102nd Bn Tac Sign102 Bn Gif102nd Bn Tac SignBC COAT OF ARMS 1906102nd Bn Tac Sign102 Bn Gif102nd Bn Tac Sign
The Story of the 102nd Canadian Infantry Battalion
From BC to Baisieux by Sgt Leonard McLeod Gould HQ 102nd Canadians WW1


  

CHAPTER XIII

The Signing of the Armistice-We Move to Belgium-Mons and St. Symphorien - Christmas Day on the Edge of the World-Boitsfort-The Battle of Brussels-On Our Way-The Overseas Parade-Good-bye to "Over There"-Demobbed

RESTED, but dirty and bedraggled, we woke up on the 7th in Valenciennes, and promptly had our feelings badly hurt by being curtly ordered to remain indoors well out of sight, as the Prince of Wales was coming to town to inspect the 12th Brigade, and we did not look respectable enough to be seen. This was a piece of ultra-snobbishness on the part of the Higher Command; thank God our Royal Family are not similarly constituted; the Prince would not have minded seeing a few soldiers dirty from the Line, he's not that kind of a fellow, but no officer can ever bear to let a senior see one of his men except "in the pink," and if the 12th were clean for inspection and the 11th were dirty from action, well, the 11th had to keep out of sight; that was all 'there was to it, By 4.45 p.m., however, we were considered respectable-looking enough to march through Valenciennes to billets which had been provided for us at Anzin, a suburb of the city and connected with it by a long, unbroken street. We found first-rate accommodation and almost every man had bed, but to emphasize the innate beastliness of the Hun mind and temperament the following incident is related; it is absolutely true and came under the personal observation of the writer. In one of the billets were found two vases full of flowers on the mantel-piece, and as flowers were scarce these were preserved. It was soon noticed, however, that a most unpleasant odour was pervading the atmosphere, and a close investigation showed that the vases had been carefully filled with urine by the late occupants, who had not been evicted so quickly that they were not able first to leave behind visible proofs of their degraded mentality. We were in Anzin when the news of the Armistice came through. At 9.09 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 we were informed by Brigade that the Armistice terms had been accepted by Germany and that hostilities would cease at 11 a.m. This was immediately confirmed by an official wire.

It was a happy day for Major Ryan, first came the news of the Armistice, and shortly afterwards he was notified that he had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his services in connection with the 2nd Battle of Arras, and that he had been granted the Acting Rank of Lieut.-Colonel with authority to wear the insignia of the rank. That day massed bands played in the public square in Valenciennes in honour of Armistice, but there were no facilities for rejoicing on a good old-fashioned scale.

The following day we were notified that we should form part of the Army of Occupation in accordance with the terms of the Armistice, and when we left on the 15th, proceeding north towards Belgium, we understood that in the fullness of time we should go to the Rhine to relieve one or other of the Canadian Divisions. The anticipation did not exactly arouse enthusiasm amongst the troops, as it seemed probable that the whole distance would have to be covered on foot and in full marching order. It was a fine morning when we left Anzin, bright and cold, just the kind of weather for a march; but we soon found that though the weather was all right the roads were not. They were crowded to capacity with swarms of returning refugees, some in lorries loaned for the purpose by the Allies; some on foot, wheeling their belongings in every conceivable form of vehicle. As we were marching in Brigade formation we were held up interminably by this congestion and it was the middle of the afternoon before we reached our destination, Quièvrechain, a shell-shocked village which had figured prominently in the last offensive. Our blankets were still under guard at one of the many depots we had formed during the last months, and the night was bitterly cold, and not even the gay and festive life of one house at least in Quièvrechain could quite compensate for the lack of warmth. The next day we made an early start, but even so we could not avoid the traffic. Lorries by the hundred passed us on their way up to bring back refugees; others were detailed to go further still to assist in bringing back our returning prisoners from Hunland, and naturally the men wanted to know why the empty lorries going forward could not be utilized to take us on our way, or, at any rate, to relieve us of our packs. On this day we crossed the frontier into Belgium and at 3:30, p.m. reached the town of Paturages; here again we found excellent billets; the town was fully peopled and the inhabitants vied with each other in their hospitality. We were beginning to find that there are Belgians and Belgians, and the Belgians whom we met round Moos and Brussels were as different from those we had encountered round as cheese is from chalk. On the 19th of the month, the day before we left Paturages, Colonel Lister returned from England, fully recovered from the severe wounds he had sustained at Cambrai, and it is no exaggeration to say that he was welcomed back enthusiastically. St. Symphorien was our next halting-place, and here we remained for over three weeks in very fair billets; six months before we should have voted them "top-hole," but a few weeks spent in the territory which had been so hastily vacated by the enemy had enlarged our expectations. We often thought that for the Hun out of the line it must have been a very good war; he never had to "rest" in shell-shocked areas; he could always look forward with certainty to a good time in real towns, and could refresh both his physical and mental outlook a few miles behind the firing line with cities and countrysides which had not been ravaged by warfare. Moreover, he could always be sure of comfortable beds and all facilities for good cooking and messing. Our experience did not tend to show that the German soldier was badly fed, except when his supplies were cut off at the front; when in Reserve he must have had ample opportunities for "doing himself proud."

St. Symphorien is a little two-streeted village lying about three miles from the centre of Mons, and we had a very pleasant time there. Prices, of course, were terribly high in Mons, but it was good to be near a real town which had not lost its civil population and which showed no trace at all of enemy occupation. The two special features of interest are the Cathedral and Alva's Tower, the latter standing on an eminence above the town. This was used in the days of Spanish tyranny as a watch-tower, and an incredible number of stairs lead up through the massive walls to the summit, whence a wonderful view of the surrounding country can be obtained by the breathless climber. On the other side of St. Symphorien is a CEM, of which one is bound to say that here the Germans paid suitable honour to their dead foemen as well as to their own men; the CEM is beautifully arranged, the ground having been granted for the purpose by a local land-owner, and the Germans having erected grave-stones, etc. Here lie a large number of men from the Middlesex Regiment, who fell during the first days of the war. Whilst we were in St. Symphorien the air was full of stories of mutiny in various units of the Corps; one battalion was reported to have thrown down its arms and positively refused to march another step towards the Rhine; another was said to have shot its colonel; another still had been put under arrest by other units in its brigade. All these stories were utterly without foundation, and were almost certainly disseminated by enemy agents, who thus early after Armistice were sowing the seeds of strife and disunion in the ranks of their victorious foes. Towards the end of the month an opportunity was granted to a limited number of men to visit Brussels, as it was not then known -that within a few weeks we should be quartered within walking distance of the capital. About this time it was generally recognized that the advance to the Rhine by the Fourth Division was likely to be greatly delayed, and an elaborate system of systematic training on military, educational and recreational lines was inaugurated. This was more fully developed later, when the Rhine project had been definitely abandoned, and will be dealt with in due course.

The month or six weeks which lapsed after the signing of the Armistice saw a great falling-off in the general service rendered by the Transport Branches. Up to this time one of the most amazing features of the whole Army organization had been the wonderful regularity with which supplies of all kinds had reached the Forward areas. Not only necessities but luxuries had been available through the Y.M.C.A. at most times, and it had been a rare thing for the postal service to be delayed. After Armistice, however, a reaction seemed to set in. It is true that a large number of lorries had been requisitioned for the use of refugees and returning prisoners, and that the railway line between Valenciennes and Mons had been badly damaged by the Hun on his final retreat, but in view of the fact that large quantities of munitions were no longer required in constant succession it is hard to understand why the Transport Services should have suddenly developed "dry rot." In the Fourth Division we only suffered inconvenience; tobacco was at a premium, and mail, both outgoing and incoming, was not only delayed but lost, "ditched" would perhaps be the better word; the First Division, however, which was pressing forward to the Rhine, suffered real hardships through this cause, and it was not until towards the end of December that normal conditions began to obtain.

One day passed very much like another at St. Symphorien, The mornings were devoted to physical training and two hours' military training of some description; the afternoons to football or some other form of athletics. There was not much to do in the evenings, but Mons was within an easy walk, and there was a certain satisfaction in the mere walking round the streets of a real town where the lights no longer, had to be shielded from the heavens. Close by were first-class baths; these were to be found at Havre and were miners' baths of the same description as at Bruay.

On the 12th we fell in once more and departed from St. Symphorien on our way to the area which had been allotted us for Christmas; fortunately for our peace of mind on the March we none of us had any idea of what had been found good enough for the junior battalion. Our first halt was at La Louvrière, a good-sized town which made such a favourable impression on the unit that later on one man requested that his leave warrant be made out for this place, as he preferred it to "Blighty" or any place in France. We were now in the heart of the great industrial area of Belgium, and the people all looked prosperous. The following day we marched to Courcelles, a clean little town lying on the eastern fringe of the industrial area, and when we left it on the 14th we found ourselves gradually drawing away into the agricultural districts, where the cultivation of the beet root seemed the be all and end all of existence. Fleurus was the last decent-sized town we saw, and it had in part been 'badly wrecked when the Hun, absolutely regardless of civilian life and property, had blown up an ammunition train prior to his departure. All along the route were evidences of the German military "debacle"; guns, either wrecked or abandoned, or parked or numbered amongst the evidences of good faith demanded by the Armistice terms, ruined tractors and anti-aircraft guns on their movable platforms. We spent that night in Sommebreffe, a village too, small to contain our Battalion, in additions to the 87th, so "C" Coy. was quartered in Ligny, of 1815 fame, and most of Headquarters were billeted in a group of cottages midway between the two. The following day was a Sunday and a church parade in 'the local theatre attracted crowds of the inhabitants, who were evidently under the impression that 'our Protestant form of Service was some new kind of secular entertainment. Another day's march brought us to Perwez, and on the 17th we were introduced to our Christmas quarters. Two Christmas and New Year's Days had we spent in the line; the third was to be spent in an area which, if it ever figured in the general scheme of creation at all, must have been given form and substance in a fit of absentmindedness. It seemed to lie on the top of a curve of the earth's surface, and as we breasted the edge there was nothing to see on any side but a dull expanse of muddy fields stretching away into the horizon and gently perfuming the air with the subtle scent of rotting beetroot. Accommodation was so limited that the Battalion had to be split up amongst three different villages, Headquarters and "D" Coy. being billeted in Autre Eglise, "A" and "B" in Foix des Caves and "C" in Hedenge. The area was already crowded with French refugees, and to make matters worse, the civilian population was suffering from 'an epidemic of influenza. There were no facilities for recreation, no hall for lectures or entertainments. There was "No nothing." The other units in the Brigade were in much the same plight, as a result of which a spirited protest was forwarded to the proper quarters, and in course of time, as will be seen later, we had our compensation; but it was evidently the original intention of the Higher Command to leave the 11th Brigade all dumped on the end of the world, there to rot, physically and mentally, until such time as our corroded bodies could be shipped back to Canada.

Our new hosts were nice enough people as far as they went; but to tell the truth, there was but little to choose between them and their beetroots; they had vegetated so long that they had partaken of the nature of the soil; to use a colloquialism, "there was nothing to them." They lacked the meagrest necessities of life, and 'when Christmas Day came it was difficult to raise enough plates to feed, the men their Christmas dinner by Companies and Headquarters, even when all resources were pooled. It was a village tragedy when two members of Headquarters Staff slowly and not ungracefully subsided into two stacks of plates and broke the lot, because these plates simply could not be replaced within fifty miles. Their whole conception of life was based on the beetroot, from which they even distilled a peculiarly harmless but very distasteful form of beer. It was amid such surroundings as these that we spent the festive season, and though it is possible now to see the comic side of this experience, at the time we were much aggrieved that, with all France and Belgium to choose from, we should have been exiled to this wilderness at that particular time of year. If the war had been in active progress we should have regarded the thing differently.

On December 2Oth an historic "rout," to use a Regency term, was given by the Burgomaster, Sheriffs and Common Council of Brussels to the representatives of all the Allied Armies who were within reasonable reach. It was Brussels' official celebration of victory, and was a
very splendid affair indeed. Col. Lister represented the 102nd Bn, and returned very much impressed with the scale on which the reception, which was followed by dancing, had been conducted. All the rooms opening off the Council Chamber in the wonderful "Hotel de Ville," or Town Hall of Brussels, were thrown open; the marvelous tapestries, the gorgeous paintings, the brilliant uniforms of the Diplomatic Corps mingling with the soberer khaki of the military, the exquisite toilettes of the women, all combined to make a spectacle as brilliant as it was impressive. Many a guest present, as he listened to the stirring strains of the Band of the 1er Regiment de Grenadiers must have thought of that, other historic ball given in the same city just over 103 years before, when the Iron Duke was present on the eve of Waterloo, amidst the other revellers at the Duchess of Richmond's mansion. On this occasion the heroic M. Max was a central figure in the ceremonies.

Christmas Day 'and New Year's Day passed at Autre Eglise and the other two villages; it was found possible by dint of much careful planning and borrowing to arrange Christmas dinners, but though everything possible was done the festival lacked the proper spirit; Dickens himself could not have assumed the Christmas spirit in that dull neighbourhood, and it was with a sigh of relief that we learned of a move which would take place early in the year. There were rumours that, like the Israelites of old, we were to be led into a land flowing with milk and honey; this time Rumour proved true; though we had not been forty years in the wilderness of Sinai we had been nearly three weeks in the "Beetroot" country, and it was the most cheerful Battalion in the world that marched gladly away on the morning of January 4th; we didn't know exactly where we 'were going, but we were on our way, and that was the main thing. This march was marked by the re-appearance of our Bugle Band; this had been disbanded when the unit first reached England, and 'many of the boys had done splendid service since that time as Battalion Runners; now the Bugles were reorganized and, under, the efficient leadership of Sergeant-Drummer W. Miller they helped us on the march, playing alternately with the Brass Band. The country through which we passed improved with every step, and our spirits rose correspondingly. The first stop was at Melin, where Headquarters were established, but as this village was not large enough to accommodate the whole Battalion, "B" and "C" Guys were billeted at Athuy. The following afternoon we reached Ottenburg, a purely Flemish village where few of the inhabitants even understood French, and then on January 6th we marched 13 miles on splendid roads over hilly country and found ourselves at Boitsfort, which for nearly three months was to be our home; and a grand home it was.

Boitsfort link in Google Earth

Rob Gartenberg has kindly offered us this picture of the 102nd Battalion Costume Ball in February 1919.

102nd Costume Ball Feb 1919

The official name of Boitsfort is the Commune de Watermael-Boitsfort, and it proved to be everything that we had hoped for. It is a fashionable suburb, or country resort, lying about five miles outside Brussels, with which it is connected both by train and car service. A good system of electric cars was in operation at frequent intervals, and throughout the whole of our stay we were always granted the privilege of riding in these cars free. The neighbourhood is most delightfully laid, out in walks, driveways, boulevards and woodland trails, the late King Leopold having spent much money on beautifying the landscape. A race-course at Boitsfort is one of the attractions, there being still another one a couple of miles away at Groenendael, and during the season all fashionable Brussels flocks to Boitsfort, where most of the wealthy Bruxellois have their country homes. Here was the regular home of English jockeys riding for Belgian owners, and many of the civilians spoke excellent English. It may well be imagined that the Battalion just gave one big grunt of satisfaction, called everything square on the last deal, and proceeded to extract all the pleasure out of life which the time and opportunity afforded. So began the famous Battle of Brussels.

The next day was devoted to cleaning up and exploring our new location. In the middle of Boitsfort is a picturesque lake which swarms with carp of a gigantic size; these the licensee catches cold bloodedly by the hundreds in nets, The place swarms with children, who are taught both French and Flemish in the schools, The amazing number of children throughout Belgium is worthy of remark; the kingdom may well claim to be one of the most densely populated countries in the world; they are very nice children, too, and we made great friends with them everywhere. The civilians generally abounded in hospitality; every man had a bed, and in many houses the men would hand over their rations to their hosts, who would then treat their visitors as boarding guests. Boitsfort has many first-rate hotels, and these were used both for 'billets and messes, the officers being quartered in "La Maison Haute," a really massive pile, standing in ample grounds of its own, Headquarters Sergeants using the "Hotel Beau Sejour," commanding a view of the lake, and the Companies all being equally well provided for.

A book might be written on the doings of the next three months, but it is not the purpose of this volume either to rival Baedeker or to emulate Boccaccio but it may be remarked that it is now much easier to understand why it was that the Carthaginian army under Hannibal fell to pieces after their experiences in winter quarters in Capua. The big feature of our life during this time was the Educational Scheme, which was designed both to provide occupation for the moment and to help towards the fitting of men for civilian life; as to its merits on the latter count there is room for argument, but it certainly helped to fill in the mornings and was preferable to drill. A little Physical Exercise, followed by some form of Educational Training, brought us to dinner-time; then games or a trip to Brussels passed away the afternoon; for the evenings there were billiard tables, dances, cards and Brussels. The only difficulty was to keep in funds. Prices were uniformly high, and though a wise and beneficent Command made it possible to draw an extra hundred francs once in two months for the purpose of taking a 48-hour leave in Brussels, a hundred francs is only $20, and lasts just about half as long. Dances were very popular, and few evenings passed without some Company or detail arranging a dance in an excellent dance-hall known as "La Salle d'Harmonie." Frequent lectures were given, and occasionally a theatrical performance would be staged by "The Maple Leaves" or some visiting English company.

March 25th figures as an important date, as on that day the 11th Brigade paraded at Groenendael for inspection by H.M. the King of the Belgians. On this occasion each Battalion paraded with its regimental colours for the first time. We had had to have our own Colours made for us in Brussels, and the firm responsible did very creditable work; but there was always the feeling that Regimental Colours should not have had to be bought by the Canteen Fund, and that some city or community in Canada had missed the chance of its life in not having come forward and donated the Colours with its blessing.

During the whole of this period the Battalion Orderly Room staff was kept busy in preparing documents for demobilization. More time, money and paper was wasted owing to Red Tape in this connection than the taxpayer would like to see presented in figures. After weeks of patient toil necessitating the use of reams of paper we completed all the documents as required; then, on our arrival later in England we were told that all these Nominal Rolls, etc., would have to be done again, as in England they worked under a different system from that adopted in France. One might be pardoned for supposing 'that the different systems were in use so as to have an excuse for keeping as many khakied "Cutbberts" working as possible. It is a fact that in Belgium we made out lists according to orders showing in which of about a dozen dispersal areas our men wished to be demobilized; on our arrival in England "we were told positively that we should all be discharged in Toronto without any choice, and later we were divided into three dispersal areas. Talk about too many cooks spoiling the broth; the whole Demobilization Staff was "in the 'soup" all the time. And they had been working out the details for about two years!

Dave Dawkins of Ottawa contributed the following picture.

Leaving Boitsfort 

It was on April 24th that we finally said "good-bye" 'to our kind hosts and friends at Boitsfort and left by train from Wavre for Le Havre, which we reached on the 26th. The train journey was slow, but there was plenty of room in the box-cars, and the food was both abundant and good. The Canadian Embarkation Camp at Le Havre was greatly overcrowded and very uncomfortable, but we were, of course, disposed to regard everything with a favourable eye at that time. But the bathing system was intolerable and deserves a word of censure. It had been laid down that every man should be "de-loused," another verbal product of the war, meaning "freed from lice," before embarkation. A first-class system was accordingly inaugurated which would doubtless have proved most efficacious if it had not been negatived by subsequent proceedings. The men proceeded to the bath-house, stripped and hung all their outer clothing, including puttees and great-coats, on a travelling rack which passed through a disinfecting room full of chemicals and reached the men in another compartment where they went after the bath. Splendid idea! Why, then, should all the good effect have been taken away by issuing the men with washed underwear which in many cases was still verminous? The Army seemed unable to get it into its head that the laundries never did manage to get rid of vermin. As has been pointed out, before, the laundries exterminated vermin theoretically: they rarely, if ever, did it practically, and there is not a man in the Canadian Corps who had experience with washed underclothing who will not bear out this statement.

On April 29th Capt. W. W. Dunlop, M.C., Adjutant, with 25 Other Ranks, left for England, the whole party under the command of Lieut.-Col. F Lister,. D.S.O., M.C., to take part in the great parade of Overseas Forces through London. Eight other officers also left for the same purpose, but on arrival it was found that each Battalion was to be represented by the Commanding Officer and the Adjutant only in addition to the Other Ranks, This party reached "A" Wing, Bramshott, on the evening of the 30th. May 3rd was a wonderful day for the Overseas Forces. We fell in at 3:45 a.m. and marched to Liphook where we entrained for Waterloo, which was reached by 6:30. Thence we marched to Hyde Park, where tea and sandwiches were served, after which we were at liberty to wander round the park until 11.00, when dinner was served. The troops fell in again at 12:45, and moved off at 1:40 along the following route: Stanhope Gate, Constitution Hill, Buckingham Palace, where the King took the salute, Buckingham Palace Road, Victoria Street, Parliament Street, Whitehall, Charing Cross, Strand, Australia House, which we circled, Aldwych, Kingsway, High Holborn, New Oxford Street, Oxford Street, Marble Arch and back to our starting place. Enormous crowds assembled and gave an enthusiastic reception. It was an inspiring event, though the early part of the march was spoiled for at least one member of the unit, who kept on wondering how he was ever going to manage to unfix his bayonet from the "slope," seeing that this was an operation which always worried him even when done from the "order." Our train left Waterloo at 8.00 p.m. and we were back in camp again an hour before midnight. The whole affair had been an unqualified success; it had given the troops an opportunity to realize for themselves the unbounded admiration and affection which the people of England entertained for them and their prowess; incidentally it had given them a new idea of a real London crowd.

The remaining days in England were not long in spending. The main body of the Battalion came over on May 4th, and thereafter the time was spent in passing Medical Boards and completing Demobilization returns, after which the last leave was enjoyed and on May 31st we left Liphook Station at 4.30 a.m. for Liverpool, reaching the Mersey port about 3.30 in the afternoon, when we immediately embarked on board the "Mauretania." On the following day, the anniversary of the great naval battle of "The Glorious First of June," the giant liner left her moorings and at 1.45 p.m. we crossed the bar on our way to Canada. Quarters on board were excellent, and even if they had not been it is not likely that much discontent would have been aroused; moreover, the sea was phenomenally calm, and after a voyage which was very nearly a record-breaker, we landed at Halifax at 10.30 a.m., on Friday, June 6th. An hour later the trains pulled out for Toronto, which was reached on the evening of Sunday. Here the big majority of the unit was demobilized, only some 125 Westerners bound for Revelstoke or Vancouver remaining for the final stage of the journey. And here a tribute of thanks and acknowledgment is due from the Westerners to the people of Toronto generally and to the Sportsmen's Patriotic Association in particular for the unbounded hospitality shown during the twenty-four hours spent in their midst. A free excursion was arranged for these men to visit Niagara Falls, and this included a luncheon at the Clifton Hotel and dinner on the boat during the return journey. It was a very graceful compliment to the Men of the West, and the latter were correspondingly grateful.

And so we came to the Golden West, leaving at Revelstoke on the 13th a few of our party, and spending that night at North Bend so that we might arrive in Vancouver at a reasonable hour on the morning of the 14th. A tremendous crowd had assembled in the Terminal City to greet all that were left of the 102nd Battalion, which had been so largely recruited in the vicinity, and a vociferous welcome was accorded us as we passed up Granville Street on our way to be demobilized. On the following day those of us who still had another leg of the journey to complete embarked for Victoria, and then at long last the active history of the 102nd (North British Columbians) Battalion came, to a close.

Just two more incidents must be recorded and then this history will also conclude. On Monday evening, June 15th, a banquet was held in the Vancouver Hotel, Vancouver given "in honour of Lieut. Colonel Fred Lister, C.M.G., D.S.O., M.C. and Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 102nd Battalion upon the occasion of the return of the Battalion to British Columbia after their arduous and victorious campaign in defence of the Empire," and this banquet was tendered by the Province of British Columbia, the City of Vancouver, Old Comrades and Friends.

The last scene of all took place on Sunday, September 22nd, 1919, when the Battalion Colours were deposited in Christ Church, Vancouver, with all the pomp and ceremony which such an occasion demanded. The following account is taken from the columns of the "Vancouver Sun" of September 23rd, 1919, and with this introduction the historian takes leave of his readers.

UNIQUE CEREMONY AT CHRIST CHURCH

Official Program

Final parade program Final parade program Final parade program Final parade program Final parade program Final parade program

Regimental Colors of 102nd Are Deposited After Custom of Early Days in England

In accordance with a military custom that has its origin in the early days of England's history, a divine service was held on Sunday afternoon, September 22nd, in Christ Church, Vancouver, to mark the depositing of the regimental colours of the 102nd Battalion, "North British Columbians." The church was crowded to the doors with members of the Battalion and their relatives, friends and other spectators, who witnessed this impressive and simple service. The 29th Vancouver Battalion placed their colours in the same church some time ago.

The members of the Battalion assembled in the school room and formed up in file, with Lieut.-Col. Fred Lister, C.M.G., D.S.O., M.C., former officer commanding, and Major H. B. Scharschmidt, acting adjutant, leading, the colour party followed and with the members, proceeded to the west door. Halting at the foot of the stone steps the adjutant proceeded forward and knocked thrice on the door with the hilt of his sword and demanded admission. In the meantime the officiating clergyman, Rev. Dr. W. W. Craig, D.D. M.A., Rector of Christ Church, with the members of the choir, had moved down the centre aisle of the church towards the door. The clergyman, accompanied by two wardens, awaited the demand for entrance.

Who Comes Here?

"Who comes here?" asked Rev. Dr. Craig. upon the door being opened.

The adjutant replied: "I have been commanded by Lieut.-Col. Fred Lister, C.M.G., D.S.O., M.C., the last commanding officer of the 102nd Battalion, 'North British Columbians,' to inform the authorities of this Church that be has repaired here today upon his return from
the Great War with the colours of the Battalion, and desires admission to prefer a request that they be deposited here."

The clergyman answered, "Inform Col. Lister, commanding the 'North British Columbians,' that every facility will be 'afforded him in executing his most laudable purpose."

After the entry into the church the National Anthem was sung, and then the procession proceeded up the aisle. The clergyman and the wardens halted two paces beyond the top of the chancel steps and faced the congregation, while the officer commanding and colour party halted at the foot of the steps. Addressing Rev. Dr. Craig, Col. Lister said:

"Sir, on behalf of the officers and men of the 102nd Battalion, 'North British Columbians,' I have the honour to inform you these are colours of their Battalion, and to request that they be deposited here for safe-keeping, as a token of their gratitude to Almighty God, by Whom alone victory is secured, for His providential care and gracious benedictions granted them in the discharge of duty. In so acting they also desire to provide a memorial to the men of all ranks who served under these colours, and to afford an inspiration for patriotic service and sacrifice to all who may worship here for all time to come."

Rector's Words

Taking the colours from the officers of the colour party, Col, Lister passed them to the clergyman and he in turn gave them to the wardens. In accepting them the Rector said: "In the faith of Jesus Christ we accept these colours for the glory of God in memory of those who were faithful, many of them even unto death, in the sacred cause of King and Country and in confidence of the inspiration they will afford to all who may behold them, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

The clergyman, followed by the wardens carrying the colors, proceeded to the altar and personally placed first the King's Colour and then the Regimental Colour in the permanent fixtures. Taking as his text the second and third verse of the eighth chapter of Deuteronomy, Rev, Dr. Craig said that the thought that he had desired to bring before the minds of the people was summed up by the question, "What have you learned during the last five years?" People were put on earth to learn and life was the teacher. It disciplined the people and made them disciples. One thing that the War taught was the divine omnipotence of God. The war taught people to desire realities. The men who went through it are determined to have the reality of life. They cannot bear conventions and must have appreciation of the moral standards and issues. They would do away with sham and convention and demanded reality in personal religion.

Two Hundred of 102nd Present

The officer bearing the King's Colour was Capt. T. R. Griffiths, M.C., while the officer bearing the Regimental Colour was Lieut. R. D. Forrester. The other three members of the colour party were Regt. Sergt.-Major W. H. Long. Reg. Sergt.-Major John Russell, D.C.M., and Sergt. R. W. Rayner, M.M. Right Rev. A. U. de Pencier, Bishop of New Westminster, assisted in the service, together with Major the Rev. C. C. Owen, former rector of Christ Church. There were nearly two hundred members of the 102nd present, and these came from all parts of the Province, from the Interior, Vancouver Island, and up the Coast.

FINAL ORDER
By Lieut-Colonel Fred Lister, C.M.G., D.S.O., M.C., Commanding 102nd Infantry Battalion (North - British Columbians).

"FOR close on three years the 102nd Canadian Infantry Battalion has endured the perils and hardships of war on the western front. Two years and eleven months ago we were on the high seas, but our faces were turned east; we were on the threshold of the Great Adventure. Today we are looking west, and our hearts are beating high in anticipation of a speedy reunion with our homes and loved ones.

"Many who sailed with us then are lying now on the several battlefields, or in the many cemeteries of France and Belgium and their places were taken by others who did not shrink from making the supreme sacrifice. Many of our comrades, disabled by wounds or sickness, have already returned to Canada, and we are looking forward to meeting them once more, to tell them that we have not failed to maintain the traditions which they handed down to us.

"It is fitting, therefore, that before we disperse we take stock of our achievements on the battlefield, for the record of the 102nd Canadian Infantry Battalion is one of which any unit might surely well be proud. After only six months' organization in Canada the unit sailed for England where it accomplished in six weeks the work which most Battalions took at least three months to perform. And so it came to France. During twenty-seven months of constant warfare we more than held our own. We can look back now and say that we never lost an inch of ground, that we never failed to take our objective, and to hold same when taken, and that no German ever set foot in our trenches save as a prisoner.

"We started out a British Columbia unit; we return an Ontario Battalion; but I defy anyone to note the point of cleavage. Welded together by many months of common danger, East and West have fused as one, and if the Battalion which set out in June, 1916, was a marvel of fitness, the reinforcements which have arrived from Ontario since August, 1917, have been all that the heart of man could desire.

"Within a few short days we shall be dispersed to our several homes, but I sincerely trust that the ties of friendship will never be broken. A Battalion Association has been formed for the set purpose of holding fast those ties, and I hope that each and all will keep in touch with this Association.

"Just a word of thanks and congratulation before we part. From my heart I congratulate the Battalion as a whole and each one of you individually for the gallant part taken by the 102nd Canadian Infantry Battalion in the Great War, and most sincerely do I thank every member of the unit for the sublime devotion to duty, and the loyal support of authority which has characterized the Battalion. Under Lieut.-Colonel. J. W. Warden, D.S.O., you endured the horrors of the Somme and Passchendaele, and fought with fierce determination round Lens. When sickness forced his absence you gave the same unswerving loyalty to his second-in-command, Major (now Lieut.-Colonel) A. B, Carey, D.S.O., and gained the heights of Vimy Ridge. When special duty in Mesopotamia finally deprived us of the services of Lieut.-Colonel Warden, and I was honoured with your command, you extended to me the same whole-hearted support, adapting yourselves with courage and enthusiasm to the new conditions imposed by open warfare. When wounds compelled my temporary retirement you exhibited the same fine qualities of patience, obedience and endurance under the command in turn of my second, Major (now Lieut.-Colonel) E. J. Ryan, D.S.O. So many changes in command might well have taxed the discipline of older troops than you, but to the everlasting credit of the 102nd Battalion you gave to each and all a full measure of confidence and devotion.

"That happiness and prosperity may attend each one of you throughout your lives is my earnest wish. Good luck be with you all."

"FRED LISTER.
"Lieut-Colonel.
"Commanding 102nd Canadian Infantry Battalion,
May 25th, 1919

STATISTICAL TABLE
102nd Canadian Infantry Battalion
(NOTE-The following figures take no note of any ranks who joined the Battalion in Comox but were transferred or discharged prior to the departure of the unit overseas.)
TOTAL STRENGTH OF THE Battalion

Total number of Officers 207
Total number of Other Ranks 3556

CASUALTIES
(NOTE-The following figures refer only to ranks still on the strength of the unit at the time of their casualty)
Officers killed in action 31
Other Ranks killed in action 482
Officers died of wounds 6
Other Ranks died of wounds 117
Officers missing after action 1
Other Ranks missing after action 22
Officers died of sickness 0
Other Ranks died of Sickness 17
Officers wounded 95
Other Ranks wounded 1,620
Total 2,391

DECORATIONS
Victoria Cross 1
Companion of St. Michael and St. George 1
Distinguished Service Order 5
Military Cross 38
Bar to Military Cross 6
Distinguished Service Medal 19
Military Medal 162
Bar to Military Medal 8
Meritorious Service Medal 9
Croix de Guerre (French) 1
Croix tie Guerre (Belgian) 6
Medaille Militaire 1
Medaille d'Honneur avec Gliaves en Bronze 1
Cross of St. George, 4th Class (Russian) 3
Mentioned in Despatches 26

(Body)

 

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Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 

Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Images The Author The VC Uncle Bob 29th Battalion Links

BATTLE HONOURS

"SOMME, 1916", "Ancre Heights", "Ancre, 1916", "ARRAS, 1917, 18", "VIMY, 1917", "Hill 70", ", 1917", "PASSCHENDAELE", "AMIENS", "Scarpe, 1918", "Drocourt-Queant", "HINDENBURG LINE", "CANAL du NORD", "VALENCIENNES", "France and Flanders, 1916-18".

Be sure and visit the 102nd Battalion`s Sister Unit - the 54th Kootenay Battalion

Visit the 21st Battalion from Eastern Ontario

In Memory of LEONARD MUNROE, Lance Corporal, 634116, 21st Bn., Canadian Infantry (Eastern Ontario Regt.), who died on, Saturday, 3rd November 1917. Age 22. Son of Peter Munroe and his wife Ellen McDermid, of Maxville, Ontario, resting at PASSCHENDAELE NEW BRITISH CEMETERY, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, Grave Reference, IX. E. 11., all Canada in Khaki  pictures courtesy of Leonard Munroe' s descendant Maj Don MacLean, Canadian Armed Forces.