The Red Watch…

The Red Watch: The First Canadian Division in Flanders, by Colonel J.A. Currie.  There are three editions, published in 1916.  The British edition was published by Constable & Co. London; the Canadian edition by McClelland, Goodchild & Stewart, Toronto; the American edition by E.P. Dutton, Boston.

Lt. Colonel J.A. Currie was the commanding officer of the 48th Highlanders, Peregrine Acland’s regiment, from May 1913-August 1914.  He was then promoted to Colonel and became the commanding officer of 15th Battalion until June of 1915, when he was gassed and shell shocked at Ypres.

He served as MP for Simcoe North 1908-1921 and as a MLA for Toronto Southeast and St Patrick from 1922-1929.

Peregrine Acland is mentioned three times in his memoir.  The full text is available at Project Gutenberg here.



Acland is standing at the extreme right of the photograph.

In Chapter IX, Moulding an Army, Currie writes:

Towards Christmas we received an invitation to go to Glasgow and play football against one of the Glasgow battalions. On Christmas Day a number of the Canadian oarsmen in the different regiments had a race for eights in the Thames. We had eight first class men who had belonged to Canadian fast crews, namely, Lieutenants Alex. Sinclair, Acland, Bickell, Muir, Taylor, Bath, Wilson and Campbell. The crews were arranged according to clubs at home. If the crews had been by battalions I am inclined to think we would have won.                                                                            (Currie, pages 88-89).

That’s Christmas 1914 that is referred to.  As a footnote, there was an editorial in the Prince Rupert Daily News during Acland’s tenure as editor that questioned why none of the men in the town had taken up the sport, with such an ideal sheet of water for rowing.  It seems likely that Acland rowed at the University of Toronto or for one of the club teams in the city.

In chapter XI, Off For France, Currie writes:

Lieutenants Acland and Livingston had been sent several weeks before to help drill “Details” and reinforcements for the British troops in France, and they were both at Falmouth working hard putting some polish on the English Tommies. I wrote General Alderson before I left, asking him to let me have Lieutenants Acland and Livingston back, but got “no” for an answer. They were sent to Falmouth while I was in Glasgow at New Year’s. If I had been in Camp I would not have parted with them.                                                                            (Currie, pages 104-105).

That would be January 1915.



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