Category Archives: Combat

Artifact Spotlight: Major Gillmor’s Report on the Battle of Ridgeway

During some recent research, an original letter relating to the Battle of Ridgeway was “rediscovered”, it provides some good insight into the conduct of the battle by someone who would have been well aware of the events and is the subject of this Artifact Spotlight.

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Maj CT Gillmor 1865 (from the collection of G Kush)

At the time the Queen’s Own were called to active service to fight the Fenians in June of 1866 the Commanding Officer, LCol Durie, was assigned to staff duties at the headquarters in Toronto and Maj Charles T Gillmor was acting CO. Col Booker of the 13th Regiment of Volunteers was in command of the force but Maj Gillmor commanded the 450 men of the Queen’s Own who were in the front line fighting the Fenians for much of the brief engagement. Four days after the battle while the Regiment was still on active duty in Stratford he submitted a report to Col Lourie who was with the 47th Regiment of Foot of the British Army.

Gillmor praises the conduct of all the Volunteers at the engagement and credits the partially trained and ill-equipped soldiers with a cool determination not normally found in Militia soldiers. He pinpoints the critical turning point in the battle as the moment the Volunteers mistakenly identify the advancing left flank of the red-coated 13th Battalion Volunteers as British regulars under Col Peacock who they had been expecting to relieve them, at which point the Volunteers turned and began withdrawing from the field.

The original letter is in the possession of the Queen’s Own Rifles Museum and can be viewed at the links at the bottom of the page. Here is the document transcribed with minor corrections for better understanding:

Stratford 

June 6 1866                       

“Sir,

I have the honor to report that on the 2nd Inst [of the current month] I left Port Colborne with about 450 men of the Queen’s Own also the 13th Battalion of Hamilton Volunteers and the York & Caledonia Rifles all under command of Lt Col Booker. We proceeded by train to Ridgeway Station and then marched towards Stevensville where we were ordered to meet Col Peacock at 9 to 9.30 am.

About 7 am the advanced guard of the Queen’s Own signalled the enemy as in sight, I extended three Companies with supports and advanced. The enemy were posted behind rail fences and after a few rounds retired, one officer of Queen’s Own was killed and two or three wounded. At this time a telegram was forwarded to Col Booker from Col Peacock to say that he (Col Peacock) could not leave at 5 o’clock as in his order of instruction of the night previous he had arranged to do but would do so at 7. The situation of the Volunteers was thereby rendered most critical as it seemed improbable we could hold our position for the two hours we were thus left unsupported. However, I conceived an advance and repulse of the enemy our only chance and sending out flanking parties necessary in consequence of the enemy being seen in woods right and left we advanced still driving the enemy for a mile or more having relieved Skirmishers with supports and the entire of the Queen’s Own having been engaged (some companies twice over). I asked Col Booker to relieve me with his right wing which was promptly done and his men advanced gallantly as my Skirmishers were coming in. Col Booker gave me the command to prepare for Cavalry which I obeyed but failing to see Cavalry I reformed Column and ordered the two leading companies of the Queen’s Own to extend and drive back the enemy then fearfully near us, this was done in splendid style. I had then necessarily to retire the rest of column consisting of Hamilton Volunteers and one or two companies of Queen’s Own. While retiring they observed the left wing of the Hamilton Volunteers advancing and imagining it the advance of the 16th and 47th [Regiments of Foot British Army] cheered on which the wing turned and ran and a scene of confusion ensued. I endeavoured to get the men into order aided by many officers of 13th of whom I could recognize Major Skinner and Mr. Routh the later fell close beside me while earnestly urging his men to rally. We then had to retire our ammunition being almost exhausted and, keeping the enemy in check, retired by Ridgeway to Port Colborne.

I annex list of killed, wounded and missing.

As I had never seen a shot fired before in action my opinion can be only taken for what it is worth but I do not believe ever men went into action more coolly and fought more gallantly than did the Officers and men of Queen’s Own that day. In many instances they had to advance from fence to fence one or two hundred yards under a galling fire and this was done with quiet and steady determination and I have the honor to say that I consider the conduct of all the officers and men as beyond all praise quite up to and beyond what I could have expected when like myself not a man had been in action before. So many acts of individual gallantry came under my observation that I cannot attempt a selection of names but I must mention to you the cool and gallant demeanor of Mr. Lockie who in the uniform of the London Scottish Volunteers joined us as we left Toronto and whose cool steady and unflinching bravery was the admiration of the Regiment.

I have the honor to be

CT Gillmor

 [to]

Col Lourie

47th Regt”

gillmor's report page 1
Gillmor’s report pg 1
gillmor's report page 2
Gillmor’s report pg 2

Thomas Lockie: The First to wear the London Scottish uniform in Battle; 1866

The following article was written by Anthony Partington in June 2015 for the London Scottish regimental news and we are pleased to repost it here with his permission as we anticipate the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Ridgeway. {Photo above No. 10 Highland Company after Battle of Ridgeway]

The Battle of Ridgeway, June 2 1866, was probably the first battle fought entirely by members of the Volunteer Movement in either Britain or Canada. It was also the last battle fought in Canada against a foreign invader. For the London Scottish Regiment, and long forgotten, the battle was the first time that our uniform was worn in action.

Lady Elcho, speaking in the Fall 1866 prize-giving, said: “It is with no small pride that we, this year, heard of one who had served in the ranks of the London Scottish having greatly distinguished himself by his enthusiasm and steadiness in the field against the Fenians in Canada. This refers to Colour-Sergeant Lockie, of No. 8 Company, who went into action in the uniform of the London Scottish, which thus came under fire for the first time.”

Thomas E. Lockie, – a Volunteer from the London Scottish

In June 1866, the Governor General presented to both houses of the Legislature the Adjutant-General of Militia in Canada’s report on the state of the Volunteer system in the Province of Canada (note Confederation was yet to come in 1867). It makes special note of the presence of young Thomas Lockie who fought in the Battle of Ridgeway (also known as Lime Ridge) with the true martial spirit of the British and Canadian Volunteer Movement.

“It would be impossible to detail the many individual instances of devotion to Canada which have been afforded by her sons; but the behavior of a stranger not long arrived in the country from England should not be left without notice. Mr. Lockie, a young gentleman of the London Scottish (Lord Elcho’s Regiment), who had distinguished himself at Wimbledon, came to Canada 18 months ago. When the Fenians landed at Fort Erie he had only been a few weeks returned from England with a young bride. He immediately fell into the ranks of the Queen’s Own as a private, and fought at the Battle of Lime Ridge, where the grey colour of his uniform, that of the London Scottish, exposed him particularly to the fire of the enemy. His coolness and bravery were conspicuous, and during the retreat he was always seen in the rear, encouraging his comrades and leading and firing with as much deliberation as if on a field day.”

Col. Garnet Wolseley, Deputy Adjutant-General of Militia in Canada, had arrived on the battlefield on June 3 and took command of the British forces in the area. In all probability, it was he who placed the glowing praise of Mr. Lockie in the Addenda to the Militia Report. Wolseley had served in the 84th Regiment in the Indian Mutiny with Lord Elcho’s brother-in-law Major Augustus H.A. Anson V.C., M.P. They were both best friends with Lord Elcho. Their reports back to Lord Elcho of the unsuitability of scarlet, blue and green uniforms in a modern battle probably sensitized Wolseley to the presence of the Hodden Grey on the battlefield.

There is a photo of No 10 Company taken at Stratford where the British and Canadian forces regrouped after the battle under the command of Col. Wolseley. The muster roll shows three official Volunteers in the company, including Lockie, discharged from strength by June 6. He could be the man in the photo as it would be of those who had fought. Of note is how the civilian dress in grey of the one Volunteer stands out against the rifle green tunics and Black Watch tartan trews of the Highland Company supporting the comment in the Adjutant-General’s report. The Hodden Grey uniform of the London Scottish would have been similar.

Thomas Eman Lockie was born 6 January 1838 in Kelso, Roxburghshire to Andrew Lockie, a wealthy farmer with 800 acres of arable land and 100 acres of grass employing 13 men, 8 women and 3 boys. Thomas spent his formative years in a boarding school and, by 1861, he was a merchantile clerk living in Lambeth. Lockie was noted as being a Colour-Sergeant of No. 8 Company, under Captain Macgregor in March 1862. He arrived in Canada in late 1864 or early 1865 but returned to England to marry Janet Eman in Lambeth in the first quarter of 1866 (curiously a woman with the same surname as his mother and most likely his cousin). Within a matter of weeks, Lockie and his bride made the long voyage back to Canada and a new life in Toronto. Despite his young age, he had both strong qualifications and good connections as, in short order, he became the secretary for the newly founded Toronto Steel, Iron and Railway Works. The young couple’s domestic tranquility, however, was short-lived and within a few days of arriving back, Lockie was volunteering to fight the Fenians.

Serving as a Private in the Queen’s Own Rifles, Lockie fought at the Battle of Ridgeway on June 2 1866 near Fort Erie in the Niagara peninsula. He survived the battle but just over a year later, he died of liver failure, a disease contracted during his military service. His fate and his connection to the London Scottish were again duly reported in local and national newspapers and by the QOR.

The Globe of Oct 21, 1867 stated:

“ DEATH OF A VOLUNTEER- Mr T. E. Lockie, a member of the Highland Company of the Queen’s Own Rifles, died in this city on Saturday, and will be buried today with military honours. The deceased prior to his arrival in this country, was a member of the London Scottish Regiment of Volunteers, and, during his connection with the Queen’s Own, experienced all the hardships of their Fort Erie campaign, and there contracted a disease which accelerated his death. At the Battle of Ridgeway, he appeared in the grey kilt and hose of his former regiment, and at the retreat his conduct was marked by bravery. After the fight, the behavior of the peculiarly-dressed individual, as he was styled, elicited the admiration of even the Fenians, he, while the retreat was going on, having remained so far behind as to be under the fire of both sides, while his cool and collected behavior during the engagement was a source of encouragement to his comrades-in-arms. He was secretary of the Toronto Steel and Iron Works since the opening of that establishment, and conducted himself there to the satisfaction of his employer.”

The Globe of Oct 22, 1867 stated:

“VOLUNTEER FUNERAL- The funeral of the late Corporal Lockie, of the Highland Company, Queen’s Own Rifles, took place from the residence of the deceased to the Necropolis yesterday afternoon. The deceased was buried with full military honours. A firing party from the company to which the deceased belonged, headed the funeral cortege and immediately in rear was the regimental band of the battalion, the hearse, a number of the volunteer force, and friends of the deceased in carriages, bringing up the rear. On their arrival at the ground, a volley was fired over the grave by his comrades, and the earth closed over a volunteer whose record in our force was honourable, and whose memory deserves to be warmly cherished.”

“Aperture Sight”, the columnist in the Volunteer Review and Military and Naval Gazette of October 28 credits both reports above originally to Lt. Col. Gillmor, O.C. the QOR. As an aside to the battle report, many southern Fenians wore their ex-Confederate States’ grey uniforms with green facings in the battle, which was why friendly forces would shoot at Lockie.

Curiously, Lockie lies in an unmarked grave belonging to John Lang Blaikie, along with two of Blaikie’s infant children, in the Toronto Necropolis. Both Blaikie and Janet Eman Lockie were Executors of Lockie’s will and estate in Canada. These facts suggest both Executors did not do justice to this man, considering that he left an estate worth $4,078, and probably some collusion. Blaikie was a wealthy and prominent Toronto stockbroker and businessman; a man who, like Lockie, had immigrated to Canada from the small Scottish shire of Roxburgh. While the connection between Blaikie and Lockie is not clear, one may assume that Blaikie had known Lockie’s family in Scotland and had most likely mentored the young Lockie on his arrival in Toronto into the Toronto Steel, Iron and Railway Works and managed his investments.

Eight months later, the Department of Militia and Defence in Ottawa also recognized Lockie’s contributions. There is a post in the Canada Gazette on June 1, 1868 noting that Thomas E. Lockie, “Queen’s Own Rifles, died of disease contracted at the Battle of Ridgeway” and that his widow had been awarded a gratuity of $200.

What had started out with such promise ended in the bitter loss of a brave and promising young man so soon after his moment of glory.

The 1866 Fenian Raid

For a young man with military experience, Thomas E Lockie’s arrival in Canada was opportune. With the conclusion of the American Civil War, the Fenian Society decided to organize disbanded Irish soldiers from both the Union and Confederate Armies into Volunteer units for the invasion of Canada. The intent was to secure a piece of Canada by force that could be traded for the freedom of Ireland. Some 1500 Fenian troops crossed the Niagara River north of Fort Erie with many more waiting to cross. The campaign was the first to be fought under the flag and title “Irish Republican Army”.

The British forces mobilized to fight this Fenian incursion were split into two. Included in the northern force were elements of the 16th and 47th Foot of British Infantry, a battery of Royal Artillery, along with local companies of Volunteer Militia from the Niagara area. Their objective was to protect the railway routes north to Niagara Falls and the only bridge to the USA and west towards the Welland Canal. The southern force, consisting of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Toronto (QOR), the 13th Battalion Canadian Volunteer Militia (later The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry), the Caledonia and York companies of Militia, the Dunnville Naval Brigade, the Welland Canal Field Artillery Battery (with no field guns), were to protect the railway line leading west to Port Colborne and the southern entrance to the Welland Canal.

Despite a massive call-out in March 1866, preparations were inadequate for an attack.
Ammunition ration for target practice was limited and few Militiamen had ever fired their rifles. The Militia units had no knapsacks or water bottles to campaign with. This wasn’t as obvious a problem until the QOR went into battle unfed, with no water and only 20 rounds of ammunition –sufficient for about seven minutes of heavy fire! No fear – they proposed to bayonet the Fenians, a tactic almost unheard of in the American Civil War. Many soldiers drank ditch water because of the lack of water bottles and possibly this was the reason for Lockie’s disease. The March call-out had been a ‘cry wolf’- nothing had happened and nothing was done to correct deficiencies. Many small businessmen and students suffered commercially and time-wise such that many did not report for the June call-out. The shortfalls allowed Thomas Lockie an opportunity to serve as a trained soldier.

The Fenian intelligence was excellent. They knew that the northern force was mainly British regular soldiers while the southern force was untried Canadian Militia. They chose to attack the 841 Militia at Ridgeway first, then the British regulars. The ill-equipped and relatively untrained Militia troops attacked aggressively. A ‘cavalry’ alarm caused the Canadians to form square (a Napoleonic War tactic still in the British Drill Book) in front of trained American infantry, resulting in many fatalities and injuries. Nine men died that day from the QOR with others in the weeks following. Perversely, the error in command probably saved lives since the QOR and the 13th Battalion were just about to engage the Fenian main force with insufficient ammunition. The experienced and well-supplied Fenians would have cut them to pieces. The battle at Ridgeway was a tactical defeat for the Canadians, yet a strategic victory, since the Fenians withdrew back to the USA the next day after the US Government cut off reinforcements and supplies to the Fenians.

The Canadian Volunteer Militia

The Volunteer Movement in England produced many fine battalions including The London Scottish Volunteer Rifles and also influenced the creation of many Volunteer regiments in Canada that in time became the majority of the Canadian Army. Many were called out in March and June 1866 and at other times up to 1870 in response to the three-pronged planned Fenian attack. The western attack from Detroit never happened. The eastern attack into Quebec was effectively a police action while the central attack through Fort Erie was an actual battle involving the Queen’s Own Rifles.

The 2nd Battalion, Volunteer Militia Rifles of Canada was formed April 26, 1860 in Upper Canada from four independent rifle companies in Toronto and a company each from Barrie and Whitby. The ‘Queen’s Own Rifles of Toronto’ title was given in March 1863 when they became part of the Service Militia of Canada with a role as a fighting force in contrast to the remainder of the Volunteer companies that acted generally as military police / Frontier Constabulary. The impetus in Upper and Lower Canada was the American Civil War with numerous small raids by Union or Confederate forces across the border and the desire by Britain to withdraw the remaining regular regiments. By 1866, the QOR consisted of 10 companies solely from Toronto including No. 10 (Highland) Company. The Highland Societies of Toronto formed the Highland Company in 1860, similar to the foundation of the London Scottish, but disbanded it in 1868. Later the Highland Societies raised the 48th Highlanders of Toronto in 1891.

The 48th Highlanders contained a number of expatriate London Scots who corresponded with the London Scottish Gazette for many years and who were known to Lt. (later Captain) Colin C. Harbottle. Lt. Col. CC Harbottle later commanded the 75th Battalion in WW1 and The Toronto Scottish Regiment after the war. The London Scottish Regiment has deep and abiding connections with Canada and now one more can be added to the roster – the story of Thomas E. Lockie, the first to wear the regimental uniform in battle.

Strike Sure and Carry On
Anthony Partington

Hyena Road

by Lieutenant Ted Howard, CD

[Then Sergeant Ted Howard of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, was awarded The United States of America’s President’s Gold Coin in recognition of his exemplary and outstanding service in Afghanistan in 2006. The coin was presented by U.S. Army General John Craddock, then Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) of NATO. He served as a producer on the Paul Gross film “Hyena Road” which recently premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.]

Ted Howard (L) and Paul Gross on the set of Hyena Road.
Lt Ted Howard, CD (L) and Paul Gross on the set of Hyena Road.

Hyena Road is an organic film that developed out of the dust of Afghanistan. Paul Gross who wrote, directed and starred in the film, has integrated actual footage he gathered when following me while I was working with Task Force Kandahar as an Effects Officer in 2011.

Although the film is not anchored in any specific period of the mission, Mr. Gross has sewn together a visceral and compelling story fictitious story based in cinematic realism that truly presents an accurate snap shot of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan since the places, people and events are based in reality. In particular it centers on the creation of an MSR that we built in partnership with the Afghan authorities. The road, nicknamed Hyena, is meant to achieve three main objectives. It is meant to legitimize the local government in the eyes of the population as representative of the people, it will improve the local economy and as the Commanding General in the film puts it, “drive a dagger into the heart of the Taliban.”

The story is set around three main characters, Master Sniper Ryan, Effects Officer Pete and a legendary Mujahedeen warrior, only known to the coalition forces as the Ghost. Paul used stories he heard from a number of snipers, who spent time in Afghanistan, to create the character Ryan. He is a good example of our contemporary combat arms soldiers who have been inserted into contemporary conflict zones. Ryan has been inserted into an environment that is completely foreign to him; facing an enemy that does not play by the same rules he must.

The character Paul plays was inspired by the work he saw me do during his visit. He believes Pete represents the type of soldier the new wars paradigm is creating. Part businessman, politician and soldier, he focuses on the non-kinetic elements in contemporary warfare that can turn the tide of support for the military mission with the local population and supports our foreign policy objectives in foreign lands.

The Ghost was actually inspired by an individual who worked with me in Kandahar and a significant figure in the war against the Soviets.

When I first met Paul I was very skeptical about letting him into our world and even more skeptical he could create a film that truly depicted what was going on in Kandahar. He grew on me however. He went on foot patrols in Mushan, rode the streets of District 9 in the city with me and even walked through the Bazaar. With time, I came to realize that Paul was a patriot and if the story of what my brothers-in-arms and their families sacrificed in Kandahar was going to be told, there was no better person then Paul. There are some Hollywood moments in the film but for the most part it holds true to the people and events the film is rooted in.

I have seen the film a few times now and I am proud of what our team achieved with Hyena Road since it is an honest and accurate portrayal of what happened in South East Afghanistan. In my opinion, a plaque or some sort of war memorial is nice to have on a wall but that is soon forgotten. Something like this movie will help ensure the memory of our fallen comrades and those families who have paid dearly for our time in Afghanistan will resonate within the Canadian cultural landscape for years to come.

_____________________________

You can read about The Queen’s Own Rifles contribution to the Afghanistan mission here.

D-Day Rifleman

Here is a visual of what a Rifleman would have looked like on D-Day.

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Field Service Marching Order with respirator slung. Gas cape rolled on Belt. Veil camouflage around neck. Shell dressing under netting of helmet. Emergency rations in hip pocket.

A.V. Battle dress will be worn, patches, (Canada & QOR), sewn on, when other collected.

The A.V. Battle dress will be worn for a minimum of 48 hrs, as soon as possible. If any effects on body are noticed, they will be reported immediately.

HAVERSACK

  • Mess tins
  • Holdall (towel, soap, razor, etc.)
  • Knife, fork and spoon
  • 24 hour rations
  • Cardigan
  • Beret
  • Boot laces
  • 4 x 2
  • Cigarettes
  • Pair of socks
  • Brown mug

LARGE PACK

  • Leather jerkin
  • Boots (anklets if required)
  • Cap comforter
  • Towel
  • Boot brush, dubbin & polish
  • Canvas shoes
  • Shirt, Angola
  • Boot laces
  • Drawers, Celular
  • Writing kit
  • Vest, Summer
  • 3 pairs socks
  • Housewife
  • Cigarettes
  • Greatcoat packed on outside of pack, held on by kicking straps

Other

  • Respirator of Assault marching personnel only attached to pack.
  • G-1018 blanket, folded as for kit layout rolled in ground sheet, strongly lied and properly labelled. (This makes a roll about 2 ½ feet long.)
  • All packs, Haversacks, Greatcoats (inside belt), ground sheet, to be marked with Rank, Name, Number and Coy mark.
  • Assault troops are all that land on “D” day.
  • 1 suit of denim to be collected at a later date.
  • Serge suit for all assault personnel, both riding & marching, less those with coys, will be turned in when notified to coy stores. They will be marked as laid down. They will be returned after “D” day.
  • Serge suit for those on follow up vehicles will be put in their Blanket rolls.

Here are some Pre Invasion photos from our Archives:

May 1944 - QOR Museum’s Photo
May 1944 – QOR Museum’s Photo
May 1944 - QOR Museum’s Photo
May 1944 – QOR Museum’s Photo
May 1944 - QOR Museum’s Photo
May 1944 – QOR Museum’s Photo
May 1944 - QOR Museum’s Photo
May 1944 – QOR Museum’s Photo
May 1944 - QOR Museum’s Photo
May 1944 – QOR Museum’s Photo
Pioneer Cpl 1944 - QOR Museum’s Photo
Pioneer Cpl 1944 – QOR Museum’s Photo

To see the War Diaries for Pre and Invasion visit the link below

https://qormuseum.org/history/timeline-1925-1949/the-second-world-war/war-diaries-1944/

Cheers,

MCpl Graham Humphrey

Fueling the Normandy Invasion

Every wonder how they get the jeeps and tanks and trucks fueled?

3rd Battalion at Vimy Ridge April 9, 1917

“On April 9, 1917, the famous Vimy Ridge attack took place. This had been planned and practised most carefully. The 3rd Battalion was on the extreme right of the Canadian Corps and so had the longest distance to go. Nevertheless it took its first objective on time and captured four guns, the first to be taken by Canadians. The casualties were, for World War I, light – 6 officers and 179 men. During the new few days the gains were extended to the flat country east of the ridge.”

From Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, 1860-1960: One Hundred Years of Canada,
by Lieutenant Colonel W. T. Barnard, ED, CD – 1960

Major W. E. Curry of the Queen’s Own Rifles was one of the six officers killed in action on June 9th.

See also the appendices to the April War diaries – 3rd Canadian Infantry Battalion for Orders and reports during the Battle for Vimy Ridge.