Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry has special connection with Moosomin
November 20, 2021, 3:06 pm
Sierra D'Souza Butts, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Every year on Remembrance Day, soldiers from Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) come to march in Moosomin to honor the sacrifices veterans made for this country.
The PPCLI is one of the three Regular Force infantry regiments of the Canadian Army of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Two of its members from Shilo, MB, Captain Zain Daudi and Warrant Officer Christopher Gillis, spoke about the connection their force has with Moosomin.
“We come every year because major Mullin is a storied member of our regiment,” says Warrant Officer Gillis.
“In 1917, through his incredibly heroic actions, he earned the Victoria Cross, which is the highest award for gallantry in the Commonwealth and in Canada. So every year for Remembrance Day we attach a guard to Moosomin, to honor his sacrifice and make sure that the family members who are still around, remember him and honor what he did,” says Warrant Officer Gillis.
25-year-old Sergeant Harry Mullin single-handedly captured a German pillbox that had withstood heavy bombardment and was causing heavy casualties, holding up the attack.
Mullin rushed a snipers’ post in front, destroying it with grenades, shot two gunners and forced the remaining 10 to surrender. His clothes were riddled with bullets, but he never faltered.
After the war, he returned to Moosomin. He was appointed Sergeant-at-Arms for the Saskatchewan Legislature in 1934.
In January 1918, Sergeant Mullin was informed that he had been awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on October 30, 1917, in Passchendaele, Belgium.
There have been 17 soldiers from Saskatchewan awarded Victoria Crosses. Sergeant Harry Mullin, is the third local Victoria Cross recipient of Moosomin.
The other two are, Lieutenant Robert Grierson Combe, who owned a store in Moosomin before the First World War, and was awarded his Victoria Cross posthumously and Company Sergeant-Major Osborn, who farmed near Wapella and was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for sacrificing his life to save his comrades.
“Mullin is a storied member of the battalion, he represents and exemplifies a lot of the values we hold, which is quiet, professional and obviously the courage he displayed,” says Captain Daudi.
“The Victoria Cross is the highest honor you can receive and its typically awarded for gallantry, it’s the most conspicuous act of gallantry. In major Mullin’s case, he suppressed and took over a pill pox. That act itself, shows his disregard for his own personal safety, in order to achieve the greater mission at hand and the gallantry he showed.”
Remembrance Day has personal meaning for Gillis
Warrant Officer Gillis says every member of the regiment attends a parade somewhere on Remembrance Day.
“Its incumbent upon us as leaders to make sure that as our young soldiers continue to join the force, it’s important for them to understand what Remembrance Day stands for.”
“I myself am an Afghanistan vet, I’ve been there twice and I’ve lost several friends over the course of that deployment. For me personally, Remembrance Day is an incredibly important day. Our last causality in Afghanistan was a good friend of mine and I make sure that his memory comes up every year. I get to talk about him, I make sure his mom knows that we still care about him, that we still remember and honor his sacrifice even though it’s been 10 years since he died,” says Warrant Officer Gillis.
He says Remembrance Day for every member of the battalion is a day of reflection, and a day to honor those who are not here with us today.
“Every year members of the battalion treat Remembrance Day not as a celebration, but rather a day of honor. Honoring people who joined the military carrying and embracing the cost that was bigger than themselves, who ultimately paid the sacrifice for that.”
“We need to be seen remembering veterans, because there are still families that have an empty spot at the table around the country, where their husbands, mothers, daughters and sons once sat. You know, it’s important to them and for them, that we are seen out in the public because they’re the ones that matter not just the sacrifices that are gone but for the families that are still living.”
For 19 years, Warrant Officer Gillis continues to dedicate his service across the world. In July of this year he was deployed to CFB Shilo to serve.
“For me as a warrant officer, part of my role is the protection of our customs and traditions in the military, one of our most important and sacred customs is Remembrance today. The solemn act of remembrance itself. Just being seen and being out there.”
“My big take away from 20 years of being in the military is that it’s so important to make sure that my young soldiers understand what they walked into, in terms of what our legacy is and what are reputation is, and that includes remembering and honoring all of our fallen soldiers not just in the regiment but across the Canadian Armed Forces at large.”
“For me personally, it’s a day to remember 14 of my friends who were killed in Afghanistan and then all of our fallen from Korea, Libya and other places in the world.”
Gillis says he had a relative who fought in the Korean war and also had an uncle who fought in the First World War and in the Second World War.
A day to honor
Captain Daudi says Remembrance Day is a day for all Canadians to honor and not just Canadians who have a direct connection to the day.
“Everyone involved in World War One and World War Two, these soldiers that came before us, they set the stage for us to live the lives that we have today. Relatively speaking and looking back to where we are now, we’re blessed,” he says.
“Every Canadian soldier today, has huge shoes to fill as far as the standard that was set by these brave soldiers. It’s important to remember them, it’s important to honor them because it’s the sacrifices that they made that give us the quality of life that we enjoy today.”
As well, Gillis comments to why the day is important to people who may not have a direct connection to soldiers lost in the past.
“At the end of the day, they’re Canadian, we’re all Canadian. We’re all here today and our way of life is because of the sacrifices they made. World War two, that was one of the greatest evils to ever arrive in human history. Show me anything throughout our dark history that’s darker than Nazi Germany and those men and women rose for the occasion. We often say that people don’t rise for the occasion, but you look at all these people and clearly people rose for the occasion at a time that was crazy and unknown.”
“For me at the end of the day, whether Canadians have a personal connection or they think they don’t have a personal connection, they do because they are Canadian. Our way of life is because of the greaterary that went before us.”
As a first generation Canadian, Captain Daudi talks about what the day means to him.
“Remembrance Day for me is honoring those who came before us. As a first generation Canadian, my parents immigrated to Canada a few decades ago. They came from Pakistan and India, and understanding the context of the life that I’ve been privileged to live in Canada. The opportunities that have been for me through their self sacrifices, it’s important to me to honor those people simply because of the privileges that I’ve gained on a personal level. So beyond the individual but as a collective, these veterans have done a lot for us. I do believe it’s important for us to respect that and honor that going forward.”
Captain Daudi has been serving in the military since 2018 and has deployed domestically across Canada. He explains what inspired him to become a soldier.
“It goes back to Canada Day in 2003, when I was about 10-years old. I was in downtown Toronto with my father, my younger brother and my uncle. We were just walking down in the area enjoying the parade and all the festivities, and there was a couple of guys sitting down along he sidewalk. They looked at our group there and told us to go back to our country, and as a 10 year old it really stuck with me. I didn’t know what he meant by that because I always thought Canada was my country and I asked my dad about that later. His response was that there are people there that are just ignorant.
For me that comment, as a 10 year old stuck with me for a long time and I think that’s what influenced me to join the army because I always felt that I owed something. My parents did not come from a good situation when they immigrated to this country but they managed to build something and build a good life for me and my brothers as well. I always felt like I should give back and there’s no better way than serving in the forces, in my opinion.”
Commenting on Captain Daudi’s experience of racism at a young age, Warrant Officer Gillis talks about the unity that the military offers.
“One of the things I enjoy about the military is our unifying concept of our uniforms. We’re all united by the fact that we’re Patricia’s and that we al have the same flag. I just think it’s really cool and it’s one of my favorite things of service.”
Warrant Officer Gillis speaks about why he decided to join the military.
“I joined the military in December of 2002 but before that, right around when September 11th happened, I remember I was working part time at a gas station.”
“Around that time while I was working at the gas station, a couple of guys I went to high school with, who just finished university, came by the store and they were so condescending to me. I was just like I cannot be spoken to like that, and so I enlisted.”
Warrant Officer Gillis says throughout his deployments over the course of his 19 years of service, he looks back and has no regrets about joining the military.
Visits will continue
Every year, the soldiers from PPCLI march in Moosomin on Remembrance Day. Both members say the visits will continue every year in honor of Seargeant Mullin and in honor of all Canadian soldiers.