The War Begins

The First Years of World War One

Aerial view of the gas attack on the battlefield, 1916 c.
The RMR Museum

The Second Battle of Ypres took place from April to May 1915. It is the first major battle for the Canadians. It was during this battle that the Germans used chlorine gas for the first time, causing Allied troops to retreat. The Canadians held strong and were able to stop the German advance. This gained them a reputation as being tenacious troops.

Captain Scrimger

Medical officer 14th Battalion (RMR)

Captain Francis Alexander Scrimger was awarded a Victoria Cross medal, the most prestigious decoration that can be given to a British or Canadian soldier, for his bravery at the Second Battle of Ypres. While evacuating an advanced dressing station during an enemy bombardment, Captain Scrimger carried a wounded officer to safety, even covering him with his own body, when the shelling came too close.

Captain Scrimger’s quick thinking also helped protect the soldiers during the first gas attacks before they had gas masks. He had the brilliant idea to have the troops breathe through a cloth soaked in urine to neutralize the basic nature of the gas.

Captain Francis Alexander Scrimger
The Great World War: A History. Five volumes, Gresham Publishing Company