly a heroic yet a very lucky soldier. He was involved in at least eight of the bloodiest battles of the Great War and emerged relatively unscathed.
Smith returned from the Great War with his English bride. After the war, 'Red' and Hugh (wives Lottie and Margaret), maintained a very close friendship. Hugh (who live in Detroit) would often 'smuggle' over 'Red's' favourite cigarettes, the U.S. made Chesterfields!!
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Copyright © Tom Arnott, September, 1997.
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