by Rod L. Hodgson
Ninety years ago next month a small group of young men left Hudson by train bound for St. Jean N.B. Three days later they boarded the T.S.S. Missanabie and sailed for England and “The Great War”. They eventually arrived in France and the battlefields six months later. It was 1915 and Canada was at war with Germany and her allies. But who were these young men? They were some of the best that Hudson and Canada could offer. They were members of the 3rd Canadian Siege Battery, better known as the “Cape’s Battery”. It was a heavy artillery unit in the Canadian army. Though most of the unit’s members hailed from Montreal and some made the supreme sacrifice our young lads all came home, some were wounded but they all came back home to Hudson at the war’s end.
To anyone who knows Hudson well enough will surely recognize some of their names. They were D. Maiben Aird, Alex Davidson, Jim Pyke, Mel Putnam, Stan Foster, Cy Parsons, Doug Wood, Bob Shepherd, Harold “Pete” Stephenson and of course “the fightn’ Mullan brothers; Hal, John and Howard “Muck”. Other members who later moved to Hudson were Les Proctor, Charlie Paul and R.O. McMurtry. They saw action at some of the most famous battles of World War I. Places like Ypres, Lens, Vimy Ridge, Regina Trench and Passchendaele-scenes of true hell. The Battery was named for Major E.G.M. Cape of Montreal and its members were a mixture of Montreal’s brains and brawn; handpicked by Major Cape himself. The unit was moulded into an amazing fighting machine of 160, 25 of which were left behind in England as reserves.
After the war ended the battery packed up and sailed for Montreal on the Cunard steamship Mauretania, arriving in May 1919. Soon after an association was formed and for scores of years afterwards they met at least once a year for a banquet and memorial, always in late October. In 1965 the battery held their 50th Anniversary at the old Windsor hotel in Montreal and 80 were present; exactly half of their original number. For many years this association would meet at the Whitlock Golf & Country Club. The Hudson lads, now old soldiers became very well known in the area and right into the 1970’s some of these old warriors could still be seen at the Whitlock having a soup and a beer, playing cards or just chatting with their friends. “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away”.
Well they may all be gone now but the Cape’s Battery has left us an everlasting legacy. The Cape’s Battery Association left the Hudson Branch #115 of the Royal Canadian Legion a small amount of money after its last meeting. This year the legacy helped pay for the restoration and the two new plaques on the Hudson cenotaph at the Hudson Legion. The two plaques commemorate those dear sons of Hudson who made the supreme sacrifice in both World Wars. Though none were from the Cape’s Battery they were all known to them. Ninety years is a long time but many of us are proud to have known these old soldiers-either as family or friends. Once they were young, then they grew old, then they were gone. But thanks to them we have a beautiful new cenotaph at the Hudson Legion Branch #115. Lest we forget!
Cape’s Battery Assoc. reunion in 1967 at the Whitlock Golf & Country Club Among those present were Les proctor, Hal Mullan, Howard Mullan, R.O. McMurtry, Stan Foster and Cy Parsons.
Some of the members of the Cape’s Battery somewhere overseas in WW I. On the left is Howard “Muck” Mullan.
Cy Parsons in camp in England before heading to France in 1916