Commanding Officer 15th Battalion (48th Highlanders)
William Renwick Marshall, the son of William and Isabella Marshall was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on 20 Mar 1875. He graduated from Upper Canada College in Toronto and was already a long serving veteran officer when the First World War began in 1914. Marshall had served for 21 years in the Canadian Militia first as an Lieutenant in the 13th Royal Regiment from Hamilton and later as a Captain on the HQ staff of the Military District 2 responsible for the training of cadet officers. He had also served two years in South Africa during the Boer War as a Captain with the Royal Canadian Regiment and the Canadian Mounted Rifles earning two bars to the Queen’s South Africa Medal. In his civilian career, Marshall was the assistant manager of the Royal Distillery In Hamilton.
When war was declared in August 1914, he joined the 48th Highlanders draft to the 1st Canadian Contingent that was assembling at Long Branch near Toronto and subsequently on arrival in Valcartier, Quebec in October, he attested into the 15th Battalion (48th Highlanders) CEF as a Major in the position of Deputy Commanding Officer. The Battalion arrived in France from the UK in February 1915 and following a period of front line familiarization, moved with the entire 1st Canadian Division into the Ypres salient where they were heavily involved in the 2nd battle of Ypres 22-26 April.
For his actions and valour during the gas attack on 23-24 April 1915 in which the Canadians – in particular the 15th Battalion that was at the apex of the Allied position – suffered heavy casualties holding the salient against the heavy German assault, Major Marshall was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. Immediately following the battle he was appointed Commanding Officer and began the task of rebuilding his shattered Battalion. LCol Marshall led the Battalion in the fierce fighting at Festubert in May and Hill 60 the following year before he was killed in action on 19 May 1916. Physically fit, always at the Front and possessing a commanding presence, Marshall was revered by all ranks of the 15th and highly respected throughout the Canadian Contingent. He was buried with full military honours at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery and the Battalion that he had rebuilt and led after 2nd Ypres went on to serve with distinction in every major engagement in which the Canadian Corps took part throughout the war winning 21 Battle Honours for its actions.
The 15th Battalion Memorial project has erected a memorial at Hill 60 that commemorates his death.
NOK: Brother of Mrs. C. W. Wolfkill, of 4488, St. Catherine St. West, Montreal