86th (Machine Gun) Battalion, CEF

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The 86th (Machine Gun) Battalion, CEF was "the first of its kind in the British Empire."[1]


It was raised and based in Hamilton, Ontario in August 1915.[2]

The actual recruiting was fairly diverse, coming from local depot regiments. These included the 13th Regiment, 91st Highlanders, 2nd Dragoons and 1st Field Engineers. Men were also selected from the 77th Regiment in Dundas as well as the 44th Regiment in Welland. The battalion's Company D was formed from the latter of these.

The battalion departed for Camp Niagara on September 23, 1915, formed of approximately 1000 men. The men of the 86th Machine Gun Battalion were stationed at Camp Niagara for just over a month, returning to Hamilton on November 9, 1915, to be stationed at the Old Armouries on James Street in Hamilton.

The 86th Machine Gun Battalion was sent to England in May 1916 and was stationed at the Risborough Barracks, Shorncliffe, where training was completed. On May 22, 1916, the 86th Machine Gun Battalion was redesignated the Canadian Machine Gun Depot. After training the men were transferred to various machine gun units as required.

Lt. Col. W. W. Stewart remained in command of the unit until March 16, 1917, when he took a temporary leave of absence to tour the Front. And so it was that on April 11, 1917, while with the 1st Motor Machine Gun Brigade, that he was killed.[3]

Lt. Col. W. M. Balfour, who had taken over command of the Canadian Machine Gun Depot, therefore remained in command. On October 8, 1917, Lt. Col. Balfour and Lt. Col. W. N. Moorehouse of the 3rd Machine Gun Battalion replaced each other as the officer commanding of their respective units. On March 18, 1919, Lt. Col. Balfour resumed command of the Canadian Machine Gun Depot and remaind its commander until it was demobilized.[4]

The 86th Battalion is perpetuated by The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment).[5]


86th Machine Gun Battalion, CEF|Photo of the 86th Machine Gun Battalion

Recruitment Poster|Recruitment poster for 86th Machine Gun Battalion


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