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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

PRIVATE THOMAS A. STEER, #404210 - Killed In Action April 28, 1917


Although the Canadian Expeditionary Force suffered over 59,000 deaths over the course of World War One, despite popular opinion, not all of these deaths were as a result of the hostilities. A significant number were due to disease such as influenza and tuberculosis. Some were from accidents, drowning and suicides. Most of the remaining deaths from warfare came in major battles in which Canadians participated: 2nd Ypres; The Somme; Mount Sorrel; Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele and the Final 100 Days. However a significant number were killed in the day-to-day maintenance and manning of the front line trenches for which the CEF were responsible at any given time. So when a single Victory medal recently became available very reasonably for Private Thomas Armstrong Steer, #404210, 3rd Battalion, I snapped it up. Private Steer was listed as being Killed In Action on April 28, 1917, a day on which the 3rd Battalion were not doing much of anything near Farbus Woods south of Vimy village.

According to Battle Royal, D.J. Godspeed, Toronto, 1962:

The Toronto Regiment had only an inactive part in this attack (referring to a British attack on the Scarpe  and the 1st Canadian division on their left attacking the Arleux Loop), as it happened the 2nd Brigade captured all its objectives smartly and on time. The Regiment however did provide  three officers and 135 men as stretcher parties to evacuate the 2nd Brigade's wounded. Later on the afternoon of the 28th, the Germans heavily shelled "B" and "D" Companies along the railway embankment, killing Major C.E. Cooper and one soldier (Private Steer), and wounding Lieutenant W.C. Bush and two privates. Lieutenant Bush died the following morning at No.30 Casualty Clearing Station at Aubigny.

Thanks to Marika Pirie for contributing this clipping
Attesation Paper Thomas Steer
Private Steer and his family have proved to be somewhat elusive in terms of family research. My resources included, Mr. Google, Canadian Censuses and the various Library and Archives Canada websites/databases which provided little information. Without a service record at this point, I really had not much biographical information save for the information on his attestation records. So I posted on the CEF Study Group Forum a call for assistance and was not disappointed. We know that both the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Veteran Affair Canada Virtual Memorial pages for Private Steer claim that Thomas Steer was born in Brooklyn, New York despite his declaration on the attestation to have been born in Toronto. Member Tighe McManus found Thomas's mother Margarite listed as a widow in Toronto City Directories for 1913, 1914 and 1917. Marika Pirie found a couple of Toronto Star newspaper clippings from May 1917 concerning his death. Tighe later found the family in a 1910 U.S. Census living in Pittsburgh,Pa, only adding to the mystery. Helen Russell was kind to point out that in the census, there was an unmarried Aunt living with the family with the name of  Margaret  M. Armstrong. Armstrong, of course is Private Steer's middle name. Thomas Steer appears to be an only child. Mike, the Regimental Rogue, is checking the pre-war rolls of the Royal Canadian Regiment, to confirm or deny the soldier's claim of service in this permanent force Regiment.

Major Charles Edwon Cooper
We know that Thomas Armstrong Steer, 404210, was a 32 year old, single, street car conductor employed by the Toronto Street Railway when he enlisted in Toronto's 35th Battalion May 5, 1915. The tall man at 5'11" apparently had Eagle Shields and Flags tattooed on both forearms. Private Steer was included in the 1st Reinforcing Draft that was rushed from Canada leaving from Montreal on the S.S.Metagama June 4, 1915 after the disastrous  losses by the 1st Canadian Division during April 1915. Of the 250 men is this draft, 227 were sent almost immediately on arriving in England, to the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion in the field, being taken on service July 17, 1915. As we have no service record, we know only that Private Steer remained and survived in the 3rd Battalion until his death near Farbus Woods on April 28, 1917. Private Thomas Armstrong Steer was buried in Orchard Dump Cemetery, France. His name is included on the bronze Memorial Plaque located in Old City Hall, Toronto for employees of the Toronto Railway Union Div. 113.
Charles Edwin Cooper had enlisted in Valcartier September 22, 1914 into the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion as a Lieutenant, having served as the Colour Sergeant in the 10th Royal Grenadiers Regiment for 10 years and prior service in both the Royal Canadian Regiment and the 48th Highlanders Regiment. Born in 1880, he worked as a clerk in the T. Eaton Company, married to Sarah in 1903 and a native of Alcester, England. By spring 1917, he had been promoted to rank of Acting Major and had been award the Military Cross for "Conspicuous Service leading his company" during the Battle of Mount Sorrel June 1916. Major Cooper was buried in Ecoivres Military Cemetery, France. His name appears on the T.Eaton Memorial Plaque along with 314 other men who gave their lives in the war from the company.  
3rd (Toronto) Battalion War  Diary entry for April 28, 1917
Walter Clarence Bush had been a lieutenant in the 47th Frontenac Regiment when he enlisted in Tamworth, Ontario as a lieutenant in Kingston's 146th Battalion on April 10, 1916. Born in 1892, working as a carpenter, he travelled with the battalion from Halifax on the S.S.Southland September 25, 1916 for England. In England, most of the 146th were absorbed by Toronto's 95th Battalion who in turn supplied reinforcements to Toronto area front-line battalions including the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion. Interesting the last Canadian World War One veteran, John Babcock, joined the 146th Battalion as well, before being transferred to the Young Soldiers Battalion as an underage soldier. Lieutenant Bush after succumbing to his wounds, was buried in Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension, France.

Sunday, September 21, 2014



My blogs of the past several  years have of course focused on the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force and by extension and connection with my grandfather, soldiers whose service numbers are 61***, 62***, 63***, and 64***. This blog is on the unit, the 23rd Battalion, that harbored the men with these service numbers, arguably one of the most important battalions to proceed overseas from Canada. For the 23rd Battalion provided desperately needed reinforcements to units of the 1st Canadian Division and to the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. For if it were not for these reinforcements, it is doubtful if units of the 1st Canadian Division would have the manpower to engage the enemy in the Battle of Festubert, May 1915 and the Battle of Givenchy, June 1915 nor would the PPCLI partake in the St. Eloi action March, 1915 or the Battle of Frezenberg May, 1915. (interesting to note that the PPCLI entered this battle with a strength of 635 ranks, already having received the reinforcements from the "500" draft).

The 23rd Battalion, Quebec City prior to embarking on the train for Halifax February, 1915
"Three days after the First Contingent sailed from Gaspe, on October 3rd, 1914, Canada made an offer of a Second Contingent which was immediately accepted, with a suggestion from the Army Council that another Infantry Division would be a suitable formation. The eleven-Military Districts had already been warned that more troops would be required: they were called upon to recruit fourteen battalions numbered 18th to 31st inclusive. The Canadian Grenadier Guards were now required to find two companies (after already making significant manpower contributions to the 14th Royal Montreal Regiment Battalion), that is nine officers and 268 other ranks for the new 23rd Battalion". 

  "Lieut.-Col. F.W.Fisher, Commanding Officer of the 58th Westmount Rifles, Canadian Militia, was authorized on 21st Oct.1914 to raise a battalion for overseas service. Allotted the number "23rd" in the sequence of overseas units, it was to be commanded by Lieut.-Col. Fisher himself. Simultaneously the first exclusive "French-Canadian"unit, numbered 22nd and to be raised by Lieut.-Col. F.M. Gaudet was authorized; to fill the ranks of all French-speaking men of the 23rd were ordered to be transferred to the 23rd. To make up resulting shortages the Western Districts sent 500 men: M.D.10-100 men (6 Nov.1914); M.D.11-200 men (9 Nov.1914); and M.D.13-200 men (4 Nov.1914). The instructions to Col. Fisher were to recruit the H.Q. and two companies in Montreal, and two companies in Quebec City and District. For the two companies in Montreal, the Canadian Grenadier Guards supplied nine officers, and 268 other ranks. The H.Q. and the two Montreal Companies were stationed in the Peel Street Barracks, Montreal; but the quarters being overcrowded, on December 9th, 1914, they were moved to the Emigration Buildings, Louise Basin, Quebec, where the other two companies had already been mobilized. The Canadian winter climate prevented much outdoor training, but a certain amount of work was done on the ice of the frozen St. Lawrence River, while the large C.P.R. sheds made good indoor training places. The Battalion was inspected by H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught (30th Dec., 1914) and the Minister of Militia, Sir Sam Hughes (15th Dec., 1914), who both spoke words of praise. On January 15, 1915, a draft of 3 officers and 250 other ranks were sent direct to the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, training nearby.

On February 15, 1915, move orders were received, and on the 17th, the Battalion entrained at Levis for Halifax, where it embarked on the S.S. Missanabie, sailing on 23rd February. Arriving at Avonmouth on 6th March, it proceeded to Shorncliffe Camp, where it was quartered in Moore Barracks. The 23rd Battalion went to England as a provisional reinforcing unit, but instructions had been given by the War Office to keep it intact, and prior to the urgent call for reinforcements by the 1st Canadian Division in April, 1915, it had every chance of going to France as a Battalion. On 26th April it was called upon to supply drafts to various battalions in France, which had suffered losses in the Gas Attack at Ypres, and by 2nd May the whole Battalion, with the exception of some details and a few of the H.Q. Officers, had gone to the front. The numeral was then given to a reinforcing and depot unit, and until the end of the War the 23rd Reserve Battalion functioned as such at Shorncliffe, Shoreham and Bramshott Camps in succession. Owing to the system, or lack of system, then prevailing at Shorncliffe, many of the officers and men, instead of being sent to reinforce Montreal Battalions in the field, were scattered, some going to Toronto Battalions, while men from Toronto reinforcement units were sent to Montreal battalions. The bulk of the 23rd were however sent to the 13th (RHC) and 14th (RMR). Of the officers Lienuts. Anderson and Buchanan were drafted to the 4th (Ontario) Battalion, Lieuts. Chisholm and Weston to the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion, Lieuts. Sumption, Dobbie and Richardson to the 14th R.M.R. It is a matter of regret that the 23rd did not serve  in France as a unit; it would without a doubt have given an good account of itself; but drafts sent to the front proved themselves valuable and efficient reinforcements, as their record shows". 
History of the Canadian Grenadier Guards,
Col.A.F.Duguid, 1965. 

Officers of the 23rd Battalion about to depart for England Many did not come home.
Few military enthusiasts or historians have paid much attention to the 23rd Battalion, it nevertheless remains one of the most important battalions raised after the Canadian Corps formerly entered the war. The sacrifices and contributions made by this single battalion in reinforcing Canadian 1st Contingent, as well as that of it's sister reinforcing battalion, the 32nd Battalion, remains all out of proportion to the structure of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The 23rd Battalion, and later it’s successor, the 23rd Reserve Battalion, was instrumental is supplying quality, trained reinforcement soldiers after devastating losses in the 2nd Battle of Ypres, April 22-28,1915. It reinforced the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion (296 men May 3, 1915, Platoons 2, 3, 4, 7, and 8 along with 4 officers), the 4th(Central Ontario) Battalion (about 250 men), the 13th (Royal Highlanders of Canada) Battalion (265 men April 28, 1915) , the 14th (Royal Montreal) Battalion (275 men May 6, 1915; Platoons 9, 10, 11, and 12 along with two officers), the 15th (48th Highlanders) Battalion (52 men May 14, 1915), and the PPCLI Battalion (125 men in the "500" Draft PPCLI), after their devastating losses in April, May and June, 1915. The 23rd Battalion’s commanding officer, Lt.-Col. Frank W. Fisher, was later to lead the 14th (Royal Montreal) Battalion in the front lines and still later commanded all reserve units in England. These men came from the same source regiments that the balance of the "500" Draft to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry came from and probably moved east to Quebec on the same trains. These reinforcements came principally from the, 29th ( Vancouver) Battalion, 28th (Saskatchewan) Battalion, 30th ( Victoria) Battalion, 31st (Alberta) Battalion and the 32nd ( Manitoba) Battalion who were all recruiting actively at the time. Each was requested to provide 200 recruits. In practice the Battalions asked for volunteers - those who wished to to get to the front quicker - there were no shortage of volunteers, many had previous service with Imperial Forces and/or service in Canadian militia units. To further confuse the issue, the 23rd Battalion was also requested to supply troops directly to the PPCLI "500" Draft. All the service numbers for these reinforcements to the P.P.C.L.I. held service numbers in the 51... range. A very large percentage of these men had short longevity and a high casualty rate. One of these men became a future Commanding Officer of the P.P.C.L.I. (Melville Ten-Broeke #51456).
The instructions to Col. Fisher were to recruit the H.Q. (thus a number of French-speaking troops – cooks, drivers, service personnel, etc.) and two companies in Montreal, and two companies in Quebec City and District. For the two Montreal Companies, both the 1st Regiment Canadian Grenadier Guards and the 58th Westmount Rifles were large contributors. The C.G.G. supplied nine officers, and 268 other ranks. The 58th Westmount Rifles supplied besides Col. Fisher, four officers and 200 ranks. Included in this number were Captain Thom with 23 signalers, the Bugle Band, as well as a battalion Motor Cycle Corps. A small number of men enlisted from the 3rd Regiment Victoria Rifles of Canada but as this Regiment was raising the 24th Battalion at the same time, the number was very limited.
Move orders were received on February 15 and on the 17th the Battalion entrained at Levis on the Inter-Colonial Railway for Halifax. Embarking on the 19th, the 23rd Battalion departed Halifax on the almost new (Oct. 1914) "S.S. Missanabie" February 23, 1915 with a strength of 35 officers and 942 other ranks (not including the earlier PPCLI draft). A brief stop in Queenstown (Cork) from a U-boat scare and landing at Avonmouth (Bristol) March 7, 1915. They proceeded to Shorncliffe Camp, Moore Barracks, which was to be their home for a short period. Some ironies: the S.S. Missanabie was to be torpedoed and sunk September 8, 1918, 50 miles off of Queenstown with a loss of 45 lives; John Cody's Irish family (#63207)  departed from Queenstown at the turn of the century for America. 26 years later his son, and my father, John Cody, Chief Petty Officer RCN, spent a horrific New Years in 1941 while in Bristol harbour (Avonmouth) aboard a merchant ship during a Nazi bombing firestorms. 
A draft to the 23rd Battalion with James Fotheringham,MM, #63350,
top right corner. These men probably conprise the draft from Calgary.

23rd Reserve Battalion

The 23rd Battalion was told they would be a reinforcement battalion prior leaving Canada, but instructions had been given by the War Office to keep it intact, and prior to the urgent call for reinforcements in April, 1915 after the disastrous 2nd Battle of Ypres. It had every chance of going to France as an intact Battalion, much like the 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd Battalions. On April 26, 1915 however, probably because of the high percentage of previous military serving experienced ranks, the Battalion was called upon to supply drafts to various active Battalions which had suffered grievously at Ypres. By May 6, the whole Battalion, with the exception of some details and a few of the H.Q. officers, had gone to the front. On April 29, 1915 under C.R.O. 450 the 23rd Infantry Battalion was re-organized as the 23rd Reserve Battalion. The 23rd Reserve Battalion functioned as a reserve unit and depot based at Shorncliffe, Shoreham, Bramshott and Ripon Camps, in succession until war’s end. During the war, it absorbed the following Overseas Battalions:
106th (Nova Scotia Rifles) Battalion
117th (Eastern Township) Battalion
118th (North Waterloo) Battalion
133rd (Norfolk’s Own) Battalion
142nd (London’s Own) Battalion
199th (Duchess of Connaught’s Own Irish Rifles) Battalion
244th (Kitchener’s Own) Battalion
245th (Canadian Grenadier Guards) Battalion
For almost two years (April 29, 1915 to January 4, 1917), the 23rd Reserve Battalion would train and provide reinforcements for battalions in France. They are listed as follows:
Reinforced the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion Sept.9, 1915 to April 29, 1916
Reinforced the 14th (Royal Montreal) Battalion July 19, 1915 to Jan.4, 1917
Reinforced the 22nd (French Canadian) Battalion Sept. 9, 1915 to July 9, 1916
Reinforced the 24th (Victoria Rifles) Battalion July 19, 1915 to Aug. 31, 1915
Reinforced the 24th (Victoria Rifles) Battalion July 9, 1916 to Jan.4, 1917
Reinforced the 42nd (Royal Highlanders) Battalion Sept. 15, 1915 to Aug. 29, 1916
Reinforced the 60th (Victoria Rifles) Battalion July 9, 1916 to Jan. 4, 1917
The 23rd Reserve Battalion received at least two drafts from Canada, the first draft of 5 officers and 250 other ranks was from Calgary’s 50th Battalion, their second draft, which sailed from Montreal on board the S.S. Metagama, Sept. 11, 1915. The second draft of 5 officers and 250 men were from Toronto’s 75th Battalion, which sailed from Montreal aboard the S.S. Scandinavian on Oct. 1, 1915.
Two Battalions were absorbed by the 23rd Reserve Battalion in 1916. On Nov. 12, 1916 they absorbed the 133rd (Norfolk’s Own) Battalion raised in Simcoe, Ont., which had sailed with 21 officers and 665 other ranks. Their stay which the 23rd however would be short-lived as a reserve organization in January, 1917 would see 534 other ranks transferred to the 3rd Reserve Battalion on Jan. 4, 1917. The 23rd would also absorb the 142nd (London’s Own) Battalion, raised in London, Ont., which sailed from Canada with 26 officers and 574 other ranks, arriving in Shorncliffe on Nov. 12, 1916. The personnel of the 142nd Battalion would be transferred to the 4th Reserve Battalion on Jan. 4, 1917.
The following offficers commanded the 23rd Reserve Battalion between March, 1915 and September, 1916:
Lt.-Col. Frank W. Fisher – March 8, 1915 to July 4, 1915
Lt.-Col. F.C. Bowen – July 4, 1915 to April 22, 1916
Major D.A. McKay – April 1, 1916 to July 22, 1916
Lt.-Col. C.F. Bick – July 12, 1916 to Sept. 6, 1916
With the reserve re-organization in the Fall of 1917, the 23rd Reserve Battalion would cease to exist in it’s current format. Under Canadian Routine Orders 198 and 271, the affairs of the 23rd Reserve Battalion, in it’s existing form, were wound up. Part of the mandate of the reorganization, were to ensure that serving soldiers served with battalions raised in the Military District from which they came. Therefore on Jan. 4, 1917, the 23rd Reserve Battalion’s cadre of staff and infrastructure was amalgamated with the 117th Battalion (Eastern Townships) to form a new 23rd Reserve Battalion under Lt-Col. Frank W. Fisher, who had returned from the front lines after commanding the 14th (Royal Montreal) Battalion, The new 23rd was again based in Shorncliffe with it’s authorization being Canadian Routine Order 271 dated March 20, 1917. The 117th Battalion had been used as a reinforcing unit unit since Aug. 25, 1916. Only part of the original 856 other ranks remained to train with the 23rd. Almost half would be serving in France before joining the 23rd, with 312 other ranks in the 5th CMR Battalion and 55 other ranks in the 87th (Canadian Grenadier Guards) Battalion.Once the 117th had been amalgamated with the 23rd, a further 124 other ranks would be drafted to the 14th (Royal Montreal) Battalion, 42 to the 22nd Battalion and 218 to the 24th (Victoria Rifles) Battalion. On Jan. 5, 1917, the 23rd Reserve Battalion moved to Shoreham and began the job of reinforcing battalions at the front. The following battalions were reinforced by the 23rd Reserve Battalion:
Reinforced the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles Battalion Jan. 1917 to demobilization
Reinforced the 14th (Royal Montreal) Battalion Jan. 4, 1917 to demobilization
Reinforced the 22nd (French Canadian) Battalion Jan. 4, 1917 to demobilization
Reinforced the 24th (Victoria Rifles) Battalion Jan. 4, 1917 to demobilzation
Reinforced the 60th (Victoria Rifles) Battalion Jan. 4, 1917 to April 30, 1917
Reinforced the 87th (Canadian Grenadier Guards) Battalion May, 11, 1917 to demobilization (this Battalion also received 55 other ranks direct from the 117th Battalion)
CSM Frank Nagle, #63672, 3rd Battalion
Killed In Action June 13, 1916
A draft of Military Service Act, 1917 concripts from the Quebec Regiment, 1st Depot Battalion, Montreal sailed on the S.S. Scandinavian March 25, 1918 arriving in England April 3, 1918. The total size of this draft at present is unknown probably about 500 soldiers. What is known is that 140 of this draft were channelled throught the 23rd Reserve Battalion into the 14th (Royal Montreal) Battalion. Of this draft of 140 soldiers, according to Michel Gravel, 100 were casualties with 22 deaths – all within the last 100 days of the war! The 23rd Reserve Battalion absorbed the 244th (Kitchener’s Own) Battalion which sailed with 27 officers and 604 other ranks, two weeks after their arrival at Shoreham on April 21, 1917. On May 14,1917 the 23rd absorbed the 245th (Canadian Grenadier Guards) Battalion from Montreal, which had sailed with 16 officers and 274 other ranks. On May 11, 1917, the 199th (Duchess of Connaught’s Own Irish Canadian Rangers) Battalion, which had been designated for the 15th Brigade, 5th Canadian Infantry Division and the 22nd Canadian Reserve Battalion (which was having difficulty attracting French speaking recruits) were absorbed and the 23rd was re-designated the 23rd Reserve Battalion (199th Duchess of Connaught’s Own Irish Canadian Rangers) under Canadian Routine Orders 1378.
The 23rd Reserve Battalion continued to use the 61… to 64… bank of service numbers they had originally been assigned in Canada, to use with all new recruits they secured in England. We think that recruiting of English men, while in training in England occurred either because some of these men worked at occupations required by the Battalion i.e. shoemaker, tailor, baker, or soldiers were recruited who expressed a strong interest to emigrate to Canada after the war and/or had family already living in Canada.
The 23rd Reserve Battalion would move twice more, to Bramshott on October 11, 1917 and to Ripon on Feb. 2, 1919 before returning to Canada on July 4, 1919. The 23rd Reserve Battalion was disbanded by General Order 149 dated Sept. 15, 1920.
The 23rd Battalion was perpetuated by the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, and then The Royal Montreal Regiment (M.G.) and is currently perpetuated by The Royal Montreal Regiment.


Officer in Command

Lieut.-Col. Frank W. Fisher, R.O. 58th. Westmount Regt.


Lieut.-Col. F.C. Bowen, 53rd Regt; Major S.H. Hill, 8th Royal Rifles O.& I.C.C.


Lieut. A.T. Powell, R.O.


Hon. Lieut. C. J. Charlton

PaymasterLieut. E.J. Griffith, 1st C.G.G.


D.A. Mackay, R.O.


C.E. Shirley, 6th Hussars ; C.T.W. Etches, 64th Regt.


G.G. Mitchell 1st C.G.G. ; J.H. Richardson 1st C.G.G.; H.A. Chisholm, MC, 1st C.G.G.; J.R. Anderson 1st C.G.G.; E.deL. Buchanan 1st C.G.G.; G.L. Dobbin 58th Westmount Regt.; M.N. Burk 58th Westmount Regt.; N.A. Edwards 58th Westmount Regt.; L.A. Johnston 58th Westmount Regt.; H. Lyle 103rd Regt.; R.S. Smith, R.O; E.J. Griffith, 1st C.G.G.; J.H. Richardson, 1st C.G.G.; W.W. Weston, 1st C.G.G.
Lieut. Whitford Wells Weston, 3rd Battalion
Killed In Action June 13, 1916

Baldwin, C.Y.                      Lt.           Enl. Edmonton
Beardmore, L                     Lt
Chisholm, H.A.                    Lt            Transferred to 3rd Bn
Chitty, R.M.W.                    Lt
Clarke, C.L.                         Lt            Transferred to 3rd Bn
Davidson, J.A.                     Lt            Transferred from 35th Bn
Dion, S.A.                              Lt            Transferred to 3rd Bn 
Dobbin, G.L.                        Lt            Transferred to 14th Bn
Dymond, J.M.                      Lt
Edwards, N.A.                     Lt            Transferred to PPCLI  KIA May 8, 1915 David Bluestein/medals
Evans, D.J.                           Lt
Evans, T.A.                          Lt
Evans, J.H.R.                       Capt
Godwin, R.                           Lt            Transferred to 14th Bn
Holt, A.P.                              Capt
Johnston, L.A.                     Lt            Transferred to 14th Bn
Kelly, N.P.                            Lt            Transferred to 3rd Bn
Kirkconnell                         Lt
Lemesaurier, G.S.              Lt
MacKenzie, G.L.                Lt            Transferred from 35th Bn

MacKenzie, T.R. Capt

Major, A.F.                          Lt
McCombe, G                       Capt
Mason, D.M.C.                    Capt       Transferred to 3rd Bn ?
Pilcher, J.W.                        Capt
Powell, Allan T.                  Capt        23rd Bn Adjutant
Price, C.B.                            Lt
Ranger, E.                            Maj
Reid, G.E.                             Lt            Transferred to 3rd Bn
Richardson, J.H.                 Capt        Transferred to 14th Bn
Robertson, I. G.                   Lt            Transferred to 14th Bn

Shirley, C.E.                        Capt        Transferred to 3rd Bn

Smith, H.H.                          Capt

Smith, R.S.                            Capt       Transferred to 14th Bn

Sumption, J.F.                     Capt        Transferred to 14th Bn
Weston, W.W.                      Lt            Transferred to 3rd Bn KIA
Whitehead, E.A.                  Lt
Woodside, H.J.                    Maj

This blog is sort of a compilation from a number of different sources. Therefore parts may be somewhat repetitive and not flowing in an ideal literary manner. I apologize for that. However  hopefully the intent (to illustrate early reinforcement sources for the 1st Canadian Division) achieved success.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014



"After arriving in France with 27 officers and 956 other ranks on December20 1814, in six weeks of constant trench duty the Regiment had suffered seventy casualties, including five officers. But wastage from sickness had been abnormal, and the Regiment was for a few days nearly 400 men under strength. The arrival of the overseas draft which had been left at Tidworth under Captain Agar Adamson brought the numbers up to 700. (February 22, 1915 - Captain A. Adamson, Lt. Martin, 111 other ranks) But this draft exhausted all the reserves in sight, for the Canadian reinforcements in England were ear-marked for the 1st Canadian Division, now arriving in France. (the privately raised P.P.C.L.I. were detached in England to the 80th Brigade, 27th Imperial division, British Army). In the spring of 1915 there was no system for reinforcing the P.P.C.L.I. For eight months after their arrival in France the Patricias had reason to be anxious about their future. Small drafts from various Canadian sources kept up the number during the spring, and fought splendidly in the 2nd Battle of Ypres; but these were secured with difficulty, and after much suspense."

"Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry was never in any sense a territorial Regiment; although, towards the end of the War, it became one of the five overseas battalions (P.P.C.L.I. and, 2nd, 16th, 21st, 38th Battalions, C.E.F.) which were formed for administrative and reinforcement purposes into the Eastern Ontario Regiment with its headquarters at Ottawa, where the Original Battalion was mobilized.
The personnel of the Patricia's in the field was in fact strikingly representative of every Province of the Dominion and the Yukon Territory. The "Originals" and the "University Companies" which together made up nearly 50 per cent of the strength in the field, were drawn from all parts of Canada; while among the 3000 or more other Officers, N.C.O.'s and men who served with the Patricia's in France and Belgium were representative of more than 140 infantry battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, as well as many men who had first enlisted in sister branches of the Force: the Royal Canadian Dragoons and other cavalry regiments, the C.F.A., C.E., C.A.S.C., C.A.M.C., Signalling Training Depot, etc. Many drafts, especially after the middle of 1917, consisted of small parties from four or more battalions of the C.E.F. which has been assembled at the reinforcement Depots for the Eastern Ontario Regiment.

In January to June 1915 the following units provided drafts for reinforcing the Patricia's in the field:

12th Battalion, C.E.F. (New Brunswick,Quebec,Prince Edward Island)
23rd Battalion, C.E.F.(Victoria,Vancouver,Saskatchewan,Alberta,Manitoba,Montreal,Quebec City)
28th Battalion, C.E.F. (Alberta,Saskatchewan,Manitoba)
30th Battalion, C.E.F. (Victoria, BC)
32th Battalion, C.E.F. (Saskatchewan,Manitoba)"
Excepts from Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry 1914-1919, Ralph Hodder-Williams, 2nd Edition Vols.1 & 2, 1968
"Several times during the first six weeks in the line, the Regiment dropped to nearly four hundred men under strength, Only seventy casualties were killed or wounded and the remainder were from exposure and wet. Captain Adamson arrived with the first major reinforcement draft of 111 men while the unit was in Divisional Reserve and resting (Pt II D.O. 2 officers, 119 other ranks)at Westoutre (22 February). Lack of future replacements were beginning to threaten the continued existence of the Regiment. No formal agreement with the Canadian Defence and Militia Department concerning this matter had been reached when the Regiment was first authorized. A number of battalions from the first Canadian Contingent in England were made into Canadian Depot units. These were to feed the 1st Division when it was committed to the continent. It also became the source of reinforcements for the Regiment until June 1915. In particular the men joining the Patricia's came from the 12th; 23rd; 28th; 30th; and 32nd Canadian Expeditionary Battalions (the last four battalions' men collectively known as the "500 Draft". The 12th Battalion supplied most of the first reinforcement draft led by Captain Adamson). The second source of replacements from July to December 1915, and the one that ultimately saved the Regiment from extinction was the privately raised PPCLI Reinforcing Universities Companies."

From With The Patricia's In Flanders 1914-1918, Then & Now, Stephen K. Newman, Bellewarde House Publishing, Victoria, 2000

We know from the on-line file of Cpl. William Harvey, #51190, that the 27th (Cameron Highlanders) Battalion of Winnipeg also contributed volunteers to the "500 Draft"

Collectively the drafts from the last four units were assembled in Quebec City into one central draft administered by the staff of the 23rd Overseas Battalion and known as the "500 Draft". So the "small drafts" Hodder-Williams refers to (February 22, 1915 - 2 officers,111 other ranks; March 1, 1915 - 8 officers, 146 other ranks; March 27, 1915 - 3 officers, 66 other ranks) were in part, for the most part soldiers from the "500 Draft". These men had sailed from Halifax January 21, 1915 on the S.S. Vaderland with no or very little basic training. As well the majority had no military experience. So one can see that the men in the drafts sent in the February and March drafts would have only the very basic military training, unlike Canadian soldiers later in the war. The "500 Draft" landed in Liverpool January 30, 1915 and were sent to Canadahar Barracks, Tidworth to join the 12th Battalion, which had just been assigned as a reinforcement Battalion to the new 1st Canadian Division which  was about to be sent to France. The February and March drafts were sent to the P.P.C.L.I. from this depot.
S.S. Vaderland (later HMT Southland, 1915) 
Possibly the most noted member passing through the 23rd Battalion coming from the ranks and the one with the most distinguished career and highest ranked officer, was Private Melville Ten Broeke #51456. His service record can be found on-line HERE   Melville Ten Broeke enlisted November 3, 1914 in the 23rd Battalion, CEF in Edmonton and joined the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry from the "500 Draft" as a reinforcement soldier in France March, 1915. Born in India of British parents, the 24 year old Civil Engineer claimed to have belonged to the Bedford Territorials in Bedfordshire, England prior to emigrating to Canada, as well as the Canadian 101st Regiment, on settling in Edmonton. He was commissioned in June, 1916 and rose to the rank of Major before the end of the war. On reorganization of the Regiment as a unit within the permanent Force he was accepted with the rank of Major. At the termination of his period of command in 1932, he retired with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. On the outbreak of the Second World War, he volunteered once again and was appointed to the Command of the Western Regimental Depot. In 1943, after holding a number of Staff appointments, he resigned due to ill health. Died in Victoria 1963.

Circumstances of Death, L/Cpl Walter McKenzie #51268
Although the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry was a privately raised Canadian Battalion, it initially was assigned to the 80thBrigade, 27th Division, British Expeditionary Force. As a component of this unit, it entered the trenches on January 6, 1915 in the Dickebusch area of Belgium and began receiving casualties almost immediately. Particularly, because of the poor trench conditions, men suffered terribly in the first tour of duty from “trench feet” made worse by wet weather and from the flimsy Canadian-made boots with which they were equipped. In a period of less than three months, some 238 of their number had either been killed or wounded and another 200 or so were in hospital for “shell shock”. The casualties reached fifty in the first month including several officers. By February 21, the battalion was given a full week of relief and rest at Westoutre. However a few men from the 1st Contingents 12th Battalion, now considered a reinforcement Battalion, were sent to the P.P.C.L.I. in the field.  
L/Cpl Harry Crabtree, #51122, Voormezeele #3 Cemetery
 These soldiers and the "500 Draft" were the only reinforcements the P.P.C.L.I.were to receive until the early summer when specially raised University Companies began to cross the Atlantic. On May 8, 1915, after the infamous Battle of Bellewarde Ridge, the Battalion numbers were down to 4 officers and 150 men before being withdrawn from battle. We can see from the list of 125 reinforcements received from the 23rd Battalion that 46 died while in service of the P.P.C.L.I. and a further 2 were taken prisoners. The majority were wounded in the Battle of Bellewarde Ridge and other actions in April and May, 1915. Many had only been in battle a matter of days before becoming casualties. The reinforcement soldiers from the 23rd Battalion did the P.P.C.L.I. proud - a least 3 Military Crosses were won, a similar number of Military Medals and several bars, 2 Prisoners of War, 3 battlefield commissions, and a future Commanding Officer of the Regiment was guaranteed.
51010 Hart, William Sgt PPCLI Wnd 08/05/15 SOS 12/05/15
51011 Jones, Ivor Pte PPCLI DOW 09/05/15 Bailleul C.C. Ext
51013 Creed, Hugh Pte PPCLI Wnd 08/05/15 SOS 12/09/18
51015 Dorans, Neil Sgt PPCLI Wnd 04/05/15 SOS 07/05/15 Mtl Imp Forces Eng
51021 Lognon, Thomas W. Cpl PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate SA enl QC 36 QC
51025 Jones, Horace J. L/Cpl PPCLI Wnd 08/05/15 SOS 17/05/15 Imp Forces enl QC BC
51028 Mitchell, Robert A. L/Cpl PPCLI KIA 24/04/15 Menin Gate QOR 27 NS
51039 Ashwood, John Pte PPCLI Wnd 08/05/15 SOS 30/05/15 CAMC Mtl ImpForce Eng
51040 Angell, Walter F. Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate Mem. 31 enl Mtl Ont
51074 Brodie, Robert Pte PPCLI Wnd? also see #841225 enl Mtl Royal Navy Eng
51075 Bullen, Richard Pte PPCLI SOS to C.L.P. 09/03/18 enl QC Imp Forces Ire
51076 Burke, John J. Pte PP g 06/1915 SOS 21/06/15 QC ImpForces Eng PPCLI #489
51077 Bowe, James Pte PPCLI MIA 04/05/15 Menin Gate 38 enl QC Kilkenny, Ire
51078 Bradbury, Charles Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 08/05/15 Menin Gate 31 Eng
51079 Barry, John Pte enlist QC C.M.R. b.Eng
51080 Burrows, George W. Pte PPCLI DOW 11/05/15 Bailleul CC Ext
51081 Blair, John Pte enlist QC Imp Forces Eng
51082 Bunting, Frederick Pte PPCLI MM
51091 Cavanagh, Thomas L. Pte PPCLI
51114 Coullard, Frank Pte enlist QC 8th Regiment Royal Rifles Eng
51115 Chrystal, Martin Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate 35 Scot
51117 Campbell, Archie Pte PPCLI
51116 Carvosso, James Capt PPCLI MC & amp; bar as Pte com.16/10/16 6 X wnd Cal Eng
51118 Carlyle, John Pte enlist Mtl Terr Eng
51120 Carter, Michael Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate 37 enl Mtl QC
51119 Cleaver, Walter Pte enlist Mtl R.C.R. Eng
51121 Cave, Edward Pte enlist Mtl Terr Eng
51122 Crabtree, Harry Pte PPCLI KIA 16/03/15 Voormezeele Enc #3 Cemetery Eng.
51123 Curry, Abraham Pte enlist Mtl Imp Forces Eng
51124 Cawe, Jack Pte enlist Mtl Imp Forces Eng
51127 Dyer, Issac W. Pte enlist Mtl Imp Forces Eng
51128 Davidson, John Pte enlist Mtl 5th Regt. Scot
51129 Donaldson. Herbert Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/18 Menin Gate age 48 ex NWMP India
51131 Duncan, Robert Pte PPCLI see #1251022 age 23 Scot
51141 Denison, Edgar Street L/Cpl 16th Bn KIA 23/04/15 Menin Lark Hill Feb 9/15 35 Ont
51151 Edmondson, Samuel Pte PPCLI MIA MIA 04/06/16 Menin Gate 31 enl Mtl Ire
51152 Illingsworth, Frederick Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate 29 Eng
51157 Flannigan, Richard Pte enl Mtl Imp Forces Ire
51158 Farrell, Archie B. Cpl PPCLI DOW 31/10/17 9 Elms Brit Cem 31 enl Mtl Ire
51159 Flynn, Joseph Pte enl Mtl Imp Forces Eng
51168 Dibbs, David Pte PPCLI KIA 04/05/15 Tyne Cot MC age 33 enl Mtl Scot
51171 Gray, Archibald Pte PPCLI
51180 Gallagher, Patrick C. Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate 23 Eng
51182 Goodman, Thomas H.W. Pte enl Mtl Royal Navy Eng
51183 Grant, John Pte enl Mtl Nil Ire
51184 Gregory, Cecil Pte enl Mtl Nil Eng
51185 Garner, Harry Pte enl Mtl Imp Forces Eng
51186 Grainger, William H. Pte PPCLI DOW 16/04/17 Boulogne East Cem 1st Rgt 28 Eng
51187 Galbraith, Donald S. Pte PPCLI
51190 Harvey, William L/Cpl PPCLI KIA Bellewerde 04/05/15 Menin Gate Scotland
51215 Heath, Gideon Pte PPCLI DOD 23/03/15 Boulogne Eastern Cem. age 45 Scot
51216 Heath, William Pte enl Mtl C.A.S.C. 22 Eng
51217 Hales, James L/Cpl PPCLI Wnd 04/05/15 TOS 11/05/15 QC 1st GG 42 Eng
51218 Harper, Robert Pte enl QC Terr Eng
51219 Heap, Albert Pte enl Mtl Terr Eng
51220 Henderson, Alfred C. Pte PPCLI KIA 04/05/15 Menin Gate enl Mtl 25 Scot
51221 Harrison, John W. Pte enl QC Imp Forces Eng
51222 Horan, James Pte PPCLI
51239 Joe, Jaquet Pte PPCLI
51244 Johnston, John Edgar Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate enl QC enl QC 25 Eng
51248 James, George O. Sgt enl. QC Imp Forces Eng
51253 Saunders, William Sgt enl Mtl Royal Navy Eng
51257 Wylie, Richard Col Sgt enl QC Imp Forces Scot
51259 Mortimer, Arthur N.B. Capt PPCLI MC enl as Cpl comm. 05/11/16
51267 Worrall, Thomas P. Pte PPCLI enl Mtl IF wd GSW reinlist 08/08/18 4thBn Eng
51268 McKenzie, Walter Cpl PPCLI DOW 17/03/15 Bailleul Com Cem Ed age39 Scot
51270 Palmer, Charles E, L/Cpl enl QC R.G.A. Eng
51271 Scotting, John W. L/Cpl PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate Mem. 32 Eng.
51279 King, George Thomas Pte PPCLI KIA May8/15 Menin 32nd 22 Eng Bluestein medals
51288 Kennedy, Josiah A.C. Lt. PPCLI, comm. Royal Irish Rifles
51289 Kelly, John Pte PPCLI Acc nr Kemmel KIA 21/01/16 Menin enQC 28 Scot
51290 King, G. Pte enl QC Imp Forces Eng
51291 Kirby, William Pte PPCLI DOD 08/02/18 hearfailure Fosse #10 enl QC 34 Eng
51292 Knight, Richard Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate age 29 Eng
51293 Lovatt, Thomas Pte enl Mtl Terr Eng
51294 Lee, Robert Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 27 Imp Foces enl QC age 35 Scot
51295 Lamour, Robert Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate ex 3D gns 32 Ire
51296 Lawrence, Frank D. Pte PPCLI KIA 04/05/15 Menin Gate 33 SA Scot
51299 Longmate, John R. Pte PPCLI 11th Res enl. Tidworth underage Wnd June/15 Eng
51322 McRae, James Pte 16th Bn MIA 20/05/15 Vimy PPCLI Terr el QC age 28 Eng
51323 McPhee, Peter Pte PPCLI
51324 McGuirk, James Pte PPCLI MIA 02/06/16 Menin G Imp Forces enl QC 19 Eng
51345 Mackintosh, Peter E. Pte PPCLI
51346 McGregor, James Pte enl QC Imp Forces Scot
51347 Martin, Joseph Pte enl Mtl Royal Navy Eng
51348 Morgan, D.B. Pte enl QC 20th Horse Wales
51349 Middleton, John James Pte PPCLI DOW 11/05/15 Wimereux Com Cem age 34 Scot
51350 Middleton, J.K. Pte enl QC Imp Forces Scot
51351 Morgan, Edward Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate ImForces enl Mtl 32 Eng
51352 Manson, James Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate 21 Scot
51366 Newby, Sidney H. Pte enl Mtl Nil Eng
51369 Olive, John Pte enl Mtl Terr Eng
51382 Pearn, Robert Pte enl QC 102nd Regt 31 Eng
51396 Richardson, Eric Pte enl Mtl Nil Eng
51397 Ramshaw, Robinson W. Pte enl QC Imp Forces Eng
51413 Swan, Harry Hunt Pte PPCLI
51414 Savage, Henry E. Pte enl Mtl Imp Forces Eng
51415 Sullivan, Thomas Pte enl Mtl Imp Forces Eng
51416 Stephen, Alexander Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 Menin G Imp Forces enl QC 27 Scot
51417 Stowe, Edger Pte PPCLI POW 08/0515 MM Escapee 17/09/17 Eng
51418 Stewart, James Pte encl QC 8th Regt Eng
51419 Strachan, Allan Pte PPCLI KIA 15/03/15 Pheasant Wood Cem. Scot.
51420 Sprague, Charles H. Pte PPCLI
51421 Sutton, John Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 MeninG RCHA 38 Calgary Eng %
51422 Scott, Damiel Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate 19 Ire
51423 Scott, John Scott Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate 33 Scot
51424 Shapcott, William H. Pte enl Mtl 27th Horse Scot
51425 Sharpe, William H. Pte PPCLI POW 2/06/16 rel 22/11/18 32 Nil enl Mtl QC
51426 Stone, Leonard Pte PPCLI
51427 Sullivan, Robert M. Pte PPCLI POW 26/08/18 Rel 07/01/19 Mtl Terr Wales
51428 Smail, Joseph Alba Pte enl Mtl Imp Forces Scot
51441 Stewart, James Pte PPCLI KIA 04/05/15 Menin Gate 33 Ire
51454 Tildesley, Frederick Pte PPCLI
51455 Thornton, Harry W. Pte enl QC Aust. Mil. Eng
51456 Ten Broeke
51457 Tucker, Herbert Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin G Royal N enl Mtl 25 Nfld
51458 Tully, Thomas Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin G uncl.medals IF QC 32 Scot
51466 Upton, Harry Cpl enl QC Imp Forces Eng
51483 Wiltshire, Albert C. Pte enl Mtl Nil Eng
51484 Wilson, Arthur W. SQMS PPCLI DOD 11/05/19 Burton Leonard Church age 45 Eng
51485 Wells, Willoughby Pte enl Mtl Nil Eng
51486 Whiting, Harry Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 Menin G Terrs enl QC 36 Eng
51487 Welch, Thomas L/Cpl PPCLI DOW 24/03/15 Dickenbusch MC 6th Regt Mtl Eng.
51488 Wood, George Pte PPCLI MIA 02/06/16 Menin Gate also 4th Bn 39 Eng
51490 Wightman, Archibald Pte PPCLI
51491 Williamson, George Pte Terrs enl QC Scot
51489 Wood, George Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate 34 Eng
51492 Webb, John H. Pte enl QC Imp Forces Eng
I believe the first casualty to a 23rd Battalion replacement was Private Harry Crabtrre, #51122. From Steve Newman's fine work, With The Patricia's In Flanders, we see:

Crabtree, Harry Private 51122. Born in Rochdale, Lancashire, England Jul 1879. . Served with 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers (Volunteers). Employed as a moulder before joining 23rd Bn 23 Oct 1914. Became a member of the Patricia Reinforcements in Jan 1915 and joined PPCLI in the field in the St. Eloi Sector 11 Mar 1915. He was listed killed five days later on 16 Mar 1915. The enemy assaulted and captured the Mound at St. Eloi on the 14 Mar. The Battalion marched from their Reserve position at Westoutre to Dickebusch and then towards St. Eloi during the same evening. They were to attack and recapture the area West of the Mound in concert with the 4th Battalion Rifle Brigade in the early morning of the 15th. The attack was cancelled after Lt.-Col. Farquhar surveyed the scene after the initial foray towards the German positions. Casualties during this manoeuvre were Lt. Cameron killed along with seven NCOs and men killed. Pte Crabtree was among them. Another two officers and seventeen ranks were wounded. Age 35 (I believe one of the wounded was L/Cpl Walter McKenzie, also from the 23rd Battalion, who died of wounds the next day March 17, 1915)

A special word of thanks to Stephen K. Newman and members of the CEF Study Group Forum especially Jim "jayelbee" and "GrandfatherMichael" for their assistance on this topic over the years.

The listing of men from the 23rd Battalion that were drafted into the P.P.C.L.I. is incomplete and to be considered a work in progress. Any corrections, omissions or corrections would be greatly appreciated.

This blog is a compilation from a number of sources - some of the information may be repeated - I apologize for that.