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185th Battalion History

THE CAPE BRETON HIGHLANDERS, whose official number among the infantry units of Canada's overseas force is one hundred and eighty-five,
was authorized on the February 1, 1916, by the appointment of Lt.Col. F.P.Day as its Commanding Officer. Cape Breton Island, particularily the industrial sections, had already contributed a long list of men in various units,such as the 17th, and 36th Field Batteries, the 25th, 40th, 64th, 85th, and 106th infantry units. It was, however, felt that the authorization of a Battalion recruited from all sections of the Island representing all the people, would meet with a hearty response,and the authorities were not disappointed. For recruiting purposes it was decided to divide the Island into four districts.
"A" Company was recruited largely from the farming districts of INVERNESS, RICHMOND, AND VICTORIA COUNTIES.
"B" Company, from the towns of GLACE BAY, NEW WATERFORD and ADJACENT
"D" Company from SYDNEY and the MIRA districts.
The enthusiasm displayed in recruiting can be estimated from the fact that within a period of three weeks from the day of the
first recruit was signed on, the Battalion was up to strength and ready to mobilize.
An element that created great enthusiasm was the fact that the 185th was to form part of the Nova Scotia Highland Brigade,
of which the 85th Overseas Battalion had already been recruited, and in training under the masterful leadership of Lt.Col. ALLISON H. BORDEN.
A great recruiting scheme for the whole province was under way at the same time, and this concerted movement brought the whole Brigade to fullstrength in the incredible brief period of three weeks. As already stated, Lt.Col. FRANK PARKER DAY, late Professor in the Carnegie Instatute of Technology, Pittsburg, PA.was made the commanding officer of the Battalion. Lt.Col. F.P. Day was not without military experience. While a Rhodes Scholar attending Oxford University from 1907 to 1910, he joined the "King Edward's Light Horse" ranking in succession as trooper, Corporal, and 2nd Lieutenant. From May, 1911, to August, 1912, he was Major of the 28th New Brunswick Dragoons. From September, 1915, to February 1st, 1916, he filled the position of Junior Major in the 85th Overseas Battalion. All this experience served him in good stead in gathering about him capable officers, and it was decided to prceed with the mobilization and training at once.The Battilion was assembled in the meantime, at Broughton,a deserted mining town some eighteen miles south of Sydney. Enough vacant cottages and hotels were there in more or less habitable condition to billet the whole Battalion, and on March 31st, "B" Company arrived and took up their quarters. On April 4th, "A" Company occupied the section allotted for them. The main portion of "D" Company was located in the Crown Hotel on April 6th, and on April 10th, "C" Compnay reached the town once deserted, but now alive with military activity. The engineering department had previous to this, provided for the comfort of the men in a very satisfactory manner. A feature of the Battalion's occupation at Broughton was the presentation of pipes and drums to the various companies. A large representation of the citizens of Glace Bay made the first visit and in an address of thrilling interest couched in the eloquence of the Gaelic language, a representative of the party presented the valuable gift of 4 pipes and 3 drums. Next came some of the citizens of Sydney, and in the name of the "Royal Yacht Club", made a similar presentation to "D" Company. Victoria day a great many visitors witnessed the presentation by Col. THOMAS CANTLEY of New Glasgow, to "A" Company of a set of pipes and drums, while Mrs. W.S. Thompson, of North Sydney, on behalf of the "Green Feather" Societies of North Sydney and Sydney Mines, presented "C" Company with a set, thus forming when massed, a pipe band of 16 pipes and 12 drums.While the recruiting of the Battalion was goin on, the ladies of the various districts were calculating what share they could take in this enterprise, and as a result, there was formed "The Green Feather Society", and "The Catholic Ladies' Patriotic Society". The aim of these Societies is to provide comforts for the soldier boys during their training period, while in the Hospital, and at the Front, when many of the comforts they now enjoy are denied them. From the time of organization until the writing of this sketch, evidence abounds of the activities of these societies, and it augurs well for the future that the welfare of the boys will be a matter of great concern by these ladies to the very last. Excellent preliminary training was received by the Battalion at Broughton, and there was general rejoicing thoughout the camp when orders were received to proceed to Aldershot, N.S., to join the other Battalions of the Brigade. The camp broke up in Broughton on May 26th, and on the 27th in Aldershot, a new chapter in the Battalion's life had begun. This sketch would not be complete without a brief mention of the Honorary Colonel, of our Battalion, D.H. McDOUGALL, president of the Dominion Steel and Coal Companies. Col. McDougall, a staunch Cape Bretoner himself, received his appontment as Hon. Colonel of the 185th Cape Breton Highlanders on July 26, 1916. Ever since its authorization, during its recruiting, and throughout its several months of training, Col. McDougal has taken a most active interest in the Battalion. Several times he has come to our aid financially, his latest gift being that of $750 to the regimental fund on the occasion of his visit to Aldershot the latter part of August.