Military History

Library and Archives Canada, C-000148

The Taking of Vimy Ridge, Easter Monday, 1917, by Richard Jack.

The Battle for History: Nova Scotia’s 85th Battalion and the Capture of Hill 145, Vimy Ridge, 1917-1943

by Daniel Byers

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Daniel Byers, Ph.D, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History of Laurentian University. He has published in Ontario History, the Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, the Bulletin d’histoire politique, Canadian Military History, and the Canadian Army Journal. His first book, Zombie Army: The Canadian Army and Conscription in the Second World War, appeared recently as part of the “Studies in Canadian Military History” series published by UBC Press and the Canadian War Museum. The present article comes out of his research for a forthcoming biography of J.L. Ralston, and a planned future history of the 85th Battalion from its creation in 1915 to the winding down of its postwar veterans’ organization in the 1980s.

National Film Board of Canada, Library and Archives Canada, PA-148873

Crowds gather at the Vimy Memorial for its dedication, 26 July 1936.

The story of the role played by the 85th Battalion in the battle of Vimy Ridge has become almost mythical. Raised as part of what became a great province-wide undertaking over a few weeks in the fall of 1915, it had only just arrived at the front in February 1917, and was still waiting to take its place in the line of battle. On the morning of 9 April, when all four divisions of the Canadian Corps attacked together for the first time in the First World War, the 85th was relegated to acting as a work battalion, to help repair trenches and carry out other tasks behind the initial advance. Within a few hours, Canadians had captured almost the entire ridge, and only the two highest points held out: the “Pimple” and Hill 145 (the summit where Canada’s Vimy Memorial now stands). Having seen all of his existing battalions broken up attempting to capture Hill 145, the 11th Brigade’s commanding officer, Brigadier-General Victor Odlum, turned to the 85th to attempt one more advance before the end of the day. “C” and “D” companies under Captains Harvey Crowell and Percival Anderson were charged with the task.1

Shortly before the start-time of 5:45 p.m.,2 the two companies filed out of Tottenham Tunnel. “C” fanned out to the left and “D” to the right. When the artillery barrage that had been hurriedly requested to accompany them did not materialize, Crowell decided that if he did not stick to the plan and order his men to go forward, then all might be lost. He led them out of their trench, followed shortly afterwards by a startled Anderson and the men of “D” company. The attackers began to draw heavy fire (Crowell himself was severely wounded by a bullet through his right shoulder). But one corporal remembered his recent training with newly-introduced rifle grenades, and fired from his hip as he moved forward. Other soldiers soon followed his example. This relatively small amount of firepower, along with the shock of the German defenders at the audacity of the 85th in attacking without artillery support in the first place, were just enough to allow its men to capture Hill 145.

Yet, this was not the picture of events that the Canadian army’s Historical Section had as it began to search its files on the battle in the mid-1930s. In fact, were it not for the efforts of Harvey Crowell, a pre-and post-war civilian accountant, and J.L. Ralston, a corporate lawyer who was the 85th’s adjutant in early 1917, later its commanding officer, and then served twice as Canada’s Minister of National Defence (in the 1920s, and again in the 1940s), many of the details of the Nova Scotia battalion’s part in the battle might never have been preserved – or at least, they might not have been given nearly as prominent a place in later accounts. The story of how these events came to be documented also says much about how the history of the Canadian Corps itself came to be pieced together and written, especially by the Historical Section and its Director, Colonel A.F. Duguid, in the first two decades after 1918. And beyond that, it serves as a reminder of the ways in which much of our history comes to be preserved and written, and how it can be shaped by the influences of particular individuals despite our best efforts as historians to reconstruct events as truthfully and objectively as possible.

Map of Battle of Vimy Ridge 9-12 April 1917.

Directorate of History and Heritage, DND

Click to enlarge image

The rewriting of the 85th’s place in the battle of Vimy Ridge began with the Pilgrimage to France that was organized by the Canadian Legion in 1936 to unveil the newly-built Memorial. Walter Allward’s now-famous design had come to be built on Hill 145, not necessarily because Vimy was considered at the time to be the Canadian Corps’ most significant victory of the war, but more because the feature so dominated the area around it that when a special Commission was formed to plan to build memorials at several sites in the early 1920s, it was clearly the most striking place to locate what was considered to be the most far-reaching out of the many proposals that had been submitted.3 The sheer scope of the Pilgrimage itself, which included a mass ocean crossing by approximately 6,400 Canadian veterans or next-of-kin and their families on five large passenger liners, as well as 1,365 Canadians who traveled from England, tens of thousands more British and French citizens at the ceremony itself, and even the accompanying speeches, most of which attempted to discern the precise meaning for Canadians of Vimy and the larger war, all then also did much to begin cementing the notion that because Vimy was being given such recognition, it must have been the country’s most important battle.4

Dept. of National Defence, Library and Archives Canada, PA-000871

Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden inspecting men of the 85th Battalion, of which his cousin was the commanding officer, March 1917.

Dept. of National Defence, Library and Archives Canada, PA-001537

Nova Scotian soldiers, believed to be from the 85th Battalion, Nova Scotia Highlanders, lined up for dinner in the field during the period of the battle.

According to Harvey Crowell, who was among the participants who made the trip from Canada, Vimy was much less significant to many veterans at the time: as far as he knew, he was the only person from the 85th who attended. As he put it, “On the voyage I talked to many former officers about the location of the Canadian War Memorial, and, strangely enough, the site did not mean a great deal.”5 Yet, he became upset when he read the description of the battle that was provided in the official guidebook produced by the Canadian Legion for the Pilgrimage. That section had been written by A.F. Duguid, one of whose roles as the head of the army’s Historical Section was specifically to prepare a proper, detailed history of all parts of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) that had been recruited to fight the war overseas. Thus, he was the apparent authority on the Canadian army’s wartime activities. His brief account in the guidebook did not mention the 85th at all. Instead, he left his comments on Hill 145 vague, noting only that Canadian soldiers as a group had captured it by nightfall on 9 April.6

Ken Bell, Dept. of National Defence, Library and Archives Canada, PA-167233

Colonel Archer Fortescue Duguid.

Despite Duguid’s standing as one of the leading experts on Canadian participation in the First World War, by 1936 he had yet to publish a single volume out of the total of eight that the government had authorized him to write. In the end, he would only produce a first volume in 1938, along with a companion book of documents and maps, both of which dealt with events only up to September 1915.7 As distinguished historian Tim Cook has noted, throughout the interwar years, Duguid’s small office was overburdened with various tasks that kept him from focusing on his writing. He tended to see himself as the guardian of all aspects of the memory of the Canadian army’s role in the First World War, and as a result, kept feeling compelled to get involved in further activities that distracted him from his primary duty.8 As Professor Wes Gustavson of the University of Western Ontario has indicated, the terms of reference that guided Duguid in his work also did not make it clear that writing the history of the CEF was supposed to be his primary task.9 Even more importantly, Duguid was an engineer rather than a historian by training, and a former Canadian artillery officer from the First World War – something that was considered to be a strength at first, since he would fully understand the subjects about which he was writing. And he did work diligently and conscientiously to live up to the professional standards of a historian. But at times this almost made him too conscientious, and he became obsessed with attempting to collect every possible piece of written evidence before beginning to set his conclusions down on paper. He also followed the precepts of professional historians of the time, and considered written records to be far superior to the recollections of the individual participants in the battles about which he would be writing. In a sense, if a written document did not confirm an event, then it had not happened.10

Library and Archives Canada, e-010994315

Lieutenant-Colonel James Layton Ralston, as the commanding officer of the 85th Battalion, 1917-1918.

Clearly, Harvey Crowell also realized that if Duguid was viewed as the leading authority on the history of the CEF overseas, then what would become the standard account of the battle of Vimy Ridge would not include any major recognition of the part played by the 85th. For that reason, he took up the issue with J.L. Ralston. Ralston had also been present at Hill 145 in 1917. As the 85th’s former commander, and by the late-1930s, also a former Minister of National Defence, his opinion would no doubt carry a certain weight in supporting Crowell. In addition, his experience of being part of the 85th had shaped his own life just as significantly as it did for all Canadians who served in uniform during the First World War. He remembered the comradeship and other positive aspects of his time in Europe very fondly, and remained in close touch with Crowell and other former members of his battalion for years afterwards. He especially looked forward eagerly to the annual reunions of its veterans’ organization, the “85th Battalion Memory Club.”11 Thus, he was also personally supportive of what Crowell saw as setting the record straight on behalf of the battalion. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, thanks to Ralston’s former role as Minister of National Defence, he knew A.F. Duguid personally, and could approach him more easily about the topic.

Crowell appears to have first discussed his concerns privately with Ralston at some point between 1936 and 1939. In February of the latter year, he confirmed his account in a written letter. He described how the 85th’s commander, Lieutenant-Colonel A.H. Borden, had been forced to provide very rushed handwritten orders when the 85th were suddenly called upon to capture two trench lines that were still held by the Germans on the mid-afternoon of 9 April, and then the roles that Crowell and Anderson and their two companies had played in the events. As far as Crowell remembered, their men had actually gone beyond their official objectives, but he was less worried at the time about documenting their exact position than to pull them back in case a friendly artillery barrage caught them in the open, where only German troops were expected to be, and so that they could prepare to defend against potential counter-attacks. He was also the first person to tell the story of Corporal Milton H. Curll, the man who had first thought to fire his rifle grenade from the hip at the Germans. But Crowell’s key objective was clearly to establish that the 85th Battalion had indeed captured Hill 145, since as far as he knew, the Canadians had faced no further opposition in that area from that moment onwards, and therefore the 85th seemed to have accomplished the task. Obviously, he had something to gain for his former unit by making such claims, and although he does not seem to have ever sought personal recognition for the role he had played in the battle, he also acknowledged in his letter that “I really thought that I had something to do with the success of the attack, having led C Company unsupported and drawn all the fire for the first ten minutes.”12

Library and Archives Canada, e-011169480

The first two pages of Lieutenant-Colonel A.H. Borden’s handwritten operation order for the 85th Battalion’s attack on Hill 145 on 9 April 1917.

Click to enlarge image

In addition, it is worth noting that in support of his argument Crowell mentioned that he had actually preserved the first two out of the three pages of the original handwritten orders that Borden had produced on the spot in April 1917 to guide the two-company attack.13 Apparently, Crowell had ended up with them still in his possession at the end of that day, and had then held onto them for the next twenty years, recognizing their potential significance and yet never realizing that they might have been worth submitting to some historical authority so that they could be used to help reconstruct events. This was just one of the difficulties that Duguid faced in trying to piece together such written documents in the interwar years, given the lack of experience that the early CEF had had with record-keeping during the war.

Ralston did forward Crowell’s information to Duguid and asked him to look into the matter. But the reply Ralston received was almost a perfect model of how Tim Cook describes Duguid and his procedure as a historian (not to mention that having to respond to such queries, and having taken the time to write for the Vimy Pilgrimage guidebook in the first place, were two further examples of how Duguid kept having to stop and devote his attention to other issues rather than being able to focus on completing his CEF history). Duguid began his response with a hint of annoyance, noting that “I went into this before writing the account in the Vimy Pilgrimage book, and have now gone over the evidence again.” There was no doubt, he admitted, that the 85th’s two companies had captured certain of the trenches on Hill 145 on the evening of 9 April. Its war diary (the day-to-day record of events that every operational military unit was required to keep during the conflict) confirmed that.14 But the war diary stopped short of confirming that the battalion had captured all the German positions. Duguid, in fact, then cited the German government’s published history of its forces during the war that discussed events that night as an authority to support his own point of view, since it recorded the 85th’s men as being in the same place as the existing Canadian documents. Although the Germans obviously might have had motives of their own to avoid having to admit that all of Hill 145 had been lost so quickly on 9 April, Duguid concluded that the written sources on both sides provided only that much information. And if there was a conflict between a written document and someone’s personal memory of an event, then once again, to him, the written account should hold supreme. He did acknowledge that if new evidence appeared, his version of events might change. In that connection, not only did he indicate that he had not ever seen any copy of Colonel Borden’s handwritten operation order from the afternoon of 9 April in his own files, but he enclosed, along with his letter to Ralston, a general appeal to former members of the CEF asking for help locating similar original documents that they might have retained in their possession after 1918.15

W. I. Castle, Dept. of National Defence, Library and Archives Canada, PA-001101

A machine gun emplacement on the crest of Vimy Ridge, and the men who drove the Germans from it during the battle.

When Ralston informed Crowell of Duguid’s reply, Crowell showed some annoyance of his own. In particular, after seeing Duguid’s focus with respect to written accounts, over what Crowell considered to be the unquestionable truth of his own experiences, he revealed a view that some members of the public still at times seem to have towards professional historians today: “I began to wonder if a good deal of what has been considered to be authentic history was ‘made up’ in this way.” But to some extent, he also had a point. Keeping the 85th’s war diary “was just one further job to be attended to by a tired officer, and often based on rather sketchy records,” he commented, and as a consequence, it was not always the best source of detailed information. He seized, for example, upon its description of Crowell’s men having captured their first enemy trench in just ten minutes. Despite the fact that his own perceptions may have been somewhat skewed by living through the attack first-hand, in his view this timeline was “…absurd. We were wading in mud and water over our knees and up to our hips a good deal of the time, and did not reach our Objective,... in less than 15 or 20 minutes, and we were under Machine Gun and Artillery fire every foot of the way.”16 In a follow-up letter, he also questioned the war diary’s description of men firing machine guns from the hip during the advance, which had come to be repeated by many later authors, but was likely the result of confusion over the role of Corporal M.H. Curll in firing rifle grenades.17

Dept. of National Defence, Library and Archives Canada, PA-001018

A Canadian artillery battery firing a 4.2 inch howitzer upon retreating Germans during the battle.

Crowell also produced an even more telling comment on the potential reliability of the 85th’s war diary in the form of a supporting letter from Earle Phinney, who had been second-in-command of the battalion in April 1917. As Phinney pointed out, Lieutenant-Colonel Borden, who had been a peacetime officer in the Permanent Force (the full-time professional component of the Canadian army at the time), would never have allowed his unit’s war diary to admit in writing that they had exceeded their orders by overshooting their objective. However, Phinney had personally visited the front lines to see to consolidating the 85th’s positions on the evening of 9 April, and he could confirm that they had been forward of the ones officially reported. And as a well-regarded postwar civilian lawyer in Halifax, he was “…quite prepared to make a statutory declaration” to that effect.18

The fact that written documents (and war diaries in particular) can sometimes be misleading, or worse, is not news to historians. But it is interesting to see the merits of the 85th’s war diary being disputed quite so openly by Crowell and Phinney. Still, by the time that Crowell was advancing some of these arguments, it was the fall of 1939 and the Second World War had now broken out. Ralston had returned to politics as Minister of Finance. After the death of his friend and colleague Norman Rogers in June 1940, he went on to become Minister of National Defence for the second time in his career until he was removed from Cabinet on 1 November 1944, over sending conscripts overseas to help maintain the strength of the Canadian army in Europe. Crowell acknowledged the new conflict in his correspondence in late-1939, noting that given the situation, at this point probably “…the best thing to do is to hand all the information over to Colonel Duguid and get on with our other work.”19

Library and Archives Canada, e-011169479

Administrative orders issued by Ralston’s adjutant to “C” Company of the 85th Battalion in advance of the attack on Vimy. Note the darkened spots around the edges. As Crowell reported when he sent these to Ralston on 8 June 1939, “I carried them in my tunic pocket, right side, and you will understand what caused the red stain.”

Click to enlarge image

And yet, the story did not end quite there. Crowell kept pursuing the subject with other 85th veterans, and in December 1940, he wrote to Curll, who was by then an employee in the Royal Bank of Canada’s headquarters in Montreal (in the same building, in fact, where Ralston had practised law throughout the 1930s), to ask him to confirm Crowell’s memory that there had been no further attacks on Hill 145 after the 85th’s advance on 9 April.20 In commenting about his own role in events, Curll noted wryly that:

Anything I did that evening was purely in self-defence.... As you will remember, it was getting pretty hot and realizing that we had no barrage, I must admit that I ducked for a shell hole and luckily landed in one with one of our boys who had an apron full of bombs. The first three or four bombs I sent over were from this shell hole. My companion then called my attention to the fact that he didn’t hear the machine gun bullets overhead any more, so we decided it was time to move forward and did so, but continued to shoot over the bombs to make sure the job was completed.

As Curll added, he had not wanted to be acknowledged too openly at the time for doing this, because he had been forced to use regular bullets rather than blank cartridges to fire his grenades, and in the process, had destroyed government-issued property in the form of his service rifle. “However, I procured another rifle before the evening was much older,” he summed up poignantly. “The chap who had previously had it, had no further use for it.”21

Despite how preoccupied Ralston came to be with numerous tasks over his next four years as Minister of National Defence, in April 1943 he found time to have the entire file of correspondence with Crowell forwarded once again to Duguid at the Historical Section.22 This time, while nothing was stated directly, he was clearly expecting it to be reviewed while he had the opportunity to request that Duguid take it more seriously, as Duguid’s ultimate superior within the Department. At first, Duguid appears to have simply put the file aside – likely just due to how much he was still burdened with other tasks while trying to complete his history of the CEF (and something that was now rendered that much more complicated by the need to document the new conflict that was then in progress).23 But one is tempted to speculate that he also might not have been in any rush to respond, if he still disagreed with Crowell and Ralston, and he worried about the implications of openly so doing. When he finally did begin to prepare a response, his first handwritten draft actually did continue to challenge Crowell’s version of events. Duguid took exception to Crowell’s earlier arguments that while Duguid tended to stress there was no evidence of the 85th having fully crossed over Hill 145 until the morning of 10 April 1917 (and thus no proof that it had captured the top of the Hill), that was not the relevant point, because Crowell and other participants themselves remembered being there at the end of the attack the night before, and all opposition to their presence had ended by then. As Duguid wrote in this draft letter, even putting some of his comments in capital letters for emphasis, “THAT POINT is the point at issue.” He then went on to cite evidence from the German history, once again, that suggested that Canadian units other than the 85th had forced the enemy to withdraw.24

Library and Archives Canada, e-011169481

An image of Duguid’s draft letter that he eventually chose not to send to Ralston in 1943.

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In the end, however, Duguid seems to have thought better of his initial reaction, and decided to adopt the well-known maxim that “discretion is the better part of valour.” Five months after Ralston had first forwarded the file to him, he finally replied back with a brief memo, which stated simply that “After careful re-examination of all relevant documents, no further action is at present indicated.” He also asked permission to retain the file to add to the Historical Section’s records.25

Thus, Duguid had clearly seen the wisdom of conceding the point. It is not necessarily true that without this file, Crowell’s memory of events would never have been recorded, because in the early-1960s, he got the chance to recount it once again when the CBC decided to conduct an extensive series of interviews for what became a well-known radio series, “In Flanders Fields.”26 Crowell also kept copies of all of his correspondence from the 1930s and 1940s, and he clearly shared it with authors Fraser McKee in the 1960s, and Pierre Berton again in the 1980s, based upon the accounts that appear in their books. Yet, during the earlier years, Crowell had had no reason to suspect that Duguid’s version of the battles of 1917 would not come to be published first, and that it would therefore come to influence every later account. Therefore, he led the fight to ensure that the 85th would be included at that time. As a result, when a briefer version of the government’s official history was finally completed in the early-1960s by Colonel G.W.L. Nicholson, it did acknowledge the role of the two companies of the 85th in a single sentence.27 Fighting this paper battle in the 1930s and 1940s also gave Crowell the opportunity to rehearse and hone his own version of the events, and correspond with other participants to help clarify it and collect other supporting evidence several times before sharing it with the public for the first time in his 1960s interview.

Department of National Defence, Library and Archives Canada, PA-001583

Soldiers of the 85th Battalion on their way up the line, August 1917.

The story of how Crowell and Ralston worked to try to change what might have become the generally-received version of events surrounding the capture of Hill 145 also serves as a reminder of several elements that surround how we write history generally, and especially, how the early effort to write the history of Canada’s participation in the First World War was carried out. It reminds us, first of all, of the approach taken by Colonel A.F. Duguid towards trying to write that history between the 1920s and the 1940s. Records were not nearly as well-collected and ordered as would be the case for the Second World War. At times, it was only a matter of chance that key documents even survived, and anyone thought to make them part of the public record. At the same time, Duguid himself perhaps relied too strongly upon the written word as his most reliable source of information. On the other hand, the role of Crowell and Ralston in what might be described as outrightly lobbying Duguid for recognition of the 85th and its role at Vimy, reminds us of the way that personal relationships and motives can shape, not just how we write history, but even how the records come to be collected, and upon which we rely to reconstruct history. Lastly, this specific case is an excellent example of some of the other struggles that Duguid faced in attempting to compile his history of the CEF, and in particular why he sometimes agonized over producing what would be seen as a true account but at the same time would pay homage to all of the Canadian troops who had been involved, without stirring up anger from one group of veterans, or another at how they were portrayed – a further likely reason why he spent so much time worrying over getting everything just right before he was willing to publish in the first place.28 If nothing else, the story of how the 85th came to be remembered for its role in the battle of Vimy Ridge suggests that even a hundred years after what has become one of the central events in our national memory-building about the First World War, there still remains something new to be learned by studying the developments surrounding it.

Dept. of National Defence, Library and Archives Canada, PA-004107

It’s over… Officers of the 85th Canadian Infantry Battalion, January 1919.

I would like to thank my colleague Dr. Brad Rudachyk, and the students who took part in several years of his course, HIST 2026: Historical Methods, for first inviting me to present the primary documents upon which this article is based, as an example of how historians use evidence generally – and in the process, for helping me to tease out some of the intricacies of the subject myself. I have also benefited from comments on earlier versions of this paper that I delivered to the “Great War’s Shadow” conference in Lake Louise, Alberta, in September 2014, and the Laurentian University Alumni Association in Barrie, Ontario, in November 2015 (and particularly on the former, by Dr. Tim Cook of the Canadian War Museum).

DND photo SU-2007-0156-07 by Master Corporal Jill Cooper

The Monument at Vimy Ridge in 2007.


  1. The account in this and the following paragraph is compiled from the various primary sources that are discussed in the remainder of this article. These provided one of the key foundations for the later versions of the 85th’s role in the battle that appeared in published sources, and particularly Alexander McKee, Vimy Ridge (London and Toronto: Souvenir Press/Ryerson Press, 1966), esp. pp. 182-189; Pierre Berton, Vimy (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1986), pp. 270-274; Ted Barris, Victory at Vimy: Canada Comes of Age, April 9-12, 1917 (Toronto: Thomas Allen, 2007), pp. 159-164; and most recently, Tim Cook, Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting the Great War, 1917-1918, Vol. Two (Toronto: Viking Canada, 2008), pp. 135-136. Further secondary sources that discuss the battle include Colonel G.W.L. Nicholson, Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War: Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919 (Ottawa: Queen’s Printer, 1964), pp. 233-268; Herbert Fairlee Wood, Vimy! (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1967); Lieutenant Colonel D.E. Macintyre, Canada at Vimy (Toronto: Peter Martin Associates, 1967); Brereton Greenhous and Stephen J. Harris, Canada and the Battle of Vimy Ridge, 9-12 April 1917 (Montréal: Art Global, 1995); and Geoffrey Hayes, Andrew Iarocci, and Mike Bechthold, (eds.), Vimy Ridge: A Canadian Reassessment (Waterloo: Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies and Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2007). On the 85th Battalion and Vimy, see also M. Stuart Hunt, Nova Scotia’s Part in the Great War (Halifax: The Nova Scotia Veteran Publishing Co., 1920), pp. 99-105; Joseph Hayes, The Eighty-Fifth in France and Flanders (Halifax: Royal Print & Litho Limited, 1920), pp. 47-63; and Robert S. Williams, “The 85th Canadian Infantry Battalion and First Contact with the Enemy at Vimy Ridge, 9-14 April, 1917,” Canadian Army Journal 8(1), Spring 2005, pp. 73-82.
  2. Various sources give the start time as anywhere between 5:45 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. The time given here is as later remembered by Crowell himself.
  3. John Pierce, “Constructing Memory: The Vimy Memorial,” Canadian Military History 1(1 & 2), Autumn 1992, pp. 5-6; Jonathan F. Vance, Death So Noble: Memory, Meaning, and the First World War (Vancouver: UBC Press, 1997), pp. 66-67; Eric Brown and Tim Cook, “The 1936 Vimy Pilgrimage,” in Canadian Military History 20(2), Spring 2011, pp. 38-39; and Jacqueline Hucker, “’After the Agony in Stony Places’: The Meaning and Significance of the Vimy Monument,” in Hayes, Iarocci, and Bechthold, Vimy Ridge, esp. pp. 280-283.
  4. Pilgrimage,” pp. 39-53. Macintyre also describes these events in detail in Canada at Vimy, pp. 158-99.
  5. Library and Archives Canada [hereafter LAC], Manuscript Group 27, III, B11, Papers of James Layton Ralston [hereafter Ralston Papers], Vol. 44, file titled “85th Battalion – Memory Club.[sic], Controversy over Hill 145 (1917) – Vimy Ridge – with maps [underlining in original] 1939-44,” correspondence, Crowell to Ralston, 24 February 1939.
  6. Colonel A. Fortescue Duguid, “Canada on Vimy Ridge,” in [John Hundevad, (ed.),] Guidebook of the Pilgrimage to Vimy and the Battlefields, July-August 1936 (Ottawa: Vimy Pilgrimage Committee, 1936), p. 62.
  7. Colonel A. Fortescue Duguid, Official History of the Canadian Forces in the Great War 1914-1919, General Series, Vol. I, From the Outbreak of War to the Formation of the Canadian Corps, August 1914-September 1915 (Ottawa: King’s Printer, 1938), and [Duguid, (ed.),] Official History of the Canadian Forces in the Great War 1914-1919, General Series, Vol. I, From the Outbreak of War to the Formation of the Canadian Corps, August 1914-September 1915, Chronology, Appendices and Maps [Ottawa: King’s Printer, 1938].
  8. Cook deals with the various factors that affected Duguid’s work in his chapter on the interwar years in Clio’s Warriors: Canadian Historians and the Writing of the Two World Wars (Vancouver and Toronto: UBC Press, 2006), pp. 41-92, and see also Wes Gustavson, “’Fairly Well Known and Need Not be Discussed’: Colonel A.F. Duguid and the Canadian Official History of the First World War,” in Canadian Military History 10(2), Spring 2001, pp. 41-54.
  9. Ibid., p. 45.
  10. Ibid., pp. 45-47, and Cook, Clio’s Warriors, pp. 43, 45, 48-49 and 89-90.
  11. Examples can be found in Ralston Paper, Vol. 44, files titled “85th Battalion – Memory Club.[sic], 1935-39,” and “85th Battalion – Memory Club ---- 1935, 1937-47.”
  12. Ralston Papers, Vol. 44, “85th Battalion... Controversy over Hill 145...,” Crowell to Ralston, 24 February 1939.
  13. Ibid., pages enclosed with correspondence, Crowell to Ralston, 8 June 1939 (the original two pages remain in Ralston’s file, to this day).
  14. The account in the war diary can be found in LAC, Record Group 9, Records of the Department of Militia and Defence, Series III, Vol. 4944 (Microfilm Reel T-10751), File 454, I, “85th Cdn. Inf. Battn. [sic],” April 1917, Appendix “A” – and also online through
  15. Ralston Papers, Vol. 44, “85th Battalion... Controversy over Hill 145...,” Duguid to Ralston, 20 April 1939.
  16. Ibid., Crowell to Ralston, 8 June 1939.
  17. Ibid., Crowell to Ralston, 12 October 1939.
  18. Ibid., Phinney to Crowell, 4 October 1939.
  19. Ibid., Crowell to Ralston, 12 October 1939.
  20. Nova Scotia Archives, Manuscript Group 100, Vol. 116 (Microfilm Reel 15171), Item #11h, correspondence, Crowell to Curll, 6 December 1939.
  21. Ibid., #11g, Curll to Crowell, 16 December 1940.
  22. Ralston Papers, Vol. 44, “85th Battalion... Controversy over Hill 145...,” L.M. Breen, Assistant Private Secretary, Minister of National Defence, to Duguid, 19 April 1943.
  23. See Gustavson, p. 50, and Cook, Clio’s Warriors, p. 117.
  24. LAC, Record Group 24, Records of the Department of National Defence, Vol. 1907, File DHS 5-7-51, “85th Canadian Infantry Battalion,” draft letter, Duguid to Assistant Private Secretary to the Minister [of National Defence], n.d.
  25. Ibid., Duguid to Private Secretary [to Minister of National Defence], 21 September 1943.
  26. Crowell’s account appears in LAC, Record Group 41, Records of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Vol. 16, “85th Battalion,” transcript of Tape No. 1.
  27. Nicholson, p. 260.
  28. See Gustavson, pp. 43-44, and Cook, Clio’s Warriors, pp. 56-57.