2nd (Eastern Ontario Regiment) Battalion, CEF


2nd (Eastern Ontario Regiment) Battalion, CEF

The 2nd (Eastern Ontario Regiment) Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force was created in response to the First World War. The battalion comprised local militia in many regions of Ontario (and even from Quebec City). Men came from as far away as Sault Ste. Marie to join in Canada’s military endeavor. Local militia gathered at Valcartier, in August 1914 and became part of the 2nd Battalion. The original officers were gathered from various regiments within the battalion, including the Governor General's Foot Guards of Ottawa, the 16th Prince Edward Regiment, the 40th Northumberland Regiment, the 41st Brockville Rifles, and the 42nd Regiment (Lanark and Renfrew), among others. The battalion boarded the "S.S. Cassandra" from Quebec City on 22 September 1914, but sailed only as far as the Gaspe Basin, where more troops were collected. The battalion finally left the Gaspe Basin on 3 October as part of a convoy of at least 30 other ships, carrying a combined 32,000 Canadian soldiers, which would be the first of the Canadian infantry contributions to the war. The "Cassandra" landed at Plymouth on 25 October, where the battalion disembarked and began rigorous training for the European battlefield. On 8 February 1915, the battalion was mobilized for war. They sailed out of England aboard the "S.S. Blackwell", bound for France. The battalion’s first taste of battle came later that month, on 19 February, when they entered the trench system at Armentieres. The first major battle to which the 2nd Battalion contributed was the Second Battle of Ypres, in April 1915. When the battalion pulled out of the battle, on 29 April, the final count included 6 officers and 68 other ranks killed, 4 officers and 158 other ranks wounded, and 5 officers and 302 other ranks missing, for a combined loss of 543 men. The 2nd Battalion also fought at the battles of Ypres, St. Julien, Festubert, Pozieres, Vimy (1917), Arleux, Hill 70, Passchendaele, Amiens, and Canal du Nord, to name only a few. By the end of the war, 242 officers and 5,084 other ranks had fought with the battalion. Of those, 52 officers and 1,227 other ranks were killed in action, accidentally killed, or died of their injuries. At 8:30 on the morning of 24 April 1919, the 2nd Battalion was officially demobilized at Kingston, Ontario. The Colours of the 2nd Battalion, consisting of the King’s Colour (presented by His Majesty King George V) and the Regimental Colour (presented by Mr. Charles Band), were kept by the congregation of St Paul’s Church in Bowmanville, Ontario, from 1921 to 1942. In 1942, it was decided the Colours should be moved due to decay, and were entrusted to Dr. Gustave Lanctot, Dominion Archivist. When the Military Museum was completed, the Colours held a place of honour for all to see, never again to be moved.

References

*“Eight More Officers Reported Wounded.” Globe and Mail. 27 April 1915: A2.
*Hopkins, J. Castell. Canada at War: a Record of Heroism and Achievement, 1914-1918. Toronto: the Canadian Annual Review Limited, 1919.
*Meek, John F. Over the Top: the Canadian Infantry in the First World War. 1971.
*Morton, Desmond. "Canadian Expeditionary Force." The Oxford Companion to Canadian History. Ed. Gerald Hallowell. Oxford University Press, 2004.
*Murray, Colonel W. W. The History of the 2nd Canadian Battalion (Eastern Ontario Regiment) Canadian Expeditionary Force. Ottawa: Mortimer Ltd., 1947.


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