New Podcast on Courage, Sacrifice and Betrayal - The Story of the Victoria Rifles of Canada, 60th Battalion, in the First World War

A few weeks ago I sat down with Dean Karayanis, the host of, associated with iHeart Radio to talk about my latest book Courage, Sacrifice, and Betrayal. You can check out our chat below. I hope that you enjoy the podcast as much as I did in answering Dean's many diverse and interesting questions on the book and how the book came together.


But my relative did not serve with the 60th Battalion.....

In my research to find personal stories, letters and photos of soldiers who served with the 60th Battalion I contacted literally thousands of individuals. One common response from these individuals was "but my relative served with another battalion, you must have the wrong person." It was not an unreasonable initial response as many individuals were not aware that the majority of Canadian battalions did not fight as a unit in France and Belgium.

During WWI over 250 Battalions were raised to fight overseas. Although many of these battalions raised locally in Canada arrived intact in England, most did not actually serve as a complete fighting unit in France and Belgium. Only about fifty of the Canadian Battalions actually saw front line service with the balance used to provide reinforcement drafts for these front line battalions. Sometimes a reinforcement draft might be quite small while in other instances an entire company of 200 men might be shipped as a complete unit to reinforce a particular battalion.

In the case of the 60th Battalion, it received reinforcement drafts from over 30 different Battalions. As the 60th Battalion which had originally been raised in Montreal suffered significant casualties in 1916 and early 1917, it received reinforcement drafts from battalions raised primarily in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces. Among the largest contributors was the 75th Mississauga Battalion raised in Toronto providing 315 soldiers,  the 124th Governor General's Body Guard Battalion also raised in Toronto contributed an additional 160 soldiers and the 125th Overseas Battalion. raised in Brantford, Ontario provided a reinforcement draft of 101 soldiers.. The 123rd Royal Grenadiers Battalion also raised in Toronto provided 101 soldiers. 

Reinforcements for the 60th Battalion also came from the 55th Reserve Battalion comprised of men originally enlisting from New Brunswick and P.E.I. and the 40th Reserve Battalion with men enlisting in Nova Scotia. In total some 250 individuals from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. served with the 60th Battalion. All of these reinforcement drafts over time dramatically changed the composition of the Battalion in terms of regional representation but not the fighting efficiency and contribution of the 60th Battalion to the overall war effort.

60th Battalion - Victoria Rifles of Canada - Interesting Facts For The History Buff

  • 60th Battalion captured the Town of Vimy and Petit  Vimy as part of the Battle of Vimy Ridge
  • A.Y. Jackson the group of seven artist fought with the 60th Battalion and was wounded on June 3, 1916. He was commissioned as Canada's first war artist in WWI in 1917
  • 60th Battalion was only one of four front line battalions disbanded before war end due to politics
  • The youngest soldier at time of enlistment was fifteen year old Private John Stephen Stark (491119)  from London, Ontario
  • The oldest surviving member of the 60th Battalion was Sgt. John William Stocker at 102 years old
  • 2.812 soldiers served with the 60th Battalion overseas in WWI
  • By end April 1917 the Battalion has sustained 1,461 casualties including 303 making the supreme sacrifice while fighting in seven major actions
  • Of the 23 recipients of the Military Medal, nine were awarded posthumously
  • There was only one Commanding Officer of the 60th Battalion - Lt.-Col. Frederick De Long Gascoigne
  • The last original soldier from the 60th Battalion to be killed-in-action was Sgt. William Henry Brown (458508) on November 11, 1918
  • Of the men who would continue in the field after the breakup of the 60th Battalion, an additional 152 men would die before war end. 
  • The oldest soldier to enlist in the 60th Battalion was 53 year old Private Walter Hatfull, a bricklayer from Montreal
  • The youngest soldier to be killed in action was 17 year old Private Philip Gallant (445672) from Grandy New Brunswick
  • Today there are between 100-150,000 direct descendants of the 60th Battalion soldiers who served overseas
  • Over 60% of casualties were due directly to artillery
  • 60th Battalion reinforcement drafts came primarily from Ontario and the Atlantic provinces
  • Sergeant Edward Lewis Pyves (457596) was awarded the Military medal for his actions at Hill 60 on August 12, 1916
  • Over 50% of 60th Battalion soldiers were born in the U.K. with almost 40% born in Canada
  • 60th Battalion engagements included Sanctuary Wood and Hill 60 in the Ypres Salient, Zollern Graben and Regina trench in the Somme and Vimy, Petit Vimy and La Chaudiere at Vimy Ridge
  • Battalion was in existence for a total of 700 days including 452 days in the trenches