Category Archives: Regular Force

Reg Force Reminiscences: “THE GLORIOUS TWO BN”

by Major Ronald R. Lilley, CD

This article was the second of two found in our collection. The date or purpose for which is was written is unknown. The first article can be found here. Lilley left the Loyal Edmonton Regiment to join the 1st Battalion QOR in March 1954.

In ‘62 I returned to Regimental duty and once again was posted to a unit which had just returned from Germany – the Second Battalion, led by its gravel voiced Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Dan Osborne.

On a bright sunny spring day I found myself in command of one of the battalion’s 100 man guards, paying homage to the General Officer Commanding Western Command. I had spent most of the night writing up a bn exercise and consequently was more dazed than usual. The guard was approaching the yellow marker and I shouted out the cautionary words, “No. 2 guard will advance” (the guard number is immaterial to the event). All would have been perfect except that the executive words of command “Left, Turn” followed in rapid order. That was the day I introduced the new drill movement “left foot over right foot”, a major drill not previously practised to my knowledge. I had missed the marker by not less than 15 paces or 100 miles whichever was closer on that eventful day. The movement was carried out in the best Rifles tradition and by the time we reached the saluting base flag the guard was lined up with the lead coy. After the parade and at the dispersal area I called CSM George Stolzenberg (I believe it was Stolzenberg) forward, congratulated the guard on its excellence in the face of adversity and bought a libation to prove I was serious. Never before had I witnessed such steadiness and I only hope my successors never have the same nerve shattering experience.

The glorious day finally came when I took over command of B Coy in the Fall of 62. Captain Larry Diebel, at my instigation, started all rank Coy Mess Dinners. Sgt “The Bandit” Friedt the Officers’ Mess Sgt, and a member of B Coy, provided the candelabra, silver and wine glasses. We developed a mess dinner procedure with appropriate toasts, etc. They were very popular, as could be attested to by the attendance (smiles and attendance were both compulsory). The dress standard set for the first dinner was based on a tie and shirt. We did not alter the dress standard but with each succeeding dinner it was interesting to note the increase in subdued tone ties, blazers and sports coats and the vast improvement in the rifleman’s walking out dress.

The Coy went through its usual pre-Exercise Snow Chinthe drills during the Christmas holidays and learned to live outdoors in the cold and pull toboggans over simulated snow (gravel and grass). 2/Lt Dave Montgomery and Sgt Bill Hamburgh’s platoon learned to live with frogs and cope with soggy tent floors during an unseasonable warm spell in Wainwright prior to the exercise beginning. During the work-up training and on the actual exercise CSM Noble wee a tower of strength and on numerous occasions placed the fear of the hereafter on any idle rifleman or NCOs.

On my return from a course in England 10 days prior to leaving for Wainwright, I met the new CO, LCol Ed Price (expected). Capt Diebel, CSM Noble and many familiar NCOs and men were serving elsewhere in the bn (unexpected). The Coy’s training pace in Wainwright of a mile to two-mile run before breakfast, section tactics every morning, platoon tactics every afternoon and coy tactics every evening was slowed down when B Coy was honoured by being selected to enter the Forced March Competition on July first. This honour was duly passed on to 2/Lt Dave Montgomery and Sgt Jewel.

(For a fuller account see page 79 of the 1963 Powder Horn edition). It is now old hat that Dave’s pl won. But I’ll never forget the look of surprise on Brigadier Macdonald’s face when Dave’s pl doubled on in full battle order, then broke into quick time, advanced, halted and presented arms to the Bde Commander. This was not part of the usual ceremony but was added to show what stern stuff we riflemen are made of. In marching off Sgt Jewell’s order to the platoon was: “Run over them lads, if they don’t get out of the way!” He of course was referring to the spectators. At a suitable distance from the spectators, the plantoon was photographed with their trophy. This platoon also returned several pieces of equipment dropped by 2 PPCLI which were turned over to that unit’s CO by Colonel Ed Price.

We were soon concentrated as a Company and training started again in earnest. Dave Montgomery’s scalded feet required that I employ him as the OC of the Special Weapons elements attached to the Coy and in this capacity he assisted the Company Operations Officer, Capt Harry Williams-Freeman in the Command Post. Staff Sgt Don Wilson, as CSM, provided the spark which kept the Coy HQ on its toes. He did a tremendous job of organizing a very successful coy all ranks bash during our last days in the battalion bivouac area. Greased poles, bucking horses (45 gallon oil drums), log chopping and sawing contests were all entered into with great gusto. Cpl Miller, the Coy cook, outdid himself in providing deluxe hamburgers and Staff Lottridge ensured that an abundance of beer and soft drinks were always available. One LdSH(RC) [Lord Strathcona’s Horse] trooper was heard to say, “what a party!” “Why can’t our blank, blank squadron get organized?” A gunner from D Battery replied, “When you’re part of B Company who blank, blank cares?” and with that they rejoined the mob at the camp fire to sing their hearts out.

He operated a Company multiple radio net, an experiment which was reluctantly bIessed by the CO. It was an excellent training device and section commanders soon learned the worth of their radio, as can be testified to by LCpl Standen, whose radio ceased operating during a Brigade exercise. He claimed he knew nothing about the overall progress being made by the Company and consequently had no idea what to expect next. He felt that he and his section were completely insulated until they were committed to action by the Platoon Commander.

1964 saw the emergence of a cross country ski team, equipped with modified army skis which hampered any chances they had to win, and a Down Hill team that struck gold, or should I say silver plate, in their first Western Command Championship. Many will remember that the 1964 Exercise Snow Chinthe was almost cancelled because of the conflict with General Rockingham’s Western Command Ski Championship. In those days, channels of communication with all superior HQs were well established and woe to any individual who tried to short circuit the system. Unfortunately, Superior Headquarters did not always follow the established channels. I had been ordered to establish and direct the Command Ski Off and at one stage found myself working for General Rockingham, Brigadier Macdonald and LCol Price on conflicting requirements. As is not too unusual, the General won and my other tasks were deferred to after duty hours. Capt Dick Graham’s experience provided the necessary continuity in organizing the meet so that I could get some coy work done during normal working hours.

During the 1964 Bde Commanders Conference I was called to one side by Colonel Ed Price and told I was posted to the RCS of I [Royal Canadian School of Infantry] and would become DC Tactics Division. Once again, it was time to say farewell to Regimental life.

Reg Force Reminiscences: “WUN BUN DAZE”

by Major Ronald R. Lilley, CD

This article was the first of two found in our collection. The date or purpose for which is was written is unknown. The second article will be posted in two week. Lilley left the Loyal Edmonton Regiment to join the 1st Battalion QOR in March 1954.

Back in the Spring of 54 (1954), not 1854, as many of my more recent associates would claim, the formation of 1 QOR of C was in progress at Currie Barracks, Calgary. Major C.P. McPherson (CP), acting by authority of Lieutenant-Colonel John Delamere’s absence, was the Supreme Commander of a handful of riflemen, NCOs, WOs and officers. The term “motley” may be an unkind term to use in describing this crew, but motley it was. The Adjutant, Captain Frank Moad and RSM Rusty Rowbotham completed the Bn HQ triumvirate. Lieutenant Fred Sargent (the QM) and I, at the time of my reporting in, were the only two First Lieutenants. Our association increased in size when Lieutenants Lloyd Cornett, Herb Pitts and Bob Munson reported for duty. At that time the PPCLI still reigned supreme in the permanent Mess on the hill while the LdSH (RC) were located adjacent to them in the temporary wartime buildings. Our Mess was located in an old Air Force H-Hut located adjacent to the Northeast corner of the parade square.

“Tea” was an informal “parade” where the CO determined the progress made on the state of the union and made or rescinded his various pronounce­ments, such as “ALL officers will wear moustaches.” Parties “spontaneous or otherwise” always ended up with “Grease the Tube”. After every shot, the Mess Secretary, while he was capable of doing so, gathered up and placed in an appropriately labelled bag, mainsprings, crystals, cog wheels, etc., of the individual’s wristwatch. The equivalent of a Timex was soon worn by all officers, and issue watches were in great demand.

Inevitably, Wainwright was upon us and Major Don Creighton became acting 2IC, relinquishing the command of HQ Coy to Lieutenant Lilly. The Coy was in the best shape possible considering the paucity of equip­ment and personnel. At the time, I was corresponding with Captain “Honest John” Mitchell, who was the Sigs Officer designate. “Honest John” took over his platoon several weeks after we were in Wainwright and it he had been prone to heart seizures we would have lost him on day two of his service with the unit. CO’s briefings were held daily, with the officers assembled around a campfire pit. Young 2/Lt Mike Newell ([later] Deputy Commander 12 RBC – Valcartier) commanding one of the sp wpns pls, was scorched by the CO’s wrath when, after receiving a direct order for events to take place the following day, he said: “I won’t do it.” Mike was suffering from an abscessed tooth, as I recall, and had a dental appoint­ment for the next day. CP’s fury provided an unexpected anaesthetic. Incidentally, Mike did have the tooth extracted and not by CP.

My turn came at the end of one of the Bde exercises. The Bn was granted 24 hours in the built-up area for R&R. I had checked over the officers’ quarters and had allocated the rooms by placing the officer’s name on the appropriate door. Unfortunately for me, I had to return to the Men’s area because their quarters allocation had been halved and I had to make up a new plan. In my absence the Straths advance party over­ruled our representatives and re-allocated the CO’s suite and most of the choice rooms to their CO and officers. On my return to the Officers’ Mess I felt righteous indignation for the treatment to which I was subjected.

By this time, we had all learned to keep our mouths shut and not to raise the subject of our undoing until another officer fell into the excreta, or for at least 48 hours. My saviour had already been earmarked by fate, Lt Ivor MacLeod by name. Those were the days of “NO shortages.” A smouldering mattress heaved from a second storey window (still open) was discovered the next day by CP. Poor Ivor had fallen asleep with a lit cigarette; feeling extremely warm, he had taken the aforementioned action which caused the inevitable chain reaction.

That same summer, then, in an effort to increase the mobility, started the first post-war experiment which eventually led to the procuring of the M113A1 APC. 2/Lt Spike Vanier, with a fleet of tired bren gun carriers, streaked around the training area on a preconceived battle plan. Experiments the next summer included transporting troops in 3/4 ton trucks and trailers. We must have been blessed by either CP or the Almighty, because we never lost a man.

Individual training began once again after the leave period and we were soon introduced to a new Capt Adjutant in the personage of George Hall. George, the nemesis of CP, was noted for using his Christian name on part one orders, green tinted glasses, a moustache and his wife Bunty. George and Bunty were also noted for their after-duty escapades. George continually tried to widen the entrance to Currie Barracks, was usually successful, much to the chagrin of the Garrison Commander. Bunty became infamous at a Strath Mess Dinner involving CP, Kurt Greenleaf (CO LdSH (RC) and General Vokes (GOC Western Command) . I eventually replaced George as adjutant and Lloyd Cornett in time replaced me . By accident or design, all the adjutants (Frank Moad, myself and Lloyd Cornett) with the exception of George Hall, were to meet Rod MacKay, the former Bn 2IC, in Vietnam.

After a sojourn in Vietnam, I returned to the unit in Sep 56 and after a relatively short but peaceful existence. “Rapid Step” was upon the unit in its full fury. I was relegated to be OC Rear Party and missed out on all the fun in Halifax, much to my dismay but to the eternal joy of my wife. Rehearsals for the Feu de Joie were held on the RCAF tarmac at Lincoln Park. This always caused a minor problem because the Air Force stenos had tender ears and objected profusely to their Station Commander about the air pollution which followed the unit in the form of a blue haze. Needless to say that RSM Rusty Rowbotham was the main contributor with minor contributions being made by various CSMs. Officers received sword drill from CSM Ken MacLeod in Scott Hall. We in those days carried the famous Wilkinson Sword made in Japan. Trying to balance it was like holding a 6-pounder Atk gun in the vertical position by the muzzle. Young Ken using the best techniques of instruction of that day, continued to practise us in sword drill by numbers and by numerous demonstrations to inculcate the finer points in our rather erratic movements. In due course, we were able to do the whole drill. Wishing to sharpen us up, he prepared to give us one more demonstration using his own words of command. “Draw Swords”, shouted CSM MacLeod, and with a flourish, his hand went through the motions. To his dismay and to our amusement, the blade never left the scabbard and momentarily basket, sword knot and handle were held in a gloved hand with the blade parallel to the ground, elbow at the side, then in slow motion the basket, complete with knot, did a barrel roll to the concrete floor. Sword drill was suspended for the rest of that day in a gale of laughter.

Wainwright 57 saw the unit in bivouac at Border Lake and once again I was casting covetous glances at our mates in our rifle coys and at those officers in the rifle coys of the ad hoc bn formed under Major Ron Wilkinson, our Bn 21C. We went through the various rounds of inspections of the HQ Coy Bivouac area. On one occasion, LCol Chuck Lithgow accompanied by the Comd MO and Food Services Officer, commented on the completeness of amenities in our area and jokingly said “Where’s your deep freeze?” To his amazement, I said to Staff “Zump the Pump” Zumprelle, “Show them our deep freeze.” Zump showed them our ice cream cooler suitably concealed in a bush near the kitchen.

The next summer saw us located in the Westgate area. That was the summer I learned to tactically employ helicopters. My most important task, brought on by the introduction of helicopters, was to race around the whole bn area ensuring that crapper lids were closed. The Bde Commander, Brigadier Wrinch, had a fetish for hovering over bivouac areas and peering into open crappers.

The incident I remember best and will undoubtedly be reported on more adequately by others, involved the OC and 2IC of a rifle coy which shall remain nameless. On a dark and probably stormy night the 21C Capt John Probyn (1 had to use a web belt on the old grouch to make him human when he was adjutant) was returning from a recce of a coy crossing site. The coy was to launch an attack across the Battle River. Time being of the essence, the coy Comd Major Hank Elliot had decided to move the coy forward. In ground mist obscured depression, the 2IC and Coy Comd encountered each other and locked radiators.

Pte McAteer, the outstanding batman in the unit, was ordered during an emergency move of HQ Coy to look after our stock of ammunition (blank of course) by CSM George Collings. While establishing our new position the CSM yelled several times for McAteer to bring forward the ammuni­tion for redistribution. McAteer had disposed of the ammo by burying it in the old location.

History of the Lance Corporal Rank in The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada

The practices throughout the history of the Regiment come and go, and over time you see reference to “Lance” rank but only used in the Regiment as an Acting Corporal. During the Second World War you see the use of Lance Corporal on parade states and promotion list but you will not see a photo of the wearing of a one chevron on the uniforms of any QOR Rifleman. Simply they just wore the rank of Corporal since it is an Acting Corporal rank in a Rifle Regiment. Below is a write up of a Memo that was written for the Regiment in 1942 but rewritten in 1954.


MEMO: RE: LANCE CORPORALS

ARMY HISTORICAL RESEARCH, VOLUME V, 1926

This book contains quite a lengthy and comprehensive article entitled “The Lancespessade and the History of Lance Rank” in the British Army, and covers a period of several hundred years, giving quotations from many authoritative sources on the subject.

The following are several quotations taken from the article:

“The term lance as a qualifying prefix to non-commissioned ranks, is peculiar to the British Army today, and is an interesting link with that period which the Military Organization of the Middle Ages was being transferred into that which, in its essentials, is still current: that is to say, with the end of the 15th, and the beginning of the 16th centuries. The word is derived from the italian lancia spezzata, literally a broken or shattered lance, Lance Corporal usually defined as the title of that rank which was granted to the lowest officer that “hath any commandment” and “signifies Deputie Corporal.”

“By the beginning of the 17th century, in England at least, the Lancespessade had become and Infantryman only, and almost exactly the equivalent of the Lance Corporal of present day.”

“Lance the Corporal of the Cavalry unit is to supply and do all duties of the Corporals and Lancespessades of the Foote.” The definition of a Lancespessade is given as “he that commands over ten soldiers, the lowest officer in a foot company.”

The article makes it quite clear that the rank of Lance Corporal was peculiar to the Infantry alone in the British Army, until long after the organization of Rifle Regiments, and it contains no reference to this rank ever having been introduced into Rifle Regiments.

REGULATIONS FOR RIFLE CORPS.

These Regulations were originally issued in 1800, by Colonel Coote Manningham, who is usually referred to as the originator of rifle regiments, and has become the first Commanding Officer of the Rifle Corps, now the Rifle Brigade. They are reprinted in a book bearing the same title, published in 1890, with certain amendments added.

Article 11 dealing with the Formation of the Corps, in so far as it relates to Sergeants and Corporals states as follows:

“The four Sergeants are to command a half platoon or squad each. The senior Corporal of each company is to act as Sergeant in the first squad.

The four Corporals are to be divided to the four half platoons. One soldier of peculiar merit is to act in each company as Corporals, and to belong to the third squad.

The Acting Sergeant and Acting Corporal are to be the only non-commissioned officers transferable from squad to squad.

In every half platoon one soldier of merit will be selected and upon him the charge of the squad devolves in the absence of both non-commissioned officers of it. As from these four Chosen Men (As they are called) all Corporals and Acting Corporals are to be appointed, the best men alone are to be selected for this distinction.

The graduation of rank and responsibility, from the Colonel of the Regiment to the Chosen Man of a squad, has how been detailed, and on no instance to be varied by whatever officer may command it.”

STANDING ORDERS OF THE RIFLE BRIGADE

These Standing Orders issued in 1911, make no mention of Lance rank, wither in the text or in the various sample forms of parade states, reports, etc., in the back of the book. Acting Corporals are shown.

Article 11 – Formation of the Regiment, section 18 states:

“Corporals and Acting Corporals are responsible to the Sergeants of their respective sections.”

A copy of the Standing orders referred to above was received by me from the O.C. The Rifle Brigade in 1925, and he states at that time that they were the last published Standing Orders, and that no material changes or amendments had been made since date of issue.

THE KING’S ROYAL RIFLE CORPS

In several volumes of the above covering a period of from 1820 up to some time in the 1890’s. There are a number of parade states, casualty lists, awards of various kinds such as good conduct badges, marksmen’s badges, etc., I could not find in these volumes any reference to Lance rank, but Acting Corporals are mentioned.

THE QUEEN’S OWN RIFLES OF CANADA

RE: LANCE RANK

REGIMENTAL ORDERS

Regimental Orders are complete from the first R.O. Issued in 1860 until the present date, and are on file in the records of the Regiment.

From the first R.O. Issued in April 26, 1860 until 1866, there is no mention of Lance rank in any form whatever. There were, however, appointments made as Acting Corporals.

R.O. May 19, 1865 states “The proper regulation chevrons for NCO’s of the QOR are as follows and will be worn on both arms:

For Corporals – 2 black stripes on a red ground.”

There is no mention of Lance Corporals, or the chevrons that they would wear.

In R.O. January 22, 1866, the promotion of a private to the rank of Lance Corporal appears for the first time. Further promotions to that rank appear in subsequent orders up to the year 1874, when they cease, and from that year on appointments to be Acting Corporals appear again, and continue to the present time. There has not been an appointment to Lance rank since 1874, a period of 68 years.

No R.O. Appears in 1865, 1866 or any subsequent year authorizing Lance rank, nor does any R.O. Appear in 1874 or subsequent years abolishing them.

NOMINAL ROLLS FOR ANNUAL MUSTER

The nominal rolls of all companies and units of the Regiment for the Annual Muster parade each year are complete from 1860 until the present time, and are on file in the records.

On these Muster Rolls Acting Corporals appear from 1860 until 1865 inclusive. In the years 1866 to 1874 Lance Corporals appear, and commencing with the year 1875 until the present time Acting Corporals are shown, but no Lance Corporals.

REGIMENTAL STANDING ORDERS

Regimental Standing Orders were issued only in the years 1862, 1872, 1880, 1883, and 1925. Copies of all these are on file in the records.

There is no mention in any of these Standing Orders of Lance rank, not even in those issued in 1872, a year in which some Lance Corporals existed in the Regiment. The lowest rank mentioned is that or Corporal, and the lowest rank badges provided for this is of Corporal.

CONCLUSIONS

  1. Lance rank originated in the Foot Regiments, later Infantry, of the British Army, and was peculiar to that branch of the service for several hundred years. During the 19th century it was adopted by some other red-coated regiments of other branches of the service, but not by Rifle Regiments.

  2. Lance rank was not in force in The Rifle Brigade in 1925, as will be seen by their Standing Orders issued in 1911, and the statement of the [Officer Commanding] that unit in 1925, and it is extremely unlikely that it now exists in that regiment.

  3. Lance rank was not in force in The King’s Royal Rifle Corps as will be seen from their chronicle up to the South African War.

  4. The Queen’s Own Rifles, when authorized as a rifle regiment, on organization in 1860, undoubtedly adopted the “Regulations for Rifle Corps” as was practised at the time by The Rifle Brigade and The King’s Royal Rifle Corps.

  5. The deviation from Regulations for Rifle Corps and the Standing orders of the Regiment, in The Queen’s Own Rifles from 1866 to 1874 is hard to account for now.

    It is possible that the Officer Commanding in 1866, through carelessness or otherwise, permitted this unauthorized deviation from the Regulations to creep in. It is quite clear, however, that he did not provide for the change in Regimental Orders, nor did he change the Standing Orders to provide for it.

    By 1872, another Officer Commanding was in command of the Regiment. He revised Standing Orders in 1872, but again no provision was made for Lance rank.

    By 1874, the late General Sir William Otter has assumed Command of the Regiment, and was, as is well known, a great stickler for regulations of the service and tradition. It is quite evident that it was he who abolished the unauthorized Lance rank in the Regiment no doubt to conform with the standing Orders of the Regiment which were based upon the “Regulations for Rifle Corps.”

    He did not issue an order abolishing Lance rank, probably because there had never been a regimental order authorizing it, but just let it fade out.

  6. With the exception, therefore, of the short period 1866-1874, when Lance rank was entirely unauthorized in The Queen’s Own Rifles, it has not existed in the Regiment. Nor has there been at any time during the Regiment’s 82 years of existence, and order authorizing it in the Regimental Standing orders.

  7. It is quite clear from the foregoing, that The Queen’s Own Rifles, in having Acting Corporals instead of lance Corporals, is following not only a Regimental custom, but a Rifle custom which was duly authorized on the organization of Rifle regiments in the British Service, and is still the practice in two of the best known Rifle regiments in the British Army.


I hope you enjoyed this article as it shows reflection into the history and traditions of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada and our sister regiment’s in England. Throughout my research and studying of photos of The Queen’s Own Rifles throughout the history I have only found one photo (pictured below) that shows the wearing of one chevron and this photo was taken when the Regiment was deployed to Korea in 1955. After the above article was written you will see in photos the addition of a QOR Collar Dog above the Corporal Chevron (pictured below) which would be the present “Master Corporal” or meaning the Section Commander.

Sincerly,

MCpl Graham Humphrey

 

Seen here is an Acting Corporal during the Deployment to Korea in 1955
Seen here is an Acting Corporal during the Deployment to Korea in 1955 – QOR Museum Photo
Rifleman in line to call home - QOR Museum Photo
Rifleman in line to call home – QOR Museum Photo

RMC 1963 Grads Badged to QOR

Thanks to Dan Martel for forwarding the 1963 RMC yearbook entries for three grads who badged at Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada:

  • Donald Douglas Dalziel
  • Ronald Calvin Coates
  • William Douglas McKay

You can click on the images for larger versions.

Coates, RC RMC 1963

Dalziel,DD RMC 1963

McKay, WD RMC 1963

 

QOR Regular Force Photo Albums

IMG_9383As we continue to catalog and photograph our collection, we’d like to share three photo albums of the QOR Regular Force Battalions:

The albums have been photographed by one of our regular volunteers, Capt (Ret) Larry Hicks.

If you can help us, we strongly encourage you to comment on a specific photo to identify dates, people, places, or occasions!

IMG_9381