General Alexander Ross
Biography - Part 3
General Alexander Ross: The Great War
In mid-October, 1914, the company left for Winnipeg where it was to spend the winter. The conditions to which the men were subjected were appalling. On an order from Ottawa, company commanders would only hold the rank of captain so he was demoted from major to captain. But with a change in command of the more senior officers, he once more became a major, second in command. Colonel Embury, a good officer, molded the rank and file of diverse units into a cohesive whole. Finally the 28th Battalion arrived in England in early June, 1915.
Soon after the arrival in England Alexander was selected to organize and command a divisional school of trench warfare. He had limited experience in this line, but he had a staff of specialists in various aspects of trench warfare.
Not much later, he asked to return to regimental duties as second in command of the 28th.
He and his company were shelled and had many a hair raising experiences. At the Battle of the Somme, the wounded Col. Embury was evacuated and Alexander became commanding officer.
The experience was harrowing .When the company marched away from the Somme, it was a sadly depleted unit and the Battalion had to be rebuilt, a job that fell on his shoulders.
Spending the winter in Vimy, he played an important role in the reconstruction of the unit. Innovations were introduced which made it an efficient unit again. On April 9, 1917, battle was joined at Vimy and the Canadians achieved their objective.
For his efforts he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, an award he always felt was a unit decoration.
During the German offensive in May, 1918, the battalion took over a new section of the line and after a series of hard raids, the German army failed. For his efforts of planning and directing operations, Alexander was awarded a bar to his Distinguished Service Order.
Then came to last step in his military career. The battalion was engaged in fighting from August 8 and at Cambrie in October, 1918, their Brigadier Commander was injured. After spending the whole day under fire a message came ordering Alexander to assume command of the unit and ordering the unit to relieve the whole First Division at the front that night.
He returned to Regina as a Brigadier-General and reviewed the unit for the last time on June 19, 1919.
On June 21 he put away his uniform and went back to his law office, prepared to start anew in his chosen profession. But when he returned to civilian life, he found that during his absence things had changed. Nearly all his old clients were gone and he felt the prospects of the firm providing his partner and himself with a decent living was not good.
The military seemed to be his only hope, so he assumed command of Military District 12 in Regina where he proceeded to reorganize the whole militia force in Saskatchewan. He had many plans but due to lack of funding these plans could not come to fruition. After one year he resigned and returned to law.
He was offered the post as District Court Judge for the Yorkton District and he accepted the appointment in September, 1921. In civilian life he resumed his association with the church and became rector of the Anglican church in Yorkton, a post he held until his voluntary retirement in 1965. When he was confirmed into the Anglican faith the church was in crisis.
Many of the younger men had been killed in the war and the church was in debt. Money was hard to get and there was a constant struggle to make ends meet. However when he retired it was with satisfaction of knowing the congregation had a new church building, a parish hall, a new rectory and money in reserve.
He was invited to become the Chancellor of the Diocese and as such re-wrote the whole of Cannon Law for the church. His work with the church was recognized in the Diocese by conferring on him the degree of Doctor of Common Law by St. Chad's College, affiliated with the University of Saskatchewan.