103rd Regiment "Calgary
Regiment "Calgary Rifles" was an infantry regiment of the
Canadian Army formed in the period before the First World
Regiment "Calgary Rifles"
Authorized: 1 April 1910
Reorganized: 15 March 1920 to become The
Details of the regiment was placed on
active service on 6 August 1914 for local protective duty.
Volunteers were provided for the 10th Battalion, C.E.F. in September
1914, and the regiment later recruited for the 50th, 56th, 82nd,
89th, and 137th Battalions, C.E.F. The 10th and 50th Battalions
served in the Canadian Corps (with the 1st and 4th Divisions,
respectively) while the remainder were broken up for reinforcements.1
William Armstrong had made several attempts to establish a Militia
unit in Calgary before the 103rd Regiment (Calgary Rifles) was
approved on 1 Apr 1910. Armstrong and the officers of his new unit
celebrated the occasion, it is reported, with raw oysters and "Black
Velvet". The new regiment was a Rifle regiment and was established
with a headquarters and eight companies.
The Public Eye
The 103rd Calgary Rifles were a high profile organization in the
small city of Calgary during its brief existence. Weekly parades
were advertised in the The Calgary Herald, the mainstream city
newspaper, and shooting competitions, balls, and other social events
were carried out in the public eye.
One Staff Sergeant William Pearce, born 24 Aug 1858 in Nova Scotia,
passed away on 1 Mar 1919 in Calgary. His obituary proudly pointed
out his involvement with the 103rd Calgary Rifles. Recreational
shooting at this time was a very popular activity, and a Rifle
Regiment would prize itself especially on the marksmanship abilities
of its soldiers. A contemporary news paper clipping read:
The remains of
Staff-Sergt. William Pearce a well-known old-time Calgary
resident and famous rifle shot were laid to rest with military
honors in the Union Cemetery yesterday. Sergt. Pearce was one of
the best known old-timers of this city. For many years he was a
member of the 103rd Calgary rifles, and took part in many famous
rifle matches. The Cortege started from the undertaking parlors
of Graham, McCall & Ruttle ...The coffin was borne on a gun
carriage and escorted by a number of officers and men from his
old regiment. At the cemetery a short service was read and a
firing party paid its last respects to a gallant soldier.
The Drum and Bugle
Band of the battalion was also in attendance at various functions,
such as the grand opening of the Hudson's Bay store, a downtown
landmark for many decades.
Lieutenant D. Lee Redman in the uniform of the 103rd
Regiment "Calgary Rifles". Note the black leather
crossbelt with silver whistle. The tunic is also
peculiar to Rifle Regiments, in dark green with five
rows of braid across the front and closed with toggles
rather than buttons. Cuffs and collar would have been
scarlet, and for an officer below the rank of Captain,
Austrian knots would also have appeared on the cuffs, in
addition to the two metal "pips" on the shoulder
denoting a Lieutenant. (Glenbow Archives Photo
Lieutenant Colonel W.C.G. Armstrong in the uniform of
One of the tasks of the 103rd Regiment (Calgary Rifles) during the
First World War was to raise and train recruits for the Canadian
Expeditionary Force. Under the mobilization scheme in place, the
103rd was not slated to go overseas as a unit of its own.
Individuals were able to serve in the many battalions of the CEF
that were raised in Alberta.
Calgary's first battalion was the 10th Battalion; formed in
Valcartier in September 1914, 846 men were provided by the 103rd
Regiment (with 665 more coming from Manitoba's 106th Winnipeg Light
Infantry). The battalion was one of the last units of the initial
contingent of the CEF to be formed, and recruits were drawn from a
number of sources. The unit went on to fight as part of the 1st
Canadian Division in every major Canadian engagement of the war.
Recruits for the battalion were drawn from all over Canada, but the
majority came from Alberta throughout the war, and its "home" was
considered to be Calgary.
The 31st (Alberta) Battalion began recruiting in Calgary in November
1914, extending its scope to the rest of Alberta, and eventually
found a place in the 2nd Canadian Division. On 15 December 1914,
another Calgary battalion was raised, the 50th, and despite sending
two separate drafts of 255 men each to reinforce the 10th Battalion
in France (in June and September 1915), the battalion was completed
and sent overseas in October 1915, being attached to the 4th
Canadian Division and also seeing extensive service in the trenches
from 1916 to the end of the war.
Private Donald Fraser, of the 31st (Alberta) Battalion tells us in
his journal of at least one NCO of the 103rd who served overseas:
The way our
old soldiers, physical drill instructors, bayonet fighting
instructors disappeared under the stress of battle to realms of
easier work was a great disappointment to us. To instance a few
cases. When the 31st became a battalion, the Regt. Sgt.-Maj. was
a man named B__. He was one of the mainstays of the 103rd
Calgary Rifles and naturally interested in military work. He was
very insistent that we smarten up and be soldiers. His part of
soldiering, however, was spent in England. He took good care to
stay on the safe side of the Channel. As Sgt.-Maj. of our
company--a hero of a hundred fights you would fancy him to be if
you listened to his conversation--he wore four ribbons for
service in Africa, Egypt and the Sudan and was a faddist on
bayonet fighting. In England, he used to tap his side gently and
remark that this, alluding to his revolver, was for N.C.O.s who
refused to go over the top. I only saw this fire-eater pay a
visit to the trenches once. I gave him the periscope to look
through. He was very uneasy and had a half-hearted glance
through it, slinking back to H'Qrs. a few minutes afterwards.
This seasoned warrior obtained a commission and in addition
managed to get back to Canada. I noticed his picture very nearly
the central figure in a group of War Veterans, taken before
their quarters on 9th Ave., Calgary.
Other more flattering examples can be
found in the history of the 10th and 50th Battalions.
William Ashton Cockshutt was born in 1892, the eldest son of a long
standing member of the Canadian Parliament from Brantford, Ontario.
James Cockshutt, his uncle, was the founder of the famous western
Canadian Cockshutt Plow Company.
Ashton was diagnosed with serious asthma; at age fourteen, he was
not expected to live past the age of twenty and doctors recommended
he move to Western Canada. A move to a farm near Calgary, improved
his health, and the went on to attend Western Canada College, where,
according to the Calgary Highlanders Museum website, "he was
introduced to the values of a military lifestyle."
In 1909, he entered the Calgary office of the family business while
also joining the 103rd Calgary Rifles as a private. He was later
commissioned as an officer, and in 1914 went to Camp Valcartier with
the first contingent of volunteers for the newly forming 10th
Ashton saw much action in Europe, fighting at the first major
Canadian battle (Second Ypres in April 1915), then Festubert and
Givenchy, where he was wounded. He was returned to Brantford,
Ontario where he joined the 125th Battalion and was promoted to
Captain, proceeding overseas again with the 125th and being promoted
The Calgary Highlanders Museum website tells us: "In the fall of
1918, he returned to the Calgary office of the Cockshutt Plow Co.
and rejoined the 10th Battalion. Ashton was one of three Officers
who assisted in the formation of the Calgary Highlanders. Cockshutt
remained a Highlander until 1922, when he was transferred to
Edmonton with the Cockshutt Plow Co.. He held senior positions
within the company and with other large corporations. William Ashton
Cockshutt was one of the few Officers to serve in all three
Regiments which perpetuate the Calgary Highlanders. He lived to be
ninety-seven, a remarkable feat for a boy not expected to live past
the age of twenty."
William Dalton Buck
Other men of the 103rd Calgary Rifles served in Canada as prison
guards. William Dalton Buck was born on the Isle of Wight,
Southampton, England on the 12th of December 1859 and married in
January 1878, aged eighteen. His wife, Augusta Emma Jesse, aged 21
at the time of their wedding, bore him ten children. Both his father
and father in law were tailors, but Buck worked as a plumber,
spending his spare time painting seascapes and also taking to the
stage as a comedian and singer. He came to Canada two or three years
before the outbreak of the Great War with his wife and family,
excepting his eldest son who stayed in England.
After the outbreak of war, Buck became a Sergeant in the 103rd
Calgary Rifles, at the age of 57 he was too old for war service.
Instead, he became assigned to a prison camp set up near Castle
Mountain in the Rockies. This was a tented camp for both enemy
prisoners taken in action in France and Flanders, as well as
internees (largely of Ukrainian heritage) taken from the civil
population in Canada. In winter, the prisoners were moved to warmer
barracks near Banff. When the prisoners were moved to Kapuskasing,
Buck moved with them (taking his wife along).
Sergeant Buck left an interesting photographic record of his
experiences in the camp, though other details of life has not been
documented either by guards or prisoners, and is a chapter of
Canadian history largely unwritten. It is not known how many other
soldiers of the 103rd Regiment (Calgary Rifles) were employed in
local internment and prison camps.
Bucks photos can be seen in the book In My Charge: the Canadian
Internment Camp Photographs of Sergeant William Buck © 1997 Lubomyr
Y Luciuk and Borys Sydoruk ISBN: 18963541491
Elliott Murray Goodfellow
One of the first volunteers for overseas service among the 103rd
Calgary Rifles was Walter Goodfellow. Serving as an NCO in 1914, by
the time of the St. Julien fighting, he was a sergeant in the Tenth
According to the battalion historian, Daniel Dancocks, about a dozen
men were never found after the fight at Kitcheners' Wood on 22-23
April 1915. Sergeant Goodfellow was among them, and his name is
inscribed on the Menin Gate, a tribute to 55,000 dead Commonwealth
soldiers who have no known grave.
Goodfellow had been born, like many of the initial volunteers for
the Canadian Expeditionary Force, in the United Kingdom,
specifically Edinburgh, Scotland. He listed his date of birth as 12
June 1893, making him just shy of 22 years of age when he was
killed. His prewar occupation was carpenter, and his next of kin
lived at 130 Garden Crescent in Calgary. His attestation was dated
23 September 1914, and was signed by "Lt Col R L Boyle, OC 10th Batt".
In 1917, the
battalion - still located in Calgary - reorganized as a four company
unit. The 103rd maintained its part time status, drilling weekly in
its Drill Hall and providing soldiers for posting to other full time
employment in Canada and overseas. A wave of construction, of solid
and purpose built Armouries, was underway in Canada, to provide the
new military units with permanent homes. Mewata Armoury underwent
construction on 24 Sep 1915 and was completed in 1918, at a cost of
$282,051. The new building was of red brick and sandstone
construction with a cut stone foundation, significant for large
uninterrupted span of steel trusses and its Tudor/Gothic Revival
architectural style. Deliberately calling to mind medieval castles,
the new armoury came complete with corner towers. The large parade
square was surrounded by 117 separate rooms and offices, with
shooting ranges and bowling alleys in the basement.
On 15 March 1920, the
regiment was reorganized, and renamed as simply The Calgary
Regiment. It lost its rifle regiment traditions. The new Calgary
Regiment was to have five battalions on paper, each perpetuating one
of the C.E.F. battalions listed above.
As a Rifle
Regiment, the 103rd adopted a variety of unique uniform
components and traditions, including the distinct "rifle
green" uniform, distinct from the scarlet tunic of infantry
of the line. Officers wore a black cartridge belt with
silver whistle chain in place of the standard officers' Sam
For use in
the field, the unit adopted the standard khaki Service Dress
that became universal after introduction in 1907. Officers
appear to have worn chromed or silver cap and collar badges
of regimental pattern while non-commissioned soldiers wore
blackened metal badges.
(ret.) Barry Agnew of the Calgary Highlanders Regimental
Museum and Archives brushes off a collection of original
103rd Regiment uniform components during the Regimental
Birthday parade in April 2005. The distinctive shoulder belt
is clearly visible as are the chromed cap and collar badges.
The Regiments and Corps of the Canadian Army (Queen's
Printer, Ottawa, ON, 1964) p.102
The Regiments and Corps of the Canadian Army (Queen's
Printer, Ottawa, ON, 1964)
Love, David W. A
Call To Arms: The Organization and Administration of Canada's
Military in World War One (Bunker to Bunker Books,
Winnipeg, 1999.) ISBN 1894255038
Information and image in
this section found at
http://www.infoukes.com/history/internment/booklet03/ A copy
of the album is also kept in the collection of the Whyte Museum
of the Canadian Rockies in Banff, Alberta.