Reinforcements At The Front
I have read more than once
that when reinforcements were brought into the front lines, the old timers of the unit
shied away from these men for a few reasons. One
being that the inexperienced men werent likely to last very long before being killed
or wounded, and they didnt want to make friends only to lose them shortly after. In addition, some of the men felt that just being
near the new men would put them in danger. As
the war dragged on, the situation would appear to have become exaggerated as the training
often was lacking, and there were a growing number of MSA conscripts reaching the lines.
I thought it would be interesting to track some reinforcements to see if the reasoning behind the old timers concerns was justified. What follows is the result of reading the service files of the men who comprised a draft of reinforcements to the 21st Battalion.
On June 8, 1918 the 21st Battalion received a draft of 20 reinforcements from the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp. These men had originally left England to reinforce the PPCLI, but once in France, they were diverted to the 21st Battalion. Their names (linked to a summary of their service file) and dispositions are as follows:
things become clear when looking at the chart above.
First, with the exception of one man, they all bore the number assigned to
the Signals Training Depot. Secondly, without
exception, they were all wounded or killed within 4 months of joining the battalion. Two men were wounded twice and one was killed
after recovering from being wounded earlier.
From this admittedly small sample, the old timers of the battalion knew what they were talking about. Only one, Cyril White, was able to return to Canada with the Battalion. But even that was after being wounded twice and returning the second time to the Battalion after the war had ended.
Research by Al Lloyd
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