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The distinguishing patch of the 25th Battalion (Nova Scotia Rifles), CEF.

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The 25th Battalion (Nova Scotia Rifles), CEF (also known as "MacKenzie Battalion", "Master Raiders", "Raiding Battalion") was a unit in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the Great World War. It was the first of three to be raised entirely in Nova Scotia during the war.[1] The 25th served in Belgium and France as part of the 5th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division from September 16, 1915 until the end of the war. Regimental headquarters were established at the Halifax Armouries, with recruitment offices in Sydney, Amherst, New Glasgow, Truro and Yarmouth. Of the 1000 Nova Scotians that started with the Battalion, after the first year of fighting, 100 were left in the Battalion, while 900 men were killed, taken prisoner, missing or injured.

The 25th Battalion was authorized on 7 November 1914 and embarked for Great Britain on 20 May 1915. The battalion was disbanded on 15 September 1920.[2]

The 25th Battalion recruited throughout Nova Scotia and was mobilized at Halifax.[3]

Commanding Officers

The 25th battalion had eight Officers Commanding:

  • Lt.-Col. G.A. LeCain, 20 May 1915 – 26 October 1915
  • Lt.-Col. E. Hilliam, 26 October 1915 – 18 January 1917
  • Maj. J.A. De Lancy, MC, 18 January 1917 – 4 April 1917
  • Lt.-Col. D.S. Bauld, DSO, 4 April 1917 – 9 July 1917
  • Lt.-Col. A.S. Blois, DSO, 9 July 1917 – 19 April 1918
  • Lt.-Col. J.W. Wise, DSO, MC, 19 April 1918 – 8 August 1918
  • Lt.-Col. F.P. Day, 9 August 1918 – 13 October 1918
  • Lt.Col. C.J. Mersereau, DSO, 13 October 1918-Dmobilization[4]

Battle Honours

The 25th Battalion was awarded the following battle honours:

Belgium (1915-1916)

On September 22–23, 1915, the 25th arrived at Ypres, Belgium, becoming the first Nova Scotian battalion to see combat in the war. The Battalion spent 339 days in the treacherous Belgian trenches, 164 of which involved front line duty. They fought in the Actions of St. Eloi Craters (27 March – 16 April 1916) and the Hill 62, Mount Sorrel and Sanctuary Wood. These battles marked the first occasion in which Canadian divisions engaged in planned offensive operations during World War I. In those actions the Canadians reconquered vital high-ground positions that denied the Germans a commanding view of the town of Ypres itself. Of the 1000 men that started with the Battalion, after the first year of fighting 900 men were killed, taken prisoner, missing or injured. (See the Hill 62 Memorial).

France (1916-1917)

Battle of the Somme

The 25th took part in The Battle of the Somme. The battle took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on either side of the River Somme in France. The battle was one of the largest of World War I, in which more than 1,000,000 men were wounded or killed, making it one of humanity's bloodiest battles.

Battle of Flers–Courcelette

The 25th then took part in the Battle of Flers–Courcelette. The battle was launched on 15 September 1916 the battle went on for one week. By its conclusion on 22 September, tactical gains were made in the capture of the villages of Courcelette, Martinpuich and Flers.

The battle is significant for the first use of the tank in warfare. It also marked the debut of the Canadian Division on the Somme battlefield.

Battle of the Ancre Heights

In the Battle of the Ancre Heights, (Regina Trench) the losses in the 2nd Canadian Division 1 September – 4 October were 6,530.[6]

Battle of Vimy Ridge

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was a military engagement fought primarily as part of the Battle of Arras, which took place from 9 to 12 April 1917, was part of the opening phase of the British-led Battle of Arras, a diversionary attack for the French Nivelle Offensive. The objective of the Canadian Corps was to take control of the German-held high ground along an escarpment at the northernmost end of the Arras Offensive. Supported by a creeping barrage, the Canadian Corps captured most of the ridge during the first day of the attack. The town of Thélus fell during the second day of the attack, as did the crest of the ridge once the Canadian Corps overcame a salient of considerable German resistance. The final objective, a fortified knoll located outside the town of Givenchy-en-Gohelle, fell to the Canadian Corps on 12 April. (See Canadian National Vimy Memorial).

Canada's Hundred Days

The 25th was involved in Canada's Hundred Days.

Belgium (1917-1918)

Flanders (and Belgium as a whole) saw some of the greatest loss of life on the Western Front of the First World War, in particular from the three battles of Ypres. Due to the hundreds of thousands of casualties at Ypres, the poppies that sprang up from the battlefield afterwards, later immortalised in the Canadian poem "In Flanders Fields", written by John McCrae, have become a symbol for lives lost in war.

Battle of Passchendaele

The Battle of Passchendaele took place between June and November 1917, for control of the ridges south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres. The campaign ended in November when the Canadian Corps captured Passchendaele.[7]

  • Pursuit to Mons,[8]


By the end of the war 53% of the men who had served in the battalion had been wounded (2713 soldiers), while 14% died in battle (718 soldiers).[9]

The 25th Battalion is perpetuated by The Nova Scotia Highlanders.[10]

See also


  1. Clements. Merry Hell: The Story of the 25th Battalion. University of Toronto Press. 2013, p. xviii. The two other battalions were The Royal Canadian Regiment and 85th Battalion.
  2. Canadian Forces Publication A-DH-267-003 Insignia and Lineages of the Canadian Forces. Volume 3: Combat Arms Regiments.
  3. Meek, John F. Over the Top! The Canadian Infantry in the First World War. Orangeville, Ont.: The Author, 1971. ISBN 0906158109
  4. Meek, John F. Over the Top! The Canadian Infantry in the First World War. Orangeville, Ont.: The Author, 1971. ISBN 0906158109
  5. Meek, John F. Over the Top! The Canadian Infantry in the First World War. Orangeville, Ont.: The Author, 1971. ISBN 0906158109
  6. Miles 1938, p. 450.
  7. Prior & Wilson 1996, p. 179.
  8. Canadian Army General Order 110 of 1929
  10. Canadian Forces Publication A-DH-267-003 Insignia and Lineages of the Canadian Forces. Volume 3: Combat Arms Regiments.


  • Brian Tennyson. Merry Hell: The Story of the 25th Battalion (Nova Scotia Regiment), Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919. University of Toronto. 2013
  • Nova Scotia's part in the Great War (1920)
  • MacDonald, F. B. The Twenty-fifth Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force : Nova Scotia's famous regiment in World War One. 1983.
  • R. Lewis; Over The Top With The 25th (1918)
  • 25th Battalion War Diary (1914-1919)

External links

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