374: Frontiersmen, On war service etc.

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The Legion of Frontiersmen of the Commonwealth
History & Archives
The Founder: Roger Pocock

born 150 years ago in 1865: Capt. Henry Roger Ashwell Pocock.
“A splendid adventure”.

Great Ride 1899Although he liked to claim he was born at the main family home town of Cookham, in fact Roger Pocock was born at Tenby in South Wales, so could well have claimed to be Welsh by birth. He spent much of his boyhood aboard the T.S. Wellesley on the River Tyne, a training ship commanded by his father and for boys so far “unconvicted of crime”. When his father took Holy Orders and emigrated to Canada with his family Roger tried his hand at many trades, even working for a while on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Not for the first or last time in his life, he was asked to leave that job. He then finished up virtually penniless doing menial odd jobs at Port Arthur Ontario. His weary father sent him the fare to Winnipeg with the suggestion that he should join the North West Mounted Police, a life he came to love and never forget. He was involved in the Riel Rebellion, where he lost the toes on his right foot due to frostbite. After being invalided out he determined to make a career as a writer. He had achieved some success while in the N.W.M.P., often basing his stories around the colourful characters he had encountered. Following a spell tramping western Canada, he acquired a temporary position as a missionary to the First Nations tribes around the Skeena River. There had been some trouble in the region and the incumbent had decided it was too dangerous for him. Roger delighted in listing the “Skeena Indian Wars” on his career highlights, although he was probably the only one to call it a war. He said that the Church would have liked him to continue, but the official suggestion was that he had not been offered a permanent position as he had shown too much of a liking for the local maidens. Following more travels he returned to England in the light of some success with his writings.

Oil PaintingIn 1898 he led an expedition to run horses to the Klondyke. The failure of that expedition caused much interest in a number of countries as one of the members, Sir Arthur Curtis, walked out of the camp one morning never to be seen again, starting a mystery which gripped the public imagination for a number of years. What actually did happen to Sir Arthur Curtis? What is the full story of that expedition? For the answers to that you will have to read the whole story in Outrider of Empire: the life and adventures of Roger Pocock by Geoffrey A. Pocock (University of Alberta Press, 2008).

Returning to England again, Roger decided to achieve something spectacular or die in the attempt. He the rode on horseback from Fort Macleod in Canada to Mexico City down what can be known as the “Outlaw Trail” – an unarmed Englishman. What outlaws did he meet and what did he see? Again, for the answer you will have to read Outrider of Empire.

More adventures were to follow in South Africa where he served as a corporal in one of the most irregular bands of Scouts to fight against the Boers. In 1904 Roger was sent by the Illustrated Mail to Russia to report on the effects of the Russo-Japanese War on that country. He returned with information and photographs, also some skilfully drawn plans of a naval base. On his return the great interest he received to his sketches and photos from Prince Louis of Battenberg, the Director of Naval Intelligence, finally convinced him that there was a real need for British subjects travelling the frontiers of the world to bring back information of interest to the State. Thus were the seeds of the Legion of Frontiersmen sown.

In the First War Roger served as a temporary Captain of a company of the Labour Corps in France and then as a ground officer in the Royal Air Force in England. When in France he published Horses, considered by many to be a standard work on the animal. He also kept a detailed diary of life in the Labour Company at the Front. To read all about the adventurous life of this extraordinary man, read Outrider of Empire.

UK Book FlyerMuch writing over the years has centred on Baden-Powell. The Boy Scout movement was and is a great success. It actually took more ideas than it cared to admit from the Legion of Frontiersmen. What it did have was the nationally honoured “Hero of Mafeking” at its head. The Legion of Frontiersmen had great ideas and plans, but lacked a nationally admired hero at its head. Roger Pocock was a minor author from a minor branch of a landed family. His sister with the stage name of Lena Ashwell was far better known than her brother. She did have the advantage that she could introduce her brother to men of power and influence. She married Sir Henry Simson who became a Royal doctor. In those still class-conscious days, however hard Roger Pocock worked promoting the Legion, society was still suspicious of him, especially as the newspapers were fond of re-running the story of the disappearance of Sir Arthur Curtis in Canada with strong hints regarding Roger’s part in the story. Once Roger was persuaded to take a back seat and control of the Legion fell to Lt.Col. Dan Driscoll, the Legion gained considerable strength. Driscoll was known to the public and his adventures and bravery in the war in South Africa had made him a public hero, although far less of a one than Baden-Powell.

Roger was a likeable man, possibly more so for his all too human failings. He trusted too easily and was inclined to take an English gentleman at his word. He had little respect for any authority unless it could prove itself, and yet he expected Authority in the shape of the War Office and other Government departments to back his Legion of Frontiersmen, the majority of whose members in foreign parts shared his distrust of officialdom as it then existed. In his obituary in The Times we read that “Roger Pocock was so modest that few except his closest friends could guess that life to him was, and always had been, a splendid adventure.”

Outrider of Empire: the life and adventures of Roger Pocock
is available from the publishers, University of Alberta Press
www.uap.ualberta.ca price C$34.95
or in the United Kingdom from the distributors:
price (when last checked) £24.99
(also distributors of The Frontiersman’s Pocket Book)


“An important biography – brilliantly researched and written – Geoff Pocock brings to life an era unrepeated, of real men and real adventures. Roger Pocock deserved better credit; even his hero Kipling failed to doff a hat to the true exploits, travels and experiences shared within. Pocock belongs in the league of men such as: Johnson, Earp, Cody, Hickok, Horn, Cassidy, Custer, Crook, Roosevelt, Pershing. He rode from Canada-Mexico along parts of the Outlaw Trail and changed route to make it harder! I hadn’t heard of him prior to my ’99 equine epic. Adventure lovers will enjoy this scholarly, highly readable biog.”
Simon Casson, author: Riding The Outlaw Trail in the Footsteps of Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid

“Roger Pocock saw himself as a brave adventurer. Others, however, considered him a drifter and a bungler, unreliable, disreputable, socially inferior and morally dubious, a marginal freelance journalist and fiction-writer…. Outrider of Empire describes Roger Pocock’s family background, boyhood in England, youth in Canada–including service in the North-West Mounted Police–journalism in England and elsewhere, disastrous 1898 British Columbia expedition, Boer War service, foundation of the Legion [of Frontiersmen] and expulsion from it, First World War service, postwar misadventures, and finally honoured old age as the reconciled founder of the Legion…. It is the definitive biography and will probably long remain so. Definitely recommended.”
Roger T. Stearn, Soldiers of the Queen, December 2010

The First World War

The headline in the London Daily Sketch of November 14th, 1914 read:
“These men paid to get in the firing line”.

The Frontiersmen in Belgium 1914

The claim that the Manchester Frontiersmen were the first British troops in action at the beginning of the War in August 1914 is a Frontiersmen myth and is inaccurate,. The evidence collected from contemporary sources is such that there is no possibility that they were the first British in action who were not part of the Regular troops of the British army. The claim that Frontiersmen were the first into action relied heavily on the memoirs of Trooper Rennie Roberts held in official Frontiersmen archives but these memoirs were dictated at the end of his life. They contain a number of inaccuracies. For example he stated that, with other Frontiersmen, he was riding at the Wild West Show at White City. This is quite likely as many Frontiersmen were highly skilled riders. However he also claimed that “we got word from the London Headquarters of the Legion of Frontiersmen if we would find some riders for Buffalo Bill’s Show at Earls Court” and also later “Bill Cody asked us to stay over the weekend”. In fact it was the 101 Ranch Show at White City and Buffalo Bill had not been in England for ten years. Roberts also said that “on 24th August His Majesty King Albert of the Belgians came to Earls Court to ask for volunteers”. No evidence can be found that King Albert was in London at that time. The history of the 101 Ranch The Real Wild West states that: “Frequently the audiences included not only prominent Londoners…and an assortment of high-society types but also British nobles and several European monarchs.” An official visit would have been mentioned in The Times but there is no mention of the King being in England. Of course it could have been an unofficial visit but that would have been rather strange with his country under threat. Also the King would surely have had to gain British Government approval to recruit British men. The Belgian Royal archivist has recently advised that they have no record of King Albert visiting England that summer and he considered such a visit very improbable. . With regard to Earls Court, appearing there were flamenco dancers recreating “Sunny Spain” – not Frontiersmen riders. In the light of Rennie’s other inaccuracies his story has to be treated as most probably the faulty memories of an old man. There is a possibility that the visitor to the show was a Belgian nobleman, Baron Jolly, who is mentioned in Frontiersmen magazines right up to the 1930s, but the elusive Baron has been so far untraceable..

To go on to the man always taken as the leader of the Manchester Frontiersmen from the start, Captain Nowell; writing in the October 1929 issue of a Frontiersman magazine, one of his troopers said: “A number of the South East Lancs Squadron, commanded by Capt. Nowell, went to London to be inspected, along with the rest of the Legion in Vincent Square by General Bethune, the one-handed warrior, for his report to Lord Kitchener. The then present Lord Mayor of Manchester, Sir Donald McCabe, D.L., accompanied the party. Whilst waiting for Lord Kitchener’s report, some of them got impatient. [Dick] Reading and a Dr McDougall went off on their own to France, and then finally got to Brussels and joined the Corps de Mitrailleuses. The rest of us who could get away, numbering 22, paid our passages to Ostend, and joined the 3rd Belgian Lancers, but kept our identity, calling ourselves the British Colonial Horse.” The group photograph shown here taken by Maull & Fox of Piccadilly before they left shows those 22. The B.C.H. badges are visible on some of the shoulders and some of the Stetsons. No explanation as to why they called themselves the British Colonial Horse and wore BCH on their shoulders has been seen. Judging by letters in Frontiersmen magazines, a likely explanation is that they were concerned about the Foreign Enlistment Act. In previous years, British Frontiersmen who had considered going to far away countries in search of adventure in any revolution had been regularly warned of this. Henry Ernest Nowell, known as Harry and shown in the white-top cap in the centre of the photograph, was born in Lancashire in 1881, the son of a gardener. He served in the Boer War as a Trooper in the Imperial Yeomanry. By 1911 he was working in Accrington Lancashire as an insurance inspector, a comfortable position. He was married with a five-year-old daughter. His wife was some six years older than him, and unusually for the time, she also had a career as a confectioner on her own behalf, probably with her younger sister who was a baker.

The Times confirms that the date of this inspection was Sunday September 6th, a month into the War. The Legion has photos in the official archives of that inspection. The paper also confirms that the Mayor of Manchester was present. On September 26th, the “Accrington Observer and Times” reported that “Mr. Harry Nowell, of Willow Mount, Accrington, who has for some time been prominently identified with Col. Driscoll’s Legion of Frontiersmen, holding the rank of Captain, sails on Monday from Tilbury Docks, London, for Antwerp, to serve with the Belgian Army.” The final piece of evidence to prove that The Manchester Frontiersmen were not in Belgium in August comes from “The Manchester Courier” of September 28th 1914. This showed a photograph of the Manchester contingent of the Legion of Frontiersmen led by Capt. Nowell entering Central Station Manchester on Sunday 27th September “on their way to join the Belgian Army”.

Guthrie CuttingThe booklet of the 3rd Belgian Lancers states: The cavalrymen of the 3rd Squadron were astonished at the arrival in their quarters at ‘Groene Poort’ farm close to Pervyse of some large cheerful horsemen, gaitered, spurred, speaking English and led by a captain. They wore felt hats like the Canadian Mounted Police and cartridge belts with five pockets across their chests. The letters B.C.H. appeared on their epaulettes. They had come from Ostend where they had disembarked 10 days earlier, 6th October”. Any uncertainty as to exactly when and where they arrived is understandable due to the German forces sweeping in to Belgium, but it has to have been one day in early October. It can only have been Dick Reading and Dr McDougall who arrived in Belgium in September – but certainly not August. An undated cutting from the Manchester Evening Chronicle supplied by courtesy of Ed Guthrie, great-nephew of Norman Guthrie one of the Manchester Troop confirms that the main body did not leave until sometime in September at the earliest. According to the records of 3rd Belgian Lancers noted above they did not arrive at Ostend until 6th October, so we must say we have enough evidence to date their sailing within a few days. There only remains the claim of Rennie Roberts that a small group of Frontiersmen were in action during August before the advance party of the British Expeditionary Force crossed the channel on Saturday 8th August. However, his name is listed with the others of the known October group on the official Belgian Roll of names. The more that is uncovered, the greater the likelihood becomes that Roberts’ memory was faulty in more matters than have been shown here.

Next: to the matter of horses. Roberts said they took the train to Folkestone and the Channel Steamer for Ostende. When they got to Belgium “King Albert told us that we could go and get our horses at his stables in Du Pann, a lot of them had been his Lancer horses rescued from former battles…” It looks as if very few or (dare we say it) any of the Frontiersmen took their own horses. At that time only a gentleman of means would own his own horse, which would usually necessitate a groom and stables. Most Frontiersmen would rent one for their duties from a livery stable. At times they would buy one for a few months, often in the summer when the animal could have easier access to grass, and then sell it later. As to the Manchester Frontiersmen starting their ride from Manchester right across country, shipping them (expensively) on a Channel Steamer when most horses did not enjoy a sea journey, and then expecting them to behave as trained cavalry style battle horses sounds somewhat far-fetched. Most of the Manchester Troop who served in Belgium passed through London or started their journey from London, not Manchester. We know that their leader, Legion Captain Nowell, held a clerical job and was not a member of the classes likely to be able to afford to keep their own horses and it is doubtful whether any of his men were any better off.

For the first sixteen years after this event, there were apparently no comments, particularly in U.K. Frontiersmen magazines, about the Frontiersmen being the first British into action in August 1914. The first mention so far found is in a short cutting from an unknown 1930 newspaper. One would have thought that such an important claim would have featured before then. The paper gave no source for its brief claim and it could easily have been a passing comment by a Frontiersman relying on memory and this was misunderstood. Writing in 1931, in his Chorus to Adventurers, Roger Pocock only refers to them being in action from 17th October 1914. It has to be a certainty that, had the Manchester Frontiersmen been the first British into action, Pocock could not have resisted boasting about it.

The story of the Frontiersmen being the first British in action in the First War is another of the fascinating myths about the Legion of Frontiersmen that has proved after a great deal of detailed research to have absolutely no basis in truth.

There are many stories about the exploits of these men. The Founder of the Legion wrote about one, Pat Cowan, who preferred German rifles, so he had to capture prisoners to keep himself supplied with the proper ammunition. In one pursuit on foot, he lost his rifle, but chased his victim into an estaminet, disarmed him, bought the man a drink, and then marched him into captivity. Some of the stories about these Frontiersmen seem far-fetched, but many have been proved to be true!

Roberts reports of the scouting activities of their men. His story is the somewhat confusing one of an old man, but he does refer to the battle at the Yser Canal and the 3rd Lancers holding the Yser Bridge. He refers to a fight with six German Uhlans. “We got mixed up and I made for one and one of them made for me with his sabre behind me, but our chaps caught the one in front and took him off me, but the one behind caught my sabre and came down to the hand breaking my sabre off and cutting through the guard.

I rode for two days with it on my hand until the Doctor found a blacksmith who cut off the guard. My hand was only cut a little and the Doctor bandaged it up and put a few stitches in it and it soon healed up.” What can one say about men like that!

Manchester Troop LondonSept 1914Just before Christmas, 1914. King Albert made contact with the Frontiersmen serving with the 3rd Belgian Lancers. Charles Thompson, Regimental Q.M. recalled that King Albert, after tasting their rations and pronouncing them good, spoke to the men in perfect English. He told them that he was much touched that a troop of gallant English sportsmen should have rushed overseas to join his army and had made a point of coming to talk to them.

Dr. McDougall found himself working as a dispatch rider,. but was called on to do emergency treatment on a General who promptly got him transferred to the Army Medical Corps – he was no longer too old!

At the end of January, 1915, an order came through (probably originating from the British War Office) to disband the detachment. They were transferred back into the British Army but they were awarded the honour of being permitted to wear the ribbon of the Belgian colours on their uniform. What happened to Harry Nowell is still being investigated. We know that after leaving the Belgian army he was commissioned as Sub-Lieutenant in the R.N.V.R. As he had no known links with the Navy, the suggestion has to be that he was approached by the Royal Naval Division who were fighting in Belgium at around the same time. He was awarded the Order of the Crown by the King of the Belgians and in 1916 it was gazetted that he was officially permitted to wear the insignia of a Chevalier of the Order of the Crown on his naval uniform. After the War comments appeared in Frontiersmen magazines wondering what had happened to him. He seems to have lived quietly in the Manchester area until his death in 1955.

The Mystery Baron and the Frontiersmen in Belgium 1914


Driscoll and the 25th Bn. Royal Fusiliers (Frontiersmen)

When War was declared, Driscoll, who had the Legion running as a well-oiled unit, came up with a revolutionary idea – too revolutionary for the War Office. We wrote to the W.O. stating the Legion membership as 10.500 throughout the world. He offered to land with 1,000 of his men on the French coast to work behind German lines “to clear the country of all detached bodies of the enemy.” This was not such a crazy idea as it seems at first sight. The German lines of supply in the first months of war were very stretched and they were in a hostile country. There was no way that the W.O. of those days would agree to Driscoll pursuing the Frontiersmen brand of independent guerilla warfare. They did go as far as to ask Driscoll to parade his men, which he did on 8th September, 1914 in front of Gen. Bethune, whose report was favourable, saying that Driscoll had a good hold on his men, typical “toughs” who would do excellent work as irregulars. Sadly, the W.O. declined this unusual body of men, but changed its mind in January 1915, by which time many Frontiersmen had been snapped up by other units. Driscoll had until April to make arrangements when he took the 25th Fusiliers (Frontiersmen) to East Africa. Because of the quality of the men, the Battalion was most exceptionally formed and sent into action without previous training in Britain.

New Zealand

History of the Frontiersmen in New Zealand tells us that “…membership increased rapidly, and in a short period of time as fine a body of picked men as could be found anywhere in the world had been attracted to the Legion, which was in a well organized state on the outbreak of war in 1914. On August 3rd, 1914, prior to the rupture between Britain and Germany, an offer was made to the New Zealand Government to have two squadrons of Legionaires with reserves, fully equipped, available at 24 hours notice. A further offer of some hundreds of Legionaires with reserves, fully equipped, horsed and saddled, was forwarded to the Government, which was to supply arms ammunition and a ship to transport the troops, the Legion to provide the ship’s crew, from captain to greasers. While the offer was appreciated by the authorities, it did not coincide with Defence Department procedure, and a request was made that all Legionaires wishing to enlist should do individually. The fact that as many as 40 members entered camp as a group gives an indication of the response of the Legion.”

Throughout the Empire

Throughout the British Empire this story was repeated, with Frontiersmen volunteering and wishing to serve as a unit, with comrades who they trusted with their lives. Nowhere would the authorities accept them as they wished, until Driscoll’s persistence in Britain brought eventual results. In Colonies such as British East Africa, units of the Legion had existed since 1907 and Frontiersmen formed an important part of many volunteer units.


Throughout Canada, members of the Legion enlisted keenly. Many men joined the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and later in the war the 210th (Frontiersmen) Battalion, C.E.F. was formed.


25th (Frontiersmen) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers

The 25th (Frontiersmen) Service Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) was a British Army unit that served during World War I. It was raised by the Legion of Frontiersmen.

The battalion served in the African Theatre of the war from 1915–1918, centered mostly in the area around Lake Tanganyika, British East African and German East African territory. The battalion was largely composed of older men who hailed from diverse backgrounds and varied occupations, some of whom were Boer War veterans. Amongst these occupations were English big-game hunters, a British millionaire, several American cowboys, a Scottish light-house keeper, a naturalist, a circus clown, an Arctic explorer, an opera singer, a famous photographer, and a lion tamer. There were also French Foreign Legionaries and Russians (reportedly prison escapees from Siberia).

The unit was formed on February 12, 1915 by Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel Patrick Driscoll, who was, at that time, fifty-five years of age, well above that of an average soldier. Another noted serving officer (and eventually the Second in Command of the battalion) was Frederick Courteney Selous, a veteran of various small African wars and skirmishes, a famous big-game hunter and friend of Theodore Roosevelt. Selous had previously hunted with Roosevelt during his famed 1909 African safari. Selous is also known for having served as the inspiration for Sir H. Rider Haggard to create his fictional Allan Quartermain character, a 19th Century African explorer and hunter of big-game beasts. Captain Selous was later killed in action with the unit, shot through the mouth by a German sniper in January 1917. The unit gained the nickname “Old and the Bold”, due to their collective ages, their veteran status, and reputation for endurance and daring against the enemy, Even though the majority of volunteers were young men. The battalion was disbanded on June 29, 1918.

The exploits of “The Old and the Bold” were later the basis of the The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles episode “The Phantom Train of Doom” (German East Africa, November 1916), although greatly fictionalized. Veteran Raiders of the Lost Ark actor Paul Freeman portrayed Selous as an adventurous, cunning, yet decisive commander.

More about this unit see http://www.frontiersmenhistorian.info/fusiliers.htm

The Legion of Frontiersmen of the Commonwealth
History & Archives

Phase I: The Plan 1904-1914,

Voluntary irregular force patterned after the British Army to serve as


  • Mounted Rifles,
  • Military Scouts,
  • Local Army Guides,
  • Pioneers (military labourers), and
  • Intelligence gathers


Regimental numbering system indicates 13,000 members throughout British Empire.

Phase II: The Great War 1914-1918,

World War I (Great War) era witnesses Frontiersmen throughout the Empire answer the ‘Call to Arms’. Legionnaires enlist in a variety of units. LF involvement has been noted in units:

  • Remounts in Britain until British Army is organized for Remounts activity
  • Remounts work in Ottawa 1914, then likely assignment as drivers (teamsters) in artillery
  • 25th Royal Frontiersmen Fusiliers (unique regiment for East Africa campaign)
  • Royal Newfoundland Regiment
  • Home Defence Artillery (Newfoundland)
  • Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (indications, about 50% of originals being LF)
  • 49th Battalion’s ‘D’ Company (today perpetuated by Loyal Edmonton Regiment)
  • 19th Alberta Dragoons (today perpetuated by South Alberta Light Horse)
  • 50th Gordon Highlanders of Victoria (today perpetuated by Canadian Scottish Regiment)
  • 210th Frontiersmen Battalion CEF (today perpetuated by Saskatchewan Dragoons)
  • Home Guards include Edmonton Battalion Reserve Militia, United Farmers of Alberta Mounted Infantry Corps, Victoria Mounted Rifles, Winnipeg and likely home guards units in other centres.

Phase III: The Post Great War Decline 1919-1929,

Legion of Frontiersmen throughout the Empire fade substantially as a reported 6,000 to 9,000 Frontiersmen were killed in the Great War. The era of Irregular mounted rifles and scouts fade into history. In Canada few active LF units exist. The only documents retrieved to date indicate that units exist on the west Coast and past email communications indicate the possibility of a Toronto unit. “The 9,000” eventually becomes a toast in LF gatherings and Mess dinners.

Phase IV: The 1929-1939 Revitalization,

Larry B. Blaine of Croydon, UK moved to Edmonton and by late 1929 begins to recruit for the Legion of Frontiersmen. His most notable recruit is Lt. Colonel Louis Scott DCM a former WW1 ‘Patricia’ and former CO of the Edmonton Regiment. Louis Scott takes charge and under his leadership the LF:

  • Creates highly effective Canadian HQ in Edmonton
  • Establishes LF units across Canada.
  • Recruits many Great War veterans
  • Establishes a Field HQ and erects a stone cenotaph east of Edmonton
  • Establishes affiliation with Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • Begin police auxiliary duties in some municipal centers

By 1939 the total Legion strength in Canada is estimated at 3,000-3500 members.

Phase V: The World War II Era,

By the outbreak of WW2 in 1939 organizational squabbling saw the LF in Canada divided into two camps. The “Legion of Frontiersmen” numbering an estimated 3000 members and was led by Louis Scott; while other Frontiersmen formed the “Corps of Imperial Frontiersmen”, a largely eastern based unit. Regardless of the administrative split all Frontiersmen threw themselves into the war effort. The younger and the fit members joined a variety of wartime units. Those debarred by age or fitness concentrated ARP and other home front war efforts. – Once again wartime efforts depleted the LF ranks and organizational structures.

Phase VI: The Post WW2 Era 1947 – 1980,

In 1947 Louis Scott DCM rallied former Frontiersmen, patriotic citizens, and a new generation of young veterans into the Legion of Frontiersmen. Concurrently a smaller Corps of Imperial Frontiersmen reorganize during the same period. During this era the LF appeals to some WW2 veterans. Frontiersmen re focus and engage in

  • Municipal auxiliary policing
  • Civil Defence training
  • Community service projects
  • Ceremonial activities
  • Social association for WW2 era veterans

The British Empire was in decline and the same enthusiasm that spawned the LF of 1904 is no longer a Canadian reality. This plus the nuclear age, the Cold War, the anti-Vietnam War sentiments and preponderance of older veterans do not stimulate the interest of new and younger members. The overall LF does not grow much beyond the 600 to 700 members attained by the early 1960s.

Phase VII: Fading Away in the Late 20th Century,

While numbers declined significantly by the 1980s some units were still active in the regions of Vancouver, Edmonton, and Regina in particular. Edmonton area was still dynamic, developing its Field HQ for camping and sailing activities for youth and cadet groups. Funds were raised for charitable activities. Smaller groups carried on elsewhere including Quebec, but overall the Legion had almost faded away by the 1990s. Efforts to rally an aging LF were unsuccessful on a national level. – Most unfortunately, self-styled associations evolved usurping uniform, history and traditions of the authentic LF formed in 1904-05.

Phase VIII: Reorganization in the 21st Century,

Worldwide, a small number of members commit to maintaining the Remembrance, the traditions, loyalties, and fellowship of the Legion of Frontiersmen. The Countess Mountbatten of Burma generously extended her Patronage and her title to the original and authentic association; a reminder of her grandfather’s interests in the Legion of Frontiersmen during its formative era.

Today small units and individual members pursue a variety of activities ranging from international parachuting to equitation to community service within the context of the LF. In Canada the ‘Frontiersmen’ strive to adapt the traditional association to meaningful activity in a time vastly different from the imperial era.

As an example, the prairie region’s Mounted Troop maintains the traditional uniform and the semi-military platform as an organizational structure while committed to the following:

  • Preservation of western Canada’s mounted forces’ traditions
  • Ceremonial and recreational equitation
  • Regimental-like association for the remembrance of the many thousands of ‘Frontiersmen’ and other Commonwealth soldiers, for thoughtful patriotism, peaceful community service and for social activities.

With the efforts and assistance of University of Alberta representatives, a determined focus has been made to gather and to accurately preserve the unique story of the Legion of Frontiersmen and its eccentric Founder Roger Pocock. (see Outrider of Empire published by University of Alberta Press).

Reorganization of an association designed for mounted rifles to a refocused Legion of Frontiersmen in the 21st century is a challenge taken up by (Countess Mountbatten’s Own) Legion of Frontiersmen.


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