31 (London, Windsor, Hamilton) Service Battalion
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31 Service Battalion, formerly 21 (Windsor) Service Battalion, 22 (London) Service Battalion, 23 (Hamilton) Service Battalion and elements of Area Support Unit London, is a Combat Service Support unit of The Canadian Army Reserve. It is currently commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Harding. The current Honorary Lieutenant Colonel is Kevin D Reed.
The Hamilton Service Battalion was formed on 1 January 1965. The new battalion was made up of four units, 133 Company Royal Canadian Army Service Corps(RCASC), 16 Medical Company Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps(RCAMC), 5 Technical Regiment Royal Canadian Electrical Mechanical Engineers (RCEME), 4 Ordnance Company Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps(RCOC), a platoon of Military Police and members of the Canadian Women Army Corps. The unit became part of the Hamilton Militia District.
In 1975 all service battalions were numbered and the Hamilton Service Battalion became 23(Hamilton) Service Battalion. In 1976 the Medial Company became an independent unit known as 23 Medical Company, Canadian Forces Medical Services. With the closing of the Militia Districts and the formation of the Brigade system, 23 Service Battalion became part of 31 Brigade Group headquartered in London, Ontario.
On 3 November 2001, 23 Service Battalion was granted Freedom of the City of Hamilton by Mayor Bob Wade.
Over the years members of the battalion have served with NATO on Reforger Exercises in West Germany and in Norway, and with distinction on peacekeeping missions with the United Nations, NATO and multi-national forces, in Egypt, Cyprus, Golan Heights, Namibia, Cambodia, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda and Afghanistan.
Unit Members have also served on domestic operations during the Olympic Games in Canada, the blizzard of 1977 in the Niagara region, the Manitoba floods of 1997 and the ice storms of 1998 in eastern Ontario.
Unit flag and badge
23 Service Battalion badge received royal consent when Her Majesty the Queen placed her handwritten approval to the design in May 1982 .All Service Battalions in Canada share a common design which consists of a red oval ring with the wording SERVICE BATTALION BATAILLON DES SERVICES and the unit number on the left and right sides. The oval is topped by Her Majesty’s Crown and surrounded by ten gold maple leaves. Below a gold scroll in which the units motto is placed. The centre is unique to each unit.
The description a vessel pouring into a golden horseshoe that contains 3 blue and 3 white wavy bars. The significance of the items in the badge allude to the following. The pouring vessel represents the steel industry which Hamilton is noted for. The golden horseshoe is the geographic region that Hamilton is in the centre of and the wavy blue and white bars refer to Hamilton’s land locked harbour.
23 Service Battalion flag is symbolic of our heritage it is rectangular in shape consisting of a blue, yellow and red bands placed horizontally in side the flag with the numerals 23 in white superimposed and centred in the middle. The top blue band a reminder of our Royal Canadian Electrical Mechanical Engineer heritage. The middle yellow band was the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps colour. The lower red band symbolizes our Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps past.
Members of 23 Service Battalion wear the cap badge of the branch that their trade falls in. Most either wear the Logistics or the Electrical Mechanical Engineer badge.
The Logistics badge has two interlocking chain links centred on it this symbolizes strength in the support provided to the Canadian Forces by the Logistics Branch, Surrounding the interlocking chain links is written SERVITIUM NULLI SECUNDUS Latin for 'service second to none'.
The Electrical Mechanical Engineer badge is a variant of the former Royal Canadian Electrical Mechanical Engineer badge. This badge consists of white horse on a lighting flash with a crown on top a blue scroll below the crown with EME GEM written on it. A globe attached by a chain with the western hemisphere showing. The Electrical Mechanical Engineer motto is ARTE ET MARTE Latin for 'by skill and by fighting'.
The Early Years
The Hamilton Service Battalion, originally Stationed at the Burlington Street Armouries, marched to its present location at CFRB Hamilton in April 1968, Where it is collocated with HMCS Star and 23 Field Ambulance.
Hamilton Service Battalion remained unchanged until 1974 when transformation reached the militia, the Service Support Corps were disbanded and replaced with the branches we have in place today. Soldiers were issued with the distinctive environmental uniform and combats replacing the World War Two battle dress and Korean vintage bush dress, the rank structure also changed at this time. Pay at this time was $12.00 per day and was paid twice yearly there were no additional benefits provided.
The next major change occurred in 1975 when all Service Battalions were numbered and we became 23(Hamilton) Service Battalion. The numbering system is based on geography. All Ontario Service Battalions with the exception of Thunder Bay are affiliated with 2 Service Battalion a regular force unit based in Petawawa Ontario. Thus we became 23, Toronto 25, Ottawa 26, and so on. For some unknown reason there is no 24 Battalion, could this have any thing to do with the number of bottles in a case of beer?
Our next event occurred in 1976 when the Medial Company became an independent unit known as 23 Medical Company Canadian Forces Medical Services. This depleted our ranks somewhat due to not only losing our Medical Officers, Medical Assistants we also lost Clerks, Drivers and Supply Technicians. We over came and both units still exist 30 years later.
With the closing of the Militia Districts and the formation of the Brigade system, 23 Service Battalion became part of 31 Brigade Group headquartered in London Ontario. 31 Brigade encompasses most of south western Ontario. We share the responsibility of providing Combat Service Support to 31 Brigade with 21 Windsor and 22 London Service Battalions. The Military Police became a Brigade asset and were transferred to Headquarters in London.
On November 3, 2001, 23 Service Battalion was granted freedom of the city of Hamilton by his Worship Mayor Bob Wade. One of the most prized honours of a unit is the conferring upon the privilege and distinction for the freedom of the city. The honour for all time of marching through the city with drums beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed. The granting of freedom of the city dates to the times of walled and gated cities in Europe.
As well as providing combat service support to 31 Brigade we are also tasked to train combat ready soldiers to augment the regular forces on operations both at home and abroad. During the cold war battalion members serviced with NATO on Reforger Exercises in West Germany and in Norway. 23 Service Battalion members served with distinction on Peacekeeping Missions with the United Nations, NATO and Multi National Forces, in Egypt, Cyprus, Golan Heights, Namibia, Cambodia, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda and Afghanistan.
23 Service Battalion is affiliated with 158 Royal Anglian Regiment British Army we have a ten-year tradition of exchanges where 158 members experience winter warfare training in Meaford Ontario and 23 Service Battalion members attend a fall exercise in England. Many lasting friendships have happened since this began.
Unit Members have also served on domestic operations during the Olympic Games in Montreal Quebec and in Kingston Ontario. The Blizzard of 1977 in Niagara region, the Manitoba floods of 1997 and the ice storms of 1998 in eastern Ontario. We also maintain a footprint in the community by participating in parades, fairs and charitable events such as Jimmy Lomax operation Santa Claus, food drives, Terry Fox run, special Olympics and our 2005 veterans watch campaign for St. Peters Hospital.
Today’s soldier have the best clothing, boots and load bearing equipment available enabling them to operate in any climate zone. Pay is comparable to civilian jobs and paid bi-weekly, benefits include retirement gratuity, dental coverage, education reimbursement and a pension plan is soon to be implemented.
23 Service Battalion was last commanded by Lieutenant Colonel J. Newton CD and the Regimental Sergeant Major is Chief Warrant Officer R.M. Hewins CD before being tactically grouped with 21 (Windsor) and 22 (London) Service Battalions under the command of LCol R. Hewins CD and the Regimental Sergeant Major CWO Gaudet CD in preparation for the amalgamation of the three service battalions into a single unit—31 Service Battalion—as Hamilton, London, and Windsor Support Companies.
Unit Website (Archive of the now non-existent website)