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Nova Scotia Overseas Highland Brigade

Undoubtedly the most unique feature in the story of recruiting Canada's Overseas Forces was the organization of the NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLAND BRIGADE which had its inception in the 85th battalion. This unit was authorized September 14, 1915, with Lieut.-Col. Allison H. Borden in command. In less than a month the Battalion was over strength, and enthused by this success Col. Borden conceived the idea of raising another highland regiment in Nova Scotia, from which grew the larger ideal of the Nova Scotia Highland Brigade, and same was authorised on January 26th, 1916.

An energetic campaign was simultaneously started in almost every part of the province, and in less than three weeks the 185th, 193rd, and 219th Battalions were recruited over strength. This record is unsurpassed in any part of the Dominion, and the credit belongs to the Officers, N.C.O.'s and men of the 85th, which Battalion also to a great extent officered and organized the other three units of the Brigade.

Early in June the Brigade mobilised at Aldershot Camp, and the training of the unit commenced in earnest. Inspections were held at the camp during the summer by the Governor General, H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught: Premier Borden and Sir Sam Hughs, Minister of Militia, and all expressed the highest praise for the efficiency of the battalions and the manly character and bearing of the Officers and men. His Royal Highness the Governor General stated in his remarks to the Brigade that he had never before seen a finer body of men.

Shortly after encamping at Aldershot, Col. Borden obtained the co-operation of the Officers commanding the four Battalions in the work of having each officer and man of the Brigade photographed, primarily for the purpose of compiling a complete photographic record of the personnel of each unit, and ultimately to have the material for a Brigade edition. The work practically formed part of the daily routine of the battalions, and it was only at the end of the summer than the last of the men had been paraded to the studios erected for the purpose, in the grounds, and the complete set of photographs obtained, numbering approximately five thousand.

When it is realized that almost every home in Nova Scotia has a father, brother, husband or friend in the Brigade, the foresight and energy of the Officers commanding will be thoroughly appreciated by the people of the Province in making possible so complete a record of the heart and soul of Nova Scotia. The Brigade embarked for England on the OLYMPIC, which sailed out of Halifax at dusk on the 13th of October, 1916. 

If you would like to read more about our Canadian Military History, please visit my website Kintail to Cape Breton Nova Scotia Overseas Highland Brigade 

Dale (MacRae) Barry

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