THE SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS

OF CANADA

The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada are Vancouver’s infantry regiment, based in Vancouver, British Columbia. As a reserve force in the Canadian Forces, The Seaforth Highlanders have served in times of war, humanitarian and disaster relief and in peacemaking efforts abroad, and during times of civil emergency at home.  The Regiment is comprised of volunteer soldiers who offer their time, their commitment to serve, their skills and their ever-lasting dedication to achieving the Canadian freedoms we enjoy today.

Private Arthur Forbes Ruddock, 129200 (1896-1917)

Private Arthur Forbes Ruddock.png

IN MEMORIAM: Private Arthur Forbes Ruddock, 129200 (1896-1917)

W. Michael Patience, Seaforth Highlanders of Canada Regimental Association


An interesting exchange occurred recently between the Seaforth of C’s 72nd O/S Battalion, CEF Twitter account and Mr. Scott Perry in Ottawa. On May 7th Scott posted the following message:

Arthur Forbes 6.jpg

Scott also kindly provided a photo of his great uncle, Arthur Forbes Ruddock (the son of Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Ruddock), who was taken on strength as a private with the 72nd Battalion (Seaforth Highlanders of Canada) on September 11th, 1915.

In History of the 72nd Canadian Infantry Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, author Bernard McEvoy, confirms on June 18th, 1916 while the battalion was still undergoing training at Bramshott Military Camp in Hampshire, England that a draft of 150 men from ‘A’ and ‘B’ Coys was transferred as reinforcements to the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish), deployed to the Ypres salient and attached to 3rd Canadian Brigade, 1st Canadian Division.[i] Why this draft of men was transferred from the 72nd Battalion, only arrived in England the previous month, is the subject of this article.

In June 1916, the British Fourth Army, commanded by General Sir Henry Rawlinson, was busy preparing for the impending Somme front offensive, a fact quite well known to the Germans. In order to divert men and resources away from the Somme buildup, the German XIII (Royal Württemberg) Corps made a spectacularly successful diversionary attack in the Ypres sector on June 2nd, 1916 against the Canadian Corps' 3rd Division which was holding the last remaining high ground in the salient still under Allied control, in the vicinity of Mt. Sorrel.

3rd Canadian Division's commanding officer, Major-General Malcolm Mercer, was mortally wounded during the German attack, and the 8th Brigade's commanding officer, Brigadier-General Arthur Victor Seymour Williams, was taken prisoner. The German attack was assisted by the detonation of several mines under the Canadian front lines and a punishing artillery barrage. By the end of June 2nd the Canadians were dislodged from the high ground of Mt. Sorrel, Hill 62 (Tor Top), and Hill 61.

Beginning on June 3rd, General Sir Julian Byng, the newly-appointed commanding officer of the Canadian Corps, ordered the recapture of these local prominences. The initial Canadians attempts to recapture their lost defensive positions were not successful, and losses were particularly heavy in the 1st Canadian Division. It was not until June 13th that the Canadians had regained their former lines held before the German attack.

The casualties incurred by the Canadian Corps at Mt. Sorrel are witness to the severity of the fighting in that sector. In the first half of June 1916, the Corps' losses totaled almost 8,500 casualties: 130 officers and 3,033 other ranks killed or missing, 257 officers and 5,010 other ranks wounded. By the end of the month the losses would climb to 11,500 men. Add to those numbers the losses from May (3,100 casualties) and April (where fighting in the St-Eloi crater area resulted in 2,900 casualties) the total reaches some 17,500 men wounded, captured or killed in three months of fighting. These were grievous losses for the Canadian Corps, which in comparison had only incurred approximately 2,000 casualties during the less active first three months of 1916.

To return to the Canadian Scottish, the 16th Battalion was formed in September 1914 from volunteers drawn from the 50th Regiment (Gordon Highlanders of Canada), the 79th Regiment (Cameron Highlanders of Canada), the 91st Canadian Highlanders (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders), and 72nd Regiment (Seaforth Highlanders of Canada), and assigned to the fledgling 1st Canadian Division.[ii] The battalion arrived in France on February 7th, 1915 and by the middle of April the 1st Canadian Division, attached to Second British Army’s V Corps, was deployed to the Ypres salient, in the vicinity of St. Julien. Here at 5:00 PM on April 22nd the Germans attacked using poison gas for the first time on the Western Front.

Along with the 10th Battalion (Canadians), the 16th Battalion was pulled out of Divisional Reserves and ordered to counterattack to prevent a major German breakthrough at Kitchener’s Wood. In desperate fighting between April 22nd and May 4th (the Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge and the Battle of St. Julien), the Canadian Scottish suffered 439 casualties: ten officers killed or missing, seven wounded; 183 other ranks killed or missing and 239 wounded. Among the officers killed was Captain Cecil Mack Merritt, the father of future Victoria Cross recipient Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Cecil Ingersoll Merritt, who was shot by a German sniper on April 23rd.

The 16th Battalion next saw action less than a month later during the confused fighting at Festubert, situated about seven kilometers west of the French town of Béthune. Here on May 18th, 1915 the 3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade, now assigned to British I Corps’ 7th Division, attacked with the 14th Battalion (Royal Montreal Regiment) over unfamiliar ground with little opportunity for detailed planning or preparation. The results were typical of the early battles of the Great War. Three officers were killed and another three wounded, 203 other ranks wounded or missing, and sixty-eight killed, for a total of 277 casualties. Overall, futile attacks by the 1st Canadian Division at Festubert between May 15th and May 21st resulted in nearly 2,500 casualties.

Efforts to provide reinforcements to 1st Canadian Division in the field, as Mark Zuehlke writes, was complicated by political decisions, and perhaps by the belief that the war against Germany would be concluded in short order:

Rebuilding proved more troublesome for the Canadian division than was true of other Commonwealth counterparts due to manpower supply shortages. Minister of Militia and Defence Sam Hughes had neglected to create an efficient system for raising and training reinforcements to replenish the contingent he had so erratically formed in the fall of 1914. The heavy losses of April and May had completely drained the division's entire reserve pool in England, which had only numbered 2,000 men. This forced the dissolution of entire battalions stationed in England as part of the Canadian buildup there that were then fed piecemeal to the division. Even this measure failed to provide enough troops to bring the line battalions up to strength.[iii]

Even as it fought at Second Ypres, the 16th Battalion began to receive reinforcements to replenish battlefield losses. On April 28th, 1915 a draft of 225 men lead by Major Cyrus Wesley Peck, the future commanding officer of the 16th Battalion and Victoria Cross recipient (at Amiens in 1918), was taken on strength. At about the same time a draft sent from battalion reserves stationed in England included former Seaforth Lieutenant Roderick Ogle Bell-Irving and nine other lieutenants. On May 7th, 1915 – just before the Canadian Scottish jumped the bags at Festubert – another draft of 213 men from the 50th Regiment (Gordon Highlanders of Canada) was taken on strength by the battalion. At the end of July 1915 a draft of men from the 79th Regiment (Cameron Highlanders of Canada) was taken on strength, which finally restored the 16th Battalion back to full strength.

Officers of the 72nd Regiment ‘Seaforth Highlanders of Canada’ in 1913. Lieutenant Roderick O. Bell-Irving is standing in the back row, very left. City of Vancouver Archives, Item AM54-S4-: Mil P225.

Officers of the 72nd Regiment ‘Seaforth Highlanders of Canada’ in 1913. Lieutenant Roderick O. Bell-Irving is standing in the back row, very left. City of Vancouver Archives, Item AM54-S4-: Mil P225.

In the following year the 16th Battalion fought twice in two weeks at Mt Sorrel in June. During the initial, hurried counter-attack on June 3rd, the battalion suffered a total of 103 casualties, with ninety-nine other ranks killed, wounded or missing, three officers killed and one wounded. Ten days later the battalion incurred an additional 252 casualties, including twenty-three other ranks killed, 155 wounded and sixty-five missing. Among the officers, four were wounded and five were killed. Combat at Mt. Sorrel in June 1916 was particularly costly amongst the battalions’ officers: between June 3rd and 14th, ten officers were killed in action, and in no other Great War battle would the Canadian Scottish suffer a greater loss of officers.

This then was the historical context which necessitated the transfer of 150 other ranks from the 72nd Battalion to the 16th Battalion in the middle of June 1916. Below is the C.E.F. Record of Service of Private Ruddock showing his transfer to the Canadian Scottish, and note that ‘S.O.S.’ here is an abbreviation for ‘Struck Off Strength’.

Pte. Ruddock’s CEF Service Record

Pte. Ruddock’s CEF Service Record

There is a kilt apron in the regimental museum’s collection, which reads ‘1st Draft to 16th Battalion’, and surmounted by a very fine drawing of the 72nd Battalion’s regimental crest. What is truly remarkable about this particular kilt apron is that it also bears the signature and regimental number of each of the 150 other ranks who were transferred to the 16th Battalion in June 1916.

Kilt apron in the collection of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada Regimental Museum

Kilt apron in the collection of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada Regimental Museum

And in the centre column, just below a stained area, can be clearly read the signature and regimental number of Private Arthur Forbes Ruddock, 129200 (circled in red).

Kilt apron, close up showing the location of Private Arthur Forbes Ruddock’s signature.

Kilt apron, close up showing the location of Private Arthur Forbes Ruddock’s signature.

Signature of Private Arthur Forbes Ruddock, 129200

Signature of Private Arthur Forbes Ruddock, 129200

Tragically, Private Ruddock’s military service with the 16th Battalion lasted less than a year, as he was killed in action on April 9th, 1917 during the first day of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. 1st Canadian Division, commanded by Major-General Arthur W. Currie, was assigned to the right flank of the Canadian Corps’ assault at Vimy, and had as its objectives the capture of the Zwolfer-Stellung (the ‘Black Line’) and Zwischen-Stellung (the ‘Red Line’) trench systems. By April 12th the Canadian divisions had successfully captured all their objectives and finally wrestled the heights of Vimy Ridge from German control. But the first significant Allied victory of the Great War was costly for the Canadian Corps, which suffered 10,602 casualties, 7,004 men wounded and 3,598 killed. Amongst the men of 16th Battalion the losses at Vimy amounted to 341 casualties, twenty officers (seven killed, and thirteen wounded, including its commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel Cyrus Peck) and 321 other ranks (222 men wounded and ninety-nine killed). Private Ruddock’s remains were not recovered following the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and today’s visitors to the battlefield may see his name inscribed upon the Vimy Memorial.


Bibliography

McEvoy, Bernard and A.H. Finlay History of the 72nd Canadian Infantry Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders of Canada (Vancouver: Cowan & Brookhouse, 1920)

Nicholson, G.W.L. Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914 – 1919 (Ottawa: Queen’s Printer, 1964)

Rawling, Bill Surviving Trench Warfare: Technology and the Canadian Corps, 1914-1918 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014)

Zuehlke, Mark Brave Battalion: The Remarkable Saga of the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) in the First World War (Toronto: John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd., 2008) 


Endnotes

[i] McEvoy, Bernard and A.H. Finlay History of the 72nd Canadian Infantry Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders of Canada (Vancouver: Cowan & Brookhouse, 1920), 20.
 

[ii] The draft of men from the 72nd Regiment, Seaforth Highlanders of Canada consisted of twenty-five officers, including Lieutenant-Colonel R. G. Edwards Leckie, and 514 other ranks. McEvoy, History of the 72nd Canadian Infantry Battalion, 12.
 

[iii] Zuehlke, Mark Brave Battalion: The Remarkable Saga of the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) in the First World War (Toronto: John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd., 2008), 81.

George Hilton Soles, DCM and the Canadian Corps, 1917-1918

George Hilton Soles, DCM

George Hilton Soles, DCM

Michael Patience, for the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada Regimental Association

In one sense George Hilton Soles was not unlike the 630,000 other Canadians who, compelled by loyalty towards Great Britain and antipathy towards Germany, volunteered for military service during the First World War.

But George Soles' military career was far from ordinary. As an infantryman of Vancouver's 72nd Battalion, The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, Soles was three times awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for 'distinguished conduct in the field' during the Great War. No other Canadian ever repeated this distinction.

Even before war was declared on the 28th of July 1914 between the Entente powers (Great Britain, Imperial Russia and France) and the Axis (Wilhelmine Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire), George Soles was already a member of the Canadian militia's 107th (East Kootenay) Regiment, which was raised in Fernie in May of 1914.

No doubt eager for action, Soles enlisted in Victoria on the 29th of March 1915 with the 48th Battalion (British Columbia), and shipped out from Halifax with his battalion aboard R.M.S. Grampian for training in Britain on Dominion Day, July 1st that same year.

On January 6th 1916, while still undergoing training in England, Soles' unit was re-designated the 3rd Canadian Pioneer Battalion (48th Canadians), and on March 9th the battalion sailed to Europe for service with the Canadian Corps in Belgium and France as part of 3rd Canadian Division.

Assigned to 3rd Canadian Division, the 3rd Canadian Pioneer Battalion would eventually see combat during the later stages of the British offensive at the Somme, during the end of September and early October 1916 at the Battles of Flers-Courcelette, Thiepval, and le Transloy.

The year of 1917 would prove pivotal not only to the outcome of the Great War, but also for George Soles' role as a combatant. By 1917 it was clear that a greater role for Canadian troops as assaulting 'shock troops' would be needed if the Entente powers were to defeat the armies of Imperial Germany. The year before, in 1916, both the French and British had incurred enormous casualties during the ghastly attritional conflicts at the Verdun and Somme battlefields.

20150215_George Hilton Soles, DCM2
20150215_George Hilton Soles, DCM2

CSM George H Soles' Attestation Paper, signed 29th March 1915 in Victoria

Collar badge, 48th Battalion (British Columbia), CEF

Collar badge, 48th Battalion (British Columbia), CEF

Cap badge, 3rd Pioneer Battalion (48th Canadians) 

Cap badge, 3rd Pioneer Battalion (48th Canadians) 

New York Times headline from April 6th 1917

New York Times headline from April 6th 1917

So it was welcome news when on April 6th 1917 the United States finally declared war against Germany, but it would take time before the vast materiel and manpower advantages offered by that country would affect the outcome of the conflict in western Europe, now in its 4th year.

To return to George Soles, it is known that he was wounded in fighting at Vimy Ridge during early April 1917, but it would have likely come as more of a shock to him convalescing in England to learn that the decision was made on April 17th to break up his 3rd Canadian Pioneer Battalion.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge, by Richard Jack, from the collections of the Canadian War Museum

The Battle of Vimy Ridge, by Richard Jack, from the collections of the Canadian War Museum

20150215_George Hilton Soles, DCM7
20150215_George Hilton Soles, DCM7

A controversial decision at the time, the 3rd Canadian Pioneer Battalion was disbanded in order to provide much-needed reinforcements to other Canadian units in the field. Victory at Vimy Ridge, the first time all four Canadian Infantry Divisions of the Canadian Corps were unified under a single command, had come at a considerable cost. The Canadians had suffered a total of 10,602 casualties, 3598 men killed and 7004 wounded.

Meanwhile, the 72nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders of Canada had sailed to Britain back in April 1916, and shipped to France in August of the same year. Under the very capable command of Lieutenant-Colonel J.A. Clark, DSO the battalion, assigned to 12th Canadian Infantry Brigade, 4th Canadian Division, was soon making notable contributions to the latter stages of the Somme campaign, and further honed its fighting capabilities during the ultimate battles of Vimy Ridge.

Lieutenant-Colonel John Arthur Clark, DSO was the Commanding Officer of the 72nd Canadian Infantry Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders of Canada for most of its service in the Great War 

But the battalion was bloodied. In the words of Bernard McEvoy, writing about the aftermath of Vimy in his History of the 72nd Canadian Infantry Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, 'But if the victory had been a great one, it was won at heavy cost, there being but 62 of all ranks who did not become casualties.' On Dominion Day 1917 George Soles was transferred to the 72nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders of Canada.

As a member of the 72nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders of Canada George Soles fought in some of the most notable battles of the latter stages of the Great War, winning the DCM three times between 1917 and the cessation of hostilities on November 11th, 1918.

CSM George Hilton Soles, 72nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders of Canada

CSM George Hilton Soles, 72nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders of Canada

In this period of time, with the Canadian Corps at the forefront, the conduct of the war was greatly transformed. Gone were the days of massed infantry assaults against well-prepared German defensive lines heralded by several days of preliminary artillery barrages. Newer tactics aspired to greater battlefield mobility, with an emphasis on combined arms, operational secrecy, and a more effective use of combat engineering.

George Soles' first DCM was awarded for conduct in Belgium during the closing stages of the Second Battle of Passchendaele, in late October and early November 1917. As noted in the London Gazette,

L/Sgt. G.H. SOLES, 430337 'For conspicuous gallantry & devotion to duty. During an attack, when the left flank was held up by some strong posts, he led his men to the right & worked round to within bombing distance. He knocked over a machine gun with a bomb, killing eight of the enemy & taking the remainder, eighteen in number, prisoners' (L.G. 28.3.18) 

At the end of October 1917, the 12th Canadian Infantry Brigade was assigned to capture a strongly fortified position, called Crest Farm, which commanded the southern approach to the Passchendaele ridge.

Canadian memorial at Crest Farm, in Zonnebeke, Belgium. The inscription reads: THE CANADIAN CORPS IN OCT.-NOV.1917 ADVANCED ACROSS THIS VALLEY-THEN A TREACHEROUS MORASS-CAPTURED AND HELD THE PASSCHENDAELE RIDGE

Canadian memorial at Crest Farm, in Zonnebeke, Belgium. The inscription reads: THE CANADIAN CORPS IN OCT.-NOV.1917 ADVANCED ACROSS THIS VALLEY-THEN A TREACHEROUS MORASS-CAPTURED AND HELD THE PASSCHENDAELE RIDGE

At 5:50 A.M. on the 30th of October, the Canadians attacked in miserable conditions. Rain had turned the battlefield into a quagmire. Skilled maneuvering and well-coordinated artillery support allowed the 72nd Battalion to capture Crest Farm by the end of the day.

By the summer of 1918 it was clear to most that Germany was losing the war against the Entente. Despite a massive influx of reserve manpower transferred from the eastern front (Russia had ceased hostilities with Germany after the Bolsheviks seized power and signed the treaty of Brest-Litovsk), Germany's spring 1918 offensives, meant to split the French and British armies, had utterly failed.

German reserves advancing through St Quentin during 'Operation Michael', March 1918

German reserves advancing through St Quentin during 'Operation Michael', March 1918

By August the Entente were ready to resume the attack, with the Canadian Corps now in the vanguard of the British First Army. On August 8th the Canadians struck southeast of the ancient French city of Amiens. With no preliminary bombardment to announce an imminent attack, the Canadians swept through the German defenses, ultimately forcing their retreat to the Hindenberg Line.

George Soles' second DCM was earned at the Battle of Amiens in August 1918. The London Gazette notes,

Bar to DCM 'When a Tank which had fallen behind commenced firing upon our men, this NCO immediately put a steel helmet on his bayonet & ran to the Tank through a storm of bullets until he attracted their attention & diverted the fire. His conduct in charge of a platoon throughout the operations was characterised by daring & high fighting qualities' (L.G. 15.11.18)

Canadian General Sir Arthur Currie, DSO inspects captured German artillery. Battle of Amiens, August, 1918. Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/ PA-003046

Canadian General Sir Arthur Currie, DSO inspects captured German artillery. Battle of Amiens, August, 1918. Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/ PA-003046

In the centre the Canadian Corps advanced 13 km, with 4th Canadian Division leading the second phase of the assault. The 'Amiens show' marks the beginning of the 'Hundred Days', the Imperial German Army’s last stand in the west.

Soles' third DCM came at the high-water mark of the Canadian Corps achievements in the Great War, during fierce fighting to breach the Hindenberg Line, the Imperial German Army's last prepared line of defense. Again the Canadians were called for duty at the sharp end. The first Canadian-born Commanding Officer of the Canadian Corps, Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie, DSO faced his greatest challenge of the war. How to cross the Hindenberg Line, a well- fortified German defensive zone which included a dry canal bed 30 meters wide?

Portrait of Sir Arthur Currie , DSO by British war artist William Orpen, 1919

Portrait of Sir Arthur Currie , DSO by British war artist William Orpen, 1919

Currie ordered the Canadian Corps to breach the Canal du Nord on a dangerously small front opposite the French village of Inchy. Engineering battalions were ordered to build bridges for men and materiel to quickly cross over. This would make it possible for artillery units to advance with the attacking infantry.

Canadian Combat Engineers building a bridge across the Canal du Nord, September 1918

Canadian Combat Engineers building a bridge across the Canal du Nord, September 1918

12th Canadian Infantry Brigade, including the 72nd Battalion, was ordered to assist the capture Bourlon Wood, a heavily forested prominence midway between the Canal du Nord and the French city of Cambrai.

Bourlon Wood was key to the Canadian Corp's primary objective of capturing Cambrai and its vital railway networks. If the Germans were forced from Bourlon Wood, then their position along the Hindenberg Line would be untenable. The two German armies in Flanders to the north would be compelled to withdraw to the next significant line of defense, the Meuse River in neighbouring Belgium. Germany would be out of the war.

The attack against the Canal du Nord and Bourlon Wood came on September 27th. Here counter-battery fire was exceedingly effective. Some 230 German guns were located in the vicinity of Bourlon Wood prior to the Canadian assault, and 80 percent were located and destroyed in the early stages of 4th Canadian Division's successful attack.

Company Sgt. Maj George Soles earned his third DCM on the 29th of September, 1918 leading his ‘A’ Company of the 72nd Battalion as it fought to secure the French hamlet of Sancourt, slightly northeast of Bourlon Wood. As noted in the London Gazette,

2nd Bar (72nd Bn.) 'For marked courage & good leadership during the operations near Cambrai from 27th September to 1st October 1918. On 29th Sept. he rushed an enemy strong-point single-handed, accounting for the garrison & capturing three machine guns. Later, he worked his way along a railway cutting, & personally shot eight of the enemy. Later, again, he organised a strong-point, which successfully held up an enemy counter-attack' (L.G. 10.1.20)

Canadians blackberrying in Bourlon Wood after capturing it. Visible shrapnel damage to trees, October, 1918. Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-003275

Canadians blackberrying in Bourlon Wood after capturing it. Visible shrapnel damage to trees, October, 1918. Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-003275

Five weeks later, at 5.00 A.M. Paris time on November 11th the Armistice of Compiègne was signed. The German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, had abdicated the day before. At 11.00 A.M. on the 11th the guns drew silent along the western front. For the Canadian Corps, including the 72nd Battalion resting in billets in the vicinity of Valenciennes about 15 km from the Belgian border, and George Soles recovering in hospital from wounds incurred while earning his third DCM, the Great War was over.

In the summer of 1919 the 72nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders of Canada and George Soles returned to Canada aboard the SS Olympia. In the 1920's Soles' service to his country and province would continue. Between 1922 and 1928 Soles served as a constable with the office of the Provincial Game Warden. In its 1923 annual report, Soles is recorded working in the North-East Kootenay District, that same Columbia River country where he went to school before enlisting in 1915. From 1928 until his retirement in October 1943 Soles then served as a constable with the British Columbia Provincial Police.

Until its dissolution in 1950 and replacement by the RCMP, the British Columbia Provincial Police was the only law enforcement agent across the entire province. In addition to its policing work, the British Columbia Provincial Police also functioned as provincial government agents. In this role their far-flung tasks were more as returning officers, tax collectors, and census-takers than as police.

In the 1930s, being a representative of the provincial government in BC's distant northern communities, like Prince Rupert and Prince George where Soles was stationed, was a physically challenging occupation made even more arduous by vast distances and the environment. It was an era when travel to remote settlements in the middle of winter to investigate a suspicious death might still best be made in snowshoes. Such conditions would have been business-as-usual for the Great War veteran George Soles, who passed away in Vancouver on July 26th, 1945 as another world war was drawing to a close.

CSM George H Soles' DCM with two bars is the left-most medal, with the blue and red ribbon.

CSM George H Soles' DCM with two bars is the left-most medal, with the blue and red ribbon.

In 2014 George Soles' DCM with 2 Bars was bestowed by his family for keeping with the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada.

Epilogue

Captured Mörser 16, a 21cm German heavy howitzer captured by the 72nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders of Canada at the entrance to Stanley Park. The Vancouver Rowing Club is visible in the background. 

Captured Mörser 16, a 21cm German heavy howitzer captured by the 72nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders of Canada at the entrance to Stanley Park. The Vancouver Rowing Club is visible in the background. 

City of Vancouver Archives CVA 258-26, who erroneously caption the photo: 'German Howitzer captured by the 78th Battalion C[anadian]. E[xpeditionary]. F[orce]. At entrance (Georgia Street) to Stanley Park.' 

The dedication on the howitzer reads: 'This twenty-one centimeter German howitzer is one of the two such guns captured by the 72nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders of Canada during the operations in France of November 1st to November 4th, 1918. These operations resulted in the passage of the Canal de l'Escaut and the taking of the City of Valenciennes and several smaller towns. The forward movement initiated by this attack never slackened for one moment until Mons was captured and the Armistice declared on November 11th, 1918.'

CSM Soles - Attestation - 1915

The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada