History of Springhill Armouries

by D.B. Dickson, CD. Major (retired)

Period 1920- 1939

Following World War 1, in 1920, reorganization again took place, the designated name being the Cumberland Highlanders. Springhill and the Armouries were allotted one company, “B” Coy and BnHQ.

Commanding Officers were, during this period:
1920 – 22 LCol Bent (Pugwash)
1922-24 LCol Shepherd (Pugwash-Springhill)
1924-26 LCol Wm. Letcher (Springhill)
1926-28 LCol Wm. Spicer (Diligent River)
1928-30 LCol Mac Landers (Sydney – Amherst)
1930-34 LCol Ward Murdock (Amherst and Truro)
1934-40 LCol Arnold MacLellan (Amherst)

During these years the Springhill (B) Coy trained and studied in the Springhill Armouries, the strength was low, approximately thirty all ranks; the reason for this was past-war economy and lack of materials. However, the spirit was good and the training received by the Officers, NCOs and men placed them in an enviable position at the outbreak of World War II.

During this period B Coy with the rest of the Battalion was engaged in several summer movements and tactical exercises at Brule Shore, Pictou Co.

A movement to Charlottetown and to Halifax in 1931 on the occasion of the Visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

In 1937, further reorganization took place with the amalgamation of the Cumberland Highlanders and the Colchester Hants Regiment. These two regiments now became the North Nova Scotia Highlanders (MG).
Period 1939 – 1946

In late August 1939 the Battalion was under the command of LCol Arnold MacLellan and on the outbreak of hostilities, was immediately called out. At first the Battalion was busily engaged in Patrolling the bridges, railways and seaways of Northern Nova Scotia. In 1940, the whole Battalion moved to Amherst and occupied the Armouries and the Winter Fair Buildings.

The story of the 1st Battalion North Nova Scotia Highlanders cannot be told here in its completeness. We can name the commanding Officers:
1934-40 LCol Arnold MacLellan (1 Bn)
1940-42 LCol Ward Murdoch (1 Bn)
1942-44 LCol Charles Petch (1 Bn)
1944-45 LCol Donald Forbes D.S.O. and Bar (1 Bn)
1945- LCol Wm. Sparke
1945-46 LCol Donald Forbes (Occupation Force)

To get the complete overseas History of the North Novies we refer you to the History of the Unit written by Dr. William R. Bird, NO RETREATING FOOTSTEPS, 1954.

The enrollment in this 2nd Bn was very heavy. B Coy at times, during the four years, had as many as 300 on strength. The same B Coy at Springhill was a constant feeder to the Reinforcement Depots. The Officer Commanding B Coy, and later the Officer Commanding the Battalion was LCol CJ Allbon, MC. Many of Major Burden’s (B Coy Comd) officers and NCOs had previous experience in the 1st World War. The experience of the 2nd Battalion during the War Years was no doubt the highlight of the Militia in the Town of Springhill, N.S.

At the cessation of hostilities an occupation force was formed. This was the 3rd BN NNSH. It was under command of LCol Donald Forbes DSO and Bar.

Springhill recruited 17 percent of its manpower during WWII some 1300 persons served in the Armed Service, a record second to none in the Dominion of Canada. Some 54 Springhillers paid the supreme sacrifice.

B Coy has produced a number of Senior Officers to the Militia and permanent Force who are serving at present.
Permanent Force – LCol Ronald MacEachern; LCol Leo Noiles; LCol Richard Gray; LCol John Arsenault.
Militia – LCol Fraser Potter; BGen William Fear; LCol James Bryan; Hon. Lt-Col. D.B. Dickson.

The Commanding Officers of 1Bn NSH (N) 1946-85 were: LCol G.I. Smith; LCol Wm Douglas; LCol Donald Chisholm; LCol Douglas Johnson; LCol Lloyd Fraser; LCol Dean Sandford; LCol James Grant; LCol William Fear; LCol Robert MacDonald; LCol Barry Wark; LCol James Bryan.

B Coy I Bn NSH (N) have had the following company commanders since reorganization in 1946.
Major Douglas Johnson (later Lieut Col)
Major DB Dickson
Capt ER Nicholason
Capt Allison Chapman
Major James Bryan (later Lieut Col)
Major Peter Bell

When the 1st Canadian Division was formed for Overseas, only one Nova Scotia Battalion was picked; this was the West Nova Regiment. There were no Nova Scotia Battalions picked for the 2nd Overseas Division.

When the 3rd Overseas Division was formed all the Bn of Nova Scotia and PEI wished to belong. They were the North Nova Scotia Highlanders (MG), Cape Breton Highlanders, Pictou Highlanders and PEI Highlanders. To satisfy all, the North Nova Scotia Highlanders (Inf) was formed. They were made up of one company from each of the four Battalions – A Coy from the Pictou Highlanders, B Coy from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders (MG) – C Coy from the Cape Breton Highlanders and D Coy from the Prince Edward Islanders. The Bn trained in Amherst thence to Debert and sailed for England July 1941. They went into action on the continent 6 June 1944 and the cessation of hostilities was 8 May 1945.

(Source: The Springhill Record, clipping date unknown)