John-Ward Leighton

VIMY RIDGE DAY: APRIL 9

Photo ©Copyright 2010 by John-Ward Leighton
Photo ©Copyright 2010 by John-Ward Leighton

Photo ©Copyright 2010 by John-Ward Leighton
Dad in 1914 as a “boy soldier” with the Royal Scots
at age sixteen
My memories of the First war will always be connected to my Dad. My Dad served as a boy soldier joining as sixteen year old in 1914. He shipped out for the Middle East in late 1914 and participated in the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915 and after that for one year in Greece where he was wounded three times. In early 1916 he was invalided out to Ireland with malaria just in time for the Easter rebellion and spent the next year and a half chasing the IRA around rural Ireland. In March of 1918 when the Germans made a break though he was shipped with his unit to shore up the lines on the Western front until the Armistice on 11 November 1918.

Dad chose to stay in the service and was sent to the Guards training depot at Colchester where he was judged best recruit and posted to the 1st battalion Grenadier Guards and shipped out to Istanbul to occupy Turkey until the Turkish people threw them out in 1922.

Upon returning to the UK he stood guard at Buckingham palace and Windsor castle until the British government downsized the Armed services in 1926 and with most of his battalion he was deemed redundant and chucked out of the service.

I was born the year my Dad turned thirty eight and quite frankly I never remembered him as a young man. His hair was prematurely gray and although he was always very physically fit in comparison with my chums Dads he seemed old.

My first Remembrance Day parade was as a cadet in the Seaforth Highlanders in 1949 and there were vets from the Boar war on parade. My Dad often talked about his service in Ireland and standing guard at Windsor castle but rarely talked about his time in action except to say they were often very hungry.

I sometimes wonder how people equate our coming together as a nation with the price the whole country paid in blood for what really was a family fight of the monarchy who were all related to one another. King and Country indeed.

This is not to say that I’m under valuing the élan, professionalism and patriotism of the Canadian Army, if fact the Canadian Corp was the best damned army in the field in 1918 with General Arthur Currie the best damn general. We are reluctant to fight but we never lose.

QOR of C: Battle Honours
QOR of C celebrates its 150th birthday on the 20th of April