These three 8″ x 19.5″ panoramic photos are of the 54th Kootenay Battalion at Vernon Camp and were taken in the summer of 1915 by Harold Smith, a Vancouver-based photographer. They are of exceptional quality and I encourage you to click on the images to view them in detail.
The 54th Battalion was organized in May 1915 and drew recruits from throughout rural British Columbia. The Battalion was mobilized at Vernon Camp in June 1915. Two drafts of 250 men and 5 officers proceeded to England on July 21 and October 23 before the rest of the battalion sailed aboard the Saxonia on November 22nd, arriving in England eight days later. The 54th joined the 4th Canadian Division, 11th Infantry Brigade in France on August 13, 1916.
The first photograph shows the entire battalion (1111 men and 36 officers) and includes the brass band and the battalion mascot “Koots“, a black bear cub who can be seen just above the word “C.E.F.”. The two “X”‘s mark the location of two soldiers referred to on the back of the photo as “Dad” and “Sid”. My research is in the early stages but there is a chance that “Sid” refers to Private Sidney James McDonald, a 17-year old Drummer who worked in the Printing department of the Nelson Daily News. Sidney’s 52-year old father Thomas also served in the 54th and both appear in the nominal roll as having sailed in November. One of the soldiers marked in the photo is a drummer however I must admit that the other solider looks too young to be his father Thomas.
The second photograph shows the men who formed the 2nd Overseas Draft that sailed to England in October. The third photograph is of the 3rd Platoon from “A” Company, a Company which I understand was made up of men from Nelson.
If you are able to identify any of the men in these photos please contact me and I will feature them in a future article. [Update: Three members of the 54th Battalion positively identified]
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