Andrew Hamilton Gault DSO

Andrew Hamilton Gault ('Hammie') was born in Margate, Kent, on 18 Aug 1882. His father was Andrew Frederick Gault of Rokeby in the Golden Square Mile, Montreal. The name Hamilton came from his paternal grandmother's family, the Hamiltons of Fintra House, County Donegal. His mother was Louise Sarah Harman from Surrey. Andrew was educated at McGill University and was going to Oxford but when the Boer War broke out he gained a commission in the Royal Canadian Dragoons, and served with them there with distinction. He later tried to join a British cavalry regiment but was unsuccessful so joined the 5th Black Watch of Canada. He went into business in Montreal and held various official posts but his main interest was canoeing and fishing in Northern Quebec, hunting in the Rockies and going on safari in Africa.'

Following the example of Lord Strathcona who raised a cavalry regiment for the Boer War, Gault decided to raise a cavalry regiment for service in the coming Great War with Germany. He made an offer to the Canadian government of 100,000 dollars to raise and equip a regiment to send to Europe. The government accepted but insisted that it be an infantry regiment. He discussed the idea with Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Farquhar of the Coldstream Guards who was very enthusiastic and took over the organisation. He also approached Princess Patrica to ask her if she would be its patron. The Gaults were an important family in Canadian society and Andrew was on friendly terms with the Princess.

Gault was a captain at that time so it was decided that Farquhar should command the new regiment while Gault was promoted to major and second in command. He was wounded at St Eloi on 28 Feb 1915 and was fit enough to return on 27 April, after Colonel Farquhar had been killed. Colonel Buller was in command but he was wounded a few days later, on 4 May, so Major Gault took command until he, himself was wounded again. He was an effective commander. Lieutenant Hugh Niven said of him, 'With Hamilton Gault there, nobody could think of retiring' Nobody knows why, but it gave everyone a tremendous lot of courage that nobody else in the world could give to the other regiments.' He was wounded at the second battle of Ypres but carried on until a more serious injury forced him to retire and pass command to Captain Agar Adamson. He re-joined in October and fought in the battle of Mount Sorrel but was severely wounded in Sanctuary Wood on 2 June 1916. He lost a leg on this occasion.

He refused repatriation to Canada and returned to duty on the staff, initially as ADC to the GOC 3rd Canadian Division. He was then promoted to lieutenant-colonel and commanded the Reinforcement Camp of the 3rd Division. He was still seconded to the Reinforcement Camp when he was appointed CO of the Patricias on 28 Mar 1918. He actually took command of his regiment after the Armistice, on 21 Nov 1918 and remained until demobilisation on 20 Mar 1919.'

Hamilton Gault was married twice. He married his first wife, Marguerite Stephens in 1904 but that ended in divorce when he suspected her of having an affair with a young wounded officer of the PPCLI. He was then engaged to Mrs Kathleen Blackader, the widow of a fellow officer. But that ended tragically when Gault overturned his car and was unable to free his trapped fiance. In 1922 he married Dorothy Shuckburgh from Somerset, but he separated from her in 1945. There were no children from either of his wives but he was a ward of Margaret Patricia Blackader, daughter of his deceased fiance.

In World War 2 he served on the staff with the Canadian Army in England. He was promoted to colonel in 1940 and brigadier-general in 1942, in command of a Reinforcement Holding Unit. But ill-health prevented him from continuing and he retired to his home, Mont Saint-Hilaire in Quebec in 1944. He formed the regimental association for the PPCLI and was its first president. He was appointed honorary lieutenant-colonel in 1948 and then became the first Colonel of the Regiment on 25 Sep 1958. But that was short-lived because he died at his Quebec home on 28 Nov 1958 aged 76. There was a military funeral with full honours in Montreal but he was buried in England at his former home, Hatch Court. A statue of him stands in front of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

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by Stephen Luscombe