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44th Battalion CEF

Private Peter Diamond (Piotr Zhemchuzhnikov)

Peter Diamond ~ Maternal Great Grand Uncle
(Piotr Zhemchuzhnikov)

Served in The Great War 1914-1918 - Age 15
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Peter Diamond Jr.JPG

Private Peter Diamond

Piotr Zhemchuzhnikov ~ Maternal Great

                                           Grand Uncle

Regiment Number:




Enlisted with the 203rd Battalion CEF - February 21st, 1916

Transferred to 18th Battalion - January 13th, 2017

44th Battalion CEF - March 3rd, 1917 till December 19, 1917

Date of Birth:

July  24th, 1900 Odessa Ukraine (Russia)

About My Great Grand Uncle Pvt. Peter Diamond

Peter Diamond Jr. (Piotr Zhemchuzhnikov) was born on July 23, 1900, in Odessa, Ukraine. He was the second child and only son, of Myrtle and Peter Diamond Sr., and the younger brother of my 2x Great Grandmother Lillian Tverochleboff (nee Diamond/Zhemchuzhnikov). Peter grew up in a tumultuous time, as his family had to navigate the political and social changes brought about by the Russian Revolution. His father immigrated to Canada in 1910 and the rest of the family followed in 1912. Four years later, in 1916, both Peter and his older cousin John (who immigrated with his Aunt and cousins in 1912) decided to enlist in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). They attested into the 203rd Battalion in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on February 21, 1916 when Peter was only 15 years old.

Upon joining the CEF, Peter was assigned the service number 234025. His next of kin was listed as his parents, Myrtle and Peter Diamond, who resided at 597 Flora Ave. in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His occupation prior to the war was noted as an Apprentice Mechanic, and he had no previous military experience. Peter's religious affiliation was identified as Greek Catholic.


By June 1, 1916, the Manitoba Census recorded Peter Diamond Jr. as residing in Camp Hughes, Selkirk, Manitoba. At the time, he was described as a Farmer's son, reflecting his rural background and upbringing.


However, in mid-September of that year, both Peter and his cousin John went AWL (Absent Without Leave). While Peter eventually returned, sadly, John did not. This must have been a difficult and heartbreaking experience for Peter, losing his cousin and comrade. The story of Peter Diamond Jr. (Piotr Zhemchuzhnikov) serves as a testimony to the indomitable spirit and sacrifice of individuals who endured the horrors of war. His determination to serve his adopted country, despite his young age, exemplifies the bravery and patriotism that characterized many young men during this period in history.

Peter Diamond Jr. embarked on the SS Grampian on October 24, 1916, in Halifax, Nova Scotia with the 203rd Battalion. They arrived on November 5, 1916, and disembarked in Liverpool, England. From there, they proceeded to Seaford, England, to continue their training for the war.


However, on January 12, 1917, the 203rd Battalion was absorbed into the newly formed 18th Reserve Battalion at Seaford. Peter was then transferred once again on March 5, 1917, this time to the 44th Battalion, where he would remain for the duration of World War One.


The 44th Battalion continued its training and prepared for the upcoming attack at Vimy Ridge that was an important observation point over the whole of the Douai plain, a key industrial and railway region in Northern France. The Battle of Vimy Ridge was also the first time that all four divisions of the Canadian Corps had fought together. On March 20, the Canadian artillery barrage commenced, resulting in the destruction of nearly 90% of the German guns and most of the wire in a two-week period. 


On April 9, on Easter morning 1917, mid sleet, mud and shellfire, the soldiers of the Canadian Corps fought their way up the ridge. 16 year old Private Peter Diamond, alongside the 44th Battalion and thousands of other Canadian soldiers climbed out of their trenches and tunnels dug into the soft Vimy Ridge chalk. This marked the beginning of the deadly advance across No-Man's Land into the fire of German machine guns. The 44th Battalion was due to go into battle on April 11 but was rushed into action a day earlier, on April 10. 


The 4th Division battalions that were tasked with capturing Hill 145, where the Canadian National Vimy Memorial stands today, encountered heavy machine gun fire and for Great Uncle Peter as an active participant in the Canadian forces, I can only imagine at his young age, what he may have been thinking. As part of his mission, he and his comrades fought valiantly to finally capture "The Pimple", a fortified position on Vimy Ridge's northern slope. The battle came to a conclusion on April 12th, marking a significant victory for the Canadians.


Shortly after the battle, on April 23rd, Peter was admitted to the No. 11 CFA with a diagnosis of Gonorrhea. This unfortunate illness was prevalent among the soldiers, with approximately 3,500,000 individuals reporting sick for sexually transmitted infections, including Syphilis and gonorrhea. These infections accounted for over ten percent of the admissions, resulting in a significant loss of duty days, with 6,804,818 days lost.


After being transferred to the 39th Canadian General Hospital in Havre on April 27th, Peter's condition improved, and he was discharged by the 29th. However, his struggles did not end there. On May 6th, he was admitted to No. 2 General Hospital in Havre, but this time with Influenza. His recovery journey continued as he was transferred to the No. 4 Convalescent Depot on May 12th and then to the No. 1 Convalescent Depot in Boulogne on May 13th.


Finally, after weeks of treatment and recovery, Peter was discharged on May 22nd and rejoined the base depot in Havre. Determined to serve his country once again, he joined the 4th Canadian Entrenching Battalion on June 4th. By June 7th, he was able to rejoin his fellow soldiers in the 44th Battalion, finding refuge in billets in the Chateau de la Haie, north of Villers au Bois, France.


Despite the challenges and setbacks brought upon by illness, Peter Diamond Jr. remained committed to his duty as a soldier. His resilience and determination are a testament to his unwavering dedication to the cause.

Peter, at the young age of 16, had already experienced the grueling battles and harsh conditions of World War One. After the intense battle of Vimy Ridge, Peter and his fellow Canadians moved to the flat French plain below the Vimy heights. It was there that the 44th Battalion, to which Peter belonged, faced the village of La Coulette and an enemy trench system known as "The Triangle."


These engagements left a lasting impact on Peter and his comrades from Manitoba. Their minds and hearts were seared with the memories of the intense fighting and the sacrifices they had made.


In July, as preparations for the next major operation, the Battle of Hill 70, were underway, Peter and the Canadian divisions readied themselves. The 44th Battalion was assigned the daunting task of taking the Green Crassier. Unfortunately, the plan to capture this objective on a narrow front with only one battalion, without clearing the entrenched enemy positions nearby, proved disastrous for the 44th.


On the night of 23 August, Peter's battalion managed to secure their objective, but their victory was short-lived. By mid-afternoon the next day, 247 Canadian men on the slag heap had been killed, wounded, or captured. The situation was dire, and no further attempts were made to retake the objective, leaving it in German hands until the end of the war.


Despite the hardships and devastating losses, Peter's determination and bravery did not waver. Even after his father revealed his incorrect birth date, prompting him to take legal action, Peter chose to remain with the 44th and continue fighting. His commitment to the cause was unwavering, and he pressed forward, ready to face whatever challenges lay ahead.


In October 1917, Peter and his battalion were deployed to Belgium to join forces with the Empire and Dominion troops in the infamous Battle of Passchendaele. As they marched towards this new battleground, Peter, with his young age and incredible strength, was prepared to endure the horrifying realities of war once again.

Despite his tender age, Peter's experiences and contributions in World War One showcased a level of maturity, courage, and resilience far beyond his years. His unwavering determination to serve, even in the face of personal challenges, made him a true example of a professional soldier, fully dedicated to his duty and the well-being of his comrades. 

On October 8th, 1917, Private Peter Diamond was forced to evacuate to the CCRC (Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp) in Villers au Bois as a minor. However, his time there was marred by an incident of "insolence to an NCO," leading to a 3-day sentence of Field Punishment No. 1 on the same day. Despite these setbacks, he managed to rejoin the 44th Battalion in Caestre, France on November 6, 1917.


However, his young age continued to play a significant role in his military service. On December 18, 1917, Private Diamond was evacuated to the base depot in Etaples as a minor, further emphasizing the challenges he had to face. Yet, just a few days later, on December 22, 1917, he was transferred to England and posted to the MRD (Manitoba Regimental Depot) in Shorncliffe, for additional training and development.


Private Diamond's journey continued as he was transferred to the Young Soldier's Battalion in Bramshott by February 8, 1918. This change marked a significant shift in his military career, as it allowed him to further refine his skills and adapt to the demands of his role. April 22, 1918, marked a turning point as he was discharged to duty and transferred to the CRT (Canadian Railway Troops) in Purfleet, where he could contribute to the war effort in a different capacity.


By June 22, 1918, Private Diamond was attached to the 1st CDD (Canadian Discharge Depot) in Buxton, pending his return to Canada. This provided him with the opportunity to prepare for his journey back home, which he embarked on September 22, 1918, from London and finally disembarked in Montreal on October 7th, 1918, before proceeding to Winnipeg, Manitoba.


Upon his arrival back home  in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Private Diamond was discharged from the CEF on November 7, 1918. His rank at discharge remained as a Private, and the reason cited was his status as a minor. Despite facing health issues including Gastritis Hyperchlohydria and stomach problems, which required frequent hospital visits, Private Diamond pursued his passion for art and returned to a life on his family Ashern farm. 


Looking back at Private Peter Diamond's journey, it becomes clear that being removed as a minor turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Despite the challenges he faced during his military service, it provided him with opportunities for growth and self-discovery. Through his artistic endeavors, he found a fulfilling and meaningful path in life. Private Diamond's resilience, determination, and creativity serve as a testament to his strength of character and the potential for greatness that lies within each of us.

Additionally, it is worth acknowledging that Peter never married. While this may be seen as a missed opportunity for some, it can also be viewed as a chance for him to focus entirely on his health issues and personal endeavors without any external commitments. 

Service Highlights

April 9th 1917 - April 1917

August 15, 1917 - August 25th, 1917

October 1917

Hill 143 - Vimy Ridge

Hill 70

Battle of Passchendale


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