Category Archives: Remembrance

More from St James Cemetery

If you haven’t already, first read REMEMBERING RIFLEMEN IN ST JAMES CEMETERY, TORONTO.

In response to our last post about our exploration of St James Cemetery, Bill Paton kindly forwarded a photo of General William Dillon Otter’s grave marker:

He also reminded us that the QOR’s first commanding officer, Colonel William Smith Durie was buried here as well. And while Rob, Shaun and I knew this was located here and had indeed seen it on our wanderings that day, I’d completely forgotten to mention it!

Bill also kindly included a link to the fascinating story of Colonel Durie’s son Captain William Arthur Peel Durie and who was killed in action during the First World War and the efforts of his mother to have has body returned to by buried in St James Cemetery.

And lastly I completely forgot to include Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Lett, DSO who assumed command of The Queen’s Own Rifles in August 1944 and served until the conclusion of the Second World War. The museum was very pleased to acquire his medals in early 2015.

Remembering Riflemen in St James Cemetery, Toronto

The photo above was printed in the Toronto Globe in May 1924: “Graves of departed veterans of the Queen’s Own Rifles, located in several of Toronto’s burial places, were decorated yesterday by the Q.O.R. Chapter, Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire. Rev. Canon Cody conducted the service of the Church of England suitable to the occasion.”

This year when the Regimental Church parade was finished, two former RSM’s CWO (Ret) Shaun Kelly and Captain (Ret) Rob Chan joined the museum curator at St James Cemetery. We had recently been researching information about Bugle Major Charles Swift who served as the Bugle Major of The Queen’s Own Rifles for most of his 57 years of service – service which included the Battle of Ridgeway and the North West Rebellion. We’d come across a page inserted in a Bugle Band minute book which outlined arrangements for his funeral that indicated he’d been buried at St James Cemetery.

Graves marker of Bugle Major, Captain Charles Swift
Grave marker of Bugle Major, Captain Charles Swift

So our object on that sunny Sunday afternoon was to find his grave. Unfortunately the cemetery office was closed so we thought we’d just take a look around and see if we could spot it ourselves.  Three hours later we actually found it – just as we were about to give up!

Sadly as you can see from the photo at right, the marker has not weathered well and little can be read aside from the large “SWIFT” on its base. Subsequently the cemetery office did confirm that this was indeed his gravesite.  Perhaps its time for the regiment to consider placing an additional marker as we’ve done for those from the Battle of Ridgeway….

What surprised us most that afternoon, was the number of other Riflemen we came across as we crisscrossed the cemetery.

Grave marker of Sergeant Major Robert Taylor
Grave marker of Sergeant Major Robert Taylor

Among one of the oldest was that of Sergeant Robert Taylor. Research by Shaun has found he was listed in the nominal rolls as the regiment’s Sergeant Major from at least 1864 to 1867 although the appointment may just have been temporary. (A note that we did NOT place the QOR stickers which are found on many of these grave markers but believe they were put there but a member of the bugle band who has since passed away.)

Sergeant Major Samuul Corrigan McKell
Sergeant Major Samuel Corrigan McKell

Another Nineteenth century Sergeant Major was Samuel Corrigan McKell who rose to that appointment in 1889 after serving in the Northwest Rebellion.

Unfortunately McKell would not be in the position long, by December of 1890 he had died from blood poisoning. The funeral service was a large one as McKell was not only popular within the regiment but also outside of it so there were scores of soldiers from the Grenadiers and the Body Guard as well as around 460 Riflemen from the Queen’s Own in attendance.

The large memorial was erected by his comrades.

Other Riflemen buried there include the following:

Captain Richard Scougall Cassels served with The Queen’s Own Rifles in the Northwest Rebellion (during which he kept a diary) but later became a founding officer with the 48th Highlanders. He was also a partner of the law firm Cassels Brock which still exists today.

Grave marker of Captain Richard Scougall Cassels
Grave marker of Captain Richard Scougall Cassels

Lieutenant Colonel Joseph M. Delamere commanding The Queen’s Own Rifles from 1896 to 1900. His service included the Battle of Ridgeway, the St Patrick’s Day riots, the Belleville Riots, and the Northwest Rebellion. His son also rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and his grandson Colonel John Morison Delamere, MBE, ED, CD also commanded the QOR.

Grave marker for Lieutenant Colonel Joseph M. Delamere
Grave marker for Lieutenant Colonel Joseph M. Delamere

The thirteenth Commanding Officer was Colonel Arthur James Ernest Kirkpatrick VD, who joined the regiment in 1893 and would command C and D companies of the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force at the 2nd Battle of Ypres and after a valiant stand, was taken prisoner.

Grave marker Colonel A.E. Kirkpatrick

Colour Sergeant William F. Busteed  was a veteran of the Fenian Raids of 1866.

Colour Sergeant William F. Busteed
Colour Sergeant William F. Busteed

Frank S. Joyce was a QOR Bugler.

QOR Bugler Frank S. Joyce
QOR Bugler Frank S. Joyce

Major General Dr. George Ansel Sterling Ryerson began is military career as a QOR rifleman in 1870. His son, George Crowther Ryerson, also served with the Queen’s Own Rifles and joined the 3rd (Toronto Regiment) Battalion, CEF during the First World War. He was killed in action on April 23, 1915.

ryersons

Major Villiers Sankey was also the City of Toronto chief surveyor and Villiers St in the Port Lands is named for him. His youngest son, Lieutenant Colonel Richard H. Sankey would command the 3rd Battalion (CASF) , Queen’s Own Rifles during the Second World War (May 21, 1942 to Aug 15th 1943.)

sankeys

Better know are four casualties of the Battle of Ridgeway (recognized more recently by the Regiment with new grave markers): Rifleman Charles F. Alderson, Corporal Mark B. Defries, Rifleman Francis Lakey, and William D. Smith:

alderson-charles defries-mark lakey-francis smith-william-d

Less well know though was 18 year old Rifleman Thomas Wilson, who died in Detroit when the ferry steamer Windson burned at the docks with 31 lives lost on 26 April 1866. The orginal marker was placed by his fellow Riflemen and a newer marker by the regiment in 2010.

wilson-thomas

Lastly we found the marker for General William Dillon Otter, adjutant at the Battle of Ridgeway, commander of a column in the Northwest Rebellion, commander of Canadian Troops in South Africa and Canada’s first Canadian born full General. Unfortunately we don’t seem to have a photo of his grave marker so it will definitely mean a trip back to St James in the future.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

swift-funeral-arrangments

See More from St James Cemetery for some additional QOR members we missed.

Dedication of new markers in the town of Courcelette

Once again, the Regiment has worked with its fellow regiments, The Governor General’s Horse Guards (GGHG) and The Royal Regiment of Canada to honour the 3rd Battalion (Toronto Regiment), Canadian Expeditionary Force, which each unit perpetuates.

On May 30th, the GGHG dedicated new markers in the town of Courcelette to commemorate the battle honours of Somme 1916, Pozieres, Flers-Courcelette and Ancre Heights, all costly battles for the 3rd Battalion and the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, which the GGHG also perpetuate.

Costs for the memorials are shared between the three regiments.  Previous markers commemorate St. Julien and Passchendaele, and a marker for Mount Sorrel was dedicated in June.

IMG_1483

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

“It is Written” painting on loan to our museum

This summer we were pleased to accept a loan of the spectacular painting It is Written by Brian Lorimer. The loan was facilitated by Honorary Lieutenant Colonel Brendan Caldwell on behalf of the Caldwell Foundation which owns the 5′ x 6′ painting which now hangs in our Riflemen Room. LCol Caldwell also donated a copy of the beautiful Project Remembrance book to the museum library.

Providing a glimpse into one of the more mundane yet psychologically important aspects of a soldier’s life, It is Written represents a soldier engaged in the quiet pastime of writing a letter home.

The canvas is inscribed with one-time Rifleman John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields”. This canonical war poem was penned from the back of an ambulance after McCrae’s friend Alexis Helmer died as the result of wounds sustained in the Second Battle of Ypres and is perhaps the most well-known English-language poem of the Great War.

Project Remembrance is a fine art collection by Canadian painter Brian Lorimer that inspires remembrance and commemorates the centenary of the onset of The First World War. The paintings are a fresh and compelling rendering of the Canadian experience of the Great War, describing moments of individual fortitude and trial. More than that, they are a call to Canadians to consider and draw inspiration from the strength of character exhibited by our soldiers.

Their mission is to preserve, promote and celebrate Canadian history and heritage through the powerful medium of art. Their goal is to raise funds to assist in the betterment of Military personnel and their families. Funds raised with the support of Project Remembrance, individual and corporate donations are provided directly to the Support Our Troops Program.

If you would like to support Project Remembrance, you can purchase copies of the work as framed or unframed on paper, reproduced on canvas, as art cards or the book, via their online store.

We are extremely grateful to the Caldwell Foundation for this loan and encourage you to view it on your next visit to the museum!

Decoration Day held once again at Volunteer Memorial

Last week, for the first time in decades, citizens gathered to lay flowers on the National Volunteer Memorial which was created to remember those militiamen who served and died in the service of their country at and following the the Battle of Ridgeway (or Limeridge) on June 2, 1860.

Nine of those were members of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada – 7 killed in action and 2 more died shortly thereafter of wounds. Several others were wounded – two requiring amputations.

KILLED

Rifleman William D. Smith No. 2 Company
Lance-Corporal Mark B. Defries No. 3 Company
Ensign Malcolm McEachern No. 5 Company
Rifleman Christopher Alderson No. 7 Company
Rifleman William Fairbanks Tempest No. 9 Company
Rifleman Malcolm McKenzie No. 9 Company
Rifleman John Harriman Mewburn No. 9 Company

WOUNDED

No. 1 Company Ensign William Fahey knee
No. 1 Company Rifleman Oulster leg (calf)
No. 2 Company Sergeant Hugh Matheson thigh
(died June 11)
No. 2 Company Corporal Francis Lakey mouth
(died June 11)
No. 2 Company Rifleman William Thompson neck
No. 3 Company Captain J. B. Boustead contused
No. 3 Company Lieutenant J. H. Beaven thigh
No. 3 Company Rifleman Chas. Winter thigh
No. 4 Company Chas. Lugsdin lung and arm
No. 5 Company Chas. Bell knee
No. 5 Company Rifleman Capp wrist
No. 6 Company Lieutenant W. C. Campbell shoulder
No. 6 Company Corporal Paul Robins knee (since
amputated)
No. 6 Company Rifleman Rutherford foot
No. 7 Company Sergeant W. Foster side
No. 9 Company Rifleman E. T. Paul knee
No. 9 Company Rifleman R. E. Kingsford leg
No. 9 Company Rifleman E. G. Paterson arm
No. 9 Company Rifleman W. H. Vandersmissen groin
No. 10 Company Colour-Sergeant F. McHardy arm
No. 10 Company Rifleman White arm (since
amputated)

You can read more about the battle here.

Thanks to journalist, author and educator, Peter Vronsky for organizing the ceremony. Participants included QOR Skirmishers, bugler and padre; and period soldiers from the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry who fought at Ridgeway as the 13th Battalion.

Photos below are courtesy of retired Captain Larry Hicks, CD.

WWI Public Commemorative Ceremony

Thursday July 31

On behalf of Blake Goldring, Founder and Chair of Canada Company, you are invited to a special evening to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the First World War.

Join the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History, the Munk School of Global Affairs and the Canadian Armed Forces on the evening of July 31 at Varsity Stadium for this commemorative event.

Host: former war-correspondent, Gemini-winner Brian Stewart, Remarks by noted historian Margaret MacMillan and the CDS, Gen Thomas J. Lawson, CMM, CD. Vocal performances by Ruth Ann Onley, Danielle Bourre, and Jean Miso with the Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus.

Event is free but tickets required; for reservations and further info click here.

Rolph Jackson artifacts return to Normandy for Colonel-in-Chief visit

As Colonel in Chief of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, The Duchess of Cornwall met veterans and serving members of the regiment on Thursday June 5 and toured the Juno Beach Centre.

At Juno Beach Centre, 5 June 2014 from L to R: the Prime Minister's wife Lauren Harper, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall, and Lieutenant Colonel John Fotheringham, CD
At Juno Beach Centre, 5 June 2014 from L to R: the Prime Minister’s wife Lauren Harper, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall, and Lieutenant Colonel John Fotheringham, CD

Former QOR Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel John Fotheringham is a Director of the Juno Beach Centre and recently passed on a request from them. They asked if it might be possible for us to make available some artifacts that related to D-Day and the Queen’s Own that the Duchess could see during her visit.

We checked around our collection and decided that items which had belonged to Lance Corporal Rolph Jackson might fit the bill. They had to be fairly small and easy for John to pack in his luggage when he headed to Normandy so we settled on six items.

  1. Identity tags
  2. A French “invasion” 5 franc note
  3. A new testament
  4. A bundle of pay books
  5. A separate pay book
  6. A letter written to his girlfriend (and eventual wife) just before D-Day
Lance Corporal Rolph Jackson's New Testament
Lance Corporal Rolph Jackson’s New Testament
Last letter from Rolph Jackson to Olive Lipski before D-Day
Last letter from Rolph Jackson to Olive Lipski before D-Day
Rolph Jackson identity tags
Rolph Jackson identity tags
French 5 franc "invasion" notes from Rolph Jackson Collection
French 5 franc “invasion” notes from Rolph Jackson Collection
French 5 franc "invasion" notes from Rolph Jackson Collection
French 5 franc “invasion” notes from Rolph Jackson Collection
Inside of one of Rolph Jackson's pay books with a photo of Olive Lipski, who he would later marry.
Inside of one of Rolph Jackson’s pay books with a photo of Olive Lipski, who he would later marry.

9 Reasons the QOR Remember Decoration Day

You might be excused if you’ve never heard of Decoration Day – but from 1890 to 1931 it was our first official day of remembering those who had died in the service of their country.

Peter Vronsky wrote:

“After nearly twenty-five years of silence, in 1890, suddenly murmurs and whispers of Ridgeway began to bubble to the surface in public discourse. A short paragraph in the Globe, ―Ridgeway Remembered‖ reported that the veterans of the battle had ―taken the matter in hand and would meet for the first time publicly on the twenty-fourth anniversary to lay flowers on the monument to the fallen on the U of T campus near Queens Park. The Globe described the ceremony under the headline, ―Our Decoration Day and reported that from now on it would be commemorated annually. It was the beginning of Canada‘s national Remembrance Day.”

As time passed it also came to also serve as a day to remember those who had died in the Northwest Rebellion and the South African War. Then came the First World War and the massive casualties which soon overshadowed these earlier and in comparison, less significant conflicts. An Act of Parliament in 1931 would change our national day of remembrance to November 11 and as the last of the Fenian Raid survivors died off, so did the June 2nd Decoration Day.

If you’re on Facebook, you’ve all seen those “lists” designed to tweak your interest and click through to their website – hotels with breathtaking views, amazing animal photos, abandoned Olympic facilities. Today we present our own list – the list of those of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada who were the first to die in the service of their country and the reason we still remember Decoration Day:

1. Ensign Malcolm McEachern – No. 5 Company
Thirty five years of age, this father of five young children was the first to fall on June 2nd.

2. Rifleman William D. Smith – No. 2 Company
Sadly we know very little about Rifleman Smith.

3. Lance-Corporal Mark B. Defries – No. 3 Company
He worked as a cellarman or malster in this brother Robert’s East-end Brewery.

4. Rifleman Christopher Alderson – No. 7 Company
He’d married his wife Janet Black exactly 3 months before the Battle of Ridgeway.

5. Rifleman William Fairbanks Tempest – No. 9 Company
His father, a Whitby medical doctor who had rushed to Ridgeway to assist the wounded, discovered the corpse of his son.

6. Rifleman Malcolm McKenzie – No. 9 Company
He enlisted in the University Company and was the first in his to fall, killed instantly with a shot to the heart.

7. Rifleman John Harriman Mewburn – No. 9 Company
His father had scraped together nearly $400 to put him through a year of school, but his grades were so good that he was expected to win the annual University College Scholarship.

8. Sergeant Hugh Matheson – No. 2 Company
Matheson was wounded in the leg on June 2nd but infection set in and despite amputation, we would die on June 11th.

9. Corporal Francis Lakey – No. 2 Company
Lackey also suffered horrible wounds to his face and head on June 2nd and would like Matheson, die a few days later.

Each year members of the Queen’s Own and the QOR Association still travel to the Battle of Ridgeway Memorial and conduct a ceremony of remembrance and decoration.

The QOR at Ridgeway Memorial on Decoration Day 2012
The QOR at Ridgeway Memorial on Decoration Day 2012

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

What is the story of YOUR remembrance coin?

Units of the Canadian Armed Forces often follow the tradition of presenting new members of the unit with a regimental coin.  These coins are normally serialized, based on the member’s date of service with the unit, with a registry of coins being held by regimental headquarters.

The coin is meant to be symbol of membership within the unit, with members expected to carry their coin at all times.  

During Lieutenant Colonel Fotheringham’s first term as Commanding Officer, then Company Sergeant Major Shaun Kelly created a unique initiative which incorporated the exclusive membership aspect of a regimental coin whilst also honouring the history of the Regiment.  Instead of a coin which is serialized to the member based on the date of service with the unit, members of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada are issued a coin with the particulars of a member of the Regiment who died during one of the wars which the Regiment fought in. They were first presented to members of the regiment on Remembrance Day 2002.

QOR Remembrance Coin reverse
Reverse of Remembrance Coin of Museum Curator Maj (Ret) John Stephens, CD.157601
Rfn E. Honeyford
D/W (Died of wounds)
16-Apr-1917 

The antique pewter like coin is 39mm in diameter. The Obverse has the Primary Badge surrounded by the name of the regiment and the regimental motto “In Pace Paratus”. The Reverse has inscribed the particulars of the member whom the coin is dedicated to:

  • Service Number;
  • Rank, Initials, Surname;
  • KIA or D/W; and
  • date of death.

A coin is presented to each member of the Regiment by the Commanding Officer or Regimental Sergeant Major on the first Church Parade which the member participates in after having been “badged” into the Regiment.

The Names Behind the Coins

 But carrying the coin is just the first step. Riflemen are strongly encouraged to research the soldier named on their coin and many do. This makes the act of remembrance much more meaningful.

On our Regimental Museum website we have a section called “Soldiers of the Queen’s Own” in which we are adding biographies of soldiers who have served in the regiment – during any period since 1860 – or in the First World War battalions that we perpetuate. To date we’ve only added a very tiny sampling.

But we want to continue to expand this depository particularly as we approach the centenary of the First World War. If you’ve researched the soldier named on your coin, we strongly encourage you to send us whatever information you have – it can be in point form – so that we can add it to our website.

Please email your information to museum@qormuseum.org and make sure you include all the details from your coin as a starting point.

Thanks,

Major (Ret) John Stephens, CD
Curator

Who do you Remember?

Shortly many of us will be standing in front of cenotaphs, wrapped up from the biting cold wind, wearing poppies, laying wreaths and silently remembering during the silence between Last Post and Reveille.

As a Regiment, the Queen’s Own Rifles have much to remember:

  • In its baptism of fire during the Battle of Ridgeway in June, 1866 the QOR saw its first casualties – 7 killed in action and 2 later dying of wounds – some of whom had left their final University of Toronto exams the day before. Nineteen more were wounded including Rifleman White whose arm was eventually amputated.
  • In 1885 the Regiment sent a contingent 274 soldiers to Canada’s Northwest to put down a perceived rebellion by local Métis and First Nations. While all the QOR returned alive, five suffered wounds.
  • In the South African War Canada contributed troops for overseas service for the first time through a Service Battalion to which the Queen’s Own contributed – three would not return. Two died of enteric fever (typhoid) and one was killed in action.
  • During the First World War, The Queen’s Own through recruitment sent 210 officers and 7,352 men overseas and of these 47 regimental officers and 1,207 other ranks were killed in action, died of wounds, or died from natural causes – almost 1 in 6. To this day, Major General Malcolm Mercer remains the highest ranking Canadian Officer to be killed in combat. And of course this doesn’t include those who did return but with missing limbs, lungs damaged from gas, blinded, or suffering shell-shock.
  • The Second World War also saw significant casualties: 28 officers killed; 365 other ranks killed while serving with the 1st Battalion, QOR; 3 died in England; 1 in Canada; 1 in Holland; 61 Queen’s Own men died whilst serving with other units. Fifty officers and 823 other ranks were officially reported as wounded – many more than once.
  • WWII was hardly over before the QOR found themselves in Korea where six gave the ultimate sacrifice.
  • Since then numerous soldiers have died in accidents and of natural causes while serving in the Regular Force and Reserve battalions.

Thousands of QOR soldiers have given their lives since 1866 and this November 11th we will once again honour and remember them.

However each Remembrance Day I also remember those closer to home. An ancestor who fought in the War of 1812, a grandfather and several great uncles who fought in the First World War – some came home and one didn’t. And perhaps most poignantly, my paternal grandfather who during the Second World War, left a wife and 4 young children to serve in the 5th Canadian Field Ambulance. He lies buried in a hilltop Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery with all his fellow Canadians who were killed in Sicily.  Mt Etna smokes in the distance and one realizes how far from home it was.

As we lead up to this November 11th when we will honour all those who have served and sacrificed, I invite you to tell us in the comment section below, who do you remember?