Read Brave Battalion Online

Authors: Mark Zuehlke

Brave Battalion

Table of Contents
 
 
 
Other Military History by Mark Zuehlke
For Honour's Sake: The War of 1812 and the Brokering of an Uneasy Peace
Terrible Victory: First Canadian Army and the Scheldt Estuary Campaign: September 13-November 6, 1944
Holding Juno: Canada's Heroic Defence of the D-Day Beaches: June 7-12, 1944
Juno Beach: Canada's D-Day Victory: June 6, 1944
The Gothic Line: Canada's Month of Hell in World War II Italy
The Liri Valley: Canada's World War II Breakthrough to Rome Ortona: Canada's Epic World War II Battle
The Canadian Military Atlas: Four Centuries of Conflict from New France to Kosovo
(with C. Stuart Daniel)
The Gallant Cause: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939
Copyright © 2008 by Mark Zuehlke
All rights reserved. No part of this work covered by the copyright herein may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means—graphic, electronic or mechanical without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any request for photocopying, recording, taping or information storage and retrieval systems of any part of this book shall be directed in writing to The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access Copyright). For an Access Copyright license, visit
www.accesscopyright.ca
or call toll free 1-800-893-5777.
 
Care has been taken to trace ownership of copyright material contained in this book. The publisher will gladly receive any information that will enable them to rectify any reference or credit line in subsequent editions.
 
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Data
Zeuhlke, Mark
Brave battalion : the remarkable saga of the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) in the First World War / Mark Zeuhlke.
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
eISBN : 978-0-470-73897-9
 
1. Canada. Canadian Army. Battalion, Canadian Scottish, 16th—History. 2. Canada. Canadian Army—History—World War, 1914-1918. 3. World War, 1914-1918—Regimental histories—Canada. I. Title.
 
D547.C2Z.4'1271 C2008-902644-6
 
Production Credits
Cover and interior text design: Michael Chan
Typesetting: Michael Chan
Maps: C. Stuart Daniel
Front cover photo: Library and Archives Canada/PA3223
Back cover photo: Library and Archives Canada/PA1020
Printer: Tri-Graphic Printing Ltd.
 
John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
6045 Freemont Blvd.
Mississauga, Ontario
L5R 4J3
 
This book is printed with biodegradable vegetable-based inks. Text pages are printed on 55lb TG Eco 100, Natural and insert pages are printed on 80lb Lustro Dull Natural (10% recycled).
 
, an FSC certified printer.
 
TR
Order of Battle for
the Canadian Infantry
- 1914-1918 -
 
 
Section:
12 men, commanded by a corporal. Also a small unit performing special duties (signals, machine-gun detachments, bombers) alongside or within companies.
 
Platoon:
Four sections, 48 men, commanded by a lieutenant or second lieutenant.
 
Company:
Four platoons, 200 men, including company HQ, commanded by a major or captain.
 
Battalion:
Four companies, 1,000 men, including battalion HQ and specialists, commanded by a lieutenant colonel.
 
Brigade:
Four battalions, 4,000 men, commanded by a brigadier general.
 
Division:
Three brigades, 12,000 men plus 6,000 artillery, commanded by a major general.
 
Corps:
Two or more divisions, 60,000-100,000 men, commanded by a lieutenant general. Also a large body of troops devoted to a specific purpose (e.g., Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps).
 
Army:
Two or more corps, 200,000 or more men, commanded by a general.
Order of Ranks in
the Canadian Infantry
- 1914-1918 -
 
 
 
Generals
General (Gen.)
Lieutenant General (Lt.-Gen.)
Major General (Maj.-Gen.)
Brigadier General (Brig.-Gen., or Brig.)
 
Officers
Colonel (Col.)
Lieutenant Colonel (Lt.-Col.)
Major
Captain
Lieutenant (Lt.)
Second Lieutenant (2
nd
Lt.)
 
Non-Commissioned Ranks
Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM)
Company Sergeant Major (CSM)
Staff Sergeant (S/Sgt.)
Sergeant (Sgt.)
Lance Sergeant (L/Sgt.)
Corporal (Cpl.)
Lance Corporal (L/Cpl.)
Private (Pte.)
Acknowledgements
The genesis for
Brave Battalion
arose out of a conversation with Don Loney, executive editor at John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd. Don was thinking about the fact that 2008 marked the 90
th
anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I on November 11, 1918. His paternal grandfather, William Loney, had been a World War I veteran, emigrating to Canada from his native Perth, Scotland, in 1908. A sergeant, he had suffered a shrapnel wound to the leg while serving in the 42
nd
Battalion Royal Highlanders of Canada (perpetuated as 2
nd
Battalion, Royal Highlanders of Canada). One of Don's prized possessions is
42
nd
Battalion Royal Highlanders of Canada, 1914-1919
, a history of the battalion by Lt.-Col. C. Beresford Topp published in 1931 by the 42
nd
's regimental association. Such histories were common in the years that followed the end of World War I and the outbreak of World War II. As was normally the case, this one was written by an officer who had served in the battalion—Topp having risen to the rank of major while with the 42
nd
Battalion.
Most recent Canadian works on World War I, Don noted, either provided a general overview of the course of the war or chronicled one specific landmark battle, such as Vimy Ridge or the 2
nd
Battle of Ypres. While such approaches had their obvious merits, the former generally lacked the personal experiences of soldiers, such as William Loney, while the latter was limited to a tightly confined timeframe. Don's idea was to follow the war's course from beginning to conclusion through the lens of a single Canadian battalion. Was I interested in writing such a book?
I had a personal link to World War I as well. Two great-uncles, Fred and Frank Zuehlke, had served in Canadian battalions. Great-Uncle Fred had lost an arm at Vimy Ridge. Great-Uncle Frank spent much of the war as a prisoner in Germany. Deeply scarred psychologically by his prison experiences, Frank took his life in the 1920s. As a boy, I had known Great-Uncle Fred well. But, like most veterans, he seldom spoke of his wartime experiences. A battalion history would present a good opportunity to explore what my two relatives had lived through.
Don's idea was not, of course, entirely original. A few similar books had appeared in the 1980s and 1990s, but I was intrigued by the idea and thought a new work in this mould warranted if the battalion selected was present from outbreak to end of hostilities. That limited the selection to the 1
st
Canadian Infantry Division battalions or the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. This latter battalion was distinct in that it had been privately funded and raised, so I eliminated it from consideration. As I homed in on the 1
st
Division battalions it was the 16
th
Battalion (The Canadian Scottish) that kept drawing my eye. One reason for this was that the Canadian Scottish was formed of young men drawn from four communities that in large measure typified the national character in 1914. The other was that the battalion was present at virtually every major battle Canada fought during the war. It was also a Highland regiment and had arguably been the Canadian battalion most attached to the tradition of going into battle led by pipers, which yielded some fine anecdotal material.
I am grateful that Don left the decision of the battalion to be chronicled in my hands and for approaching me with the idea. His faith in my ability to deliver a compelling book never wavered.
Of immeasurable assistance in creating a compelling recounting of the Canadian Scottish battalion's World War I experience was its official history:
The History of the 16
th
Battalion (The Canadian Scottish), Canadian Expeditionary Force
published in 1932 and written by Hugh MacIntyre Urquhart. This former Canadian Scottish officer was able to draw on many letters from those who served with him during the war. Having kept a personal diary, Urquhart was able to enrich the battalion history with many intimate details and observations about daily life in the trenches and within the battalion.
Urquhart's diary was one of many documents I was able to consult at the University of Victoria's Special Collections where the Canadian Scottish Regiment has deposited its archival collection. Staff at Special Collections were endlessly helpful in making these documents available for study. Bob Darnell and others at the Canadian Scottish Regiment's museum in the Bay Street Armoury were also forthcoming with advice and much support for this project.
Thanks also to Carol Reid and Jane Naisbitt at the Canadian War Museum and to staff at Library and Archives Canada.
Once again my agent, Carolyn Swayze, stickhandled the contractual negotiations and details with her usual consummate skill.
Yet again Frances Backhouse provided endless support as I stepped once more into the breach to write another military history.
prologue
Make Every Sacrifice
- AUGUST 1914 -
From the Atlantic to the Pacific the nation simmered under a heat wave that first August weekend of 1914. The Bank Holiday—a time when families traditionally gathered on beaches and picnicked in parks, when lovers strolled arm in arm, when crowds thronged downtown city streets to watch parades of marching bands and club floats and cheered the local teenaged queen. In Victoria, Vancouver, and far to the east in Hamilton, cooling breezes eased the heat while Winnipeg and the rest of the prairies sweltered under temperatures ranging between thirty-four and forty degrees Celsius. A few blamed the heat for the air of distraction that noticeably diminished the appetite for the festivities, but most recognized a far graver reason was responsible. For this was the first August weekend of 1914. Canada and the world teetered on the edge of a precipice.

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