Thanks to the tremendous generosity of several members of the Regimental family, the museum has recently been able to acquire the medals of Lieutenant Colonel Stephen McLeod Lett, DSO who commanded the 1st Battalion, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada in Europe from 25 August 1944 to 30 November 1945.
Lett was invested in the Distinguished Service Order at Buckingham Palace 4 July 1945 in recognition of a personal reconnaissance on 20 September 1944 while planning for an attack on Fort de la Creche.
He was awarded the Bronze Lion (Holland) 22 December 1945 for his leadership and initiative leading The Queen’s Own Rifles and at times the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade. He was also Mentioned in Despatches, 9 March 1946.
We’ll be creating a more detailed profile on Lt Col Lett in the coming weeks but its worth noting that he had served in The Queen’s Own Rifles prior to the Second World War. He also came from a somewhat military family as his father had served in both the Boer War and the First World War with the Canadian Field Artillery, and his grandfather had served in the artillery with the Volunteer Militia and was on Active Service at Port Colborne, Welland and Fort Erie during the Fenian Invasion of 1866.
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.
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.
A French “invasion” 5 franc note
A new testament
A bundle of pay books
A separate pay book
A letter written to his girlfriend (and eventual wife) just before D-Day
Here is a visual of what a Rifleman would have looked like on D-Day.
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.
Holdall (towel, soap, razor, etc.)
Knife, fork and spoon
24 hour rations
4 x 2
Pair of socks
Boots (anklets if required)
Boot brush, dubbin & polish
3 pairs socks
Greatcoat packed on outside of pack, held on by kicking straps
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:
To see the War Diaries for Pre and Invasion visit the link below
As we approach another holiday season, we’re sharing some of the Regimental Christmas Cards that will be on a temporary exhibit at the Museum starting 1 December. This first series is primarily from the First World War with one from 1941. The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada perpetuate the 83rd, 166th and 198th Battalions represented below.
“In Holland on the night of 25th-26th February 1945, the 1st Battalion, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada launched an attack on the hamlet of Mooshof, to capture ground which was considered essential for the development of future operations.
Sergeant Cosens’ platoon, with two tanks in support, attacked enemy strong points in three farm buildings, but were twice beaten back by fanatical enemy resistance and then fiercely counter-attacked, during which time the platoon suffered heavy casualties and the platoon commander was killed…”
Sergeant Aubrey Cosens’ actions sixty-seven years ago were recognized with the posthumous award of the Commonwealth’s highest award for valour, the Victoria Cross. Read more about Cosens and the full citation of this Victoria Cross here.