Once again, the Regiment has worked with its fellow regiments, The Governor General’s Horse Guards (GGHG) and The Royal Regiment of Canada to honour the 3rd Battalion (Toronto Regiment), Canadian Expeditionary Force, which each unit perpetuates.
On May 30th, the GGHG dedicated new markers in the town of Courcelette to commemorate the battle honours of Somme 1916, Pozieres, Flers-Courcelette and Ancre Heights, all costly battles for the 3rd Battalion and the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, which the GGHG also perpetuate.
Costs for the memorials are shared between the three regiments. Previous markers commemorate St. Julien and Passchendaele, and a marker for Mount Sorrel was dedicated in June.
One of the friends of the museum WO (Ret) Bruce Walter CD, sent us a great photo of the HQ Lewis Gun section of the 3rd Canadian Battalion, Toronto Regiment taken on January 1st, 1919 “on the Rhine, Germany”. The photo includes his wife’s grandfather – James Herbert Smith.
Bruce recently wrote to us with an update and a request:
"It's been almost a year since I sent those pictures and I've even met a descendant of one of the guys who served with Leanne's grandfather! The guy on the far left of the 2nd row is Frank Adderley (mis-spelled on the back). He sits beside Leanne's grandfather, Herb Smith (2nd from left in the 2nd row). Maureen Adderley is the granddaughter of Frank and we met her (finally) this past Remembrance Day.
I'd like to initiate a search to find present day descendants of these men. I'll be using the information from the back of the picture and also information taken from their Attestation papers. From there I hope to "reach out" to localities and newspapers. I was wondering if you could initiate an item on the QOR web page in case there are any descendants still contact with the QOR (or possibly still serving)!"
So we’re doing just that. Below is the information from the back of the photograph about the soldiers.
If you have any information that you think might be able to help Bruce, you can contact him directly via email by clicking here.
Major Adam Saunders is a Queen’s Own Rifles officer currently posted to 32 Brigade Headquarters. His grandfather Thomas Cully, served in D Company, 3rd Toronto Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force. This article was written by Adam while in Belgium.
Most of the participants eyes were watering, as the scene at Vancouver Corner was an emotional one. The tears were from being lost in another time while listening to Belgian school children signing songs of peace and remembrance. One hundred years earlier the tears at this place were a result of the effects of the first industrial scale gas attack in history. Here we stood at the Vancouver Corner Memorial at 5 pm on April 22nd, 2015, lost in the nightmarish reflections of 5 pm on the 22nd of April 1915 when the German Army unleashed chlorine gas against the French portion of the Ypres salient. Canadians immediately felt the effects of the ensuing attack by the German ground troops. The French line had broken and the Canadian flank was ripped open.
Today school children, diplomats, history books, photos, the land itself all reflect the scars from 100 years earlier. The Canadian ambassador to Belgium, together side by side with the German ambassador to Belgium, laid a wreath at the foot of the Brooding Soldier monument on the 100th Anniversary. It was a fitting union of remembrance and forgiveness. The children sang songs of forgiveness, but nothing tells the story like the tens of thousands of graves and a few massive memorials in the Ypres salient marking the final resting places of a generation efficiently mowed down by industrialized warfare.
On April 24th 1915 the Canadians would soon have their turn to experience the full-on effects of chlorine gas. The gas was indiscriminate. It routed out mice and rats and rabbits from their homes in the ground and it strangled sheep and cattle. The gas also kills people. Our troops suffered the full effects of the chlorine gas, just as the French had two days previous. We were better prepared and managed to hold some of the challenged ground and many still hold that very ground. They are included on the lists of the missing and are more than likely in the ground in the area.
For a week previous in 1915, the Canadian 2nd and 3rd brigades had been occupying the front lines of the already infamous Ypres salient. They were tucked between the French on the left and the British on the right. Our 1st Brigade under then Brigadier General Malcolm S. Mercer (of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada) was held in reserve near Vlamertinghe. Finally after the Division was subjected to six months of awful weather, it was spring. It was a nice day.
Early on April 22nd it was becoming evident a German attack was imminent. The reserve brigade was put on short-notice-to-move a number of times. As pressure mounted throughout the day and that evening on our two brigades in the front line it became necessary to push the 1st brigade forward into the evolving battle. The battalions of the 1st brigade (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th) were sent forward in pairs. The 1st and the 4th engaged in a heroic action up Mauser Ridge to establish some kind of viable flank to protect against the rapidly advancing Germans. The French army had all but ceased to be an effective force due to the initial gas attack and the Canadians had to re-establish some semblance of a protracted defensive line.
The 2nd and 3rd battalions crossed the Yser canal at pontoon bridge number 4, in the dark moving past Essex Farm where John McCrea’s medical teams were at the ready. They marched cross country past the ongoing flanking attacks of Geddes detachment and the 1st and 4th. As the 3rd advanced towards Mousetrap Farm which was the 3rd Brigade HQ, they suffered their first casualties from German artillery fire. Those who were killed were immediately buried and those wounded were the first guests of the newly established forward medical aide stations, manned by stretchers bearers, medics and battalion Medical Officers.
As the 3rd awaited orders, 400 yards away the 10th and 16th Battalions were ordered forward into the legendary attack of Kitchener’s Wood just before midnight. The battalions formed up in line by company and advanced in the dark towards the woods, using the North Star as navigation reference. They chased the Germans out at bayonet point and recaptured the guns lost by an London Artillery unit days earlier. The 10th and 16th ceased to be effective fighting forces due to the number of casualties they sustained, yet more was expected of them over the next few hours.
C and D companies of the 3rd Battalion under QOR Major Kirkpatrick were ordered to plug a gap in the line between Kitchener’s Wood and St Julien. These men formed up in line by company, and advanced cross-country in short rushes. They came under fire and fought a pitched battle from farm house to farm house. Our men dug in under fire and under cover of darkness. Many officers and men had been killed. From first hand accounts, the officers led from the front and their men bravely followed. In the morning of the 24th it was the Canadians turn to suffer a gas attack. Artillery fire preceded the gas and followed-on after the gas, as did masses of advancing German soldiers. The Germans were flanking the Canadians so the order to retire was given. The men of C and D companies had nowhere to go. Their comrades from A and B companies, just 500 yards away heard the withering fire as they ran out of ammunition and were silenced. Six wounded men had escaped from the two forward companies. The rest were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. The Ross rifles our men were using weren’t up to the task of such a fight.
On our right an equally dramatic and heroic battle was taking place with the 13th and 15th battalions. A Victoria Cross was won that day by Corporal Fred Fisher of the 13th. Both battalions faced the gas attack, full on.
For the historians in the crowd we think deeply about the exploits of this one battle and the losses of so many brave souls. It doesn’t seem to make sense now and it was on an unfathomable scale, but our thoughts return to the Belgian school children finishing songs of peace and forgiveness. I stood today for my grandfather Thomas Cully service number 10014 of D Coy. I remember all his pals and their families from the 3rd on the solemn and historical day. I shared the day at this place with a few new and old friends, many of whom were here for the same reason as I. I was here to feel, to remember, to be sad, to look for meaning and to thank goodness for all that we have as Canadians.
Sadly there remain 4 years of such commemorations. We will tire of hearing about WW1 soon enough, yet imagine how tired a generation became of fighting it 100 years ago.
Private Harold Reginald Peat (3rd Battalion), Lieutenant Colonel Pete Anderson, DSO (3rd Battalion) and Sergeant Arthur Gibbons (1st Battalion) each wrote and published first hand accounts of this battle. They are well worth a read. Peat’s “Private Peat“*, Anderson’s “I, That’s Me” and Gibbons’ “A Guest of the Kaiser” are available online at no cost.
*Perhaps also worth noting that in 1918 Peat’s book was made into a silent film in which he starred as himself:
“This propaganda picture was based on a book of the same name by Harold R. Peat, and put together inexpensively by Artcraft/Paramount with the help of newsreel footage. Peat, one of the first North Americans to enlist in World War I, was actually a Canadian, but here they make him a red-blooded American. He is alone in the world, except for his girlfriend Mary (Miriam Fouche), and he is anxious to join up when war breaks out. But the army rejects him because of his small chest. He is despondent until he and his friend, Old Bill, concoct a scheme whereby they are both accepted. After a stint in training camp, Harry bids his sweetheart Mary goodbye and accompanies Bill to France. Following several adventures at the front, Bill is killed and Harold, in trying to save a load of ammunition, is wounded. Harold spends some time in a French hospital, after which Mary comes to France to bring her heroic private home.” [from silenthollywood.com]
Libraries and Archives Canada had scanned several hundred pages of these diaries and posted them on to their website as jpeg photos. As valuable as this was, they were impossible to search and the way they were listed on their site made it a challenge to find a particular date quickly.
So in the Fall of 2012, we undertook to crowd-source the transcriptions of these pages and were very pleasantly surprised by the results! Within just eleven weeks, 27 volunteers all recruited online and some from the far corners of the world, had transcribed 53 months of diaries and they were posted on our website! This has also allowed us to link to other information on our website such as specific soldier profiles and to include photos of relevant artifacts. We continue to add to these pages as we can.
I highly encourage you to check them out if you have not already done so because they give, in concise military way, a chilling perspective on this horrible war.
We’ve received some positive feedback on this resource but I was particularly pleased to see the recent comment reprinted below, from a US Army Lieutenant Colonel whose Scottish grandfather crossed the border from US to join the 255th Battalion, CEF. He eventually see combat with the 3rd Battalion. His story also illustrates how the war continued to impact families long after it had ended.
Thanks for transcribing the 3rd Bn war diaries. In August 1913, my grandfather, John Denning Wallace, immigrated from Paisley, Scotland to Kearny, New Jersey. In April 1918, he crossed the border and joined the Toronto Regiment to fight with the CEF in WWI. He served with the 3rd Bn on the front lines near Arras, France, from November 1917 until July 15, 1918, when he sustained a gunshot wound in the left arm. In February 1919, he was medically discharged for the “GSW left arm” and for “trench exposure.” A few years later, he died from the trench exposure at age 30 .
On review of my grandfather’s CEF discharge certificate and military records, they did not reveal how he sustained his combat wound, and for many years I often wondered. Thankfully, the 3rd Bn war diaries provided me with some background. The 3rd Bn war diaries for July 14-16 1918, and the 3rd Bn end of month casualty report for July 1918, reveal that my grandfather, “Wallace, J.D.”, and three other 3rd Bn soldiers were wounded by machine gun fire whilst “laying wire ” near Post 7 in the Fampough sector near Arras. The next day, one had died from his wounds.
Units of the Canadian Armed Forces often follow the tradition of presenting new members of the unit with a regimental coin. These coins are normally serialized, based on the member’s date of service with the unit, with a registry of coins being held by regimental headquarters.
The coin is meant to be symbol of membership within the unit, with members expected to carry their coin at all times.
During Lieutenant Colonel Fotheringham’s first term as Commanding Officer, then Company Sergeant Major Shaun Kelly created a unique initiative which incorporated the exclusive membership aspect of a regimental coin whilst also honouring the history of the Regiment. Instead of a coin which is serialized to the member based on the date of service with the unit, members of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada are issued a coin with the particulars of a member of the Regiment who died during one of the wars which the Regiment fought in. They were first presented to members of the regiment on Remembrance Day 2002.
The antique pewter like coin is 39mm in diameter. The Obverse has the Primary Badge surrounded by the name of the regiment and the regimental motto “In Pace Paratus”. The Reverse has inscribed the particulars of the member whom the coin is dedicated to:
Rank, Initials, Surname;
KIA or D/W; and
date of death.
A coin is presented to each member of the Regiment by the Commanding Officer or Regimental Sergeant Major on the first Church Parade which the member participates in after having been “badged” into the Regiment.
The Names Behind the Coins
But carrying the coin is just the first step. Riflemen are strongly encouraged to research the soldier named on their coin and many do. This makes the act of remembrance much more meaningful.
On our Regimental Museum website we have a section called “Soldiers of the Queen’s Own” in which we are adding biographies of soldiers who have served in the regiment – during any period since 1860 – or in the First World War battalions that we perpetuate. To date we’ve only added a very tiny sampling.
But we want to continue to expand this depository particularly as we approach the centenary of the First World War. If you’ve researched the soldier named on your coin, we strongly encourage you to send us whatever information you have – it can be in point form – so that we can add it to our website.
Please email your information to firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure you include all the details from your coin as a starting point.
You can now find the original nominal rolls for each of our perpetuated battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on our Archives Page: https://qormuseum.org/archives/
These searchable nominal rolls issued with Militia Orders in 1915, includes service number, rank, name, previous military service, name of next of kin, address of next of kin, country of birth, and date and place taken on strength.
April is a significant month for the Queen’s Own Rifles for a number of reasons and this week in particular. In this post we’ll take a look at a few.
2nd Battle of Ypres and the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF)
When the 3rd Battalion was raised for the Canadian Expeditionary Force in September 1914, it consisted mostly of soldiers from the Queen’s Own Rifles including all three of its wartime Commanding Officers, however it also had elements from the 10th Royal Grenadiers and the Governor General’s Bodyguard. Today the 3rd Battalion, CEF is perpetuated by the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada and the Royal Regiment of Canada (as the successor to the 10th Royal Grenadiers.)
After some training at Valcartier the 3rd Bn embarked for England On October 3rd as part of the 1st Brigade where they would spend four more months equipping, training and reorganizing. They arrived in France in mid February 1915 and were assigned to their first front line trench duties on March 5th. The first combat casualties occurred the next day with two men reported killed by shrapnel from shelling. But it was not until the April that they would see their first and perhaps most significant battle.
“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 Lieutenant Colonel 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.. 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.”
From a “A Brief History of the 3rd Canadian Battalion Toronto Regiment”
Included in that total and what hurt the 3rd Battalion the most was the fact that 287 men taken as prisoners of war by the Germans – including Kirkpatrick – the second most of any Canadian unit during the war. Those that were not considered casualties, from the Commander on down, were all suffering from fatigue and irritable nerves.
The war dairies written during this battle are worth a read and you can find them on our website here. Note the 10 am April 24 entry which records instructions to Major Kilpatrick that “You must hang on to your position” and which would lead to his nickname of “Hang On Kirkpatrick”.
Here are two additional accounts of the battle from participants:
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”.
As many of you may already know, the QOR itself was formed by General Militia Order on April 26, 1860 under the name Second Battalion Volunteer Rifles of Canada. It consisted of several formerly independent rifles companies that had been raised in 1955 in the County of York and the surrounding communities. Lieutenant Colonel William Smith Durie of the Barrie Company appointed Commanding Officer.
The past 113 years, Queen’s Own Riflemen have seen service in the Battle of Ridgeway (Fenian Raids), the Red River Rebellion, the North West Field Force, the South African War, the First World War, the Second World War, peacekeeping in Korea and Cyprus, NATO service in Germany, various United Nations postings, Bosnia and most recently Afghanistan where 61 soldiers of the regiment saw active service.
You may recall in that on September 3rd we launched an appeal on our website, Facebook Page and Twitter account for volunteers to assist with our project to transcribe scanned versions of the 3rd Battalion, CEF war diaries which were available online at the Library and Archives Canada website. The diaries consisted of 53 months of entries from October 19, 1914 when the battalion landed in England, to February 28th, 1919.
Today I’m pleased to announce that we received the final month’s of transcription which is now posted on our site! You can find them on our timeline or link to them directly: 1914 — 1915 — 1916 — 1917 — 1918 — 1919.
Twenty-seven people from around the world, volunteered to help with the project – especially after we posted our project on the “micro-volunteering” site Sparked (with many thanks to friend of the museum, Mr. Matthew Cutler for that suggestion!) International volunteers came from Chile, Australia, France and across the USA in Oklahoma, New York City, Pennsylvania, California, District of Columbia, Washington State, Colorado, and North Carolina. Many of Canadian volunteers come through the Museum Management and Curatorship Program at Sir Sanford Fleming College in Peterborough. Only two of the volunteers are involved with the military!
Although there were some challenges in interpreting handwriting or imperfectly scanned documents, many of the participants indicated how interesting (and in many cases sad) this project was and how it gave them a better understanding of day to day life in an allied infantry battalion of the First World War.
There is still a bit of tidying up to do on the pages and more links and a few map images to add but this now searchable transcription will definitely serve as a valuable research tool.
We’re looking for assistance in transcribing digitized copies of the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Forces War Diaries for posting on this site. The 3rd Battalion, known as the Toronto Regiment, is perpetuated jointly by the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada and the Royal Regiment of Canada. Transcribing the diaries allows us to easily search them and link to specific names and events in the battalions history.
Note that the diaries up until April 30, 1915 have already been transcribed by the Canadian Great War Project and are in the process of being posted onto our site.
It is not necessary for everyone to transcribe chronological order – if there is a time period you are interested in feel free to take that on – however to keep things simple, please complete the transcription for at least a complete month at one time.
We DO want to transcribe all pages entitled WAR DIARY. For this stage of the project we DON’T need to transcribe all appendices. “Messages” generally should be transcribed – Operations Orders should not – however please reference untranscribed appendices so that we can provide links to them.
It is NOT necessary to transcribe index pages – We’ll try to remove them from this list when we have time.
Send an email to email@example.com to tell us you are interested in participating. In your email indicated which months/year you will be working on so we update our list and avoid duplication of effort.
Please send you transcription in text format (not tables). You use Word or simply paste them into the text of your email. See the format to be used in this example for November 11, 1918. Please make sure you review or better yet, have someone else review your transcription for accuracy. Typed entries are pretty easy to copy but transcribing handwriting entries can sometimes be tricky!
You do not need to save up all your transcriptions and send in at once. If you finish a month, please send them to us. We’ll try to post as quickly as possible.
If you have any questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to respond as quickly as possible with the caveat that we too, are all volunteers!
Thanks in advance for assisting us with this exciting project!!
“On April 9, 1917, the famous Vimy Ridge attack took place. This had been planned and practised most carefully. The 3rd Battalion was on the extreme right of the Canadian Corps and so had the longest distance to go. Nevertheless it took its first objective on time and captured four guns, the first to be taken by Canadians. The casualties were, for World War I, light – 6 officers and 179 men. During the new few days the gains were extended to the flat country east of the ridge.”