All posts by J.M. Stephens

Director and Curator of The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum located at Casa Loma in Toronto, Ontario.

Finding Artifacts Connected to People

The other day a man approached me at the supermarket, he had noticed my QOR licence plate and wanted to let me know his grandfather was in the Queen’s Own during WWII.

I asked him if he had a minute to spare then was able to look up (on my phone) his grandfather on the Museum’s online catalogue using the people search function.

I was able to show him pictures of his grandfather with the Officers’ Mess in Sussex, New Brunswick, and with Queen Mary in England in 1941.

The Museum’s online catalogue is a powerful tool. It has access to thousands of artifacts and archival records that are linked to specific soldiers from the Regiment. They could be named in photographs or mentioned in documents.

Just click PEOPLE in the menu across the top and then enter the name of the person you want to search for.

Here are five premade searches to start you off:

Why not try searching for your own name!

CWO (Ret) Shaun Kelly, CD
QOR Museum and Archive

Stained Glass Windows Dedicated

On Sunday, March 5th, 2023 Trinity College School (TCS) dedicated three new stained glass windows in their Memorial Chapel in memory of TCS old boy Captain Thomas Alan Staunton.  Staunton served with The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada during the Second World War and landed with them on D-Day. He later transferred to the Headquarters of 2 Canadian Corps after receiving an ear injury.

The Memorial Chapel, was opened in 1951 and dedicated to the memory of 185 Old Boys killed in the Boer War, World War I and World War II. The consecration of the chapel was presided over by the Reverends L.W.B. Broughall and R.J. Renison, both TCS Old Boys. Also attending were Governor General Viscount Alexander and his wife, and the Right Honourable Vincent Massey.

[Massey was also a former QOR officer, and Rev. Broughall was the uncle of Deric Broughall, also a former QOR soldier and TCS Old Boy who was killed at the 2nd Battle of Ypres while serving with the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force.]

Designed by Samuel Hug, in 2022, and constructed by Proto Glass Studios in Marlborough, Wiltshire, UK, the window was given by Marion Hindley, Guy Hindley and Duncan McClaren, in memory of Captain Thomas Alan Staunton.

The dedication was led by the TCS Chaplain Rev Major Don Atchison at the school’s regular Sunday morning service, and attended by members of the family. The QOR was represented by the Regimental Museum’s Director.

Artist’s Statement

Stained glass windows in honour of Captain Thomas Alan Staunton, QOR.

Stained glass windows are dazzling explosions of jewel-like colour, sometimes across vast surfaces, telling stories with universal symbols that can easily be read by the congregation.

These windows are not made in the traditional way, where panels of coloured glass are puzzled together with lead to form a unified window. Instead, they were designed using the programme Procreate on iPad,
hand drawn with a digital stylus. These were then printed onto a transparent layer, which is sandwiched between two panes of glass, which were then cut to size.

This triptych came about as a commemoration of a former pupil Of Trinity College School, Captain Thomas Alan Staunton ’27 -`31. Like many young men of his era, as the world spiralled into war, he lent his
efforts to help his country. Like several of his friends at Trinity College School, he joined The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, landing at Juno Beach in Normandy, France. This successful invasion of the Normandy beaches became known as the D-Day Landings, a pivotal moment in securing eventual victory for the Allied Forces in the Second World War. He was fortunate to survive, but many did not. These panels are made in tribute to him, and the pupils of Trinity College School who fought alongside him.

The three window panels can be `read’ from left to right:

The left panel depicts the bell tower of the chapel and the crest of Trinity College School, entwined with maple leaves. The bell tower marks the march of time – it is later than you think. The maple signifies Canada, of course, but also refers to a coming of age – summer and youth are coming to an end. The leaves turning a deep red, falling from the trees as autumn and winter encroach. The bell tolls – times are changing and challenges are ahead.

The central panel is the landing on Juno Beach, which took place on the 6th of June 1944. The ships on the sunlit water are Canadian ships that actually participated. The blimp-like forms in the sky are barrage balloons, used to block air strikes. The snowflake-like forms on the beach are so-called `Czech Hedgehogs’, which the Germans used as defense against amphibious tanks as they landed on the beach. Among the rocks is the regimental badge of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, and the head of the goddess Juno, who was used as the code name for the beach. Along the three panels, a line continues along the base – this is the coastline of Normandy. The wave on this central panel crashes on Juno beach.

At Juno beach, 340 people died on the Allied side, many of whom were Canadian. The Queen’s Own Rifles suffered 143 casualties, most of any battalion.

The third panel depicts what was lost, and what was won. A Normandy oak stands tall at the height of summer, echoing the curve of the maple in the first panel. A trinity of doves flies up the centre, signifying peace. Rows of graves commemorate the dead, as can be found at the Canadian War cemetery at Beny-sur-Mer, a few miles from Juno Beach. A cross stands in the foreground, wreathed with poppies for remembrance and laurel for victory.

Window designer Samuel Hug and the windows in situ.

You can find other TCS Old Boys who served with The Queen’s Own Rifles here, including three generations of Strathys, and Brigadier General Jock Spragge.

And did you know there was a QOR Cadet Corps at TCS in the late 1980’s and early 90’s?

Cabinets Upgrade Phase I Completed

The majority of our exhibit cases are beautiful oak department store counter style. While these look great, it means that many of the objects and labels are only a six inches from the floor, and you don’t have to be 6’3″ and have trifocals to find these awkward to view. So in 2022, we engaged a museum exhibit consultant to assist us in considering options (within our limited budget.)

The solution was to create 18″ ‘risers’ which would raise the cabinets enough to make the objects and labels more visible while still meeting accessibility requirements. We contracted with Holman Inc. to build four risers in 2022 and were extremely happy with the construction and their matching of colour to the existing cabinets. They also have nylon sliders which will make them easier to access for cleaning or changing exhibits without the risk of scratching the floors.

This year we ordered seven more risers to complete the upgrade for our remaining oak cabinets. These were all installed by our museum team last Thursday evening which involved removing objects and labels from each cabinet, lifting them up onto their new riser,  giving them a good clean, returning the objects and labels, and moving them back into their position. “Teamwork makes the dream work” as they say! Thanks to Curator Shaun Kelly for managing the project and to all our volunteers for pitching in.

We’ve also been installing LED lighting on timers inside each cabinet to further improve the visibility of the objects. This has been completed on several cabinets but we’re still sorting out power for some others. Despite Sir Henry bringing hydroelectricity to Toronto, Casa Loma doesn’t have many outlets – I guess there just weren’t many things to plug-in in 1911!

Thanks also to the Casa Loma staff for their help in getting the risers to the third floor!

Phase II will be determining the best option for our aluminum-framed cabinets used for the more modern era’s.

If you would like to help offset the cost of these upgrades and support all the work of the Regimental Museum and Archive, we invite you to donate to The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Trust Fund and apply your donation to the Museum Fund.

Donate Now Through!

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Thank You to Our Volunteers!

Photo above: Some of our volunteers at the recognition event.

On Thursday, February 2nd, Museum Board members and volunteers gathered in the impressive library of the Royal Canadian Military Institute for a reception to recognize service to the museum in 2022.

Volunteers racked up 1,237 hours in 2022 which contributed to our all-time total of 114,118 hours – which would equal almost $300,000 in wages if this had been paid work!

Certificates of Appreciation were presented to volunteers Briahna Bernard, Anne Frazer, Shaun Kelly, Colin Sedgewick-Pinn, and Bruce Taylor; and board members Adam Hermant, Jenna Misner-Zuschlag, and Past Chair Jim Lutz.

Unable to attend to receive their certificates were Rob Grieve, Ken Kominek, Steve Hu, Steven Ye, Matt Noel, Steven Abra, Mario Carvalho, Graham Humphrey, Olivier Laquerre, Cheryl Nairn, and Harry Patel.

Also present were new Board Chair Michele McCarthy, board member Lisa Holmes, and volunteers Morgan Ryder, Kevin Hebib, Jordan Balch, and Museum Liaison Officer, Captain Dave Pampe.

On behalf of the Commanding Officer (who was out of the country) Dave also presented the Commanding Officer’s Commendation to our new Curator Shaun Kelly on ten years of volunteering with the museum:

“For 10 years of outstanding dedication and leadership at The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum. His efforts have been paramount in bringing our museum practices into the 21st Century, and in particular in effectively preserving our museum objects that will allow us to share well into the future, the important stories of our regiment and the Riflemen that have served in it.”

If you’re interested in volunteering with us in 2023, please read our Volunteering page on our website.

Job Offer – The Honouring Bravery Project

Please share as appropriate!

PDF Version

Where: Toronto (work from home, flexible presence on site)
Closing date: December 1st, 2022
Start Date: January 2023
Conditions: Full-time, flexible hours, 1-year renewable contract
Salary: $27/hr

Partnering with The Queen’s Own Rifles Museum and Archive, the Honouring Bravery Project is a brand-new educational initiative offering free teaching materials on military history to Ontario educators. Based on the Je Me Souviens* program in Quebec, the Honouring Bravery Project will offer travelling exhibitions, virtual exhibitions and turnkey activities connected with the Ontario curriculum on Canadian military history. Developed in partnership with the Je Me Souviens program and The Queen’s Own Rifles Museum and Archive, the educational materials will focus on hero-based storytelling, highlighting diversity within the Canadian Armed Forces and helping teachers expand on the standard history with examples relevant to students from all backgrounds.

*Je Me Souviens (JMS) is a Canada Company education program created in collaboration with the Royal Montreal Regiment Foundation and le Royal 22eme Regiment. JMS provides free teaching materials to supplement the Quebec history curriculum and to help students gain a greater knowledge of Quebec’s role in military conflicts throughout the last 100+ years, and ultimately to help them understand the long-term impacts of war upon all facets of our peaceful society. 


The Honouring Bravery Project (HBP) is seeking an Ontario Coordinator who will work closely with the
Program Manager to develop and promote HBP resources. During the development phase, the successful candidate will help identify and oversee local contractors and partners to develop new resources and adapt existing resources to the Ontario curriculum. They will then participate in the development and implementation of HBP’s communication strategies, taking on the promotion of our educational tools to teachers and managing school reservations. The successful candidate will also be responsible for event planning and coordination as well as representing HBP at various conferences, events and schools.


  • Working with the Program Manager, coordinate the various actors involved in the production of
    pedagogical materials (local teachers, museum personnel providing historical content, graphic
    designers, etc.)
  • Working with JMS staff, ensure that all pedagogical materials reflect the diversity of the
    Canadian Armed Forces both past and present. This may involve historical and archival research.
  • Collaborate with local partners (The Queen’s Own Rifles Museum and Archive team) to ensure that their interests are reflected in materials produced and in communication strategies
  • Build connections with local schools, educators and students
  • Participate in the development of a communications plan; put into action a calendar of social media publications
  • Create visuals and write copy for promotional materials (both print and digital)
  • Plan and coordinate events
  • Represent HBP in schools, at teacher workshops and local events; present activities in schools as needed


  • Educational background in Communications, Museum Studies, Applied History, Digital Marketing or another related field
  • Experience in project management and communications (museum communications an asset)
  • Knowledge of issues of representation and equity in presenting the histories of diverse communities.
  • Comfortable with social media and content production
  • Superior written communication skills in English and strong interpersonal skills; comprehension
    of written and spoken French an important asset
  • Visual and multimedia production skills, familiarity with Adobe suite
  • Experience in prospecting for new clients
  • Creative and versatile
  • Passionate about history
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Experience in the education sector (an asset)
  • Familiarity with WordPress (an asset)

We invite all interested individuals to apply and encourage applications from Black, Indigenous and
racialized persons, LGBTQ2S+ individuals and people with disabilities. Only candidates selected for an
interview will be contacted.

To apply, please send CV and cover letter to:

Kavanagh Grave Marker Dedication

New grave marker for Lt Kavanagh

On 14 October 2022 in Steenderen, The Netherlands, a grave of an unknown soldier was officially named after 77 years.

Lieutenant John Gordon Kavanagh was killed in action in the hamlet of Rha in April 1945. Due to the lack of his name tag, he could not be identified at the time. But after years of research, it was officially recognized that he was buried in the grave in Steenderen, and the tombstone with the inscription “unknown soldier” could be replaced by a stone with his name.

Although delayed 2 1/2 years by COVID restrictions, this was finally confirmed with a commemoration in the presence of two family members, dignitaries, invited guests, a delegation from the regiment of The Queens Own Rifles of Canada, students from the local primary school and residents of the neighbourhood.

The QOR contingent also visited the Rha Memorial, the Memorial at Wons, and other locations of interest relating to the Regiment’s actions during WWII.

Read “The Quest for Jack Kavanagh’s Last Resting Place.”

Wons Marker 2022
At the Rha Memorial 2022
Rha 2022

Get Out and Remember Them

Now that the – mostly – good weather has arrived, it’s time to get out and about. As odd as it might sound, Toronto has some beautiful cemeteries. They’re a great place to get some exercise and remember those members of our regiment (and the WWI battalions that we perpetuate) who have served in the past.  These include everyone from riflemen to a full general.

The oldest and most historic cemetery in Toronto is Necropolis which was created in 1850 in the east end of Cabbagetown.  So far we’ve identified over a dozen QOR buried here including six who were killed in action, died of wounds, or died of sickness attributed to their service at the Battle of Ridgeway in 1866.

Lieutenant Colonel R.B. Hamilton’s grave had never had a marker and we are very pleased that one has just recently been installed by the Last Post Fund.

A short distance north of Necropolis is St James Cemetery at Parliament and Bloor St where we identified almost fifty QOR gravesites including the first commanding officer, Colonel Durie, and other Fenian Raid casualties.

Another almost fifty QOR graves or memorials have been identified in Mt Pleasant Cemetery (Mt Pleasant north of St Clair East) which is also considered an arboretum and extremely well maintained. Like the others, these include riflemen to commanding officers and every rank in between.

Be sure to check out our Ontario Cemeteries page for more Toronto cemeteries with QOR and maps such as Park Lawn, Pine Hills, Prospect, and a few outside of Toronto as well. And although most of these are mapped yet, we have identified a number of QOR in cemeteries outside of Ontario too.

This work is definitely “in progress” so if you have any information you can add on where QOR riflemen are buried in Canada, please share it with us in a comment below or email to 

Acting Curator Awarded 2021 Rifleman of the Year

I’m very pleased to announce that the QOR Association’s 2021 Rifleman of the Year Award recipient is former Regimental Sergeant Major Shaun Kelly.

As deputy curator of the QOR Museum, he has shared a wealth of knowledge and provided over 1,200 hours of service.

His service in Latvia this year for 7 months has been a credit to Canada and The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada.

Shaun has been very involved with the Association. He stayed connected with the QOR Association group by sharing pictures and updates during his overseas posting. He also kept track of all the emails that have been shared with the Keep Connected Group since they started.

Congratulations to Shaun and well deserved.

Because of previous COVID restrictions, the award was presented to Shaun by the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Scott Moody, at the June 6th, 2022 1860 Club Dinner held at Casa Loma.


1860 Club D-Day Dinner

On 6 June 2022, the QOR Regiment’s 1860 Club held a formal dinner for 200 guests at Casa Loma, the home of the Regimental Museum and Archive since 1970.

Several exhibits were on display during the pre-dinner reception including the memorial banners of all our fallen since 1866, several recently acquired 1860’s era uniform pieces, banners on the QOR’s D-Day and WWII participation, and some D-Day items including the pistol carried by CSM Charlie Martin.

Throughout the dinner, several vignettes from D-Day Veterans were read by various attendees – several of which were moving descriptions of their beach landings and of losing close friends and relatives.

And once again, the museum’s Photograph Officer Anne Frazer captured the event with some amazing photographs. Click on the photo below to see them on our Museum’s Flickr site.

The QOR's 1860 Club 2022 D-Day Dinner held at Casa Loma
Click on the image above to see the photographs taken at this event by the Museum’s official photographer, Anne Frazer.

Looking Back: VE-Day+50 – A Day Like No Other

Charles D. McGregor

By  Charles D. McGregor

As a former member of drum and bugle bands in the 1940s and ’50s, I had done plenty of marching. From a cold wintry day leading the high school cadet band in the Santa Claus Parade, to a hot and steamy July day marching down Fifth Avenue in New York they were all memorable, in their own way.

But the one that I now remember with the most clarity took place in Appeldoorn, in Holland, on May 8th, 1995, VE-Day+50. I was there as a part of a touring group of about 20 World War Two veterans and their wives celebrating Victory in Europe Day. On this date, fifty years prior, Allied troops, mostly Canadians, had completed their liberation of Holland. This triggered the surrender by Germany of its armed forces, ending six years of war that had cost Britain and Canada more than 500,000 lives. The relatively small country of Holland had suffered 200,000 civilian deaths, many of those from starvation. Thousands more, mostly Jewish, were sent, by truck and train to Nazi concentration camps, where almost all of them –  men, women, children – had died.

Canada and Holland have a special relationship resulting from actions during   World   War   Two when Canadian Forces led the country’s liberation. This is where many members of The Queen’s Own Rifles fought their way across Holland to liberate the Dutch who had been suffering under Nazi occupation. Most of them are now dead but their part in ending the German oppression will never be forgotten.

Almost 8,000 Canadians would die in the fighting from September 1944 to April 1945. It had become urgent for the Allies to clear both banks of the River Scheldt estuary in order to open the port of Antwerp to Allied shipping, thus easing logistical burdens in their supply lines stretching hundreds of miles from Normandy eastward to the Siegfried Line. Supplies could then be delivered directly to those who needed them. Food, military vehicles and artillery, ammunition, fuel and, most important, replacement troops were needed for those fighting the ground battles. Clearance of northern and western Holland allowed food and other relief to reach millions of desperate and starving Dutch men, women and children. Its liberation triggered waves of jubilation and tears from those now free from occupation.

Wons, The Netherlands

The celebratory 50th anniversary parade was scheduled to start at noon in Appeldoorn, a medium-sized city in central Holland. We had travelled by bus from our hotel, a few miles from there, and were dropped off at mid-morning in the stadium’s parking lot where the parade would end. We were given a firm reminder that the bus would leave to return to the hotel at 5 pm SHARP. Until then, we were on our own. Fine by me and I set off alone, walking. The city streets were decorated with Dutch and Canadian flags, miles and miles of bunting and all the other trimmings that events like this require. There were all kinds of military exhibits and many happy people on the streets. I was in for a few surprises. The uniform  I was wearing and the regimental cap badge helped.

I was in the summer-weight tan uniform with The Queen’s Own Rifles shoulder flash and the Maple Leaf-shaped badge on my dress uniform wedge cap. As I headed towards a Starbucks ahead of me I noticed a throng of teenagers pretty well blocking the entranceway. They were just standing there in a group, the way teenagers do. But I wanted a coffee so I marched towards them. As I got there they made way for me and as I passed through they all clapped, in unison. I gave them a nod and a smile and continued on. They did it again when I came out, so I gave them a little wave, and said “Thank You.”

About an hour later I was walking along a side street when a man walking toward me stopped and as I got closer he stuck out his hand to shake and said “Queen’s Own Rifles.” It wasn’t a question, it was a statement. “I saw the maple leaf on your cap badge. You liberated our village in 1945. I remember you well. I was a schoolboy at the time. I was eight and my sister was 12 and one of your soldiers gave us chocolate. I asked if I could have cigarettes and he laughed and said I was too young. I told him they were for my father and he gave me a full pack of 20 Sweet Caporals. I really wanted them for myself. My father was killed by the Germans. I still have the empty pack as a remembrance of that day.” He said, “I am a school teacher now, but I always tell my students not to smoke,” and we laughed together.

I found my way to the parade route and joined the thousands who had flocked there to see the marchers and military tanks and weapons carriers, as well as to hear the many bands. At one point I was walking past a restaurant and passed a young couple sitting at the outdoor patio. The man waved me over and said “You must be a Canadian. You have a maple leaf badge. Will you join us for a drink?” By now I was ready for one, so I sat with them while he ordered for me. The waiter arrived with a bottle of Heineken and a frosted mug and already my day became a great success. So we chatted for a while until I decided to move on. We exchanged names and addresses and I thanked them both. At Christmas that year I got a card from them where they identified themselves as the ones who “bought you a ‘bear’ in Appeldoorn.”  Sadly, by then I had lost their address so was unable to respond to them.

My recollection of parades, no matter the size, is that most spectators look for the saluting base on the parade route, and they congregate there. The marchers always put on their best show there. At the startup and the end, however, the crowds are usually smaller and by parade-end, those at the finish have been greatly thinned out. Not here. Not this day. I covered much of the long parade route and found it packed five or more deep in the stadium parking lot from start line to finish. Not only that, the rooftops on both sides held hundreds more everywhere I looked. Our Queen’s Own Rifles veterans were either riding on open army trucks or flatbeds while some were rolling along in wheelchairs piloted by family members. In addition to our band and bugles, there were brass bands, pipe bands, fife bands and even one accordion band, that was having difficulty being heard due to the cheers which seemed to be non-stop. It was a moving experience for me, seeing all those veterans from the Allied countries, all of whom would have been at least in their late sixties. Many would be dead by the time the year 1995 ended.

As the parade ended, I was walking back to find the bus when my name was called. I turned to see who it was and saw about half a dozen members of the regimental band sitting with beers in front of them under an umbrella in front of a bistro. Waving me over to join them was Doug Hester, a D-Day veteran who had been a bugler in the band before the war and a medic and stretcher-bearer in Normandy. Then living in  Florida, he had been one of several veterans who had come to Holland with the band. Now close to 80, he was wearing the same uniform he had worn in 1939. As we chatted and laughed together it suddenly occurred to me that it must be close to five o’clock. It was actually five-thirty!

True to the warning we had been given, I found the bus had left without me. I went to the stadium office, explained I had missed my ride and asked if they could call me a taxicab. When I gave them the name of my hotel I was told that it would be expensive. I said I thought that might be the case but I had no alternative. At this, a man seated in the office said, “I’ll take you.” He stood up, took his jacket off the back of the chair and as he put it on I saw that he was a major in the Dutch Army. I thanked him for his kindness and he smiled and said “Call it professional courtesy. One soldier to another.” He was a very interesting man and we had a great conversation on the trip back to the hotel. When we arrived I thanked him again and shook his hand in gratitude and said goodbye. As he drove off I headed into the hotel, where I was in for another very nice surprise.

As I passed the registration desk I was waved over and told there was a  phone message for me. It was,  from my son Rob, telling me he and Dianne had another daughter, born today, on the May 8th, a sister for Catriona (Catie) That was great news and it gave me an (expensive) idea. Dinner was being served for our travel group at 7 pm and was about to begin. I checked the dining room and found only 12 seated there, with the others presumably dining out. I went back to the desk and asked to speak to the manager. When he arrived I asked if I could order four bottles of chilled champagne and champagne glasses to be brought to our tables when dinner was finished and coffee was ready to be served. No problem, he said. I then went in to join the others, apologizing for arriving late.

As the meal progressed it was apparent I wasn’t alone in thinking the afternoon’s parade had been an outstanding event. It seemed to have affected them as much as it had me. It had been something we all would remember for a long time. Finally, as the meal dishes had been removed and the coffee arrived, the manager came in, gave me a questioning look and I nodded. At that, he stood aside and in came a trolley with four bottles of champagne in coolers along with tall crystal champagne glasses. I stood up and announced that I’d like all of them to join me in a toast to the birth of my second granddaughter.

After the bottles were opened and all the glasses filled, I proposed a toast to the new baby, almost 4,000 miles away from where we were. I said “I don’t know what her name will be but I’m going to suggest to her parents that Victoria Elizabeth would be appropriate for someone born on this date. Her initials would be V.E.” That brought laughter and applause. However she was named Mary Elizabeth, which became Mary Beth for a while, but now she has settled on Mary, so that’s what it remains. But this was a very special moment for me.

I had already attended several VE-Day+50 events with members of The Queen’s Own Rifles and their families and friends. These had included a reception at la Maison du Queen’s Own Rifles on the beachfront at Bernières-sur-Mer, where the regiment landed on D-Day, as well as a service at Beny sur Mer Canadian War Cemetery. There are more than 2,000 Canadians buried there including 61 from The Queen’s Own. Another service would take place later at Groesbeck Canadian War Cemetery near Nijmegen where another 72 members of the regiment are buried, including Sgt Aubrey Cosens, VC. Sgt Cosens was awarded the Victoria Cross for outstanding bravery which cost him his life during an attack which took place across the Rhine, in Germany in March 1945.

I also visited Wageningen, the site of the surrender of Germany to Canadian General Charles Foulkes on the fifth of May  1945, officially ending the war in Holland. Here again, the town was in a festive mood, thronged with celebrating visitors. And here again, I got free beer. I was looking in the windows of a bistro and a couple were seated just inside. I saw the man get up and head outside, where he took me by the arm and said “You are Canadian?” I nodded and he pulled me inside, introduced me to his wife and told me I could have all the free drinks and food I wanted. I settled for two bottles of Heineken and something on the menu called “kroket” which is beef ragout inside a fried breaded pastry roll. Went down very well with the beer!

Other visits were made to points of interest along the route which played a major role in the movie “A Bridge Too Far” which was the bridge at Arnhem. The movie is about the planning and execution of General Montgomery’s  “Operation Market Garden.” The largest airborne assault ever staged, it cost as many as 18,000 British and Americans killed, wounded, and captured in eight days of fighting. The Hotel Hartenstein in Oosterbeek, which had been commandeered by the Germans as its HQ eventually became British Second  Army’s HQ as the battle for Holland continued. Now an Airborne Museum it contains historical artifacts about what happened there. It was there I saw something I have never been able to forget. It was a full-sized, white-painted door with a message written in large lettered charcoal. From the British officer commanding outnumbered and surrounded troops now fated to die or be taken prisoner it was his thanks for their continued bravery. He noted that they would soon be out of ammunition, “but we must fight until the last bullet is spent.” An emotional message to men whose war would soon end.

John Missons at VE Day event in 1995

It was in the Canadian Military Cemetery at Groesbeck that I saw D-Day veteran Sergeant John Missons sitting under a tree in his wheelchair. I knew him and his son, also John, who was a drummer in the regimental band, as I had once been in other bands. We had become pretty good friends and I liked them both a lot. As I walked along John waved  me over and said “Can you do me a favour?” I said sure I could. He said, “Aubrey Cosens is buried here and I’d like to visit his grave.” Sergeant Aubrey Cosens VC and John Missons were both in B Company and Missons remembered him well. He said “We were friends and the news he had been killed spread quickly. He was one of close to 100 killed or wounded in that fighting but he was one I knew better than the others. Some were replacements who had only been with us a few days.” Sgt Cosens was awarded the VC for his bravery Mooshof, in Germany, in February 1945, “but we didn’t find out about that until after VE-Day.”

John Missons at 18 years of age circa 1940 likely in Newfoundland.

It was as I was wheeling him back to find his son that I passed a row of 17 headstones, all of soldiers from the Lincoln and Welland Regiment, all killed on the same day. The Canadians had been tasked to clear the German occupiers from both sides of the Scheldt, resulting in many losses among both armies. The “Links and Winks” had their headquarters in St. Catharines, where I lived in the late ’40s and early ’50s.  I had played drums in their band on several occasions, and as I looked at those headstones I wondered whether any of my high school friends were sons of those who died in Holland. At the Telegram, I worked with a photographer named Jim Kennedy, who had been with the regiment there and was in a Jeep which was blown into the river by a shell explosion and, as far as he knew, he said he was the only survivor of the incident. He woke up in the hospital and was soon on his way home.

When my trip ended, we flew back to Canada from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, changing planes at Heathrow. We were due back sometime in the late afternoon, as I recall. Rob had offered to meet me there but a storm developed which diverted our aircraft to Ottawa. We were told we’d have to wait there until the storm, which was centred over north Toronto, had cleared. Also, we were not allowed off the aircraft because we were at Uplands Airport, which had no customs or immigration personnel. What I didn’t know was that Rob had brought Catie to the airport. The delay went on for several hours and I felt badly for both Rob and Catie, because she was only four years old at the time, and sitting and waiting is not what little girls want to do. However, we eventually got into Toronto Airport and my trip to celebrate VE-Day+50 was done.  I was certainly happy to see Rob and Catie, who had waited a very long time for me to get back on Canadian soil.

POSTSCRIPT (1) Holland vs The Netherlands: While the use of the name “Holland” has now been officially replaced by “The Netherlands,” World War Two veterans of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, who paid a steep price for their efforts in liberating the country, always spoke of it as Holland. And what’s good for the veterans is good enough for me in these memoirs. Although the names were once used interchangeably, the Dutch government has decided the name Holland will now be dropped and The Netherlands will replace it in reference to the country. The difference between the Netherlands and Holland is that the Netherlands is the term for the country as a whole (12 provinces). Holland refers to  North Holland and South Holland the two largest provinces.

POSTSCRIPT (2) A three-year stay in Canada. Following the German occupation of Holland, the Dutch Royal family was invited to Canada, where they lived as guests of Canadians until their homeland was liberated. Princess Margriet was born in exile while her family lived in Ottawa. The maternity ward of Ottawa Civic Hospital in which the princess was born, was temporarily declared to be extraterritorial by the Canadian government, thereby allowing her citizenship to be solely influenced by her mother’s Dutch citizenship. To commemorate the birth, the Canadian Parliament flew the Dutch flag over Peace Tower, which became the only time a foreign flag has flown over the Canadian Parliament Building. Princess Margriet was baptized in St Andrew’s Church, Ottawa, on 29 June 1943. Her godparents included President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Dutch Merchant Navy, in honour of the role played by the latter during the Second World War. It was not until  August 1945, after Holland’s liberation,  that the princess, her parents and two sisters arrived home to a wild welcome from their citizens who had suffered so badly during the war years.

In 1945, the Dutch Royal family sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa in gratitude for Canadians having sheltered the future Queen Juliana and her family during the preceding three years of Nazi occupation of their country. The Gift of Tulips became a yearly tradition. Every year, the Dutch Royal Family and the people of Holland each send   10,000 bulbs to Ottawa. These are planted in beds at the Ottawa Hospital in tribute to the birth of Princess Margriet. This gift gave rise to Ottawa’s annual Canadian Tulip Festival, held in May. Perhaps the world’s largest tulip festival, it displays over one million tulips and has an attendance of over 650,000 visitors. Large displays of tulips are planted throughout the city, with many thousands planted along the Rideau Canal alone. Princess Margriet continues to make regular visits to Canada, continuing strong ties between Canada and the Dutch.

Rifleman: The Dock Yip Story

Hear from past and present Canadian Asian members of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, from the children of those who lobbied hard to repeal discriminatory legislation, and in particular about QOR Rifleman Dock Yip, human activist and first lawyer in Canada of Chinese descent. 

See our museum’s profile of Rifleman Kew Dock Yip.

Pandemic Photo Contest

Photography Contest

The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Museum and Archive is holding a photography contest!

If you were a serving member in 2020 or 2021 and took some photos you think are particularly cool or impressive, then we encourage you to submit them to our contest (even if they were taken prior to the pandemic being officially declared in March 2020.)

Who is Eligible: Any members who served in the battalion during 2020 and 2021.

Content: Must contain QOR Battalion or QOR soldiers’ content. Training, parachute jumps, operations, social events, etc. would all qualify. Please label/name each photograph clearly as to what it was and when it took place. Do not include your name in the photograph name.

How Many: You can submit up to five photographs.

Acceptable Formats: JPG is preferred but any photograph format is acceptable – png, JPEG, TIFF, etc. (Not pdf.)

Submission Deadline: Photographs must be submitted to by midnight on Saturday 30 April 2022.  If a photo is too large to email, please use the above email for sharing. Ensure you include your name and rank (but not in the photo name.)

Judging: Will be done by members of the QOR Museum Board of Governors during the first two weeks of May with the winners announced by the end of May. Judges will also determine if specific categories are required to complete the judging.

Prizes: To be determined.


They Called me “Crusher”

A Tank Meets a QOR 3/4 Ton Truck

The following story was written by Dave Sproule and published in the Strathcona Association newsletter in December 1996. It is reprinted here with his permission. Dave has an interesting if sad connection to the QOR as two of his uncles were killed in WWI while serving with the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force.

As a twenty year old second-lieutenant in the COTC at the University of British Columbia I was delighted when I received notice that I would be posted to the Strathconas for 3rd phase training/ It was 1958 and the Regiment was still garrisoned in Currie Barracks although Sarcee would officially open later that summer. I was assigned to A Squadron which according to Danny McLeod’s motto meant, “Always Able Active and Aggressive.” I arrived off the train early in May and after a quick beer and a meal in the mess found myself in the Sarcee training area in the middle of the night. I believe as call-sign 4C. The Squadron was doing work-up training for Wainwright. I remember hearing the coyotes howling for the first time that night and watching the sunrise over Calgary as we practiced our lager drills over and over until we got it right.

The Regiment made all of us COTC officers feel at home for the summer as we were allowed to wear Strathcona regalia and encouraged to participate in all activities. We didn’t need convincing. I learned later that other COTC types went to other regiments and didn’t experience the same warm reception that was accorded us. There were six of us altogether, Brian Harvey from Saskatoon, Don Heine from Vernon, Sam Yoshida from Hamilton, Dave Redgwell and Alex Prysiasniuk from Winnipeg and myself. We were assigned two per squadron.

When we went to Wainwright, Danny McLeod made Brian and me troop leaders as he lost one subby to Brigade and Jim Ellard went off to RMC on the Long Course. I was entrusted with Two Troop. My call-signs were ‘A’ Sgt Rowland, ‘B’ Sgt Wheeler and ‘C’ was Cpl Thody. Other in the Squadron at the time were Lorne Glenndinning (BC), Chris Bashford (2i/c), Bob Gross (1st Troop), Rod Tomlinson (3rd Troop), and Brian Harvey had 4th Troop. Barry Robison of the KOCRs kept drifting in and out. I believe that Sgt Getz was acting/SSM. A Squadron was to work with the 2Bn QOR of C and to play enemy force so that we had endless troop and sub-unit exercises up and down the training area.

I will never forget one night after a final Battalion/Squadron exercise before the GOC’s exercise when a significant event in my life occurred. My tank was the lead c/s in a three troop column moving tactically and without any lights, along the tank track that paralleled Grey Route I believe it was. We were going to meet our echelon near Hart Hill and then go into harbour. As Snoopy would imagine in “Peanuts” – “it was a dark and stormy night when suddenly…” I encountered a Queen’s Own ¾ ton truck bogged down in a depression in the tank track. My driver and I discovered it at the same time when we heard the crunch of steel on steel. It was superfluous to shout driver halt but I imagine that I did. Our tank came to rest somewhere around the fire-wall of the ¾. The rest went something like this:

“Hello niner this is two, I have just run over a truck.”
The reply was something like, “unknown c/s say again” or “Two from niner was anybody hurt?”
Two, I don’t know yet.”
“Niner, well get the bloody hell down there and find out.”
“Two roger out.”

You can picture the scene – 0300 hrs darker than hell, my crew and I assessing what we had just done. My first thought was that I had just mangled a section of ‘C’ Company, QORs finest until I heard moaning from within the cab. You may recall that ¾ ton trucks were proto APCs while the infantry waited for the Bobcats. (As it turned out the Bobcat never was manufactured and the Government bought the American M113 instead but not until the late ‘60s.) We pried the door off with a crowbar and hauled the driver out and as it turned out, he was the driver for the CSM of ‘C’ Company and when he got bogged down, the CSM went off in another vehicle leaving him to await recovery. The mush of the N0.26 radio set in his ear had put him to sleep and he had lain down on the seat. Fortunately he was not seriously hurt sustaining a cut to his head. The impact had knocked him onto the floor and the back of the cab crumpled over him and provided some protection. My brief career flashed before my eyes that night as I was certain that I would be on the next train to Vancouver but that didn’t happen.

At a smoker in the QOR field mess the following night and before the big exercise, I was invited to cut a cake which had a pastry tank pushing a pastry ¾ ton truck down into the icing. For the rest of the summer, I responded to the nickname “Crusher” and occasionally in some mess or other since that time some smiling face with greying hair will call from across the room “Hey Crusher over here” and I immediately transported back to that time and place. The Provost Platoon (Military Police) towed the truck to a prominent place in the training area and put up a warning sign about safe driving. My tank really did a number on that vehicle.

The remainder of the summer was relatively uneventful as I remember it although like most of you have experienced, there were many pleasant evening in the field swapping stories over a cold beer served from the back of the canteen truck and Danny even let Brian Harvey and I get to Calgary via the laundry truck, to take in the Calgary Stampede.

The camaraderie and warmth that the Regiment extended to me that summer solidified my career choice and after university experienced similar moments of pleasure in the field as a troop leader and squadron commander and occasionally terror on some night move from here to there.

Volunteer Recognition Night

On Thursday, February 24th the Museum held our annual event to recognize our dedicated team of volunteers for 2021.  While previous in-person events took place at the Officers’ Mess and the Royal Canadian Military Institute, we opted to play it safe one more time and hold it as a Zoom call.

We were joined by members of the Museum Board and by the Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Scott Moody, and the Regimental Sergeant Major Chief Warrant Officer Jeff Johnston.

Acting Curator Shaun Kelly welcomed everyone and reviewed our achievements in 2021 despite the on again – off again challenges of changing pandemic restrictions. (See Looking Back on 2021 post.) He reported that we still managed to give 1,445 hours of service to the museum, and congratulated each volunteer on their contribution.

Board Chair Jim Lutz noted that we will be updating our Five Year Strategic Plan this year and would be looking for input from all our volunteers.

The CO and RSM provided an update on the current state of the Regiment before presenting our Collections Officer Cheryl Nairn with the Commanding Officer’s Commendation.

Cheryl will be starting maternity leave shortly so we were pleased to be able to present this recognition before she leaves us.

The operation of our museum is completely dependent on volunteers and we can’t thank them enough for their perseverance and valued contribution throughout a difficult 2021!

The Rifleman Magazine 2020-2021

The Rifleman magazine has been widely distributed to members of the regimental family in electronic format and is also available on the Research page of our website here.

If you are interested in purchasing a real “hard copy” (softcover magazine format), you can do so from the museum’s Blurb Store. Last year’s issue is also available along with a number of books the museum has published.

Looking Back on 2021

As with every other aspect of our society, the impact of another year of pandemic challenged our operation in 2021.

The first half of the year was primarily work from home as a result of COVID restrictions which applied to Casa Loma. By summer though, we began on site work again once all our volunteers were double vaccinated, and continued through to mid-December. Despite these challenges our team of 13 volunteers  (including two new volunteers) put in over 1,050 hours in person and from home. For this continued dedication I want to thank each member of this team:

  • Briahna Bernard (Assistant Collections Officer)
  • Anne Frazer (Photography)
  • Rob Grieve (Weapons Officer)
  • Steven Hu
  • Graham Humphrey (Assistant Curator)
  • Shaun Kelly (Deputy Curator)
  • Ken Kominek
  • Cheryl Nairn (Collections Officer)
  • Colin Sedgewick-Pinn
  • Bruce Taylor
  • Cameron Telch
  • Steven Ye

In February we also held a virtual “recognition night” for service undertaken in 2020. Joining us were the Honorary Colonel, the Commanding Officer and members of the Board of Governors, and concluded with a fun quiz on regimental history.

2021 Accessions
The heart of any museum is it’s collection and there are currently more than 3,750 objects entered into our internal collections database as well as accessible from our Public Access portal – and of course a small stack of data waiting to be entered.

Storage space is a challenge for every museum, but acquiring additional items though gifts or purchase, which fill gaps in our collection, is also important. Once acquired the accession process starts to document where these items came from,  to establish our new ownership through deeds of gift, and sending letters of thanks where appropriate.

This past year saw forty-two accessions accepted. Some of these were one item – some however were hundreds of items.  Among many others, we were pleased to receive gifts from the estates of Norm McCracken and John Bennett.

We also made some purchases to fill some collection gaps. With funding donated by the QOR Maple Leaf Rifle Club, we were able to purchase a military version of the WWI Ross Rifle as we only had a civilian version in our collection. We also purchased a late 19th century headdress and collection of rare badges, and in December with additional funding from the Regimental Trust, a late 19th set comprising of an officers’ belt, crossbelt, and (rare) sabretache. The only downside perhaps is that many of these items have now joined the growing queue to be properly documented, photographed, and cataloged!

Archival Material
In addition to what most people understand as museum objects (uniforms, weapons, trophies, instruments, etc.) our collection has archival material. These are generally either regimental and regimental organization records like orders books, nominal rolls, meeting minutes, official correspondence, war diaries, etc., and personal manuscript documents (called Fonds) such as letters, service records, photographs, news clippings, certificates, etc. Lastly there are special collections generally related to some specific event such as the 1910 Trip to England.  We have lots of all three types of material!

The process of organizing, describing and preserving these is very different from cataloging any single museum object like a pair of boots or a cross belt. Its also difficult to make progress in a single Thursday evening volunteer night because of the need to pack everything up again at the end of the night. So these have made better work from home projects and we have been able to complete a number of them during 2021.

As is normal each year, a number of significant projects were undertaken off-site or from home:

Database Migration to Web Based
In January we completed the migration of our “PastPerfect” collections database from a single desktop version to a cloud based edition. This is actually more exciting for us than you might think. Up to 10 people can be working in the database at any given time (vs. the previous one); it absolutely facilitates work from home; and it means that in many cases, cataloging data can be entered directly rather than on cataloging sheets and then transferring the information. To allow this to work we also purchased two Chromebooks that catalogers can use as they catalog. The web edition also means that our “public access” database is immediately updated if additions or changes are made to the internal database. Geeky yes but a game changer for our collections management processes!

QOR Orders Book Digitization Partnership
Thanks to  Museum Board member Tristan Strathy, it was brought to our attention that Brock University Archives have four 19th century orders books of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada which fill the gaps in our own collection. We contacted the Brock archivist who  graciously allowed us to send a volunteer to digitize the books using their equipment.  We have now both added these digitized versions to our respective websites. You can read more on this and get links to the documents in this previous blog post.

Cemetery Walking Tours Updated
These tours were one of the very few things not impacted in any major way by the pandemic – in fact the outdoor nature was a good way to get some fresh air exercise and learn about our Riflemen! Besides additions to our existing tours of Necropolis and St James, we’ve added Prospect  and Mt Pleasant , and are starting on one for Pine Hills Cemetery in Scarborough. You can find them all here.

Memorial Banners
Another project we were able to undertake while working from home, was the creation of five pop up banners with the names of all our regiment’s fallen (including our very recent discovery of Rifleman Nussey’s training death.)

The intent is for these to be used for various outreach projects or at appropriate regimental events. They were first displayed at the November Officers’ Mess dinner held at the Royal Canadian Military Institute and we’re well received.

Social Media
We continue to use various social media platforms to both share our regimental history and museum news. If you’re not already doing so we very much encourage you to follow or subscribe as appropriate for the platforms you use!

  • YouTube* (285 subscribers, 45,647 views and 2,153 watch hours in 2021)
  • Twitter (882 followers)
  • Instagram (over 1,700 followers)
  • Facebook (over 6,050 followers)
  • Website – with a record in 2021 of 93,300 page views by more than 41,600 unique visitors!

*At the end of the year, the video on the history of our uniforms which had been originally posted in November 2020, went somewhat “viral”. We now have over 1,430 subscribers and this video has been watched over 178,000 times!

The Museum Board of Governors

This group provides important governance and oversight as well as support, advice and guidance on specific issues like insurance.  The Board held two virtual meetings on 27 May and 30 November – the latter including approval of a 2022 budget proposal to submit to the Regimental Trust Fund.

Our sincere thanks to the Board members who are ably led by Chair Mr. Jim Lutz:

  • Captain Adam Hermant, CD (Ret’d)
  • Ms. Lisa Holmes
  • Chief Warrant Officer Shaun Kelly, CD (Ret’d) – Deputy Curator
  • Ms. Michele McCarthy
  • Captain Dave Pampe – Battalion Liason
  • Major Tony Schultz, CD (Ret’d) – Regimental Trust Fund President
  • Major John Stephens, CD (Ret’d) – Director and Curator
  • Mr. Tristan Strathy
  • Ms. Jenna Zuschlag Misener

In a future post we’ll highlight some of our plans for 2022 despite the continuing challenges of the COVID pandemic. 

Gothas Over London

This article appeared in the The Maple Leaf magazine of the Central Ontario Branch Western Front Association (Vol.39, Fall 2021) and is kindly reproduced with permission of the author, Glenn Kerr.

Two Canadian soldiers survive the trenches only to be killed on last day of leave in London.

By Glenn Kerr

In the spring of 1917, Londoners carried on with an ease that had grown with an extended period of peace in the skies over England. It had been eight months since the last Zeppelin appeared over the city with its deadly cargo of bombs and the threat of terror brought by the airships had been successfully met withby new tactics and the Royal Flying Corps. A year had passed since Lt. William Leefe Robinson unloaded his magazines of incendiary ammunition into the SL11 in the high-altitude darkness bringing down the German airship over the village of Cuffley. It became clear to the Germans that sending the lumbering airshifts across the North Sea on these missions was no longer an effective way of bringing the war to English soil. A new approach was needed.

Sergeant Bartley Gibson Lumley #602944 was a 26-year-old railway worker from Iona, Ontario. The First World War would forever connect him with Private Albert Henry Bond #602952, a newly married 20-year-old brickmaker from nearby Woodstock. Both men were declared fit by the 34th Battalion medical officer when they enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force 18 August 1915 and their friendship and path together to the Great War began. They did not wait long for active service and sailed for England from the port of Montreal on the SS California on 23 October 1915 and arriving on 1 November 1915. With casualties at the front consuming men at an alarming rate, the 34th met the same fate as many battalions arriving in England: supplying reinforcement drafts to the front-line units. And so, after a brief stay with the 23rd Reserve Battalion, the two friends found themselves separated. Lumley was dispatched to the 2nd Battalion from Eastern Ontario on 26 March 1916, while Bond was sent to Toronto’s 3rd Battalion. The 1st Brigade of the 1st Canadian Division would be their home for the rest of the war, a war with almost three long years to go.

On 14 April 1916, Private Bond caught up to his new unit and began his life in the trenches in the shattered landscape near Bedford House in the Ypres Sector. The 3rd had gone back into the trenches on the 10th, ironically relieving the 2nd Battalion that had welcomed Lumley the previous day. The Battalion diary on the day of his arrival listed the weather as fine with no activity, but the 3rd had lost one of their originals, Private Britton had survived the gas attacks at St Julian, but had now been killed by a sniper on the day of Bond’s arrival. As the men of the 3rd buried Private Britton, 80 km away, a Belgian airfield near Ghent hid a carefully guarded project, a secret weapon if you will, and the Germans for a time believed it would win them the war. Its imposing name was chosen specifically to instill awe in the citizens of England who would live again in fear in the spring of 1917, when the Gotha German heavy bombers first appeared. Ernst Brandenburg had been chosen to lead the new England Squadrons or Englandflieger. At the onset of war, he had served as an infantry officer but severe wounds in 1915 brought him to the Air Service. On the morning of 25 May 1917, he led his squadron of 23 Gothas into the sky toward England.

The first stop was the airfield at Nieuwunster, 40 miles away, where the thirsty aircraft with a crew of three, topped off their tanks before the 175-mile trip across the English Channel to London. With a range of 500 miles, and taking into account time over the targets, every drop of fuel would be precious. One by one the bomb and fuel laden Gothas lifted off the grassy runway under the power of twin 160 hp Benz motors assisted by a 71-foot wingspan. The Gothas could maintain speeds of 88 mph and reach altitudes of 16,000 feet well above the capability of defending British aircraft. And with a load of 14 60-pound bombs, the Germans had every right to feel their new weapon would change the war.

As the war raged on, Private Bond saw action across the Somme, Ypres, Vimy and Arras without so much as a scratch. In fact, his only medical issues involved a bout of influenza. His 3rd Battalion would finish the war with 21 Battle Honours and two Victoria Cross recipients and of the two thousand soldiers who served with the 3rd, only 40 originals would return from the war in 1919. His friend Bartley Lumley was also in the thick of the fighting with the 2nd Battalion and had survived the assault on Vimy 9 April 1917 and was awarded the Military Medal for bravery. He distinguished himself in the trenches and was promoted three times, eventually arriving with the First Canadian Trench Mortar Battery in July 1917, just prior to the Canadian Corp’s attack on Hill 70. The two friends from a quiet part of Eastern Ontario were seeing the war in all its forms and horrors but were alive.

By the time the Squadron of Gothas had reached the coast of England, Ernst Brandenburg found himself with 21 of the original 23 bombers that had set out from Nieuwunster. They made their way along the Thames Valley completely unopposed and expecting clear skies over London only to find the city obscured by cloud cover. With no distinguishable target the squadron turned southeast and the target-rich industrial and staging areas of England. Lympne Airfield near the coast was a busy hub for aircraft returning from France and was one of the first targets to receive bombs from the Gothas destroying numerous aircraft on the ground. The group then followed the coast toward Folkstone, the final stop for troop and munitions trains before crossing the Channel. The resort town and busy military staging area received the full might of the raid. Bombs rained on the town destroying buildings, killing nearly 100 and wounding 260. In 10 minutes over Folkestone, the first raid of the Gotha Heavy Bombers had brought death, destruction and a new sense of fear and unease to the people of England. Ernst Brandenburg and his Gothas, dubbed The Kaiser’s Secret Weapon, had successfully brought the war to English soil and the era of intense aerial bombing was born.

Weeks would pass before weather conditions appeared favourable enough for another attempt on London, but on 13 June 1917, Brandenburg had a window and led 14 Gothas in the first massed aircraft attack of the war on the British capital. The primary target for the mission was Liverpool Station, but secondary targets were hit causing many deaths and by lunch time, 72 bombs had rained down around Liverpool Station and Londoners counted 162 dead and 432 wounded citizens including many children, 18 by one direct hit on the Upper North Street School. The following day the East London Advertiser newspaper’s headline read, “Children Killed in German Air Raid”.

Brandenburg and his squadron mates celebrated his successful raid later that night with a party but an inquest delivered in the aftermath of the attack revealed that the Gothas were dropping high explosive bombs filled with shrapnel on civilian targets and the morality of the weapon and wounds to the civilian population was drawn into question. As the individual stories of tragedy emerged, there were also stories of heroism such as the actions of Police Constable Alfred Smith who was killed by a bomb only moments after dispersing a crowd of factory workers that had gathered in the street. He left a wife and three-year-old son and, in 2017, his relatives gathered on the site of his death and dedicated a plaque in his honour.

The Gothas returned on 7 July 1917 with 21 aircraft newly under the command of Captain Rudolf Kleine, who had replaced Brandenburg who had lost his leg in a crash. The raid was met by ineffective defences of anti-aircraft fire and the 95 British planes sent aloft to meet the threat were unable to catch them. The cost was 57 killed and 97 wounded and the Gothas’ crews, with a sense of invincibility, continued to arrive over England, but the British prioritized development of counter measures and the Gotha strategy soon would be forced to evolve.

On the night of 4 September 1917, Sergeant Bartley Gibson Lumley and Private Albert Henry Bond sat a world away from their peaceful farm communities in Canada. In the front lobby of a London hotel, the two veteran soldiers enjoyed the final hours of a welcome leave together on Agar Street in the Strand district of London. Their return to life in the trenches, where they had both toiled for nearly two years, was undoubtedly a topic of conversation. Meanwhile, across the English Channel, Captain Rudolf Kleine was launching his squadron of 11 Gotha heavy bombers, at five-minute intervals to avoid collisions, into the night skies in the direction of England. Formation flying for the trip across the Channel was not possible on the first night bombing raid of the war on an unsuspecting London.

Not long into the mission, two aircraft from the staggered line of bombers turned back with mechanical issues. The remaining nine carried on and safely crossed over the English coast where five set off for central London leaving four to attack targets on the fringes around Essex, Suffolk and Kent. Just before midnight, the five Gothas began dropping their bombs into different areas of central London. In the confusion of the unexpected night raid, the Royal Flying Corp sent 18 aircraft into the sky to meet the threat. Anti-aircraft fire combined with an accompaniment of search lights were also brought into action but the Gothas, acting independently, were difficult targets.

As bombs began to land across London, one of the aircraft approached from the north and dropped its first bomb into Oxford Street, not far from Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace. The noise in all likelihood was heard by an unsuspecting Lumley and Bond, who would have had no time to react before the next bomb landed in front of their Agar Street hotel. It was a terrible blast and fragments struck Lumley in the head, chest and abdomen, while Bond received serious head injuries. A 64-year-old woman, Eileen Dunleary, was also struck. Lumley was carried to the hospital in his chair, but all were pronounced dead at the hospital.

Three more bombs fell in quick succession from the Gotha as it completed its run between the Strand and the Victoria Embankment roadway along the Thames. Alfred Buckle was driving his single-decker Tram along the embankment when he heard the explosions and sped up with the hope of sheltering in the Kingsway Tunnel, but his tram sustained a near direct hit as he passed the Cleopatra’s Needle monument. The blast killed two passengers and mortally wounded Buckle. Witnesses reported that despite having his leg blown off, he stayed at the controls and applied the stop lever before succumbing to his wounds. Cleopatra’s Needle and the nearby Sphinx were heavily damaged by the blast and still bear the scars to this day from the explosion that killed tram driver Buckle and two passengers. Captain Rudolf Kleine’s night raid on London had killed 16 and wounded another 56 but one Gotha was shot down by anti aircraft fire and disappeared into the River Medway.

The unfortunate stray bomb that killed the young Canadian soldiers was believed to have been meant for the Charing Cross Station. Their military files were updated with the cold reality of their demise, “Killed by enemy bombs during a hostile air raid whilst on leave in England”. They were buried side by side at Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surry. The following June, the Governor General of Canada presented Sergeant Lumley’s posthumous Military Medal to his sister Mildred in an emotional service in London, Ontario. The headlines of the day read; “Sister of a Dead Hero Given M.M by His Excellency”.

Captain William Wendell Rogers

The tragic story of Sergeant Lumley and Private Bond came full circle 12 December 1917 when Canadian Pilot, Captain Wendell Rogers from Prince Edward Island, led a patrol of five Nieuport aircraft over the Ypres sector of Belgium. While climbing through the clouds, the small patrol came upon two Squadrons of Gotha Bombers that immediately opened fire from above. Maneuvering out of range, the Nieuports skillfully climbed above and behind the enemy formations where they opened fire on the three trailing aircraft. Rogers then selected the centre aircraft and fired a burst into the fuselage scoring a direct hit near the observer, sending the aircraft plummeting towards earth. Following his target, he witnessed two of the crew jump from the burning aircraft prior to an explosion. He did not know it, but Captain Wendell Rogers had shot down, not only the first Gotha over Europe, but he had killed Captain Rudolf Kleine, and avenged the deaths of Lumley and Bond.

Australian soldiers on the ground, who witnessed the crash of the Gotha, presented Captain Rogers with the fabric black iron crosses from the wings as a trophy for his unique aerial victory. He proudly displayed one in his Squadron’s Mess. Sadly, it was lost when the Germans overran the area during the 1918 offensive. The other was displayed in a number of sites over the years before it was donated to the Canadian War Museum in 2004 by Lloyd Rogers, son of Captain Wendell Rogers, who died in St John, NB in 1967. The Gotha he shot down that afternoon was his seventh victory of the war; he would finish with nine.


Accidental Death of Rifleman Nussey

We recently were sent an 1870 newspaper clipping which reported on the tragic rifle range death of a QOR soldier which was unknown to us.

Rifleman George H. Nussey was born in Breton, Yorkshire, England in October 1846, son of Joseph Nussey and Sarah Holmes.

Its not known exactly when he immigrated to Canada however on 20 February 1869 he married Margaret Frear in Toronto. On 19 November 1869 they had a son George Henry Nussey.

According to the nominal roll in the regimental archives, Nussey joined the QOR on the 22nd October 1868 and was a member of No. 2 Company.

He was employed as a machinist with Messrs. Dickey & Neill.

On 15 April 1870, a tragic accident occurred during a No. 2 Company range day at the Garrison Common, when Nussey was shot in the head after fellow rifleman Arthur Gascoigne* accidentally discharged his Snider-Enfield.

The 23 year old Nussey died almost immediately and was buried in Necropolis Cemetery Plot Q58 TT 1/2.

The Regimental Order of 16 April 1870 stated:

“The Regiment will parade on Sunday the 17th inst at 2:30 pm on the corner of Queen St and Denison Ave for the purpose of attending the funeral of the late Private Geo Nussey who was accidentally shot on the 15th inst while at target practice.”

*Gascoigne, who was understandably distraught, was arrested at the scene, however we have found no record as to what subsequently took place, such as a coroner’s inquest or a criminal trial to indicate his fate. Over two years later, the Regimental Orders of 18 May 1872 (page 212) indicate that Gascoigne was struck off strength having “left the limits.”