Last night on “Downton Abbey,” a soldier turned up from Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. The PPCLI — named for the daughter of Canada’s Governor General and known as the Patricias — was an independent regiment formed in Montreal in 1914. It was the first Canadian infantry unit to reach France, in December.
In May 1915, the regiment held trenches on Bellewaerde Ridge for four days under intense shelling and fought off multiple German attacks with rifle fire. Their machine guns were knocked out, and they eventually ran out of ammunition, but not before the Germans had withdrawn. The regiment suffered 80% casualties. They had their backs to Ypres, and they held the line.
From the Bellewaerde Ridge, looking down toward Ypres.
Here’s a link with a blow-by-blow account of the Patricias in action.
Princess Patricia’s father, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, served as Canada’s Governor General from 1911 to 1916. Here he is talking with four American soldiers.