Christmas at the Front – 1st Brigade Canadian Mounted Rifles


Concert at the Front

This well worn programme commemorates a concert held near the front lines just before Christmas 1915. It names 44 officers, NCOs and men from the First Brigade Canadian Mounted Rifles. The brigade landed in France on September 22, 1915 and was made up of the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles raised in Brandon, Yorkton and Saskatoon; the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles raised in Victoria, BC; and the 3rd Canadian Mounted Rifles raised in Edmonton and Medicine Hat.

The Brigade entered the front lines in early October and again in late November. The war diary entry for Dec. 22, 1915 includes a reference to a “Brigade Concert at Bailleul“. The  programme cover states the concert was held at “Caisse D’Epargne” (“Savings Bank”) and so I believe it could be referring to this building in Bailleul.

Nine days after this concert the Brigade was reorganized into infantry battalions of the 8th Infantry Brigade. The 3rd CMR was absorbed into the 1st and 2nd CMR and both units saw action in most of the major battles of the First World War. The 1st CMR lost 80% of their men (killed, wounded or captured) when the Germans overran their lines at the Battle of Mount Sorrel between June 2 – 13, 1916. Three of the individuals listed on this programme lost their lives in that battle: Walter Chaplin ScarrNorman Froud Weston and Ivor V. Withers. Many others who took part in that Christmas concert also lost their lives in subsequent battles. These included E M HallsmithNorman Halliday MoncreiffJames McNeill and likely others who could not be positively identified from the initials in the programme.

Here’s a list of all the names appearing in this programme:

Lt-Col Ainslie L. Young, Pte P.C. Turner, Pte R.J. Pollard, Sig. F. Bradbrooke, S.S.M J. Hallworth, Lieut N.H. Moncreiff, Sergt A. Donegan, Pte H.C. Moore, Q.M.S Pettit, Pte J. Green, Pte R. Telfer, Lieut C.W. Leubach, Lieut A. McDougall, Pte N. Wigzell, Pte. A.J. Moddox, Sig I.V. Withers, Trumpeter Moody, Cpl C. Howells, Pte Raymond, Pte Gardin, Cpl A.D. Wilkinson, Cpl E.M. Hallsmith, Pte Morgan, Pte N.C. Hirst, Bandmaster T.W. James, Capt A.G. Wilken, Capt G.O. Fallis, Lieut S.W. Abbott, Sergt J.A. Wotherspoon, Cpl F.S. Miller, Pte W. Scarr, Pte A. Morrison, Pte. R.N. Blakie, Sergt D. Morrison, Sergt P. Whitnall, Cpl D. Livingstone, Cpl J.E. Malcolm, Pte Barbar, Pte Richardson, Lieut James McNeill, S.S.M E. Charters, S.S.M N.F. Weston, Sergt Keynes, Cpl L. Shannon.

1 reply

  1. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

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