Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Terry Copp

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This thesis project began with the general idea of examining leadership at the battalion level in the Canadian Army during the First World War. After having been brought to my attention some time later, the Essex Scottish Regiment during the Second World War piqued my interest. This unit received the highest number of casualties of any Canadian unit throughout the Second World War, yet I had not heard or read anything significant about it. I had read gallant histories of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry and the Black Watch, of the Regina Rifles and the Calgary Highlanders; none of these units, however, had experienced either the level of casualties or the level of historiographical poverty that the Essex had. Indeed, the Essex Scots had a head start on most other Canadian units by the beginning of the Normandy Campaign, in terms of casualties, since they had landed on the main beaches of Dieppe with their sister battalions the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (RHLI or Rileys) and the Royal Regiment of Canada (RRC or Royals), who landed at Puys. I found myself asking what it was about the Essex Scots that made them lose so many men. Why was it that this particular regiment, that had so often been committed to battle alongside its more "successful" sister battalions, suffered more than another? What factors can account for the varied battlefield performance of the three regiments that constituted the 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade? Was it leadership, circumstance, luck, or something else? Consequently, the original idea of examining leadership at the battalion level became subsumed in this myriad of possibilities.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season