20th Battalion (Central Ontario), CEF
The 20th Battalion (Central Ontario), CEF was a unit of the First World War Canadian Expeditionary Force.
The Battalion was composed of volunteers from militia units in central Ontario. Much of the unit was drawn from the 12th York Regiment, the Rangers, with men coming from ten other Militia Regiments – of which four still exist. The unit fought in France and Flanders as part of the 4th Infantry brigade, 2nd Canadian Division. Notable actions include the Somme, Vimy Ridge, Hill 70, Passchendaele, Amiens, the advance along the Scarpe, Canal du Nord, Canal de le Escault and the advance to Mons in the Last Hundred Days. The battalion was disbanded in 1920.
The 20th Battalion (Central Ontario), CEF, is perpetuated by The Queen's York Rangers (1st American Regiment) (RCAC).
Altogether, 4,310 officers and men served in the 20th Battalion during the war. Of them, 843 were killed in action or died of wounds (19.6%) – often having been wounded earlier. Another 1,855 (43%) were wounded, often repeatedly. 91 died of disease or accidentally. Ottawa stopped counting the deaths to old injuries, mental trauma and exposure to gas as war deaths in 1922 while the nominal roll of the 20th (privately held after the battalion disbanded) attributed these to the war until 1928. Only 22 Rangers were ever taken prisoner – nine of them in one incident when a stretcher party went astray at Passchendaele. There was also one deserter who crossed to the German lines in 1916, his name and fate is not recorded.
Awards and honours
Altogether 398 decorations and awards joined the thousands of wound stripes on the tunic of the Rangers of the 20th Battalion. Two men were awarded the Victoria Cross:
- Sgt Frederick Hobson was posthumously awarded the VC for his actions on 18 August 1917, near Lens, France at the Battle of Hill 70.
- Lt Wallace Lloyd Algie was posthumously awarded the VC for his actions on 11 October 1918, around Iwuy, near Cambrai, France.
In addition, ten officers earned the Distinguished Service Order (one did so twice), while 45 officers received the Military Cross, and four a second award of the MC. Among the enlisted men, 24 received the Distinguished Conduct Medal and 231 men the Military Medal (equivalent to the MC), with 14 receiving a second award of it. Other awards recognizing good service trickled in, but the VC, DSO (for regimental officers), the MC, the DCM and the MM recognize unusual courage and achievement in battle.
- Corrigall, D. J. (1936). History of the 20th Battalion CEF. Toronto: Stone & Cox Ltd.
- Nicholson, G. W. L. (1962). Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919. Ottawa, Ontario: Queens's Printer.
- "Annex B: Perpetuations" (PDF). The Insignia and Lineages of the Canadian Forces, Volume 3, Part Two: Infantry Regiments. Canadian Forces Heritage Publication. 15 January 2010. p. 1B-7.
- Corrigall, annexed nominal roll of the 20th
- Duffy, Michael. "The Canadian Expeditionary Force: Central Ontario Regiment". First World War.
- "Website of the 20th Battalion". 20thbattalion.com.