The Canadian Book of Remembrance


George Buchan, Canadian Book of Remberance Click to view entry detail

The 16th Battalion (The Canadian Scottish) CEF was formed from four companies of unrelated Highland regiments. On the sea voyage to England, the Regiment was still dressed in four different styles, tartans and badges.

The first Canadian Contingent sailed for England on 3 October 1914. The 16th Battalion was part of the 3rd Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division. Its motto Deas Gu Cath was adopted on the third day of the voyage. It was on 16 December, on Salisbury Plain, that the battalion was sub-titled 'The Canadian Scottish'. It sailed for France on 12 February 1915 and disembarked at St. Nazaire three days later. Between 17 February and 2 March each Canadian brigade was attached to a British division in front of Armentières for indoctrination in trench warfare.

French defensive policy, in the event of an enemy attack, was for the front line troops to fall back and let the artillery deal with the attackers; British policy, as reflected in Canadian orders, was to hold the trenches at all costs. Thus the Canadians first task was to develop their forward defences. At 1600 hours on 22 April 1915 French colonial troops on their left came under heavy bombardment followed, an hour later, by the first gas attack in the history of warfare. The line broke, exposing the Canadian flank and opening the way to Ypres. That night the 3rd Brigade partly restored the situation by counter-attacking with the 10th and 16th Battalions, though much further fighting - including a second attack with gas, lay ahead. To commemorate the first night's counter-attack at Kitcheners Wood, the Militia units perpetuating the 10th and 16th Battalions ( 10th : The Calgary Highlanders. - 16th : The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's) based in Victoria, BC ) wear on their shoulder epaulettes an emblem of an acorn and an oak leaf.

The war cost the 16th Battalion 5491 casualties, of which 1412 were fatal. Honours and awards included four Victoria Crosses. Other awards included 9 DSOs, 40 MCs, 30 DCMs and 204 MMs, plus French, Belgian, Russian, Serbian, Montenegrin and Italian medals (Canadian Scottish specialists were posted to assist Allied armies).