3rd (Toronto) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force

3rd Battalion, CEF Patch
3rd Battalion, CEF Patch

The 3rd Battalion (Toronto Regiment), Canadian Expeditionary Force was a battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force that saw service in the First World War. It was created on 2 September 1914 with recruits from Toronto, primarily from the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada with additional drafts from the 10th Royal Grenadiers and the Governor General’s Body Guard.

RMS Tunisian on which the 3rd Infantry Battalion, CEF traveled to England in September/October 1914
RMS Tunisian on which the 3rd Infantry Battalion, CEF traveled to England in September/October 1914

The Battalion organized and trained at Camp Valcartier before sailing for England from Quebec City on board the SS Tunisian 25 September 1914. They arrived in England on 16 October with a strength of 42 officers and 1123 men. The battalion became part of the 1st Canadian Division, 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade where it saw action at Ypres (first use of gas by the Germans), Vimy Ridge and along the Western Front. It was later reinforced by the 12th Canadian Reserve Battalion. 286 soldiers of the 3rd Battalion were taken prisoner during the war – all but 21 during the 2nd Battle of Ypres during April and May 1915.

TORONTO REGIMENT ADDING TO LAURELS Third Battalion Keeping Up Record it Started at the Call in 1914. MASCOT STILL WITH IT. Wood Sorrel From Toronto Worn to Celebrate Re-Capture of Mount Sorrel.

The Toronto Regiment, 3rd Battalion, which left Toronto at this first call in August, 1914, is adding to its hard-won early laurels, according to information trickling back to Toronto from France. The battalion took an honorable part both in the capture of Vimy Ridge and subsequently in the capture of Fresnoy. At Vimy two battalions of the 1st Brigade made the initial attack and the other two battalions advancing immediately after were given a set of objectives beyond those captured in the first advance. The 3rd Battalion was in the second pair. It is reported that it reached all its objectives and pushed half a mile beyond. For that day’s operations eighteen officers and men were named for honors, but a sad feature is that seven of the eighteen were a few days later killed at Fresnoy. A pleasing incident in the battalion’s life occurred on June 13th when a box of wood sorrel arrived from a Toronto lady. A spray was distributed to each of the men. This they wore in their caps to celebrate the re-capture of Mount Sorrel in the Ypres salient on June 13th of last year. The battalion’s official mascot in the shape of a goat which has been with the unit for more than a year is reported to be alive and well. Another item of news of interest to the battalion and its friends is that the bandmaster has been outfitted with a leopard’s skin which was originally equipped and reinforced by contributions from readers of The Star.
Source: Toronto Star – July 5th, 1917.

3rd Battalion Mascot Library and Archives Canada MIKAN no. 3405914

  • Badge of the 3rd Battalion CEF
    Badge of the 3rd Battalion CEF

    Inscription on Badge: III Toronto Regiment

  • Mobilization Authorized: Privy Council Order 2067-2038 of August 6, 1914
  • Trained: Valcartier, Quebec
  • Embarked: Quebec – October 3, 1914 aboard the S.S. Tunisian
  • 3rd Bn CEF Nominal Roll
  • Disembarked: Plymouth – October 14, 1914
  • Training Camp: Salisbury Plain, October 1914 to February 1915
  • Theatre of War: France and Flanders
  • Commanding Officers – All three Commanding Officers having previously served in the Canadian Militia with the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada:
  • Strength: 63 officers and 1,708 other ranks of The Queen’s Own Rifles served with the 3rd Battalion. Of these 23 officers and 309 other ranks made the supreme sacrifice.
  • Perpetuation: December 1, 1926 (GO 93/26) Note: The issue of perpetuation for the 3rd Battalion was one of much controversy and political lobbying. Finally it was agreed that the unit would be perpetuated by both the QOR and the Toronto Regiment (amalgamated in 1936 with The Royal Grenadiers to form the Royal Regiment of Canada who continue the perpetuation today.)

Twenty-one battle honours were awarded (see below) during the war. 

3rd Battalion War Diaries Thanks to an amazing group of 27 online volunteers, we have been able to transcribe and post to our website, 53 months the 3rd Battalion, CEF war diaries which started in October 1914 and ending with demobilization in February 1919. You can see completed transcriptions on these pages:

Demobilization, re-organization and perpetuation

War artist Arthur Lismer captured the return of the troopship SS Olympic (centre) a sister ship to the titanic, to Halifax harbour following the First World War. Olympic's multi-coloured dazzle camouflage, added in 1917 at the height of the German U-Boat threat, was intended to make the ship more difficult to identify and target.
War artist Arthur Lismer captured the return of the troopship SS Olympic (centre) a sister ship to the titanic, to Halifax harbour following the First World War. Olympic’s multi-coloured dazzle camouflage, added in 1917 at the height of the German U-Boat threat, was intended to make the ship more difficult to identify and target.

The battalion returned to Canada from England on the SS Olympic arriving in Halifax on 21 April 1919, then in Toronto by train and demobilizing in the afternoon of 23 April 1919. Only 40 of the original contingent from 1914 arrived back at the end of the war (although others had been demobilized or taken prisoners of war. [See list below.] With the re-organization of the Canadian Militia, it was recreated as the Toronto Regiment by General Order dated 1 May 1920. On 15 December 1936 it was amalgamated with the Regiment of Toronto Grenadiers to form the Regiment of Toronto Grenadiers which subsequently became the known as the Royal Regiment of Canada, 11 February 1939. Today the battalion is perpetuated by the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada and The Royal Regiment of Canada.

3rd Battalion “Originals”

Forty officers and men who left with the Regiment in August 1914 and returned with them in April 1920:

  1. Lieutenant Colonel J.B. Rogers, CMG, DSO, MC
  2. Lieutenant Colonel D.H.C. Mason, DSO, OBE
  3. Captain E.H. Minns, MC
  4. Captain A.K. Coulthard, MC, MM*
  5. Captain H.T. Lord, MC
  6. Lieutenant A.V. Noble
  7. Lieutenant D. Morrison, MM*
  8. Lieutenant J.L. Austin
  9. 9356 Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant G.R. Pollock
  10. 9068 Sergeant H.V. Spence, DCM, MM, Belgium CdeG
  11. 9306 Sergeant R.J. Clapton, MSM
  12. 9070 Sergeant N. Thorn, MSM
  13. 9265 Sergeant R.H. Williams
  14. 10153 Sergeant W.H. Minnett
  15. 9074 Corporal J. Mullen, MM
  16. 9226 Corporal R.J. Murdock
  17. 9608 Lance Corporal G. Spraggett
  18. 9889 Private W. Bennett
  19. 18171 Private J. Bodell
  20. 18761 Private J.J. Burns
  21. 9900 Private T. Clarke
  22. 9434 Private G.W. Dent
  23. 10026 Private T. Franklin
  24. 9513 Private H. Kinsley, MM
  25. 9801 Private W.J. Leathem
  26. 9463 Private W.C. Legier
  27. 18213 Private Ed Lindsay
  28. 9332 Private A.S. Lukeman
  29. 9073 Private W. Maitland
  30. 9105 Private R.G. Ottey
  31. 9748 Private S.H. Pilling
  32. 9714 Private Wm. Renfrew
  33. 9251 Private H. Sanderson
  34. 9373 Private H.F. Smith
  35. 9057 Private P.C. Stephenson
  36. 10171 Private G. Stretton, MM
  37. 9497 Private E.W. Thorne
  38. 9394 Private P.H. Theberge
  39. 9385 Private H. Webster
  40. 10079 Private G. White

*Commissioned from the ranks

3rd Battalion Honours Awarded

  • 2 Victoria Crosses (VC)
  • 1 Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG)
  • 11 Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
  • 2 Bars to the Distinguished Service Order
  • 1 Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE)
  • 50 Military Crosses
  • 11 Bars to the Military Cross
  • 42 Distinguished Conduct Medals
  • 235 Military Medals
  • 23 Bars to the Military Medal
  • 6 Meritorious Service Medals
  • 9 Foreign Decorations
  • 44 Mentioned in Despatches
March 12, 1918 Toronto Daily Star
March 12, 1918 Toronto Daily Star (click photo for a larger image)

Battle Honours Twenty-one battle honours were issued for the First World War. Those in italics were authorized for emblazonment. (Since Rifles Regiments don’t carry colours, these are emblazoned on the regimental drums.)

  1. Ypres, 1915, 1917
  2. Gravenstafel
  3. St Julien   23-27 Apr 1915
  4. Festubert   21-31 May 1915
  5. Mount Sorrel
  6. Somme 1916
  7. Pozières
  8. Flers-Courcelette
  9. Ancre Heights
  10. Arras 1918, ’18
  11. Vimy, 1917
  12. Arleux
  13. Scrape 1917, ’18
  14. Hill 70
  15. Passchendaele
  16. Amiens
  17. Drocourt-Quéant
  18. Hindenburg Line
  19. Canal du Nord
  20. Pursuit to Mons
  21. France and Flanders 1915-118
3rd Battalion Mascot Library and Archives Canada MIKAN no. 3405914
3rd-battalion-mascot-mikan-no-3405915.jpg
3rd Battalion Mascot Library and Archives Canada Mikan No. 3405915
Machine Gun Section, 3rd Bn on the march August, 1918
Machine Gun Section, 3rd Bn on the march August, 1918
3rd Bn passing Border into Germany 4 Dec 1918
3rd Battalion passing the border into Germany 4 December 1918
3rd Battalion on the Rhine
3rd Battalion on the Rhine
Names on back of 3rd Battalion on the Rhine photograph
Names on back of 3rd Battalion on the Rhine photograph

16 thoughts on “3rd (Toronto) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force”

  1. Where would I find the sailing lists for returning Canadians from the first war? His was apparently sailing list 85 1st Rev or Res? June 14, 1919

    1. I’m afraid I don’t know where to suggest for these other than finding someone with an Ancestry.ca account who can search for this info which should be available there if the records still exist for his ship.

  2. By any chance would you happen to have the names of the soldiers in your latest posted picture identified as “qormuseumOfficers of the Third Battalion may 1918”?

  3. Can you tell me what this means? 2,7,18 3rd,Bn’ CE T.O.S from 107th Pnr, Field,30-5-19 DO-1 X 107th DO, 66 2/7,8

    1. Sorry for the delay in responding Phyllis – we’re all volunteer so sometimes its hard to keep up!

      2,7,18 3rd Bn CE TOS from 107 Pnr, Field roughly means 2 July 1918 3rd Battalion Canadian Engineers Taken on Strength [i.e. transferred to] from 107th Pioneers, Field Engineers.

      The next part even I can’t really figure out I’m afraid lol

  4. We are travelling to Vimy in June 2017. My father in law Ashley Powell Ireland served in France. He enlisted in Winnipeg Nov 1916 in the 200 Batt. Regiment # 922736. He was discharged June 1919 having served with the 3rd Batt. CE.
    I would love to know how to trace where he served in France. If there is a way to find this out I would appreciate your help.

    1. Phyllis – unfortunately we perpetuate the 3rd Battalion INFANTRY and not Engineers so I don’t have much I can help with. If you haven’t already though you can view/download his service file from Library and Archives Canada here: http://central.bac-lac.gc.ca/.item/?op=pdf&app=CEF&id=B4704-S049

      This won’t necessarily tell you where he served specifically but might provide some additional background.

      Next you could see if there are war diaries for the 3rd Battalion ENGINEERS (but make sure not the infantry) here:
      http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/Pages/war-diaries.aspx

      If they are available they can give you a reasonable picture about where the unit served throughout the war. Unfortunately not all the unit war diaries survived or perhaps not all for the whole war, so you will just have to see what you can find.

      Hope that helps a bit – good luck!
      John

  5. Re: 3rd Battalion: I notice the diaries for 1918 do not mention any activities for October. Can you tell me why and where do you suggest this information may be found?

    1. Good catch Linda! We had a large number of volunteers doing the transcriptions who would then email to me and I would upload to the website. Somehow Oct 1918 was emailed to me but for some reason not uploaded. I’ve done so now however have only given it a quick review so there may still be some spelling or transcription errors.

  6. Good morning from Scotland. I have found my great Uncle Pte 799968 William Burnside in the war diaries in the list of casualties (wounded) on 6 November 1917. He joined as a member of 134th Battalion CEF and after much googling I am trying to understand military structure and how these men came to be with the 3rd Battalion CEF at Paschendaele. Can anyone help with links to movement dates, for his units and anthing else which may help. His death in 1923 was attached to his service in the circumstances of casualty register.
    Regards from Edinburgh

  7. The list of wounded for July 29, 1917 lists Pvt H.J. Barrett as 237219. This is an error. His regimental number was actually 237647.

  8. Thank you for posting the War Diaries. They are a valuable asset.
    I have reviewed your online transcription of the 1918 War Diaries for the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion and found that the whole month of October, 1918 is not available. My grandfather joined, was wounded and transfer out of the 3rd Toronto Battalion, all in October, 1918.
    Will the transcripts of the October, 1918 War Diaries be made available?

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