First in the Field (Hardback)
It may be a cliché, but it is certainly no exaggeration to say that Hamilton Gault was a legend in his own lifetime, yet, surprisingly, this is the first biography of the man who, above any other, epitomizes the unbreakable bonds which link Britain to Canada.
Born into a wealthy Montreal family in 1882, Gault was fortunate in having the means to pursue his own desires, of which a taste for adventure figured prominently and was to take him, as a subaltern in the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles, to fight in the Boer War, and throughout the rest of his life on any number of more or less hazardous expeditions.
But the act for which his name will be forever carved in stone was the raising at his own expense on the outbreak of the First World War of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. Gault fought with his own regiment throughout the war and was wounded three times. When the war was over, The Patricias became, as they remain today, a proud and distinguished part of Canada's permanent army. Gault, ever the advocate of Anglo-Canadian unity, bought a substantial house in Somerset and was for eleven years (1924-35) MP for Taunton. Jeffery Williams, who knew Gault and also served in PPCLI, is uniquely qualified to tell his story. But his obvious admiration for 'Hammie', as he was always known, in no way clouds his vision; Gault's private life was scarred by tragedy but was also somewhat untidy, for which, as the author shows, Gault was not altogether without his share of the blame. Jeffery Williams' tribute to this very remarkable man is balanced, absorbing and long overdue.