Birth of a Regiment

 

The Moving to the 3rd Canadian Division

In the fall of 1915, the British Army was planning to reinforce the Salonika front and had earmarked the 27th Division for the task. As the 80th Brigade had an extra battalion, the choice for the Patricia’s was either a move to another British formation or to the Canadian Corps. Remarkably, the Regiment was consulted. Despite the strength of their ties to the 80th (Stonewall) Brigade, the difficulties with reinforcement made the decision to join the Canadian Corps the only realistic option. On November 8th, the Regiment paraded for the last time with with the 80th Brigade. For a short time, the Patricia’s served as an instructional battalion for the 3rd Army officers school while the balance of the new Canadian Third Division was being assembled. With the arrival of the third university company the battalion was up to full strength. On December 7th, Lt-Col H.C. Buller, despite the loss of an eye, returned to duty. Pelly, who had led the Regiment through the rebuilding process, was sent to command a battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment.

Theses symbols were used to distinguish units in the Canadian Corps. They were worn as shoulder patches or used as markings on vehicles and equipment. The 1st Division would use a red rectangle in place of the French Grey of the 3rd Division. Today, the French Grey of the Third Division is the background for the Patricia’s Regimental Colour.

Just before Christmas 1915, the Patricia’s formally became part of the 7th Brigade of the 3rd Canadian Division under Brigadier General A.C. MacDonnell, DSO. It was by all accounts a rather strange mixture.The Royal Canadian Regiment,the only permanent force battalion had finally been relieved of garrison duty in Bermuda. The 49th Battalionfrom Edmonton had started recruiting in January 1915 having sent a sizable contingent to the Patricia’s the previous year. Led by Lt-Col Griesbach, a former mayor, the core of officers and NCOs had previous service, only 20% had been born in Canada compared to 74% born in the United Kingdom. The westerns initially viewed the Patricia’s, with its mix of veterans and college boys as “a little exotic and sophisticated for the taste of Westerners” while the RCR seemed “somewhat set in its ways”.[i] In the 42nd Battalion from Montreal however, they found kindred spirits. The 42nd Battalion (Black Watch), authorized in early 1915 was the second battalion raised by Montreal’s Royal Highland Regiment of Canada. The unit was initially to have been the 44th Battalion, but after and appeal from the Regiment, the designation as the 42nd Battalion was approved to cement the link with the British Black Watch, “the gallant forty-twa”. Both the 42nd and 49th quickly moved to create their own unique identity with regimental badges that distinguished them from the maple leaf cap badges common to other Canadian infantry battalions.[ii]

[i]G.R. Stevens,A City Goes to War,60
[ii]G.R. Stevens,A City Goes to War,35

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