Birth of a Regiment

 

Soldiers

This section provides more detailed information on some of the major characters in the story of the regiment. In some cases, where there is good external source material, a hyperlink is provided.

Notes on Soldier Data

The searchable database includes information on 5008 Patricia’s who served with the Regiment between August 1914 and April 1919.  A generous initial data-set was provided by the Canadian Great War Project. On comparison with original sources, that information proved to be highly reliable.  Fields were added noting when soldiers joined the regiment in the field and when they were struck off strength were added using the nominal role and record of service included in volume two of Ralph Hodder-Williams original regimental history.  About 300 missing files were added using data from attestation documents accessed on-line from Library and Archives Canada.

In a very small number of cases there were conflicts in the data recorded in original sources.  In a few instances where there were multiple names, the data has been recorded under the name used by Hodder-Williams.  It seems evident that names that were either deliberately falsified or entered in error with minor spelling mistakes were corrected during the course of the war.

Place of enlistment should not be used as an indicator of the normal place of residence of the soldier for either the Originals or the University Companies.  Most of the Originals were formally enlisted in Ottawa even though they were recruited from across the country.  Similarly, most of the University Companies were formally enlisted after arrival in Montreal.  Even those with MCG (McGill) numbers may have originated in either Victoria or Vancouver as colleges in both cities were affiliated with McGill University at the time.

With the University Companies there is some variation in how regimental numbers are recorded.  The First University Company was assigned numbers beginning with MCG.  In some cases this was recorded with a space before the training number MCG xxxx and in others MCGxxx.  More problematic was the practice in some later files where numbers started with “A” on the original attestation papers.  For example A11141.  In later documents and with Hodder-Williams the initial “A” was replaced with a “4” and in some instances changes were made on the original attestation document.  When searching Library and Archives Canada files if a search using 411141 does not return a file, try A11141. This database included on this site has adopted the practice used by Hodder-Williams using 4 instead of A as the lead character.

Some information included in the notes field has been added using other sources such as letters and diaries. Most material was included in the original data set provided by the Canadian Great War Project.
Throughout the web site, figures on unit strength and casualties have been largely extracted from Ralph Hodder Williams original regimental history. Data reported has been tested against war diary figures and other primary sources and found to be highly reliable.

Click here to open the Excel data file PPCLI Master. Go to soldier search to look for information on a specific soldier.

Of Regiments and Battalions

Viewers may well be puzzled by the varying use of the terms Regiment and Battalion both on this site and in other historical writing.  To add to the confusion, use of the term varies depending on the arm to which it is applied, the historical period and national usage.  For the infantry in Canada the term Regiment refers to all members affiliated to a particular group or family whether or not the are actually serving with an operational unit.  The operational units are “battalions”.  Thus Hamilton Gault remained a member of the Regiment while he was serving on the staff of the 3rd Division even though he was not part of the battalion.  Similarly Lt Hugh MacKenzie, VC although attached to the 7th Brigade Machine Gun Company, was none the less a Patricia and part of the Regiment.  Typically Regiments will have more than one battalion and often have other units such as training depots, and regimental headquarters charged with caring for purely regimental business like museums.  During the First World War of course there was only one PPCLI battalion and hence the term “battalion” tends to be used interchangeably with the term “regiment”.

For artillery and armoured units both the “family” and the operational unit bear the term “regiment”.  Thus, Lord Strathcona’s Horse has an operational unit called an armoured regiment.  At the same time the term regiment may be used to include all those affiliated with the Strathcona’s even if they are not serving with the operational unit. To complicate matters still further, other armies use the term “regiment” in quite different ways.

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