The Czechoslovak Review/Volume 1/Bohemian Contingent in the Canadian Forces

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Bohemian Review, volume 1, no. 4 (1917)
Bohemian Contingent in the Canadian Forces
2972124The Bohemian Review, volume 1, no. 4 — Bohemian Contingent in the Canadian Forces1917

Bohemian Contingent in the Canadian Forces

Since the Bohemians could not have an army of their own, they have determined to furnish a contingent of their emigrants for every Allied army. They have two divisions in Russia, composed mainly of Austrian soldiers who allowed themselves to be captured and then volunteered for service against the German armies; they have smaller detachments with the Serbians around Monastir, in the famous French foreign legion, in the English army, and now a company of Bohemian boys is on the way to England with the 223rd Battallion of the Canadian forces to fight the common foe.

At the time relations were broken off with Germany, Bohemian immigrants in Canada were trying to make up a company of their men in the 223rd battallion which was being organized at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. But there were not enough of them in Western Canada, and appeal was made through Bohemian newspapers in Chicago for volunteers from the States. It was given heed specially in the [[Portal:Sokol}} gymnastic societies, and young fellows in the pink of physical condition and with limbs like acrobats streamed across the line in twos and threes until nearly the full complement of one company was secured just before orders came to entrain for England.


A delegation of the Bohemian National Alliance went to Portage to bid farewell to the boys from the United States, most of them from Chicago. They presented Company C with the white and red Bohemian flag, which the company will be allowed to carry into the trenches. It was a special favor to the Bohemians, as neither companies nor battallions in Canada have flags of their own. They also brought with them a letter from Dr. L. J. Fisher, president of the Bohemian National Alliance, which Major Haneson read to the boys in the presence of the entire battallion and a distinguished gathering of visitors. The letter is as follows:

“Friends, in the name of half a million Czech people in America I send you greetings upon the occasion of your departure for active service. We are proud of you. You have realized that the greatest service you can render at this time to the cause of humanity and of our dear native land is to put on the uniform and fight German militarism with gun and grenade. We who give some of our time and money to the cause dear to us all admire you and look up to you as men who offer the highest service—your own lives.

We know that you will render a good account of yourselves in the difficult days ahead of you. Perhaps you will fight somewhere near Arras or in Champagne, where two years ago the first Bohemian volunteers covered with glory the white and red flag with the silver lion of Bohemia.

The Bohemian National Alliance sends you a flag of the country in which we were born. Our great Havlíček said: My colors are red and white, my ideal are bravery and purity. You will fight as men, not as German barbarians, and you will be bravest among the brave. The Bohemian company in the Canadian forces will be a worthy associate of Bohemian volunteers in the other Allied armies.

For humanity and civilization, and for liberation of Bohemia.

Fight the good fight and return victorious.”

Joseph Tvrzický, Bohemian secretary of the Alliance, addressed the volunteers in their own tongue, and had the whole assemblage, including those who did not understand Bohemian, wiping away tears.

General Sir Sam Hughes, who inspected the recruits, stated that of all the foreign volunteers in the armies of the Allies, Bohemians were first.

The Bohemian company entrained April 22, and their last message to the Bohemian National Alliance stated that they would carry the flag until they planted it on the Hradčany castle in Prague.