Posted By pferguson on October 8, 2015
…I am not able to carry on!”
Temporary Major Harry John Hall, MC, 16th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Canadian Scottish)
8 October 1916
One of the great 16th Battalion characters of the Great War was the Scottish born soldier Harry John Hall. A soldier through and through, Hall had previously served during the Second Boer War 1899-1902. It was in South Africa that Hall first became personally familiar with the hail of gun fire from the Boer Kommandos and during the campaign he was wounded on at least four occasions. Hall’s Great War attestation papers record the following scars and marks at the time of his enlistment in December 18,1914…”Bullet wound in left thigh / Bullet wound left forearm / Bullet wound left shoulder / Shell wound right wrist.”
Hall was born in 1878 in Loch Alsh, Rosshire, Scotland and at the time of his enlistment gave his trade or calling as “Soldier”. Hall’s soldiering had taken him through a few familiar regiments of the British Army including 2 years service with the 3rd King’s Own Scottish Borderers, 4½ years with the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders with whom he served in South Africa and 2 years with the 20th Hussars.
Hall joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Winnipeg, Manitoba choosing the 43rd Canadian Infantry Battalion (Cameron Highlanders of Canada). In October 1915 he was in France serving on the Western Front with the 16th Battalion where his eccentricities endeared him to many of his regiment. Hall’s accomplishments on the Somme are well documented in the 16th’s fine history written by H.M. Urquhart DSO* MC.
Like Urquhart, Captain (Temporary Major) Hall was a recipient of the Military Cross, an award made for gallantry as a junior officer: “For conspicuous gallantry in action. He held his part of the line under intense fire for three days, displaying great courage and initiative throughout. He has previously done fine work.”
On October 8, 1916 Hall, in command of No. 3 Company, was badly wounded in the attack on Regina Trench. The unit history records:
He [Hall] was wounded previously [May 1, 1916] when in the Salient, and returned to the battalion with his wound still open. He underwent such strain and fatigue at Mouquet Farm that, on his arrival at the battalion headquarters, he collapsed. These “interference” with duty “as he called them”, gave him much concern.
On being carried out from the Regina Trench battlefield in a dying condition, his last message to his Battalion Commander was, “My compliments to the Commanding Officer [J.E. Leckie DSO], and tell him I am awfully sorry that I am not able to carry on.” (Urquhart, page 185)
Harry John Hall MC succumbed to his wounds at No. 9 Casualty Clearing Station, Warloy, France and is buried at Contay British Cemetery. He was 39 years of age. It is recorded that upon being removed from the battlefield with two wounds he was wounded a third time while on the stretcher.