Old 05-15-2011, 04:06 PM   #1
The Lady From Hell!
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 864
Default Canadian "Cyclist Battalion" in The Great War.

"Bicycle Infantry" are infantry soldiers who maneuver between battlefields using bicycles. The term dates from the late 19th century, when the "safety bicycle" became popular in Europe, the United States and Australia. In 1894 a turning point occurred due to improved resilience of pneumatics and the shorter sturdier construction of the frame.[1] To some extent, bicyclists took over the functions of dragoons, especially as messengers and scouts, substituting for horses in warfare.[2] Bicycle units or detachments were formed at the end of the 19th century by all European armies and the US armed forces.

The United Kingdom employed bicycle troops in militia or territorial units, but not in regular units. In France, several experimental units were created, starting in 1886.[3] They attempted to adopt folding bicycles early on. In the United States, the most extensive experimentation on bicycle units was carried out by a 1st Lieutenant Moss, of the 25th United States Infantry (Colored) (an African American infantry regiment with white officers). Using a variety of cycle models, Lt. Moss and his troops carried out extensive bicycle journeys covering between 500 and 1,000 miles (800 to 1,600 km). Late in the 19th century, the United States Army tested the bicycle's suitability for cross-country troop transport. Buffalo Soldiers stationed in Montana rode bicycles across roadless landscapes for hundreds of miles at high speed.

The first known use of the bicycle in combat occurred during the Jameson Raid, in which cyclists carried messages. In the Second Boer War, military cyclists were used primarily as scouts and messengers. [4] During World War I, cycle-mounted infantry, scouts, messengers and ambulance carriers were extensively used by all combatants.

The photo shows Commonwealth cyclist scouts, walking their bikes on a muddy road on the Western Front, in France.

Canadian soldiers extensively used Bicycles in world war one, for quick transport of men and supplies, ect. The photo below shows the Newfoundland Regiment marching through a French village. Numerous men from this regiment died that it was hard to keep up their numbers, despite the fact that recruitment proved easy in Newfoundland. It was said of this regiment, after 90% of them were killed or injured by the Germans at Beaumont-Hamel:

It was a magnificent display of trained and disciplined valour, and its assault only failed of success because dead men can advance no further.

King George V gave the regiment the prefix “Royal” – the only time during the First World War that this honour was given. The original of this photo is captioned: “The Newfoundland Regiment marching back to billet after Monchy.”

Canadian Burial of the bicycle "corpse" at Bramshott Camp on June 9th, 1916.

A Bicycle Ambulance.

1. Leiser 10
2. Leiser 11-16
3. Leiser 11
4. "Danie Theron". Retrieved 2007-10-07.


Canadian Cyclist Battalion 1914 - 1919.

David Love's text describes the "Divisional Cyclist Company" of the first Canadian contingent from October 1914 to 1916. New cyclist companies were then formed with each of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Divisions. In May 1916 the Overseas Divisional Cyclists were disbanded and the four Divisional Cyclist Companies combined to for the "Canadian Corps Cyclist Battalion" in the Corps Troops. Subsequently a cyclist unit was also added to "Brutinel's Brigade" in 1918.

In Stewart's text "Overseas" the following is reported for the Cyclist Battalions:

As the 1st Canadian Division was forming and training at Valcartier Camp, Quebec it was decided that a cyclist unit should be formed to carry out Intelligence work with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The first Canadian Cyclist Company sailed for England with the 1st Canadian Division on October 14, 1914 with all ranks which had volunteered for the Cyclist unit from most of the battalions. As it had been decided that all further divisions must carry a Cyclist Battalion on their establishments, the recruiting was handed over and carried out by the Corps of Guides of the N.P.A.M. (Matrix: Non Permanent Active Militia), whose duties were commensurate with the training needs of the Cyclists.

In addition to the training the Cyclists had received under the direction of the Guides in Canada, a much more intensive course was started in England which consisted of musketry, bombing, and bayonet fighting coupled with the highly specialized role of learning signalling and topography techniques, range-finding, tactics and the use of Lewis guns.

Due to the more static nature of the war in the early years, the Corps duties were not those for which they had been trained. They carried out traffic control, sapping and mining, trench guide, listening posts, battalion runners and despatch riding duties.

Owing to the diverse nature of the Corps duties the Cyclists had undertaken, it had become almost impossible to keep track of them, and to that end the various companies were reorganized into Canadian Corps Cyclist Battalions by May of 1916. For the most part the Cyclists spent from four to six weeks in the lines under intense fire which gave rise to an increase in casualties.

During the last 100 days of the war, the Corps cane into its own. The value of the work they had been initially trained for came into constant use in forming the vital links between the Infantry and Cavalry and keeping in constant touch with the retreating enemy. One unit was attached to the Independent Brigade under the command of Brutinel. All the above duties coupled with reconnaissance duties, proved more dangerous than the early work they had undertaken. 23% of the Cyclists had been killed and the men soon placed "Suicide Battalions" as their nickname.

Five divisional Cyclist Battalions were formed and It is of interest to note that a Canadian Cyclist was the first allied soldier to cross the Bonn bridge into Germany.

Read More. http://www.cefresearch.com/matrix/Ar...lion/index.htm

Canadian Cyclist Corps, camped on Salisbury Plain, 1914.


Condensed History of the Canadian Corps Cyclist Battalion

The first item appearing in the Official Diary at Ottawa informs us that Lieut. C. G. Child and party disembarked from the S.S. Ruthenia on October 14, 1914, and proceeded to Pond Farm, Salisbury Plains, where the 1st Divisional Cyclist Company was organized under Captain R. S. Robinson.

Burial of the bicycle "corpse" at Bramshott Camp on
June 9th, 1916 (click image for full size)

Most of the personnel comprising this Company was drawn from men who volunteered for it from the various infantry battalions of the 1st Contingent and it was named the "Suicide Battalion" because they had visions of fighting rear guard actions with "Heine" and their chances of survival would be small. Such, however, was not to be the case for when the 1st Contingent, including Cyclists, disembarked at St. Nazaire on February 15, 1915, the German advance was substantially halted and the then arriving troops were required to consolidate positions rather than fight a running battle.

Source; http://www.cefresearch.com/matrix/Ar...st_summary.htm

The Picture is from a book about bicycle mounted Canadian troops.

Last edited by Spaniard : 05-15-2011 at 11:07 PM.
Spaniard is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 01:32 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.