Peregrine Palmer Acland

Portrait of Peregrine Palmer Acland

Peregrine Palmer Acland (1891–1963), author and military officer, was born in Toronto, Ontario. He attended University College School in London, England, and Upper Canada College in Toronto. After graduating from the University of Toronto in 1913, he worked for a short time for the Prince Rupert Daily News. He was then employed in the Department of Finance in Ottawa. Acland enlisted at Valcartier, Quebec, in September 1914 as a private in the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, but soon transferred to the 48th Highlanders of Canada. He went overseas on the SS Megantic with the First Canadian Contingent, as an officer in the 15th Battalion, attaining the rank of Major in 1916. Acland was badly wounded in the Battle of the Somme in June 1916 and served as a military instructor for the remainder of the war. He later entered the advertising business. From 1942 to 1950 he served as press officer to Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King and then returned to advertising. He wrote vividly of his experiences at the Somme in his Great War novel All Else Is Folly: A Tale of War and Passion, which was published in 1929. Praised by authors Ford Madox Ford, Bertrand Russell and Frank Harris, among others, the novel had transatlantic success with editions published by Constable (England), Coward-McCann and Grosset & Dunlap (United States) and McClelland & Stewart (Canada). It was republished in 2014 by Dundurn Press. The Library and Archives Canada collection includes multiple copies of All Else Is Folly, including the copy Acland presented to Mackenzie King. Acland died in Toronto on May 11, 1963.

Service Record Details

Attestation Paper 1

Date of Birth: May 15, 1891 (Toronto, Ontario)

Date of Attestation: September 19, 1914 (Valcartier, Quebec)

Age at Enlistment: 23 years, 4 months old

Prior Military Service: None. However, he indicates that he belongs to the “Active Militia.”

Height: 6 feet, 1 inch

Weight: 155 pounds

Description: Fresh complexion, brown eyes, light hair. Two chicken pox scars on left cheek, a mole on right side of neck. Church of England (Anglican).

Home Address: 438 Queen Street, Ottawa, Ontario

Trade: Civil Servant

Married: No

Next of Kin: Father, F.A. Acland, Esquire (Deputy Minister of Labour)

Theatre of War: France (Somme)

Casualties / Medical History

Attestation Paper 2
  • November 27, 1915 – Acland is hospitalized for general weakness after surgery for acute appendicitis.
  • June 4, 1916 – He is wounded while on duty.
  • August 18, 1916 – He is awarded the Military Cross.
  • September 26, 1916 – Acland receives gunshot and rifle wounds to left chest and face (Battle of the Somme). “He lay out in the open for 14 hours” after receiving a rifle wound in the chest and shell wounds on the forehead from a high explosive round: “Wounded 26-9-16. Compound fracture 6/7 cortal cartilages L. Chest. Septic pneumonia. Empyema L. chest …..” Trephining [drilling a small hole in the skull] is mentioned as a treatment given for his severe injuries.
  • The Medical Board determines Acland is unfit for service and grants him three months’ leave to Canada. This is followed by extended leave periods, until he is retained on home service in Canada in 1917.
  • He endures a “critical hemorrhage lung” and the next day is “wonderfully better.”

Interesting Details from the Service Record

  • “Allow to proceed unofficially to Gronton School.”
  • Acland is discharged to the State College in Washington after being declared medically unfit for service because of wounds sustained while on duty.
  • His father is the Deputy Minister of Labour.
  • Acland dies on May 11, 1963, at the Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto.

The London Gazette

Military Cross, The London Gazette – August 19, 1916, Supplement 29713, Page 8231
“Capt. Peregrine Palmer Acland, Can. Infy. – For conspicuous gallantry during an attack. He led his company forward under very heavy fire with great dash, and, though wounded, remained at his post and dug himself in.”

Military Medals, Honours and Awards (1812–1969)

Census Records

  • 1901 Census
    At age nine, Peregrine Palmer Acland is living in the City Centre district of Toronto, Ontario, with his parents, Frederick (39) and Elizabeth (40). His parents are English and members of the Church of England. His father is employed as a journalist.

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