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Discover the stories and remember the lives of UCC
Old Boys who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the Great War.

Captain Alexander Watson Baird ’10

Died: August 8, 1918

w143_Baird,-Alexander-Watson-001

Capt. A. W. Baird, M.C. and Bar, son of Mrs. James Baird, 21 St. Andrews Gardens, was at U.C.C. from 1902-1910. Capt. Baird’s career in France was marked with distinction. He left Canada with the rank of Lieut., was promoted on the field and awarded the M.C. for bravery. Later he was awarded a bar to his M.C. which was given with the King’s birthday honours last year. It was stated at the time that he received his decoration, that it was for “the best thing that the Battalion has done yet.”

After leaving U.C.C. he went to Toronto University, going overseas with the 126th Battalion, afterwards transferring to the 116th; he went to France in February 19 17, and met his death while gallantly leading his company on August 8th, 1918. Speaking of Capt. Baird, one who had served with him said, “He knew and loved the ways of a gentleman.” He was 26 years of age.

The following letter, one of many of a similar kind, was received by his mother:

In the Field,
August 13th, 1918.

To Mrs. J. Baird,
21 St. Andrews Gardens,
Toronto, Ontario., Canada.

Dear Mrs. Baird :

It is with feelings of deep regret that I write to you to inform you of the death of your son, Captain Alexander Watson Baird, M.C, who was killed in action during the advance on Hamon Wood in the 3rd battle of the Somme, on the morning of August 8th, 1918, in which our Battalion took an active part.

Our advance was meeting with heavy opposition as we gained the top of the hill, the fog and smoke had lifted for a short time, which enabled the German machine gunners to inflict heavy casualties upon us. Capt. Baird, who was leading his company forward at the time, saw a “nest” of German guns and at once charged forward followed by his company. Their rush completely overcame the enemy, your son reached the trench, although he had been hit several times, but died just as the position was won.

His prompt and gallant action saved many lives in the Battalion and allowed the advance to continue. During the time your son had served with the Battalion he had distinguished himself as a very courageous, energetic and efficient officer. He was very popular with his brother Officers and with every man in his company. It was through the affection that his men held for him, that they would follow him anywhere. His loss was keenly felt by all ranks in the Battalion. I feel that I have lost not only a brave officer but also a dear friend.

In extending to you the sympathy of my Battalion, I realize that no words of mine can in any small measure tend to solace and comfort you in your sad hours of bereavement, but I feel sure that the Mother of so brave a boy will bear her sorrow as nobly as he died.

I am Yours very sincerely,
(Sd.) G. R. Pearkes,
Lieut.-Col. O. C. 116th

College Times (Summer 1918) pg. 22-24

 

More information about  Captain Alexander Watson Baird ’10 can be found at:

Upper Canada College Roll of Service 1914-1919

Canadian Virtual War Memorial

Canadian Great War Project

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Canada At War

The Royal British Legion – Every Man Remembered

University of Toronto Roll of Service, 1914-1918

University of Toronto Monthly

The Gazette, (London Gazette), Issue 6462, 3 June 1918

The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum and Archives