HONOURABLE MENTION: Warden & Odlum: Positional Vs. Personal Leadership Power in the Officers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1918


  • Austin Wild Queen's University


The professional development of the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War is an aspect not often covered in the popular imagination of the conflict, or their contributions to Canadian successes in locations such as Vimy Ridge or the 100 Days Offensive. The conflict between personal and positional power is by no means not a new phenomena. However, it is a conflict that was vital to the development of the Canadian military's professionalism, as well as the ensuing legacies that it inspired. This can be exemplified by the professional relationship between Brigadier General Victor Wentworth Odlum and Lt. Colonel John Weightman Warden, who served one another between 1914-1918 first in the 1st Division, then more intimately within the 11th Brigade, 4th Division. Throughout this paper, the relationship between these two men and the conflicts they experienced together highlights this change at the battalion and brigade level within the divisional hierarchy of the CEF. Their relationship demonstrated how the conflict between personal and positional hierarchy was a fluid one that applied to all officers of the CEF and applied to the organization at not just at the divisional, but at the brigade and battalion levels as well. Overall, this was a fundamental step in the development of professionalism in Canada’s military history with its legacy being that the lessons of leadership theory of the First World War are still being taught, more than a century later, in the military today.

Author Biography

Austin Wild, Queen's University

I was born in Toronto on December 30th, 1996, to a hardworking upper-middle class family. My father is a Private Wealth Advisor for CIBC, and my mother is a schoolteacher at Glenlyon Norfolk private school (GNS). We moved to Victoria BC in 1999, where I attended GNS participated in numerous activities. Rowed, played high-level baseball and rugby, participated in track and field. Was accepted to Queen’s University for the 2015/2016 year, and “graduated” in 2020 before being accepted to the graduate program in History (which I am completing currently). At Queen's, I was active with the Queen’s Men’s Rugby, History DSC, Kingston Student Housing Cooperative, with interests including camping, horse riding, fishing and other outdoor pursuits.






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