The Nova Scotia Highland Brigade
One hundred years ago, on October 11, 1916, the Nova Scotia Highland Brigade left Camp Aldershot and boarded the troop ship “Olympic” in Halifax Harbour. They arrived in Liverpool, England on October 19, 1916 and continued their intensive training at Witley Camp in Surrey. There were 4 Battalions in the Nova Scotia Highland Brigade - the 85 th , the 185 th , the 193 rd , and the 219 th Battalions. That was over 4000 men, - all volunteers from Nova Scotia.
The 85 th Battalion was the first to be recruited starting in October 1915. They were based at the Armouries in Halifax under the command of Lt Col Allison Bordon. The recruiting campaign was so successful that it was decided to recruit additional Battalions. Each Battalion was recruited from a different area of Nova Scotia. It took only 22 days to sign up a full compliment of troops.
- The 185 th Battalion was recruited from Cape Breton in February and March 1917 under the command of Lt Col F.P. Day.
- The 193 rd Battalion was recruited from Hants, Cumberland, Colchester, Pictou, Antigonish, and Guysboro Counties. Their Headquarters was in Truro under the command of Lt Col John Stanfield.
- The 219 th Battalion was recruited from all the towns along the South Shore and from the Annapolis Valley. They trained in their respective towns under the command of Lt Col W.H. Muirhead.
On May 23, 1916, all four Battalions were mobilized at Camp Aldershot. They continued their training all through the Summer. On September 28 th 1916, there was an inspection and parade. Lady Robert Bordon, wife of the prime minister of Canada, presented the Colors to the assembled troops.
After they arrived in England, it was decided to split up the Brigade. The 85 th Battalion was the only complete unit to be sent to the front lines. The other Battalions of the Brigade were used as reserves and the men were transferred to other fighting Battalions in France as they were needed.
The 85 th Battalion sailed to France on February 10 th 1917. They were active at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Passachendale, Amiens, Ypres and many other battles throughout the War. They collected 259 honours and awards from April 1917 until November 1918. The 85 th Battalion took part in the great March of Triumph through London England on May 3, 1919. They sailed home on the “Adriactic” arriving in Halifax on June 8, 1919. Two days later they had a victory parade through the streets of Halifax.
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The West Hants Historical Society is saluting our local soldiers who died in World War 1. One hundred years ago in October 1916, there were 3 soldiers from Hants County killed in action:
Bolivar, John Lawrence
Regimental No. 145279
Pte John Lawrence Bolivar was born in Mic Mac, Hants County on May 4, 1888. He was working as a Laborer. He volunteered for service in Ottawa on October 18, 1915 and was assigned to the 87th Battalion. He was killed in action in France on October 21, 1916. His next of kin was his Sister, Emma Wanback residing in Hebbs Crossing. His Name is remembered at Vimy Memorial in France.
Saunders, Vernon Wadsworth
Regimental No. 446626
Pte Vernon Wadsworth Saunders was born in Hantsport on January 3, 1882. He was working as a Salesman. He volunteered for service in Calgary on May 6, 1915 and was assigned to the 49th Battalion. He was killed in action in France on October 9, 1916. His next of kin was his Wife, Ruby Saunders residing in Calgary AB. His Name is remembered at Vimy Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.
Spence, Ralph Erskine
Regimental No. 41598
Sgt. Ralph Erskine Spence was born in St. Croix on August 31, 1890. He was working as a Bank Clerk. He volunteered for service in Halifax on January 7, 1915 and was assigned to the 2nd Cdn Field Artillery Battalion. He was killed in action in France on October 28, 1916. His next of kin was his Father, James C Spence residing in St. Croix. He is buried in Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France.