Category Archives: Research

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.

Newly Digitized Archival Films Uploaded to our YouTube Channel!

We’ve recently had three 16mm films in our collection professionally digitized and I am pleased that they have now been uploaded to our Museum’s YouTube channel and added to our Videos page on the website.

The first is a 15 minute black and white overview of the various activities that took place during the Regiment’s 100th Anniversary in 1960 including events conducted by all three battalions which existed at the time.

The second film is a 26 minute black and white “History of The Queen’s Own Rifles” produced by the CBC and featuring then museum curator Lieutenant Colonel William T. Barnard.

And lastly is a four minute silent “tour” of the of the fairly new Moss Park Armoury including the Officers’ and Sergeants’ Messes. (If anyone is able to help us nail down the date by identifying any of the soldiers in the film, we’d greatly appreciate it. Leave a comment below!)

We’d like to thank the Digital Treasury Group for their excellent and professional work on this project and helping us with the cost!

We have almost a dozen more films which we hope to digitize as the funding becomes available. Unfortunately our storage facilities are not ideal for the storage of films and frankly they are virtually inaccessible now in the 16mm format so we’re very excited to be able to make a start on this important preservation project!

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

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

WANTED: Volunteer Historical Timeline Researchers

We’re looking for a few work-from-home volunteers to help us prepare information for posting on our Historical Timeline. The task requires reading through Lieutenant Colonel W. T. Barnard’s The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, 19860-1960: One hundred years of Canada to find “significant events” that we haven’t yet posted to our timelines listed below:

Note that we have two “specialty” timelines for uniforms and weapons which we’re also trying to populate.

Information can be submitted in the body of an email or in a WORD attachment and each date/event (following the format already being used including a [2] at the end of each entry as the reference to this source). Research should be emailed to museum@qormuseum.org directly.

If you’re interested in assisting with this project, you can indicate below which time period you would like to research (it can be a portion of the periods shown above) and we’ll confirm with you before you start just some we don’t end up with any overlap. Questions can also be posted in the comments below!

Thanks in advance!