The 22nd Battalion

The 22nd Battalion

A French-Canadian battalion? Oui, s'il vous plaît !

In 1914, the Canadian army was heavily impregnated by British traditions and the only official language was English. This made answering calls for volunteers less than attractive for unilingual French Canadians. To rectify this situation, Dr. Arthur Mignault asked Prime Minister Robert Borden to authorize the creation of a French-Canadian battalion in which French-speakers could serve in their mother tongue. The 22nd Battalion was formed in Montréal on October 15, 1914 and took up residence in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu the following October 20.

The 22nd Battalion arrived at the front in September 1915 where it discovered the horrors of war firsthand/[b]: shellfire, infected trenches, chemical warfare... Over the next three years, the loss of human life was crushing. The only French-Canadian battalion on the front stood out for its valour on numerous occasions, taking thousands of prisoners and winning considerable territory back from the enemy. It experienced [b]moments of glory at Courcelette in 1916 where the courage of the 22nd Battalion’s troops is legendary. It also fought in the bloody battles of Vimy and Passchendaele, two major victories for Canada and its allies.

Overall, 5919 men served in the 22nd Battalion during the Great War. Of this number, 67% were killed or wounded during the conflict.

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