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3rd Pioneer Introduction
1915 The 48th Overseas Battalion
1916 48th to 3rd Pioneer
War Diary Sample
3rd Pioneer at Vimy Ridge
1917 The Breakup of 3rd Pioneer
Transferred into 29th Battalion
How the 29th Battalion Saw It
Those Who Fell: Honor Roll
Lt. Colonel Holmes
Badges & Insignia
Other Pioneer Battalions

1917 The 29th Battalion Welcomes Men from the 3rd Pioneer Battalion

A PROBLEM AND ITS HAPPY SOLUTION Upon conclusion of the Arleux Loop--Fresnoy show, Lt.-Gen. The Honourable Sir Julian Byng was given command of the Third British Army. In his place, Maj.-Gen. Arthur Currie was appointed commander of the Canadian Corps.
A change in command of the 29th also took place. Lt.-Col. J.M.. Ross, D.S.O., [1914 Major, Adjutant] became brigadier of the 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade and was succeeded by his second-in-command, Maj. W.S. Latta, D.S.O., [1914 Capt. C Coy] a quite and efficient officer. Major Latta was much beloved by all ranks for his courage and the splendid example he set on every occasion.
The 29th, like all battalions of the Crops, had suffered severe casualties and more reinforcements were required. Among rehabilitating measures taken was the disbandment of the 48th Battalion, C.E.F. (The 3d Pioneers), which had served in France and Belgium for a long time. Two of its companies were to be sent to the 29th and two to the 7th Battalions. Only those who have served can know the heart-burnings that are caused by the breaking up of a service unit and the difficulties faced by the units absorbing the resultant new drafts. Serious questions of seniority arise and even the mere renumbering of platoons can affect the esprit de corps of a battalion.
The well trained and experienced officers and men of the disbanded 48th became valued additions to the Battalion and did much to add to the enviable reputation of the 29th as a dependable and efficient fighting unit. The names of Capt. H.H.B. Abbott, Coy Sgt.-Maj. Lanaway and those of many others became as well known in the ranks as those of 29th 'originals.' When the 29th had returned to Canada following the close of the war, the absorption of the two companies of the 48th was described as follows.
AN EPISODE OF THE WAR The company commander was worried. He moodily sipped his whiskey and smoked cigarette after cigarette. The Battalion had suffered casualties at Vimy and during the successes that followed, and accordingly, the companies of the Battalion had been reduced to three platoons each. This was not unusual and could easily be remedied when reinforcements arrived, by transferring N.C.Os. and other men back to the platoons which had 'disappeared.'
Unfortunately, it was No. 1 platoon which had ceased to exist in 'A' Company, and the company commander had been advised that the companies would receive a complete platoon from the 48th Battalion which was being disbanded to furnish reinforcements to units in the 1st and 2d Divisions.
The Commander of 'A' Company reflected bitterly that the other Company Commanders had no worries in this respect. All they had to do was to replace a no-longer-existant platoon and notify the company sergeant-major to that effect, but No. 1 platoon would lead the Battalion and it had been taken for granted that a reinforcing platoon could not possibly expect such an honour.
It had been suggested that each platoon of 'A' Company take the preceding number and that the reinforcements acquired form No. 4 platoon. The company commander ordered a runner to request that the platoon commanders report to him. The men arrived and when the problem had been put before them each gave his reasons why his platoon should be designated No. 1 platoon of the Battalion.
The reasons given served only to make matters more obscure, so the company commander politely informed the men that their views would be given proper consideration. After this it became a matter of 'lobbying' by platoon commanders privately . . . "I say, Sir, I should like to add . . ." "Sir, and another thing . . ." The situation was not improved by the officer formerly in command of No. 2 platoon being assigned to command the newly formed platoon and then requesting that it be called 'No. 2 platoon' by virtue of his own seniority.
In the meantime the company commander enjoyed free drinks daily, having learned during a long period of service to keep his own counsel in such circumstances. He toyed with the idea of mixing the new men throughout the company but his thoughts were very much with the officers and O.Rs. of the disbanded battalion. They would be homeless, strangers and friendless. They would, by this time, fairly hate the Battalion. They would be certain that the officers would be supercilious and patronizing. Seniority would date from the time of transfer--friends would be separated from friends--they would be given the most dangerous duties--all would be killed within the year--'unwept unhonoured and unsung.' Their share of the rum ration would be meagre and they would get the worst of the billets. They were the 'unwanted.' The company commander sighed. He could not separate them and they must be shown that they were assets to the Battalion and this could not be done by mixing them with strangers. Yet he could not put his own officers and men in a position of even imagined inferiority.
Several days passed and the company commander had, during this period, inspected the new platoon and discovered that many had served in France with the 48th Battalion before some of his own men had been attested, but he continued to keep his own counsel. The Battalion was to march to another sector and it had been arranged that the reinforcing platoons would be absorbed at Mt. St. Eloi on the line of march. The company commander promised that his decision would be given on the day the new platoons joined the Battalion.
The 48th Battalion platoons stood stiffly at attention. The blow was about to fall and they were to lose everything. The pipes and the brass band of the Battalion gave their new friends a cheerful welcome, but nothing could shake off the spirit of depression that had settled on the 48th Battalion.
Then the company commander, 'A' Company, continuing to ride forward, raised his hand. The Battalion halted and he motioned for the new platoon to march immediately behind him. There was an amazed silence. The officer commanding the new platoon could hardly believe his eyes and for a moment did not give a command. But suddenly springing into action he shouted joyfully "Form fours--right, left wheel, quick march!" A platoon of the 48th had become the leading platoon of the 29th Battalion.
The Battalion moved off. Each company of the 29th absorbed a platoon of the 48th, and the company commander smiled happily. He knew that it was considered unlucky for a platoon to change its number unnecessarily during a war, and the other three platoons had been in on the secret since morning. It was their gift of welcome to the new arrivals and it was never regretted.
29th Sweet

29th Sweetheart