The Queen’s Own mobilized for the Second World War on 24 May 1940. The Regiment’s first assignment was the defence of the two strategic airfields of Botwood and Gander, Newfoundland then a posting to New Brunswick for additional training and integration into 8th Brigade.
Eventually, the Regiment was posted to England, in July 1941, as a part of the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade of the 3rd Canadian Division. During the Regiment’s training in the UK, the Colonel-in-Chief, Queen Mary (see above), visited the battalion in Aldershot.
See also what Rifleman wore on D-Day.
The Queen’s Own’s first action came forming part of the assault wave of the D-Day invasion, 6 June 1944. The Dalton brothers — Majors Charles O. and H. Elliott– were the assault company commanders in the landing. The Regiment hit the beach at the small Normandy seaside resort of Bernieres-sur-Mer, shortly after 0800 hours, on 6 June 1944.
See also the War Diary of the 1st Battalion, Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada from 30 May to 29 June 1944 transcribed by Master Corporal Graham Humphrey covering the D-Day landing and subsequent actions and of list of those killed in action on 6 June 1944.
They fought through Normandy, Northern France, and into Belgium and Holland, where they liberated the crucial channel ports. In capturing the tiny farming hamlet of Mooshof, Germany, Sergeant Aubrey Cosens was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
See also Rifleman J. William (Bill) Ross’ Memoirs for one man’s story of the war.
The last action of the war for The Queen’s Own Rifles came at 1200 hours on 4 May, when C Company attacked a cross roads just east of Ostersander, Germany. It was taken by 1500 hours, and the order came to discontinue fire on the enemy unless fired upon. Unfortunately, two members of The Queen’s Own lost their lives on this the last day of the war in Europe. The official cease fire came at 0800 hours on 5 May 1945 followed by VE Day on 8 May. The battalion paraded to a church at Mitte Grossefehn and Major H.E. Dalton, now the acting Commanding Officer, addressed the Regiment. During the war 463 Queen’s Own were killed in action and are buried in graves in Europe and almost 900 were wounded, many two or three times. Sixty more QOR personnel were killed serving with other units in Hong Kong, Italy and Northwest Europe.
Dear Sweetheart: Letters home from a soldier…
It was the Second World War. A million young Canadians were marching off to risk their lives. One of them, David K. Hazzard, was separated from his beloved wife Audrey, but soon found a way to fight the loneliness – with his pen.
He wrote hundreds of letters, beginning each the same way – ‘Dear Sweetheart.’ They are a riveting account of what he went through.
How did he cope without Audrey and his two young daughters? How did they cope without him? In the weeks ahead, the series Dear Sweetheart will publish new letters daily. In the end, their story is our story.
We tell it as a homage to those who died, the 180,000 veterans who survive, their children, their grandchildren – and Canada’s fighting families today.