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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?

First Ask a Soldier Day held at the Museum

On Saturday November 10th the Regimental Museum held a very successful first “Ask a Soldier” event throughout our exhibit rooms. Eight serving soldiers from the regiment were present to answer questions about their service and also to help visitors understand the militia today. They had personal and parachuting equipment available for visitors to try on and our Master Corporal Pioneer was also a hit with those wanting their picture taken with axes and swords! Thanks to Deputy Commanding Officer Major Sandi Banerjee, Regimental Sergeant Major Mark Shannon, Warrant Officer Justin Thorn, MCpl Jessie Behan, Cpl Shahab Alam, Cpl Alex Dristas, Cpl Susheel Palanivelu and Cpl Barry Windover.

As this was also the day before Remembrance Day, we provided an opportunity for our youngest visitors to help create poppies to place between the crosses lining the wall and bearing the names of QOR who had lost their lives in the service of their country. Museum volunteer Matthew Cutler helped them navigate the creation of their poppies and with creating the crosses.

Curator John Stephens and Assistant Curator Shaun Kelly tried to keep everything running smoothly and lunches for our participating soldiers were sponsored by Pegasus Catering.

We’re all looking forward to another opportunity to work with members of the regiment!

The Real Story of the “Bridge on the River Kwai”

This story has no connection to the Queen’s Own Rifles but it is a story we’re all familiar with – or are we?

Writer, researcher and historian Julie Summers examines the true story behind the Oscar-winning film ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’. It is, in essence, a story of bloody-minded determination not to give up in the face of an implacable enemy.

Part of the Lunchtime Lectures series – a programme of free talks that takes place at the National Army Museum in London every Thursday at 12.30pm.

“The last invasion and Canada’s forgotten first casualties”

Check out this Saturday March 24, 2012 Star Online article (and in Sunday print edition) by Peter Vronksy.

Peter Vronsky is a historian at Ryerson University and author of Ridgeway: The American Fenian Invasion and the 1866 Battle That Made Canada. His website on the Battle of Ridgeway is www.ridgewaybattle.ca

Dispatches from the Juno Beach Centre! – Institut Historica Dominion Institute

Dispatches from the Juno Beach Centre! – Institut Historica Dominion Institute.