Rare Photos of No 7 Company 14th CEF (RMR) donated to RMR Museum

Rare photo of French-Canadian troops serving with the RMR in the First World War.

Westmount, Quebec – 22 November 2023:  Thanks to the thoughtfulness of retired Black Watch Sergeant Hugh Lawson, another piece of the RMR’s historical puzzle is being fitted into place with the recent donation of two rare World War I photos of the RMR’s French-Canadian soldiers serving in Number 7 Company, 14th Battalion (CEF).

Hugh told the editor that the photos were discovered in an unexpected place—the water-damaged attic of the Sainte-Anne’s Legion Branch 091. These long-forgotten glimpses into the past emerged, weathered but intact, awaiting restoration and a chance to tell their stories once more. As a former soldier who served overseas himself (Bosnia, 1993), Hugh understands the historical significance of these images and once he determined which unit they represented, he repaired them to the best of his abilities and contacted RSM James Quesnel to arrange to donate the photos to the RMR Museum.

Sergeant (ret’d) Hugh Lawson displaying the two photos that he rescued and restored.

Preserved amid the ravages of time, these photographs were taken in December 1914 in Salisbury Plain, UK, and they depict poignant moments of camaraderie and everyday life during the Great War. Their significance extended beyond mere images; they were windows into the lived experiences of those who served. What makes these photos so significant is that they list the names – and regimental service numbers – of the individuals on the back of the photograph. The RMR Museum’s Curator, Ron Zemancik, wrote: “Of all the photos in our collection only about 10% were identified.  High’s donation is a great example of a perfect photo for the museum. Great picture and the reverse has all the names and regimental numbers on it. We have our researcher in Toronto already working on matching names, numbers and profiles of the soldiers. Be assured that the photos will be taken care of and will be preserved for future generations.”

Hugh Lawson is the grandson of a WW1 veteran, his grandfather served in the 52nd Battalion (New Ontario), CEF, which is perpetuated by The Lake Superior Scottish Regiment, fighting at Vimy and eventually rising to become the Regimental Sergeant-Major of the battalion at the end of the war. These types of photos have a special significance to Hugh, and he did his best to restore the photos to their former glory before donating them, and these precious photographs found a new home at the RMR’s regimental museum, where they will be cherished, studied, and shared with future generations. Their donation to the museum helps round out the collection, honouring the often overlooked sacrifices and contributions of French-Canadian soldiers in the annals of history.

The rediscovery and restoration of these rare WWI photos serve as a poignant reminder of the resilience of history and the importance of preserving the legacy of those who bravely served their country. Through these images, the valour and spirit of these soldiers continue to resonate, ensuring that their stories endure as a testament to courage in the face of adversity.

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LCol (Ret’d) Richard Garberreply
December 1, 2023 at 6:48 pm

Bravo Zulu, Sgt Lawson. Your initiative and esprit de corps for a fellow Montreal unit are much appreciated!

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