HONORARY COLONEL’S REMARKS
MAJOR GENERAL WALTER HOLMES, MBE, MSM, CD
Members of the Regimental Family and friend of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada: greetings on this very special regimental day which marks the 160th anniversary of the founding of our great regiment. The regiment has served Canada, Canadians and the couse of peace faithfully since before confederation, and continues to do so today as Canada and the world grapples with the impact of the COVID-19 virus.
Solders of the regiment have served with distinction and honour where ever they have been called upon to do so, and our regimental history is replete with individual acts of bravery, courage and compassion. I ask that you pause and take a few moments on this special day to remember our fallen, those that have gone before, and the families and friends of those who serve and have served, the latter being so important to the achievement of our mission.
We should also remember today how fortunate we are to live in a country like Canada where our systems of government and health care have risen to the challenge of COVID-19. We can be proud that The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada has played a small role in making Canada the country that it is today.
To serve our country is a sacred duty and I am confident the regiment will continue to perform with diligence and professionalism into the future.
To all, stay safe and stay healthy. To those deployed and providing essential service, we than you.
In Pace Paratus.
COMMANDING OFFICER’S REMARKS
LIEUTENANT COLONEL FRANK LAME, CD
Happy 160th Birthday to The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada!
Our Regiment has served and fought in every war and conflict in which Canada has ever engaged. The Regiment’s contributions predate our formation as the nation of Canada and continue to the present day. Our Regimental Wall of Honour enshrines the legacy of our Fallen: from Ensign Malcolm McEachern, the first Canadian to make the supreme sacrifice in service of Canada, to Major General Malcolm Mercer, the senior-ranking Canadian to lay down his life for our Country.
Our History captures seismic accomplishments in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds: From the Battle of Vimy Ridge; through the storming of the shores of JUNO Beach in Normandy, France, and the routing of the Nazis in WWII; to the recent decimation of Daesh; to current COVID-19 pandemic operations where serving Members assist, and in some cases are in fact, first responders and essential service workers on the front lines of fighting the virus.
The weight of our Regiment’s sacrifice and contribution to our freedom, liberty, and our values is immeasurable. It’s gifts, in so many respects, are eternal. And those making contributions are from all walks of Canadian life – both past and present – and they continue to be so to this very day. May this legacy inspire us all to rise to new heights in service of Canada, the international community, and the cause of peace. May their example inspire us, like the current example of Honorary Rifleman Damian Thomas – who, much like his brave Father, Sergeant Stephen Thomas, Medal of Bravery -, and true; to walk the higher path; to ensure right is done in service to humanity; to embody the very Canadian spirit, values, and high ideals that we aspire to preserve today as a nation.
Make no mistake, you are part of something incredibly special that is bigger than us all. And make no mistake, your mandate is to carry this legacy forward. And so we pay tribute to that which unites and binds us together across history to the present day in service of Canada. And that tie that binds us, my Friends – my Regimental Brethren and Sistren – is Canada’s oldest continually serving Infantry Regiment – your Regiment – The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada.
Ladies & Gentlemen, please join me – please join us, together – on this our Regiment’s 160th Birthday, in charging your glasses with our Regimental drink – Calvados – in full and proper measure, in a toast to the Regiment. Ladies & Gentlemen: To The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada! In Pace Paratus!
In Pace Paratus.
REGIMENTAL SERGEANT MAJOR’S REMARKS
CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER DONOVAN O’HALLORAN, CD
Only six years after the formation of this Regiment on the evening of May 31st, the bugle sounded in Cabbagetown, Church and fire bells in other Toronto neighbourhoods began ringing, alerting volunteers to report. At the same time, word was spreading quickly around the University of Toronto campus that members of Company 9 were needed to join the other companies and report to the Simcoe Street drill shed by 5am the next day. The 400+ Bn that assembled the morning of June 1st would then proceed to the docks at the foot of Yonge St. for 06:30, board and depart on the Steamer Ferry “City of Toronto” for the three hour trip to Port Dalhousie, to respond to the Fenian invasion. These volunteers set the standard for what has occurred every time a crisis has developed for our nation and for which our Regiment has been called upon,
The COVID-19 crisis is no different, over 125 Rfn have answered the call and volunteered to serve our communities and our country once again. That is over a third of our Battalion, these citizens have set aside their other obligations so that they can serve either with the Territorial Battle Group in Borden, the Domestic Response Company, or the Local Response Forces in Toronto. This spirit of volunteerism has always been the strength of the Canadian Army. But it is not just the spirit of the volunteer which has made our Regiment and our Army strong. It is the actions of those volunteers, not just their numbers that has distinguished their service and our Army alike. I’ll give you a few short examples.
Rifleman William Tempest, a 23 year old medical student at the University of Toronto. With the other members of his Company 9 they had advanced furthest on the Battlefield at Ridgeway. As such they were also last off the field, Tempest and Lance Corporal William Ellis a chemistry student, were still using fire and movement to cover the brigade withdrawal when Tempest was shot and killed.
Corporal Colin Barron, a 24 year old railway worker. Near Passchendaele he used incredible skill, initiative, and bravery. He single handedly, crawled around to the flank of a German position which had inflicted heavy casualties on his company, and killed or captured all three machine gun crews.
Sgt Maj Charlie Martin, who always lead by example during and after the Second World War. After release from the military he would regularly check in on the former riflemen from A Company, 1st Battalion to see how they were doing, and helping them obtain benefits and connecting them with important resources.
Then Corporal Christopher Hinds. In Afghanistan his Chinook helicopter was struck by enemy fire, causing the fuel tank to explode and engulfing the helicopter in flames. As the pilots attempted an emergency landing, he stayed calm and worked to clear two emergency exits. Once on the ground, he fearlessly stayed beside the burning aircraft, directing passengers away from the deadly rotors.
And lastly, then Corporal Steven Thomas, in Kandahar helped save the lives of his fellow soldiers and local Afghan civilians by unloading ammunition from a disabled burning vehicle during a suicide bomber attack. Despite having to cross through flames, he repeatedly returned to the vehicle to retrieve mission-essential cargo and high-explosive ammunition that posed a deadly threat to those nearby. They moved away from the scene just moments before the fire raged out of control, detonating the remaining rounds.”
These heroic actions are an inspiration to us all. Right now the most heroic in our Regiment and our society are people like Corporal Buchan who in his civilian career is among the other doctors, nurses and first responders in our Regiment who despite the hazard to themselves answer the call of duty every time they go to work, placing the interest of our communities ahead of themselves, on what is the front line of our current fight.
So, on this the 160th anniversary of our Regiment let us celebrate the heart of the Regiment and what has always made it strong, and that is our Rifleman, who have always answered the call, past, present, and future.
Stay fit, stay healthy, stay safe and remain, as always In Pace Paratus.