85th Battalion Educational Scheme (1918)
From the War Diary of the 85th Canadian Infantry Battalion (now perpetuated by the Cape Breton Highlanders).
War Diary, Nov., 1918.
85th Canadian Infantry Battalion
Nova Scotia Highlanders
On Friday 30-11-18, at 10.45 hours a class was organised of those who could neither read or write, a teacher appointed and instruction begun.
This class for beginners was the start of a programme for Educational and Vocational training within the Battalion until demobilization.
The order to begin such work was sent to Company Commanders after nominal rolls of those requiring such instruction were prepared. L/Cpl Henderson of the Band, an ex school teacher of long standing was the Instructor appointed.
The following letter was sent to Company Commanders:—
"The following are the proposed subjects to give instruction in:—
- Reading and Writing.
- English Grammar and Composition.
- Canadian and British History.
- Evening Lectures on Subjects of General Interest.
- Animal Husbandry
- Field Husbandry
- Business Training.
- Book Keeping.
Company Commanders will submit by noon tomorrow, Nominal Roll of Officers, N.C.O.s and men in their Company competent to teach any of these subjects."
This outline was a general guide and allowed for any further additional subjects requested.
The 85th Battalion in France and Flanders
On Sunday, November 24th, Protestant and Church parades were held as usual. A special feature, was that, at both services, the objects of the Society of the Holy Name were presented and the pledge of this Society was largely signed by officers and men against profanity and obscene language. In the afternoon there was a conference of the Company Commanders with a view to ascertaining the wishes of all ranks regarding the scheme of demobilization, as to whether, so far as the 85th was concerned, it should be classed according to occupations, or as a unit. The subsequent decision was in favor of demobilization as a unit. This was just what might be expected with the Esprit Corps of the 85th. The conference also considered an educational scheme for the Battalion and other means of profitably occupying the attention of the men. A census was taken showing the civil occupation of each man and what occupation he expected to follow in the future, as a guide to map out courses of instruction. A class was immediately formed in the important subjects of reading and writing and handed over to Lance-Corporal Henderson of the Band, who was an ex School Teacher. Also every officer and man in the Battalion, who was capable of teaching any particular subject, was taken into the service. (p. 226)