The Provincial Flag of British Columbia, Victoria, B.C.

The Provincial Flag of British Columbia, Victoria, B.C.

B.C.’s 1914 Canadian Expeditionary Force Battalions

On August 4, 2014 the 100th anniversaries of the Great War will be launched.  On this day in 1914 Britain declared war against Germany launching itself and the nations of the Commonwealth into the fray. As mentioned, in an earlier blog, this date will be the start of numerous commemorations but for today, as it is B.C. Day, we acknowledge the 1914 units of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) that represent British Columbia.

Who were these first units of the CEF? Firstly the CEF was a whole new army for that generation of the Great War. Canada’s militia units were quite distinct from the CEF being formed pre-war but certainly remained in place as centers of recruitment and many militia soldiers joined the CEF. If one was to look at the attestation papers of B.C. soldiers many of their forms would show prior service with the 6th Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own), the 72nd Regiment (Seaforth Highlanders of Canada) and many other B.C. militia units.

The 1914 CEF infantry units synonymous with British Columbia include the 7th Canadian Infantry Battalion (The 1st B.C. Regiment) who served in Canada from September 1914 to October 3, 1914 and then proceeded to England with the First Canadian Contingent. The 16th Canadian Infantry Battalion (The Canadian Scottish) shared the same timeline as the 7th Canadian Infantry Battalion. The 29th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Tobin’s Tigers) who served in Canada from October 24, 1914 but did not proceed overseas until May 1915. The 30th Canadian Infantry Battalion (The 2nd B.C. Regiment) who commenced service in Canada in late October 1914 proceeded overseas February 23, 1915. Among their personnel was none other than Captain Cy Peck who later command the 16th Battalion C.E.F. (Canadian Scottish) and was awarded the Victoria Cross and the Distinguished Service Order and Bar. Peck was another soldier with pre-Great War service in the Canadian Militia of B.C. being a member of the 88th Regiment (Victoria Fusiliers).

Cyrus Wesley Peck V.C., D.S.O. and Bar

Cyrus Wesley Peck V.C., D.S.O. and Bar

The 7th Battalion and 16th Battalion would serve in France and Flanders as part of the First Canadian Division. The 29th would become part of the Second Canadian Division and the 30th, like so many of the 260 numbered infantry battalions, would be broken up to provide reinforcements in the field. Many other battalions from British Columbia would follow their 1914 brethren. Some battalions would serve in France and Flanders but the majority, were disbanded becoming part of the Canadian Reserve Battalion system that distributed reinforcements to units fighting in France and Flanders.

Soldier statue atop the War Memorial, Victoria, B.C

Soldier statue atop the War Memorial, Victoria, B.C

1914 B.C. Canadian Expeditionary Force Fatalities (Organized by Date)

Robert Arthur Wellesley
16th Battalion CEF
September 19, 1914
Buried: Quebec City (Mount Hermon) Cemetery, Quebec, Canada

Douglas Kirkpatrick Benham
16th Battalion CEF (Canadian Scottish)
November 16, 1914
Buried: Orcheston St. Mary Churchyard, Wiltshire, England

Warren Addison Ash
7th Battalion CEF (1st B.C. Regiment)
November 21, 1914
Buried: Oswestry General Cemetery, Shropshire, England

Hugh Alexander Peden
16th Battalion CEF (Canadian Scottish)
December 7, 1914
Buried: Bulford Church Cemetery, Witshire, England

Wreath at the Victoria War Memorial.

Wreath at the Victoria War Memorial.

1914 B.C. Militia Unit Fatalities (Organized by Date)

Frank C. Taylor
102nd Regiment (Rocky Mountain Rangers)
September 4, 1914
Kamloops (Pleasant Street) Cemetery, B.C., Canada

John P. Desales
11th Regiment (Irish Fusiliers)
September 8, 1914
Buried: Canadian Forces Base Military Cemetery, Quebec, Canada

John Williams Barnes
50th Regiment (Gordon Highlanders)
October 6, 1914
Buried: Victoria (Ross Bay Cemetery), B.C., Canada

Thomas Stone
72nd Regiment (Seaforth Highlanders)
October 11, 1914
Nanaimo Public Cemetery, B.C., Canada

Carl Henry Lennard
102nd Regiment (Rocky Mountain Rangers)
December 19, 1914
Revelstoke (Mountain View) Cemetery, B.C., Canada

Other Units

George Hawkins
Leading Seaman
H.M.C.S. Rainbow (Royal Canadian Navy)
September 22, 1914
Veterans’ Cemetery (Esquimalt), B.C., Canada

Did you know?

The only C.E.F. unit whose personnel served at the front in 1914 was 160 members of the 2nd Canadian Stationary Hospital, Canadian Army Medical Corps. Landing at Havre, France November 9, 1914 they journeyed to Rouen and Boulogne. On November 27, 1914 they established a hospital 21 miles south of Boulogne at the Hotel du Golf, Le Touquet, Paris-Plage capable of accommodating 300 patients.

On December 4, 1914 they received their first patients who were suffering from frostbite, swollen feet and minor gunshot wounds. A Roman Catholic chaplain, Major S. Jolicoeur, was attached to their staff December 27, 1914.

Hospital Details from Appendix 2 of the unit’s war diary:

“The GOLF HOTEL is a building three stories and basement high. Arrangements were made by the Base Commandant, and the A.D.W., Boulogne, and the owners whereby it was to be used as a hospital. Immediately to the south of the hotel building is the LE TOUQUET GOLF COURSE and the men of the unit were billeted in the Club House. The Nursing Sisters took over the Villa Tino, east of the hospital, and the officers occupied the Robinson Villa a little farther east. Arrangements for these villas were made between the Base Commandant, Boulogne, and the owners. The hotel was divided into ten wards named as follows: – New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec, Yukon, Manitoba, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Inventory of all hotel furniture taken over for hospital equipment was taken and the work of converting the hotel into a hospital was commenced.”

About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was captivated by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Over time Paul became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography, narration and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was inspired when he learned Weir visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. "Gallipoli", the film, led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii, Gallipoli, North Macedonia and Salonika. When Paul first watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests was a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, Paul believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


One Response to “B.C. DAY & THE GREAT WAR”

  1. pferguson pferguson says:

    Thank you for this.

    The P.P.C.L.I. arrived off Havre, France December 21, 1914. On December 29, two officers, Major Gault and Captain Smith, as well as two non-commissioned officers were sent to the trenches at Kemmel where they spent 24 hours gaining experience. Others would be posted for similar experience in early 1915.

    A visit to the Western Front should include a visit to Kemmel.

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