Col C.E. Bent CMG, DSO, VD Cont

At the start of World War II, LCol Bent was working as a municipal engineer in Noranda and was advocating that a local army unit be formed. However, he did not succeed in obtaining immediate authorization from Army headquarters in Ottawa. In order to have a structure in place while awaiting formal approval from Ottawa, he formed a corps of special constables on June 13, 1939. The role of the force was to help the police defend the town in the event of gold thefts, acts of sabotage or revolts. The organization was known as the Northwest Quebec Home Defence Unit but had no military power or weapons, and none of the members were paid for their service. In very little time, the unit had over 800 members with elements within a 100-km radius.

Ottawa finally gave its approval for the unit to be an integral part of the Canadian Army and, on January 1, 1940, the unit came into being on paper as the 3rd Pioneer Battalion. It was only the following summer that the unit was truly created, on August 1, 1940.The headquarters were in Noranda and the unit had three companies. The first was in Noranda (covering the Kirkland Lake, Virginia Town and Larder Lake sections), the second was in Arnfield (with sections in Normétal and Duparquet), and the third was in Bourlamaque (with a section in Malartic). In addition to founding 3rd Pioneer Battalion, Colonel C. E. Bent also became the battalion’s first commander the day after it was founded, on August 2, 1940.

Nearly a year later, on May 15, 1941, Ottawa changed the name of the unit to 3rd (Reserve) Battalion RCE. On April 30 of the same year, 3rd Res Bn RCE had increased its visibility by conducting its first public outing and demonstration: a military and bayonet-fighting exercise. Following that, during the war, 3rd Res Bn RCE members joined, among others, the 4th Bn RCE, the 27th Field Company, and the Tunnel Company RCE. A number of those members distinguished themselves at Gibraltar, and many of them gave their lives fighting for their country.

In 1943, Colonel Bent took his retirement and eventually returned to Paradise NS. LCol Bent died on 27 October 1955 and is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Lawrence Town, NS.


Photo above
Colonel CE Bent
Commanding Officer
3rd Pioneer Battalion and
3rd (Res) Battalion RCE
1940 – 1943
Bent family attending the 48th Highlander Annual
Officers Association Dinner in the Officers Mess at
Moss Park Armoury, Toronto 2012
LCol Bent in 48th Highlanders
full dress attending
reunion in Toronto 1930’s

Bent family grave plot and headstone of Col. CE Bent in
Fairview Cemetery, Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia