This page was last updated: 26th April 2021  

4th CMR Demographics

In having ensured that this website focussed on remembering the men as individuals, I was intrigued about the diversity of the Regiment as a whole. Over a span of time, which started well before this website was raised, I have been painstakingly researching the background of each of the 4,521 members of the Regiment to understand more about who they were. In so doing I came up with the following demographic insight into the Regiment's make-up.

Not all of the records were available, nor were all the details completed on many of the forms. Some complete files either did not survive, were not complete or hadn't been digitized. Now that the project has been completed any missing data has been annotated as "unknown" throughout the following facts and figures.

Should there be any errors below then they come from the source material used. Great care has been taken over many years to minimise the possibility of transcription error on my part. If you should find an error then please do let me know.

Finally, if you use the information below, I would ask for your courtesy in crediting the website and dropping me a line to say you have done so.

Page Updates

This page will, from time to time, be updated as the demographic database is fine tuned for errors and for the addition of previously unavailable records. Due to caching issues with some PCs, please do refresh the page (press F5 on Windows PCs) to ensure you are seeing the latest data iteration.

The Regiment's pedigree

The Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) was initially formed through the raising of composite battalions. The 4th CMR began taking shape in November 1914, formed as it was from central Ontario's militia cavalry regiments, namely: the Governor General's Body Guard (GGBG); the 9th Mississauga Horse; the 2nd Dragoons and the 25th Brant Dragoons. The subsequent need for reinforcements resulted in the creation of reserve battalions in England, which supplied the units already in the field with their needed manpower requirements. Throughout the war the ranks of the 4th CMR were also augmented by individual transfers and attached postings.

Who were they?

In all 29 countries were represented by the 4,521 men who served with the Regiment. 2,461 (55.04%) were born in Canada, with the next highest proportion being ex-pat Englishmen, at 1,355 (30.31%). Scottish, 287 (6.42%), Irish, 163 (3.65%) and American, 110 (2.46%) followed. Surprisingly there was one German, who stated that he had originated from a Dutch town when in fact he came from a clearly German town, 37 miles / 60km NNW of Hamburg.

The nationalities break down as follows. Note that many boundary divisions were different then. Nationalities are listed as they were stated on the attestation papers at the time.

Nationalities represented in the 4th CMR
Nationality (number of men)
Canadian (2,461)Finnish (3)
English (1,355)Romania (3)
Scottish (287)South African (3)
Irish (163)Swedish (3)
American (110)Barbadian (2)
Welsh (38)Danish (2)
Russian (25)French (2)
Italian (10)Norwegian (2)
British Channel Islanders (8) *Antiguan (1)
Polish (7)East Indies (1)
Unknown (7)German (1)
Belgian (6)Greek (1)
Jamaican (6)Maltese (1)
Dutch (4)New Zealander (1)
Indian (4)Swiss (1)
Australia (3)Total: 4,521

Country of birth is detailed as declared on the attestation papers, regardless of any changes since that time.

* British Channel Islanders comprise a combined total of 8 men from Jersey (3) and Guernsey (5). None were noted from Sark or Alderney.

One of those counted in the 7 whose country of origin was unknown was 285068, Pte. Gerald Wynn, who was actually "born at sea" on a ship en route to Canada from Ireland. It isn't known if Ireland was his parents' place of origin or residence, but more than likely it is believed he would have been able to hold the nationality of his parents.

The first to sign up

Canada declared war on August 5th, 1914, and the original core of what was to become the 4th CMR was formed in mid-November 1914.

Of the 500 men (11.06%) who were found to have signed on to the CEF in 1914, 415 attested between November 10th and November 28th. It was these men who formed the first draft that became the 4th CMR, with the majority putting their names to paper in Toronto on November 27th, 1914. The remainder who were found to have signed on to the CEF in 1914, some 85 men, were with other regiments and came into the 4th CMR later.

In referring to the attestation by year graph above, clearly the biggest influx of men joining the CEF, and who subsequently made up the 4th CMR numbers between 1914 and 1918, was in 1915, with 2,160 (47.80%) signing up.

The first of those originals to attest and be assigned as the 4th CMR first draft was an 18 year old Englishman, 109537, Pte. Charles Parkes, who signed up in Toronto on November 10th, 1914.

Claiming to be 20 when he signed on (Charles was in fact only 18), and coming from Keighley, Yorkshire, England, he was unmarried and a porter by trade. He had already gained military experience with the 9th Mississauga Horse by the time he joined up. Although wounded by gas and consequently struck off strength in September 1917, Charles survived the war.

The earliest noted to have signed up to the Canadian Expeditionary Force, to have served and to eventually find himself serving with the 4th CMR, was the 38 year old 268 / 159670, Pte. James Wiltshire, originally from Birmingham, England. He signed on in Ottawa on August 28th, 1914, being assigned service number 268 and was attached to the P.P.C.L.I. (Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry) .

Wounded near Ypres, Belgium, in April 1915, James was discharged back to Canada due to his nerves. However, and despite that experience, James signed back on, in Toronto, with the 81st Battalion in January 1916. Now assigned service number 159670, James was subsequently transferred to the 4th CMR on June 7th, 1916. He was wounded again on September 30th, 1916, in the actions before the attack on Regina Trench the following day, and sadly died of his wounds on November 13th, 1916. He now lies at rest in Birmingham (Lodge Hill) Cemetery, in England.

Unit of Origin

In addition to the 640 men who formed the original draft for the 4th CMR, divisional & battalion consolidations and direct drafts from reserve battalions were transferred in to make up numbers after losses. All in all the 4th CMR was made up from 4,521 men coming from 154 distinct sources. This table presents the top 40 units who made up the 4th CMR's numbers from 1914 to late 1918.

Top 40 units that made up the 4th CMR
Unit and number of men provided
4th CMR (640)220th BN (46)
81st BN (394)77th BN (45)
8th CMR (364)227th BN (44)
147th BN (355)95th BN (39)
146th BN (277)235th BN (32)
1st BN. 1st C.O.R. (249)C.F.C. (32)
83rd BN (241)135th BN (26)
33rd BN (208)7th CMR (23)
6th CMR (177)Depot Regt. CMR (22)
159th BN (111)198th BN (18)
1st BN. 2nd C.O.R. (106)36th BN (18)
110th BN (106)216th BN (16)
154th BN (103)166th BN (15)
155th BN (95)177th BN (15)
248th BN (80)37th BN (13)
99th BN (77)169th BN (13)
2nd BN. 1st C.O.R. (63)C.A.M.C. (12)
74th BN. (53)134th BN (11)
35th BN (48)180th BN (11)
C.A.S.C (47)34th BN (11)

Young and old

Stories abound of boys, barely teenagers, who had lied about their age to join up, and the 4th CMR had its fair share of these too.

13 boys under 16 years of age were found to have signed on, the youngest of whom was one 649305, Pte. Frank Matthew Russell. This young man signed up at the age of 15 years and 6 days.

Frank was born in Oshawa, Ontario, on April 22nd, 1901, and was a resident of Timigami (otherwise known as Timgami or Temagami), Ontario. Claiming to be a waiter with previous militia experience with the 97th Regiment, he presented himself for attestation in Haileybury, Ontario, on April 28th, 1916, just six days after his 15th birthday. He gave his date of birth as April 22nd, 1898, and served with the 159th Battalion, before being transferred, along with 110 fellows through the course of 1917, to the 4th CMR on June 16th, 1917. He seems to have served his duration without notable wounding, but clearly some incident prompted him to own up, as on March 12th, 1918, he declared his proper age. He was eventually struck off strength on June 17th, 1918.

Of note was another 15 year old, 144214 Pte. James Post, who had signed up aged just 15 years, 1 month and 27 days old. He variously rose to Corporal, and for a brief time Sergeant, before reverting to Private. However, during his time as Corporal, young James distinguished himself at the '2nd Battle for Passchendaele', on 26th October 1917 (when he would have been aged just 17 years, 4 months and 27 days), the courageous actions for which earned him a Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM). Click here to see the Citation for this award.

James' age became apparent just before his real 18th birthday, by which time, at his own request, he had reverted to the rank of Private. Remarkable that such a young man managed to keep his age under wraps for so long, and to have gone through promotions to sergeant and the horrors of Passchendaele, distinguishing himself in the process.

13 boys 16 years of age signed up, as did 128 young men who were just 17 year olds.

Although a number of underage boys were sent home whilst others were retained in depot duties well away from the front lines, one man's experience was at the other end of the scale, whereupon he was returned to Canada, following wounding, for being overage. Whilst he was in poor physical condition and had "lost a considerable amount of weight", his medically unfit discharge, after 2 years of service, also carried the recommendation that he be transferred to the Home Service Unit as a groom. He was 43 when he signed on, 45 when discharged.

However, he wasn't the oldest man to sign on. That "honour" fell to Toronto born, 135138, Pte. William Cornwall Flint, who was aged 53 years 4 months 19 days at attestation. He was originally attached to the 74th Battalion.

Signing on in Toronto in July 1915, William gave a birth date of February 24th, 1873, claiming to be 42 years of age, when in fact he had been born in 1862, making him 53. He was transferred to the 4th CMR, along with 51 of his 74th BN fellows, on June 9th, 1916.

William was lost on October 1st, 1916, in the costly attack on Regina Trench.

The average age of a 4th CMR man at attestation was 24 years and 124 days.

The most frequent age for attestation was 18 years of age, with 535 (that's some 11.83%) signing on at that age.

Click on the accompanying graph (above right) to see an overview of the age spread at attestation.

The short and the tall

The shortest men to have served with the 4th CMR were 5 feet 0 inches / 1.524m tall. A total of seven men presented at this height, including one of the 15 year olds. It is suspected that an elastic measure was used at some draft stations for the sake of getting sign-up numbers up, and that some were really not quite 5 feet / 1.524m at all.

The tallest man in the Regiment was 633338, Pte. Peter Lobbe, at 6 feet 4.5 inches / 1.943m. Close second was the magnificently named 109469, CSM Kenneth Keith Stewart Strathmore MacKenzie-Stewart, at 6 feet 4 inches / 1.930m.

The average height of a 4th CMR man was 5 feet 6.304 inches / 1.684m.

Marital status

Of the 4,521 assigned to the 4th CMR, at attestation 3,621 (80.09%) were single, 898 (19.86%) married, and due to lost or incomplete records the status of the remaining 2 (0.04%) is as yet unknown.

Col. Sam Hughes, Minister of Militia, stated that, "No married man will be authorised to proceed to Valcartier without the written consent of his wife."

That requirement stayed in place until August 13th, 1915. Nevertheless, whether before or after this date, just shy of 20% of the men of the 4th CMR were married when they first signed up into the CEF.

The youngest serving married man was 202063, Cpl. Roy Wilson, of Maple, Ontario: single and a stenographer by trade when he signed on in Toronto, with the 95th Battalion, on November 9th, 1915. When he was just 18 years and 3 months old he married Laura McGregor in York, Ontario, in March 1916. Transferred to the 4th CMR in November 1916, Hugh was wounded in early June 1917. He was eventually struck off strength a year later and sadly passed away in early 1924.

Keeping it in the family

The number of known sets of brothers in the 4th CMR was 76. In this figure were three sets of three brothers and two sets of twins attesting.

Also found were five sets of father and sons signing up together, with two sets of father and two sons. Undoubtedly there would also have been extended family sign-ons, with brothers-in-law, cousins and nephews, etc.

With reference to the father and son sign-ons, in both instances of fathers with two sons signing on, each father lost one of the sons.

What's in a name?

The most popular first name in the Regiment, from Abel to Xavier, was William, with 485 (10.87%) men signing on with this name.

The remainder of the top 10 names (in order by popularity) were:

John 377, George 246, James 186, Thomas 178, Charles 160, Robert 140, Joseph 107, Arthur 104, and finally Frederick 103.

Some less common first names, alphabetically, were:

Athol, Amasias, Beecher, Bliss, Canniff, Channell, Dac, Erland, Forbes, Garvie, Hermenegile, Isban, Justaline, Lareon, Mutius, Napolean, Over, Orphila, Pasker, Ruggles, Sherwood, Tancrede, Udney, Vane and Waymond.

The most common family name was, no surprise, Smith, with 65 carrying that name. The next most common, in descending order, were:

Brown 35, Wilson 27, Jones 23, Taylor 22, Thompson 20, Campbell 19 and Walker 19.

Previous military experience

The CEF saw a little under 620,000 men enlist for WW1, nearly 424,600 of whom served in Europe. Each and every one of them had to go through the process of attestation. The form for this, usually completed in triplicate, required answers to several questions, the details of which formed the database for this demographic project. Two of the questions that were asked concerned previous military background: either with an active militia unit or any form of previous military experience.

Previous Militia Experience:

Amongst the men who formed the 4th CMR, 1,214 (26.85%) were in or had experience gained in the militia. For the "local" men around Toronto and nearby districts this was primarily with the 9th Mississauga Horse, or the Governor General's Body Guard.

Some 3,303 (73.06%) had no previous militia experience. Data on the remaining 4 men has been lost, is incomplete or was unavailable.

Previous Military Experience:

Those claiming previous active military experience (Second Boer War, 1899-1902, or current full-time regiments, and so on) accounted for 1,400 (30.97%) of the total.

3,117 (68.94%) had no previous military experience. Again, data on the remaining 4 men has been lost, is incomplete or was unavailable.

All walks of life

By far the most represented trade listed for the men of the 4th CMR was to do with farming, be it farmer, farm hand, farm labourer, farmer's son, etc. Some 823 men, 18.2% of the Regiment, listed their trade in this arena.

The most frequent trades were:

Top 10 Trades represented in the 4th CMR
Trade (number of men)
Farming (823)Carpenter (111)
Labourer (600)Student (88)
Clerk (298)Fireman (62)
Machinist (139)Electrician (57)
Teamster (129)Painter (57)

High on the list thereafter came Driver 55, Engineer 55, Banking 55 (manager, clerk, tiller, accountant), Salesman 55, Printer 54, Plumber 47, Shoemaker 47, Sailor 47, Blacksmith 46, Bookkeeper 45, Chauffeur 45, then Brick worker 44 and Miner 33. The expected moulders, bakers, grocers, tailors, plasterers, stone masons, teachers, architects, tinsmiths, policemen, bushmen, lumbermen, gardeners and horsemen were also well represented.

It was not possible to differentiate between cattle or horse driver and automobile driver. As such driver and chauffeur are kept segregated for the purpose of not losing one within the other, though driver could mean either.

Some less common occupations were found, too: suitcase maker, private detective, embalmer, soap cutter, moving picture operator, missionary, jute mill overlooker, school boy, golf professional, cricket coach, body builder, shantyman (sailor), bedspring maker and egg tester.

Other defining features

Eye colour: 2,137 men of the Regiment, that is 47.27%, had blue eyes. Brown eyes accounted for 1,257, some 27.80% and 793, that is 17.54%, were grey eyed.

The remainder were: hazel at 252 (5.57%) black 13 (0.29%), "Dark" 11 (0.24%) and finally green at 5 (0.11%). 1 (0.02%) was also listed with one blue and one brown eye (Heterochromia). Incomplete or missing records accounted for the outstanding 52 (1.15%).

Hair colour: a majority of the men, 2,454 (54.28%), had brown hair. After that it became a challenge to interpret the many different colours described, which included "mousey" and "flaxen" to name but two.

By and large the following breakdown is representative of the remainder: blond at 784 (17.34%), dark at 532 (11.77%), black at 508 (11.24%), light at 163 (3.61%), red at 110 (2.43%), grey at 36 (0.80%), medium at 33 (0.73%) and finally bald at 2 (0.04%). Incomplete or missing records accounted for the outstanding 61 (1.35%).


When it came to the diversity of religion in the 4th CMR, it was interesting to find that around 32 religions and denominations were represented. By far the most followed was Church of England, which included specifically identified Anglicans, with 1,656 (36.63%) of the Regiment listed as C of E / Anglican. Presbyterian followed up at 960 men (21.23% of the Regiment). Methodist (including Wesleyan) numbered 925 (20.46%). Roman Catholics amounted to 599 men (13.25%).

All beliefs listed were as follows:

4th CMR - Religious Beliefs
Belief (number of men)
Church of England (1,656)Christian Scientist (2)
Presbyterian (960)Episcopalian (2)
Methodist / Wesleyan (925)Evangelical (2)
Roman Catholic (599)Greek Church (2)
Baptist (239)*Non-Sectarian (2)
Salvation Army (22)Quaker (2)
Protestant (20)Greek National (1)
Lutheran (14)Greek Orthodox (1)
Jewish (11)Holiness Movement (1)
Disciples (10)Italian Church (1)
Christian (8)Reform (1)
Latter Day Saints (4)Russian National Church (1)
Church of Christ (3)Russian Orthodox (1)
Greek (3)Tunker (1)
Greek Catholic (3)Unitarian (1)
Brethren (2)Universalist (1)

Data was incomplete or records were missing for 20 men (0.44%).

Clearly some of the Greek and Russian denominations may well have been the same, but were specifically recorded as above.

* Baptist was a summation of Baptist and Congregationalist.

The reality of war

The following statistics detail the physical impact on the Regiment.


In overall terms the number of men lost by the 4th CMR throughout the whole war was 910 (20.13% of the 4,521 who served with the Regiment).

Of these:

191 were lost at Mount Sorrel on June 2nd, 1916 - this figure accounts for 21.1% of all 4th CMR losses

(this includes 16 who died in the immediate days after due to wounds received on that day.)

65 were lost at Courcelette in September 1916

71 were lost at Regina Trench in October 1916

78 were lost at Vimy Ridge in April 1917 (differing from the War Diary estimate at the time of 43)

107 were lost at Passchendaele, in October 1917.

125 were lost in the final 100 days of the war.

The first recorded death for the 4th CMR came on May 31st, 1915, when 4454, Sgt. James Tamblingson, died of an illness before he was able to get overseas. He lies at rest in St. Catharines (Victoria Lawn) Cemetery, Ontario.

The first loss in front line service was on November 25th, 1915, when 109209, Pte. John Balmer, was killed whilst setting up a machine gun in trench 131, on the Messines Road, near to Hill 63, Ploegsteert, Belgium. As the first he was buried with ceremony on the 26th (this is the date cited for his loss in his full service file), originally in the Rosenberg Chateau Military Cemetery, and then he was finally laid to rest in the Berks Cemetery Extension, Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium.

The last loss in action is a difficult thing to pin down, as many fell victim to their wounds after the end of hostilities. The last commemoration of loss in WW1 is usually taken as up to and including August 31st, 1921, per the table below. In that respect the 4th CMR's last official loss was August 16th, 1921, but two further instances are specifically recorded in the data: one in early September 1922 and the other in early February 1930. There are bound to be many others from 1921 onwards that we'll not directly know about.

The last to be lost before November 11th's ceasefire were both former 146th Battalion men who died on November 9th: 835879 Pte. William MacLurkin, transferred to the 4th CMR on December 1st 1916 and who died of wounds received on April 11th 1917 in the attack on Vimy Ridge, and 835788 Pte. Charles Norris, transferred to the 4th CMR on November 3rd 1916 and who died from influenza after being hospitalised on November 4th 1918.

That many suffered in the decades that followed is known, and many would have passed away due to complications from wounds received whilst in service, so no attempt is made here to try to quantify who the last was. We owe them all respect and due acknowledgement for what they did and for all that they endured at the time and in the years that followed.


The total number of men wounded for the first time was 1,614 (35.70%). Second woundings occurred to 210 of those men, third wounds to just 12 of them. One man was wounded four times (see ** below).

The first wounding whilst in action with the 4th CMR (as opposed to wounding whilst serving with a feeder unit prior to transfer to the 4th CMR) was reported in the Nominal Roll as having occurred on November 2nd, 1915, east of Bailleul, near Ypres. Research has found that whilst this had been a suspected ankle fracture, it turned out to be a severe sprain. Additionally it seems to have occurred whilst the Regiment was route marching to new billets, and not in front line action. The soldier in question returned to duty on December 2nd. The first confirmed in-action woundings ("slight") were actually on November 5th, 1915, and were sustained under heavily artillery fire whilst 'C' Company were relieving 'B' Company during tours of instruction in the trenches, with 1st Brigade infantry, near Neuve Eglise. Two further slight casualties occurred on the 9th, whilst 'C' Company were back in the same trenches.

** The man with most recorded woundings was 636593, L/Cpl. Randall Brant, with four attributed to him between April 1917 and September 1918. The first of these was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the left foot, which earned him 42 days Field Punishment No. 1. (placed in handcuffs or fetters and tied to a fence or other object for up to two hours a day). However, L/Cpl. Brant was subsequently wounded on October 27th, 1917, by a gunshot wound (GSW) to the scalp, and twice by gas on August 25th and September 18th, 1918.

The last to be wounded were on November 10th 1918, when Pte. Roy McGill was gassed, and on November 11th 1918, of all days, with 3232136 Pte. George Doherty receiving a shrapnel wound to the right forearm.

An amazing 2,047 (45.28%) men survived the war without any wounds serious enough for recorded treatment at all.

4th CMR Casualties

Of the 4,521 men who served with the Regiment, 3,611 (79.87%) survived the war (did not pass away before August 31st, 1921).


In total 364 men of the 4th CMR (8.05%) were taken as prisoners of war, with the bulk of these on the afternoon of June 2nd, 1916, when the Battle for Mount Sorrel was launched by the German forces. On this day alone 350 men (a staggering 96.15% of the total 4th CMR POWs) were taken prisoner. 13 of these men later died in captivity, most of whom due to wounds suffered on that day.

4th CMR POWs by Year
YearNumber taken P.O.W.
1916350 (all taken on June 2nd, 1916)

A final word

The above demographics tell us many things, prime amongst which is that the men of 4th CMR were a diverse group of individuals brought together, trained and deployed as an efficient and justly recognised fighting force. Above that, though, they were like us in many ways. They came from all walks of life, they had families and undoubtedly they had aspirations, hopes and dreams just as we do today.

But, where facts and figures can reveal so much, they are a sterilised, surface snapshot of who these men were. The data does not reveal the real emotional, mental toll that war had these men endure. We've often heard from their families and friends, "They never talked about it.". Only those who had been there could have truly understood what they had experienced.

What we can do, though, is not forget them. We owe them that.

This page was last updated: 26th April 2021