50th Battalion, CEF
|50th Battalion, CEF|
50th Calgary Battalion patch
|Active||November 7, 1914 – August 30, 1920|
|Size||1 battalion (500–1000 men)|
|Colors||Oxford blue over Cambridge blue|
|March||"A Hundred Pipers"|
|Battle honours||Somme, 1916; Ancre Heights; Ancre, 1916; Arras, 1917, '18; Vimy, 1917; Hill 70; Ypres, 1917; Passchendaele; Amiens; Scarpe, 1918; Drocourt-Quéant Line; Hindenburg Line; Canal du Nord; Valenciennes; France and Flanders, 1916–18|
|Colonel E.G Mason (1915 – March 1917) Lieutenant-Colonel Page (March 1917 – November 1918)|
The 50th Canadian Battalion was a battalion of the First World War Canadian Expeditionary Force. The battalion was commanded by Colonel E.G. Mason at the beginning of the war. Later in the war, he was put with another battalion and Lieutenant-Colonel Page took over the battalion. The battalion recruiting headquarters was in Calgary, Alberta. It was formed to increase the numbers of the newly forming 4th Canadian Division.
- 1 History
- 2 Battle honours
- 3 Records
- 4 Notable 50th Battalion men
- 5 Memorials
- 6 Engagements
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The 50th Canadian Battalion was a battalion of volunteers from Calgary and its local area. They were added into the newly forming 4th Canadian Division because the Canadian Mounted Rifles had taken over the last few spots in the 3rd Canadian Division. They were recruited when the war started, trained in Calgary, sailed for England on October 27, 1915, and sent off to the Western Front with the rest of the 4th Division, disembarking in France on August 11, 1916.
The battalion was ordered to Ancre Heights in October. Ancre Heights was the first Canadian participation in the Battle of the Somme, which had begun on July 1. Later, they were ordered into the Battle of the Somme, where the Canadians suffered 25,000 casualties. The battle saw the deaths of many non-commissioned officers (NCOs) of the 50th. Since the NCOs were usually in the second wave, they were shot by hidden German machine-gun posts.
From the Somme, they went northward to Artois in November 1916, where they spent their winter and Christmas preparing for the offensive on Vimy Ridge. From January to March, the division's artillery was part of the pre-battle barrage. In March, the Canadian Corps changed the commander of the battalion. They took Colonel E.G. Mason and put him in charge of another battalion while giving the 50th to Lieutenant-Colonel Page. In April, the Canadians made their three-day offensive, starting the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
The 50th Battalion and the rest of the 4th Canadian Division were assigned to attack Hill 145. After many attempts to capture the hill, they finally managed to take it from the Bavarian Reserve force. For the next two days, the 4th Canadian Division and 50th Battalion tried to attack the little knoll known as the Pimple. Finally, the Bavarians, low on food and having suffered many casualties, surrendered the Pimple and retreated from Vimy. The 50th, having suffered heavy casualties, were taken out of the line and rested for a while.
Lens and Passchendaele
After Vimy the 50th Battalion, with the rest of the Canadian Corps, started preparations for the Battle of Lens. They fought the Germans in the streets of Lens and in the generating plant, which a group of Germans had fortified. After a hard-fought battle there, the Canadians gained a reputation as elite or storm troops. During this battle, they were taken out of the line for a little bit, and put into billets. They stayed with French families in their remaining small houses.
Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig ordered them into the heavy fighting at Liévin and Hill 65 in June and July 1917. After suffering low casualty rates, the Canadians were ordered to one of the costliest battles in the war, the Third Battle of Ypres. The Canadians suffered 16,000 dead and many more wounded, while 50th Battalion lost a quarter of their fighting men. The Canadian Corps was successful however, by capturing Passchendaele Village. After the battle at Passchendaele, the Canadians finally got a break and they had Christmas dinner at Château de la Haie. In the German Spring offensive, the 50th Battalion, along with the other Canadian units, were training instead of being on the front lines of the heavy fighting.
During this German offensive, dedicated to the German Kaiser, the Germans managed to penetrate the Allied front lines and push them back. The Allies fell back almost all the way to Paris, which was the German objective, but the Allies took advantage of the barrier of the Marne River situated just outside of Paris, where they subsequently managed to halt the German advance. The Germans, wasted after having to sacrifice a large amount of their troops during the offensive, could not withstand the strong Allied push that followed and which ultimately brought about an end to the war.
Llandovery Castle Operations
In 1918, a Canadian medical ship, HMHS Llandovery Castle was sunk by a German U-boat, even though Llandovery Castle had a white flag put up. The Canadians, furious with the Germans, started an offensive dedicated to Llandovery Castle. The 50th fought in Llandovery Castle operations and they managed to liberate a few towns and villages.
Canada's Hundred Days
The German advance to Paris was halted by the Second Battle of the Marne. After years of stalemate on the Western Front, the war was finally coming to an end. In the last 100 days, the 50th Battalion fought at the Battle of Amiens on August 8–10; the Second Battle of the Somme (1918), which was also known as the Battle of Arras; the Battle of Cambrai, where they helped recapture Cambrai and hold it against German attacks; the battle of Drocourt-Quéant where the 50th Battalion helped to defeat the German defensive line; the Battle of the Canal du Nord, where the Canadian Corps, with 50th Battalion crossed the canal; and the Battle of Valenciennes, one of the last battles of the war, where Mons was captured. By then, the Germans were retreating from France and Belgium. On November 11, on the eleventh hour, the Germans agreed to an armistice, ending the First World War.
After the war
In 1919, the 50th Battalion was sent back to Canada and they were allowed to return to their own homes in Calgary and its surrounding area. The 50th Battalion was subsequently disbanded on August 20, 1920, and was never reformed again. The King's Own Calgary Regiment (RCAC) perpetuates the 50th Battalion, CEF.
First World War:
- Somme, 1 July–18 November 1916* 
- Ancre Heights, 1 October–11 November 1916
- Ancre, 1916, 13–18 November 1916
- Arras 1917, 9 April–4 May 1917 
- Vimy, 9–12 April 1917* 
- Hill 70, 15–25 August 1917* 
- Ypres 1917, 31 July–6 November 1917 
- Passchendaele, 12 October 1917 or 26 October–6 November 1917* 
- Amiens, 8–11 August 1918* 
- Arras 1918, 26 August–3 September 1918 
- Scarpe, 26–30 August 1918*
- Drocourt-Quéant Line, 2–3 September 1918
- Hindenburg Line, 12 Sep – 9 October 1918
- Canal du Nord, 27 September – 2 October 1918 
- Valenciennes, 1–2 November 1918
- France and Flanders 1916–18
The history of the 50th Battalion is recorded in books and in letters that kept by their families, or discovered by historians later in years. A few examples of members whose stories have been told are Richard Playfair and Victor W. Wheeler.
Notable 50th Battalion men
- Private "Ducky" Henry Norwest (Sniper)
- Private Victor Wheeler (Signaller)
- Colonel E.G. Mason (commander)
- Colonel Page (commander)
- Private John George Pattison, VC
Soldiers of the 50th Battalion that went missing in action are memorialized on the Menin Gate and the Vimy Memorial. Soldiers of the battalion killed in action are commemorated on the Calgary Soldiers' Memorial, dedicated in April 2011. There is also a bridge over the Elbow River in Calgary named after John George Pattison, VC.
Somme Front, 1916
- October 1 – November 11, 1916: the Battle of Ancre Heights
- July 1 – November 18, 1916: the Battle of the Somme
Vimy Front, 1917
- January–April, 1917: preparation for The Battle of Vimy Ridge
- April 9–12, 1917: the Battle of Vimy Ridge
Lens Front, 1917
- August 15–25: attack on Hill 70
Ypres Front, 1917
- December 1917: Christmas at Château de la Haie
- January–July 1918: training in France
Hundred Days' Offensive, 1918
- August 8–11, 1918: the Battle of Amiens
- August 21 – September 2, 1918: the Second Battle of the Somme
- September 27 – October 1, 1918: the Battle of Canal du Nord
- October 8–10, 1918: the Battle of Cambrai
- November 11, 1918: the Battle of Valenciennes (also known as the Capture of Mons)
- The 50th Battalion in No Man's Land, By Victor Wheeler, Introduction
- The 50th Battalion in No Man's Land, Chapter 5
- The 50th Battalion in No Man's Land. Chapter 6
- The 50th Battalion in No Man's Land Victor Wheeler, chapter 10
- The 50th Battalion in No Man's Land, Victor Wheeler, Chapter 13
- The 50th Battalion in No Man's Land, Victor Wheeler, Chapter 15
- The 50th Battalion in No Man's Land, By Victor Wheeler, Chapter 18
- The 50th Battalion in No Man's Land, By Victor Wheeler, Chapter 20
- The 50th Battalion in No Man's Land, By Victor Wheeler, Author's Notes
- The 50th Battalion in No Man's Land, By Victor Wheeler, Chapter 2
- The 50th Battalion in No Man's Land, By Victor Wheeler, Chapter 6
- The 50th Battalion in No Man's Land, By Victor Wheeler, Chapter 10
- The 50th Battalion in No Man's Land, By Victor Wheeler, Chapter 11
- The 50th Battalion in No Man's Land, By Victor Wheeler, Chapter 13
- The 50th Battalion in No Man's Land, By Victor Wheeler, Chapter 21
- The 50th Battalion in No Man's Land, By Victor Wheeler, Chapter 23
- The 50th Battalion in No Man's Land, By Victor Wheeler,
- "The Ross Playfair Letters Project". Retrieved 14 May 2013.
- Wheeler, Victor (2000). The 50th Battalion in No Man's Land: 50th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Alberta Regiment), Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1915–1919. CEF Books. ISBN 978-1-896979-15-1.
- "Soldier led Vimy charge"
- Wheeler, Victor W. (2000). The 50th Battalion in No Man's Land: 50th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Alberta Regiment), Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1915–1919 (illustrated ed.). CEF Books. ISBN 978-1-896979-15-1.
- Christie, Norm (2000). For King and Empire: The Battle of the Somme 2 (illustrated ed.). CEF Books. ISBN 1-896979-03-3.
- Christie, Norm (2000). For King and Empire: The Battle of Vimy Ridge 3 (illustrated ed.). CEF Books. ISBN 1-896979-07-6.
- Christie, Norm (2000). For King and Empire: The Battle of Passchendaele 4 (illustrated ed.). CEF Books. ISBN 1-896979-05-X.
- Christie, Norm (2000). For King and Empire: The Battle of Arras 5 (illustrated ed.). CEF Books. ISBN 1-896979-16-5.
- Christie, Norm (2000). For King and Empire: The Battle of Cambrai 6 (illustrated ed.). CEF Books. ISBN 1-896979-18-1.
- Christie, Norm (2000). For King and Empire: The Battle of Amiens 7 (illustrated ed.). CEF Books. ISBN 1-896979-20-3.
- Christie, Norm (2000). For King and Empire: The Battle of Ypres 8 (illustrated ed.). CEF Books. ISBN 1-896979-01-7.