Interesting, here is a Canadian site which provides more information but some of it seems contradictory... http://www.canadiangreatwarproject.c...il.asp?ID=6055
Slowly beginning to put together an idea of what the Labour Battalions were although information on Canadian units is hard to find it would appear that the British Labour Battalions eventually became the Royal Pioneer Corps...
Here is a write up on the British Labour Corps.
During World War I an initially non-combatant organisation was formed in 1917 called the Labour Corps. The initial need for labour units during WWI had been achieved with some 38 Labour Battalions established in 18 different infantry regiments, and a large number of Labour Companies from other infantry regiments.
In addition there were a good number of Labour Companies in the Royal Engineers and the Army Service Corps. All these became Labour Corps companies in the spring and summer of 1917.
The Labour Battalions and later the Labour Companies of the Labour Corps carried out a whole range of defence works duties in the UK and in overseas theatres, especially in France and Flanders. These included road and railway building/repair, moving ammunition and stores, load and unloading ships and trains, burial duties and at home agriculture and forestry.
When the Labour Corps was formed in mid-1917 it was decided that the men assigned to it from other regiments, often because of their reduced medical category, should change from their regimental badges to that of the General
Service Corps. Many of the men disliked having to wear this badge and preferred to retain their regimental identity.
Towards the end of 1918 the Labour Corps was granted their own badge - the piled pick, rifle and shovel emblem that was to become the badge of the Pioneer Corps (later Royal Pioneer Corps) of World War II.
Once it had been created, the Labour Corps was split into various Labour Groups, each consisting of a Headquarters and several Labour Companies. In addition there were Area Employment Companies, Area Employment (Artisan) Companies, Divisional Employment Companies, and Agricultural Companies.
A Divisional Employment Company, Labour Corps was assigned to a division and usually co-located with divisional HQ. The company establishment was two officers, one Company Quarter Master Sergeant, 270 NCOs and Privates, an Orderly Room Clerk and a Batman. The company role was a very varied one including running the divisional baths, laundry, cinema, stores, and officers mess as well as acting as divisional police and undertaking guard duty. Within the company there were specialists such as tailors, shoemakers, butchers and telephone operators.
By the end of the war the Labour Corps had strength of about 380,000 men stationed in the UK, in France and Flanders, Italy, Egypt and Salonika. In fact the size of the Corps reached its greatest of almost 400,000 in Jan 1919. This included about 240 Labour Companies in France and Flanders, with about thirty to fifty Labour Companies allocated to each of the First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Armies, with a few kept aside as Lines of Communication units.
There were about the same number of companies serving elsewhere overseas at Area, Divisional, Corps and Army level as well as some 400 or so companies working in the UK. In late 1918 and early 1919 there were Labour Companies numbered from 1 to over 1000, with little evidence of their origin.
Although initially considered non-combatants, the British companies of the Labour Corps often performed their duties in forward areas, often under heavy fire. In the spring of 1918 the corps assumed combatant status for dealing with the last German Offensive of Mar 1918. Throughout the summer of that year the men of the Labour Corps units in the forward areas worked fully armed and some served as fighting soldiers when need arose.
However the vast majority of men continued to work in unarmed companies. Life in the Labour Corps could be as bad as that enjoyed by front line troops; they were often under continual shellfire for months at a time. Indeed 2,300 men
in the Labour Corps were either Killed in Action or Died of Wounds between May 1917 and the end of the war.
When the war ended in Nov 1918, the Labour Corps continued their support role and were also involved in salvage work, grave and burial registration and as PW guards.
The Labour Corps was disbanded late in 1919.