This month is the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. I'm marking the PPCLI centennial on my blog over the next four days because my father was a Princess Pat when he served in World War II. His military service profoundly affected him for his entire life and therefore also shaped my family in indelible ways.
World War I
[William Barnes Wollen, Second Battle of Ypres (Frezenberg)]
Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry was privately raised and equipped in August, 1914, the same month that World War I began. Canadians were very enthusiastic about the Great War at the start and the new regiment quickly attracted financing and recruits.
The PPCLI's first honorary Colonel-in-Chief was Princess Patricia of Connaught, the daughter of Queen Victoria's son Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, who was Governor-General of Canada at the time. That explains the regiment's feminine name. I'm sure having a female patron was meant to evoke the far-off days of chivalry when a royal damsel would send her knight into battle wearing a token of her love attached to his armour. That's the kind of romanticized nonsense about war that prevailed before the killing fields of France woke people up to modern realities.
The Patricias were the first Canadian infantry unit to arrive in France during the First World War. In May 1915, the PPCLI had its first battlefield victory at Frezenberg (Ypres) although it cost them 500 men in 3 days. The highest ranking officer still alive at its conclusion was a lieutenant. The Princess Pats also fought at the Somme, Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, Amiens and Mons -- all the major battles in which Canada served.