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Tuesday, January 29, 2013


One of the items I have in my collection of items related to the 3rd Battalion is a small booklet titled " A Brief History of the 3rd Canadian Battalion Toronto Regiment". It is a 30 page synopsis of the founding, fighting and finishing days of this 1st Brigade, 1st Canadian Division battalion during World War One, the battalion my grandfather, Corporal John Cody.

I thought it might be interesting some to reproduce this booklet in a series of chronological blogs, featuring men of the battalion and archival material. This item does not show an author nor does it mention anything about a date or copyright so I am assuming it is safe to publish as it appears to be extremely old. A much more comprehensive history of the 3rd Battalion can be found in the book Battle Royal, Major D.J. Godspeed, The Royal Regiment of Canada, 1962.


S.S. Tunisian
The 3rd Canadian Battalion was formed in September, 1914, at Valcartier, Que., from drafts from three Toronto units, the 2nd Regiment, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, the 10th Royal Grenadiers and the Governor-General's Bodyguard. Lieut.-Col.Robert Rennie, M.V.O., (QOR) was placed in command. It at once became a unit of the 1st Canadian Infantry-Brigade under command of Brig.-General M.S. Mercer, (then Lieut.-Col.).

On October 3rd, in company with the remainder of the 1st Contingent, the battalion having embarked at Quebec on the S.S. Tunisian, sailed from Gaspe Bay for England and went under canvas on Salisbury Plain. Three and a half months were spent there in training, organizing and equipping and during this time the 1st Canadian Division was formed from the units comprising the First Contingent. Each of the selected battalions then received a name, and the battalion became the "3rd Canadian Battalion, Toronto Regiment."


Captain G.C. Ryerson, 3rd Battalion
In February the division crossed to France, the remainder of the contingent being left in England to supply (reinforcement) drafts. (editor's note: a large number of men, about 200, from the broken-up 9th Battalion were sent to the 3rd Battalion to replace ill, over aged, under aged and deserted soldiers of the 3rd).  On February 11th, the 3rd Battalion landed in France at St. Nazaire and after a 48 hours' train journey, went into it's first billets at Merris, 15 miles west of Armentieres. A few days later it received its initiation into trench warfare from the Imperial Divisions, holding the line before Armentieres, and on March 4th went into the line on its own for the first time, a little further south at Fleurbaix. Toward the end of March the division was relieved and moved south to take part in an attack on the Aubers Ridge, but this attack was cancelled, and the division marched up to the neighbourhood of Cassel, in the rear of the Ypres Salient, taking over in the middle of April the French trenches from Langemarck to Zonnebeke, northwest of Ypres, and thus forming the extreme left of the British Army.

Kitchener's Wood, 1915
On April 22nd the 2nd and 3rd Brigades were holding the line, the 2nd on the right, the 3rd on the left with the 1st Brigade in reserve about Vlamertinghe. In the afternoon the enemy launched the first gas attack of the war against the French and to a lesser extent against the Canadian left. The attack entirely broke the French, exposing the Canadian left flank which bent but held. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions, the latter commanded by Lieut.-Col. Rennie, were rushed up in support, arriving at midnight, and were attached to the Third Brigade at Shell-trap Farm. The former at once went into the line on the exposed left flank. During the following morning "C" and "D" Companies of the 3rd Battalion were placed under command of Major Kirkpatrick and moved forward to fill in a gap on the right of the 2nd Battalion between the famous Kitchener's Wood and the village of St. Julien. Throughout the day and night this flank held in spite of desperate German attacks, but the following day it was pushed back, "C" and "D" Companies being completely wiped out in a vain attempt to stem the tide. All this was done under heavy artillery fire and without artillery support, for the line had not been expected to hold and most artillery had been withdrawn. Meanwhile, many British battalions were being rushed up and about April 27th, the line was stabilized and the Division relieved, the 3rd Battalion being the last to be withdrawn. After several days in support, the division left the Salient and moved south. (editor's note: actually the Battalion moved back into the front line briefly on May 2, suffering a number of casualties). This was the battalion's first battle. It is known as the Second Battle of Ypres and the Canadian part of it as St. Julien sometimes Langemarck. It cost the battalion 19 officers and 460 men in casualties. (editor's note: It was at this time the 3rd Battalion received its first substantial reinforcements May 3 when some 296 men from the 23rd Battalion were sent to the 3rd Battalion while in reserve, including my grandfather).
Kitchener's Wood, 3rd Battalion, 1915
In May, in order to relieve the enormous pressure at Ypres, the First Army opened an attack at Festubert, a little north of Labassee, then the right of the British Line and after a couple of weeks rest, the Canadian Division was thrown in at this point.

Corporal J.W. "Jack" Finnemore  #9785 - 3rd Battalion
April 22, 1915  - 2nd Battle of Ypres
"I was wounded on the last jump over between leaving an old trench and building a new one. My brother F.A. Finnimore (Staff Sargeant Frank Finnimore #9781) was wounded there just before I was.I started to take his putee off when Captain Strait (Major John Everett Streight, Prisoner of War)said to me ".Come on Finnimore. Look after your section. Never mind, you'll have to leave him (my brother)." A newspaper back home reported that we kissed each other goodbye on the front, but I only did his leg up.That was all!." Jack was captured by the Germans and became a Prisoner of War. Frank survived his wounds.

Private Frank V. Ashbourne #9170 - 3rd Battalion
April 24, 1915 - 2nd Battle of Ypres
"We went into the line with a thousand and only two hundred of us came out of it. Sir John French said that it was our Battalion that stopped the advance of the Germans. "C" and "D" Companies suffered the most and were almost wiped out. I was with my brother Bert (Private Bertram Ashbourne #9171), shortly before we were separated by the gas attack at St. Julien, on April 24-25, 1915. My brother was wounded at Langemarck and taken prisoner of war. During the gas attack at St. Julien we lost the first line of trenches and had to move back to the supports. At the back of those trenches we lay down flat and covered our mouths with wet clothes, waiting for the Germans to come up. They came up slowly thinking we were all dead from their gas, but not so. It drifted slowly over us and showed the Germans about seventy-five yards away. We were suddenly ordered to rapid fire and I don't think that about more than a dozen Germans got away alive. We advanced again and regained our front trenches with minimum losses".

These men all survived the war.

(to be continued)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


"Miss Dorothy Paterson, 360 Queen Street, Peterboro, Ontario, Canada

Nov 23

My Dear little Daughter

I hope you are still looking after your Momma & Betty for me. Tell your Mom to hold your hand & write me a letter. Hope you are enjoying yourself.

From your loving Daddy"

So after a successful bid and it's arrival in the mail, I began my search for this author of this beautiful postcard, A search for the family in the 1911 Canadian Census brought no results, not surprising given that our young lady was probably less than 5 years old in 1916. A search of Canadian Expeditionary Force attestation papers proved inconclusive with a number of possibilities. A Google search for "Paterson" and "Peterborough" led me to the Trent Valley Archives website and their collection of early 20th Century Peterborough City Directories. My request to the archives was addressed by archivist Heather Aiton-Landry, who within a few days had found our Paterson family at the same address in the 1916 directory. With Heather's assistance, we were able to identify our "soldier Paterson" as Sergeant Albert Edward Paterson, #113476. With this information and the information on his attestation paper located with Library and Archives Canada, we were no able to locate the man and his family on We could then order his World War One service record from the same organization thus enabling us to trace his movements and activities during the war.
Alfred Edward Paterson was born October 11, 1881 in Birkenhead, Cheshire, England. Parents were Robert Paterson and Amelia Malone. In the 1901 English Census he is shown as having an older sister, Katie, We have found the service record for Albert Paterson joining the historic 17th Duke of Connaught's Own Lancers Regiment, September 5, 1901 in Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland with service number 5637. He gave his home address as 112 Shoe Lane, Fleet Street, London, next of kin Agnes, living in Paris. He served with the Lancers 11 years, five of those years in India with the last four as a Reservist living in Canada. He was diagnosed with Typhoid Fever in 1905 spending 9 months in hospital. We next found Albert Paterson immigrating to Canada arriving Quebec on the S.S.Tunisian sailing from Liverpool September 10, 1910. Soon after, he apparently found employment in Hamilton, Ontario at the Canadian General Electric (formerly Thomas Edison Canada) plant. Soon after we find him marrying Emma Rose Smith in Hamilton June 10, 1911. We did find a single "Emma Smith", living in Hamilton, born 1881, in both the 1901 and 1911 Canadian Census, We also found an "Emma Smith" in the LAC database Home Children born 1882,  arriving S.S. Dominion, one of 137 Barnardo Children headed for Peterborough. Heather-Aiton-Landry did locate the young Paterson family in several Peterborough city directories in a number of locations spread over several years., The common denominator having Albert Paterson employed as a receiver with  Canadian General Electric  in the city. I located the birth registration for Dorothy Agnes Paterson, born August 31, 1913 in Peterborough, with the family living at 51 Hunter Street East, parents Alfred and Emma Rose Paterson,

So Albert Paterson at the age of 33 years enlisted with "B" Company of the 8th Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles, that were recruiting in Peterborough, on March 29, 1916 as a Sergeant, He trained with the 8th CMR in Barriefield (Kingston) May and June 1915 and shipped with the Battalion to England from Montreal October 8, 1915 on the S.S. Missanbie, commanded by Lieut -Col. John R. Munro, from the 5th Dragoons in Ottawa. The 8th CMR were broken up for reinforcements shortly after arrival in England with 327 other ranks heading to the trenches of Belgium and France with Toronto's 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles and 374 other ranks heading to Ottawa's 39th Battalion, which in turn supplied infantry reinforcements to various units of the 4th Canadian Division  in the field. Our Sergeant Paterson was included in this latter movement.

May1, 1916, Sergeant Paterson was reduced in rank to Private, at his own request, probably in order to be sent into battle. He was transferred May 3, 1916 to the Canadian Army Service Corps Training Camp, Shorncliffe Camp. While serving with this unit on May 15, 1916, he was kicked by a horse suffering a fractured lower patella and had an operation "joining the edges by passing silver wire through drill holes" being hospitalized over 140 days before being discharged to duty and unit in Shorncliffe Camp, Oct. 19, 1916. Private Paterson was transferred to the Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre, Hastings, Feb. 2, 1917 and then to 3rd Canadian Convalescent Centre, St. Leonard's Hospital. Finally released back to the Canadian Army Service Corps DD, Shorncliffe, July 31, 1917. Taken on service Canadian Army Veterinary Corps, Shorncliffe, Oct. 19, 1917. Transferred to 1st Canadian Veterinary Hospital, France, Jan. 1,1918. Transferred to Canadian Labour Pool Jan.25, 1918. Finally to 24th Company, Canadian Forestry Corps (as B2 clerk), France. Treated for bronchitis and leg weakness Oct. 1918.

Private Albert Paterson returned to Halifax, NS on the HMT Baltic Feb. 5, 1919. He was discharged as"having been found as medically unfit for service" March 3, 1919 in Toronto. His intended place of residence was, where else, 380 Queen Street, Peterborough, Ontario.
At this point I have found no further information on the family or their whereabouts except to note from his service file, the death of Alfred E. Paterson, #113476, Feb. 6, 1966 in Veteran's Section, University Hospital, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Young Dorothy Paterson would be 100 years old this year. And younger sister, Betty? We wonder if any family survive?