Lance Corporal Russell Zinck’s Balmoral Bonnet (193rd Battalion & 42nd Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force)

Russell Zinck Portrait

The 193rd Battalion C.E.F.

With the Great War entering it’s third year in 1916, rising casualties continued to levels never witnessed in the history of warfare. As casualties increased, so too was the demand for manpower to fill the ranks. All across the commonwealth, governments were forced to reconsider their recruiting strategies. With the conscription crisis of 1917 just a year away, the Canadian Government was pressed to consider any method of recruitment.  One of the more unorthodox methods pursued was the offer made by John Stanfield (Member of Parliament) to raise a unit from his constituents. This unit would go on to become the 193rdBattalion, one of four battalions raised as part of The Nova Scotia Highland Brigade.

Enlistment

Balmoral Front

On June 3rd1916, Russell Zinck attested in his hometown of Chester, Nova Scotia. A teacher by trade, Russell had just over one year of prior service at Aldershot. Born in 1897 and standing at 5 feet 9 inches, Russell had just celebrated his 19thbirthday two months earlier. Passing his medical examination, now Lieutenant Colonel Stanfield of the 193rdNova Scotia Highlanders signed off on his certificate the next day. Given regimental number 902531 and assigned the rank of Private, Russell joined over 1450 men in summer training at Aldershot.

The Blue Feather

By summers end, Russell and the men of the 193rdwere well acquainted with the training of trench warfare which included trench raiding, bayonet fighting, and bomb throwing. Visited in late September by the wife of the Canadian Prime Minister (Lady Borden), the battalion was presented with its colors. The battalion had selected royal blue, taking the form of a blue feather placed behind their cap badge flanked by turkey feathers. October 12thwould see the unit embark from Halifax, arriving in England on the 19thbefore travelling by train to Witley Camp.

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Captain Ernest Coulter Whitehouse’s Field Service Cap (C.A.M.C. Attached to Fort Garry Horse)

Field Service Cap Front

Enlistment

At thirty-nine years old, Ernest Coulter Whitehouse, born in Karachi British India (present day Pakistan) was an established Physician and Surgeon living in Vancouver British Columbia. It was September 13th 1915, just over a year had gone by since the Germans had ignored the British ultimatum to leave Belgium by midnight of August 3rd 1914 and war was declared. While the first division of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces (C.E.F.) had already made their way to France fighting in the first battle of Ypres the past spring, Ernest was filling out his attestation papers in Shorncliffe England. Being found fit, Ernest was selected as an officer for the Canadian Army Medical Corps attaining the rank of Captain.

The Somme

Canadian Medical Corps cap badge detail

It wasn’t long before Ernest found himself transferred into the recently disbanded 6th Battalion. Now known as the Fort Garry Horse, the unit was largely comprised of Cavalrymen, serving as the remount brigade for the Canadian Cavalry who had been training since early April of 1915. In February 1916 Ernest (now in squadron B), and the rest of the regiment transferred to France and by July they were engaged in action at the battle of the Somme.

Ernest’s squadron was tasked with the exceptionally dangerous mission of laying bridges for an infantry advance to which they were to supplement in the attack on the hamlet of High Wood. The attack started out successfully between the 13th and 14th but was evacuated due to heavy casualties on the 15th . Despite this, The Fort Garry Horse would retire to the defensive trenches which would hold for another two weeks.

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