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23rd Reserve Battalion

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This Page Last Updated September 04, 2012

23rd Reserve Battalion

The 23rd Reserve Battalion was formed from the 23rd Infantry Battalion and therefore information is provided in the following text to track this unit from conception.

23rd Infantry Battalion

The 23rd Infantry battalion was authorized under Privy Council Order 2067 dated August 6, 1914. Mobilization was authorized on October 21, 1914 and the battalion mobilized at Quebec, P.Q., Military District No. 5. The battalion was issued number block 63001-65000, and recruited in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Montreal and Quebec. Two militia regiments provided a core of trained recruits for the battalion, the Grenadier Guards of Canada and the 58th Regiment Westmount Rifles. 

The battalion left Canada for England on February 2, 1915, sailing on the S.S. Missanabie under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel F.W. Fisher with a compliment of 35 officers and 942 other ranks. They arrived at Avonmouth, England on March 7, 1915 and proceeded to Shorncliffe Camp the same day. On April 29, 1915 under C.R.O. 450, the 23rd Infantry Battalion was re-organized as the 23rd Reserve Battalion.

23rd Reserve Battalion (April 29, 1915 to January 4, 1917) 

For almost 2 years the 23rd Reserve battalion would train and provide reinforcements for battalions in France. They are listed as follows: 

Reinforced the 3rd Battalion from September 9, 1915 to April 29, 1916
Reinforced the 14th Battalion from July 19, 1915 to January 4, 1917 
Reinforced the 22nd Battalion from September 9, 1915 to July 9, 1916 
Reinforced the 24th Battalion from July 19, 1915 to August 31, 1915 
Reinforced the 24th Battalion from July 9, 1916 to January 4, 1917 
Reinforced the 42nd Battalion from September 15, 1915 to April 29, 1916 
Reinforced the 60th Battalion from July 9, 1916 to January 4, 1917 

The 23rd Reserve battalion received at least two drafts from Canada, the first draft of 5 officers and 250 other ranks was from the 50th Battalion, their second draft, which sailed from Montreal on board the S.S. Metagama, September 11, 1915. The second draft of 5 officers and 250 other ranks were from the 75th Battalion, which sailed from Montreal aboard the S.S. Scandinavian on October 1, 1915. 

Two battalions were absorbed by the 23rd Reserve Battalion. On November 12, 1916 they absorbed the 133rd Battalion, which mobilized at Simcoe, Ontario, and sailed with 21 officers and 665 other ranks, upon their arrival at Shorncliffe. Their stay with the 23rd would be short lived as the reserve re-organization of January 1917 would see 534 other ranks transferred to the 3rd Reserve Battalion on January 4, 1917. 

The 23rd would also absorb the 142nd Battalion, from London, Ontario, which sailed from Canada with 26 officers and 574 other ranks, upon their arrival at Shorncliffe on November 12, 1916. The personnel of 142nd Battalion would be transferred to the 4th Reserve Battalion on January 4, 1917. 

The following officers commanded the 23rd Reserve Battalion between March, 1915 and September, 1916:

Lieutenant-Colonel F. W. Fisher March 8, 1915 to July 4, 1915
Lieutenant-Colonel F. C. Bowen July 4, 1915 to April 22, 1916 
Major D.A. McKay April 1, 1916 to July 12, 1916 
Lieutenant-Colonel C.F. Bick July 12, 1916 to September 6, 1916 

With the reserve re-organization in the fall of 1917 the 23rd Reserve Battalion would cease to exist in its current format. Under Canadian Routine Orders 198 and 271 the affairs of the 23rd Reserve Battalion were wound up.

23rd Reserve Battalion (January 4, 1917-September 15, 1920) 

On January 4, 1917 the 23rd Reserve battalion was amalgamated with the 117th Battalion (Eastern Townships) to form a new 23rd Reserve Battalion under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel F. W. Fisher, based in Shorncliffe. Its authorization was published in Canadian Routine Order 271 dated March 20, 1917. 

The 117th Battalion had been used as a reinforcing unit since August 25, 1916. Only part of the original 856 other ranks remained to train with the 23rd Reserve battalion. Almost half would be serving in France before joining the 23rd Reserve Battalion, with 312 other ranks in the 5th C.M.R. and 55 other ranks in the 87th Battalion. Once the 117th had been amalgamated with the 23rd Reserve a further 124 other ranks would be drafted to 14th Battalion, 42 to the 22nd Battalion and 218 to the 24th Battalion. 

On January 5, 1917 the 23rd moved to Shoreham and began the job of reinforcing battalions at the front. The following battalions were reinforced by the 23rd Reserve Battalion:

Reinforced the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles from January 4, 1917 to demobilization 
Reinforced the 14th Battalion from January 4, 1917 to demobilization 
Reinforced the 22nd Battalion from January 4, 1917 to demobilization
Reinforced the 24th Battalion January 4, 1917 to demobilization 
Reinforced the 60th Battalion from January 4, 1917 to April 30, 1917 
Reinforced the 87th Battalion from May 11, 1917 to demobilization, received 55 other ranks from 117th Battalion

Under the territorial regimental system the 23rd would receive Canadian reinforcements from Military District No.4, the 1st Quebec Regiment; 2nd Depot Battalion; however, at this point I have only located no drafts’ from this depot. A draft from the Quebec Regiment, 1st Depot Battalion boarded the Scandinavian and sailed March 25, 1918 and arrived in the U.K. April 3, 1918. * 

The 23rd Reserve Battalion absorbed the 244th Battalion (Kitchener’s Own), which sailed with 27 officers and 604 other ranks, two weeks after their arrival at Shoreham on April 21, 1917. 

On May 14, the 23rd absorbed the 245th Battalion (Canadian Grenadier Guards) from Montreal, which had sailed with 16 officers and 274 other ranks.

On 11 May 1917, the 199th Battalion (Duchess of Connaught's Own Irish Canadian Rangers) which had been designated for the 15th Brigade, 5th Canadian Infantry Division and the 22nd Canadian Reserve Battalion were absorbed and the 23rd was re-designated the 23rd Canadian Reserve Battalion (199th Duchess of Connaught's Own Irish Canadian Rangers) under C.R.O. 1378. 

The battalion would move twice more, to Bramshott on October 11, 1917 and Ripon on February 2, 1919 before returning to Canada on July 4, 1919. The 23rd Canadian Reserve Battalion (199th Duchess of Connaught's Own Irish Canadian Rangers) was disbanded by General Order 149 dated September 15, 1920. 

The 23rd Battalion was perpetuated by the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, and then The Royal Montreal Regiment (M.G.) and is currently perpetuated by The Royal Montreal Regiment. 

Love correctly identifies the 1918 reinforcing establishment as the 5th CMR, 14th, 24th and 87th Battalions. The 23rd also trained the 133rd, 142nd, 199th, 244th and 245th Battalions, however, the 106th was absorbed by the 40th Battalion, which in turn as absorbed by the 26th Reserve Battalion. The 118th Battalion was absorbed by the 25th Reserve Battalion on February 6, 1917, which in turn was absorbed by the 4th Reserve Battalion. 

Notes 

* Jack Chapman Sailed with this draft and was assigned to the 23rd Reserve Battalion. http://www.hellfire-corner.demon.co.uk/jchapman.htm.

Bibliography 

23rd Reserve Battalion, War Diary, not on-line. 

Appendix I, Officers Serving Overseas Units, Canada in the Great WarVol.VI, United Publishers of Canada Ltd, Toronto, 1921, pgs. 315-372 

Meek, John F. Over The Top, The Canadian Infantry in the First World War, John F. Meek, 1971 

Taboika, Victor, J., Military Antiques and Collectibles of the Great War, A Canadian Collection, Service Publications, Ottawa, 2007 

Love, David W. A Call to Arms; The Organization and Administration of Canada’s Military in World War One, Bunker to Bunker Books, Winnipeg and Calgary, 1999 

Duguid, Colonel A. Fortesque , D.S.O., Official History of the Great War 1914-1919, General Series, Vol.1, Aug.1914 –Sept. 1915, Appendices and Maps, J.O. Patenaude, I.S.O., Kings Printer, Ottawa, 1938 

Administrative Histories, C.E.F. Battalions 1-260, Canada, Department of National Defence, Directorate of History, reference number unknown. 

 

Copyright 2006-2013 Richard Laughton
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