86th (Machine Gun) Battalion, CEF

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86th (Machine Gun) Battalion, CEF
Canadian Expeditionary Force, 86th Machine-Gun Battalion. Niagara, Ontario, Nov., 1915 (HS85-10-31090).jpg
Canadian Expeditionary Force, 86th Machine-Gun Battalion, Niagara, Ontario, November 1915
Active 1915–17
Country Canada
Branch Canadian Expeditionary Force
Type Infantry
Role Depot
Size 1,000 personnel
Engagements World War I

The 86th (Machine Gun) Battalion, CEF was an infantry battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, which was raised for overseas service during World War I. Authorized on December 22, 1915, the battalion embarked for Britain in May 1916. Based at Shorncliffe, the battalion was reorganized as the Canadian Machine Gun Depot, CEF and provided reinforcements for Canadian units in the field until it was disbanded on 1 September 1917.[1] It is believed to have been "the first of its kind in the British Empire."[2]


The 86th Battalion was authorized on December 22, 1915 and was recruited in Hamilton, Wentworth and Dundas, Ontario and was mobilized at Hamilton.[3] Recruits were drawn from several local depot regiments. These included the 13th Regiment, 91st Highlanders, 2nd Dragoons and the 1st Field Engineers. Men were also selected from the 77th Regiment in Dundas as well as the 44th Regiment in Welland. The battalion's fourth machine gun company (D Company) was formed from the latter of these.[4]

The battalion departed for Camp Niagara on September 23, 1915, with a strength of about 1,000 men. They remained at Camp Niagara until early November, when they returned Hamilton. They were subsequently stationed at the Old Armouries on James Street.[2]

The 86th Machine Gun Battalion embarked for Britain on 19 May 1916. Upon reaching their destination, the battalion moved into Risborough Barracks, at Shorncliffe, for further training. On June 22, 1916, the 86th Machine Gun Battalion was redesignated the Canadian Machine Gun Depot.[3] After training the men were transferred as reinforcements to various machine gun units that were serving on the Western Front.[4] The unit's date of disbandment is unclear, with different dates being provided by several sources. Volume 3 of Insignia and Lineages of the Canadian Forces lists the unit's date of disbandment as September 1, 1917,[1] although according to Ken Scheffler there is mention in the Hamilton Spectator of the depot existing in 1919.[4]

Perpetuation and battle honours[edit]

The 86th Battalion was awarded the battle honour "THE GREAT WAR 1916".[3] The 86th Battalion (Machine Gun), CEF, is perpetuated by The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment).[1]



  1. ^ a b c "Canadian Forces Publication A-DH-267-003 Insignia and Lineages of the Canadian Forces. Volume 3: Combat Arms Regiments". Canadian Forces. Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "86th Machine Gun Battalion". VintagePostcards. Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c Meek, John F. Over the Top! The Canadian Infantry in the First World War. Orangeville, Ont.: The Author, 1971. ISBN 0906158109
  4. ^ a b c Scheffler, Ken. "86th Machine Gun Battalion: A Brief History". Retrieved October 25, 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Nicholson, G.W.L. (1962). Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914–1919. Ottawa, Ontario: Queen's Printer.