No. 2 Construction Battalion, CEF

The No. 2 Construction Battalion, the first and only Black battalion in Canadian military history was authorized on July 5, 1916, with headquarters initially at Pictou, Nova Scotia; in September their headquarters was relocated to Truro. The battalion, with nineteen officers and 605 men of other ranks, embarked from Pier 2 in Halifax on March 28, 1917 aboard SS Southland to Liverpool, England. The unit proceeded to France and the Swiss border, where it was attached to the Canadian Forestry Corps, CEF. The corps was officially disbanded on September 15, 1920 …. with no formal recognition for their service until The National Apology was delivered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on July 9, 2022.

In 1987 Senator Calvin W. Ruck published “The Black Battalion 1916-1920 Canada’s Best Kept Military Secret” This book is dedicated “To the memory of all Blacks who served in the Great War 1914 – 1918”.

Appendix A names the five British Columbia soldiers who were part of this battalion. Pte. Roy Alexander, Victoria; Pte. Arnold William Harris, Revelstoke; and three soldiers from Saltspring Island; Pte. James Douglas Whims, Pte. Robert Clark Whims, and Pte. James Edward Wintworth.

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