The Canadian Scottish
Princess Mary's. A Brief History
I found out about this
regiment by watching a documentary on CBC where relations were trying to
trace their missing relatives around the Vimy Ridge area in France. They
got permission to dig from the local farmer but during this dig it was
closed down by some French official. They didn't mention his name but
apparently he was quite rude. That rather infuriated me which is why I
went immediately to the Internet to procure some information which I now
The official unit
history book is called “Ready for the Fray” By Reginald R. Roy.
The large and powerful pro-Scottish citizenry of Victoria appealed for
the formation of a Highland regiment in Victoria to augment the 88th
Regiment (Fusiliers), which had been formed in September 3rd, 1912. Thus
on August 15th, 1913 the 50th Regiment (Gordon Highlanders) was
authorized. Victorians of Scottish heritage immediately purchased
equipment and uniforms to fully outfit 500 men.
Currie, an experienced officer with a strong Scottish
background, was appointed commanding officer upon relinquishing command
of the 5th Garrison Artillery, Victoria. Upon the declaration of war,
Currie was promoted and placed in command of the 2nd Canadian Infantry
Brigade. A superb tactician, his “Mobile Tactics of War”, was put into
effect at Vimy in 1917. These broke the stalemated slaughter of trench
warfare and were later perfected in the Second World War. In 1917 he was
dubbed Knight Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie, KCMG.
The 88th Regiment Victoria Fusiliers and the 50th Regiment were placed
on active service on August 10th, 1914 for local protective duty. These
Regiments contributed to the 7th and 16th Battalions, Canadian
Expeditionary Force, on their respective formation in September 1914.
Later they recruited for the 48th, 67th, 88th 103rd, and 143rd
Battalions, Canadian Expeditionary Force. The 16th Battalion (The
Canadian Scottish) was formed from four companies of unrelated highland
regiments. On the sea voyage to England the battalion was still dressed
in four different styles, tartans and badges.
The First Canadian Contingent sailed for England in October 3rd, 1914.
The 16th Battalion was part of the 3rd Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian
Division. Its motto, ”Deas Gu Cath”, was adopted on the third day of the
voyage. It was on December 16, 1914 on Salisbury Plain, that the
battalion was subtitled ‘(The Canadian Scottish)’. It sailed for France
in February 12, 1915, and disembarked at St. Nazaire three days later.
Between February 17th and March 2nd each Canadian brigade was attached
to a British division in front of Armentieres for indoctrination in
trench warfare. The Canadian division then relieved the 2nd Border
Regiment south of Fleurbais. In mid-April the Canadians relieved a
French Division in front of Ypres.
French defensive policy, in the event of an enemy attack, was for the
front line troops to fall back and let the artillery deal with the
attackers. British policy, reflected in Canadian orders, was to hold the
trenches at all costs. Thus the Canadian’s first task was to develop
forward defences. At 1600 hours on April 22nd French Colonial troops on
their left came under heavy bombardment, followed an hour later by the
first gas attack in the history of warfare. The line broke, exposing the
Canadian flank and opening the way to Ypres. That night the 3rd Brigade
partly restored the situation by counter-attacking with the 10th and
16th Battalions; though much further fighting, including a second attack
with gas, lay ahead. To commemorate the first night’s counter-attack on
Kitcheners Wood, the Reserve units perpetuating the 10th and 16th
Battalions (in the case of the 10th, The Calgary Highlanders) wear on
their shoulders an emblem of and acorn and an oak leaf.
The war cost the 16th Battalion 5,491 casualties of which 1,412 were
fatal. Honours and awards included four Victoria Crosses awarded to:
Private (Piper) J. Richardson, October 8, 1916; Private W.J. Milne,
April 9, 1917; Lance Corporal W.H. Metcalf, MM, and Lieutenant-Colonel
C.W. Peck, DSO, both on September 2, 1918. Other awards included 9
DSO’s, 40 MC’s, 30 DCM’s and 204 MM’s plus French, Belgian, Russian,
Serbian, Montenegrin and Italian medals (Canadian Scottish specialists
were posted to assist Allied armies).
The 48th Battalion served in the field as the 3rd Canadian Pioneer
Battalion (48th Canadians), with the 3rd Canadian Division from March 9,
1916 to April 17, 1917, when its personnel were transferred to combatant
battalions. The 67th Battalion served in the field as the 67th Canadian
Pioneer Battalion with the 4th Canadian Division, from August 14, 1916
to April 28, 1917 when its personnel were also transferred to combatant
battalions. The 88th, 103rd and 143rd Battalions provided reinforcements
for the Canadian Corps in the field.
The 16th Battalion returned on the Empress of Britain on May 4, 1919 to
find that, like most Canadian Expeditionary Force battalions, it had no
regimental home. On May 7th in Winnipeg, it was demobilized. On March
15, 1920 General Order No. 30 reorganized Victoria’s 88th and 50th
regiments into The Canadian Scottish Regiment, NPAM. On March 15, 1927
the Regiment became allied to The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment). On
April 24, 1930, Her Royal Highness Princess Mary became the
On August 1, 1930 the 2nd Battalion was created, with headquarters in
Nanaimo, British Columbia. On June 1, 1931 HRH Princess Mary authorized
the wearing of the Hunting Stuart and with it uniformity of dress with
The Royal Scots. The Distinctive Oak Leaf and Acorn Canadian Scottish
shoulder titles were specially authorized on September 15, 1934 for the
1st Battalion as an honourary distinction commemorating the Ypres Battle
of Kitcheners Wood (St. Julien). On October 12, 1938 a special
Regimental Memorial (Vimy Cross) was consecrated in Pioneer Square,
Victoria. On this occasion the battalion wore the Kitcheners Wood emblem
for the first time.
Details of the regiment were placed on active service on September 1,
1939 for local protective duty, and on May 24, 1940 it was mobilized as
the 1st Battalion, The Canadian Scottish Regiment CASF. Both NPAM
battalions of the regiment were well represented in the formation of
this unit, although more than half of its first 750 members were
recruits. Training began at Macaulay Point Barracks on Vancouver Island
and continued at Debert, Nova Scotia. In June 1940, Wallace, the
regimental St. Bernard mascot ‘enlisted’. (Today we have Wallace VI. who
lives in Victoria)
On August 25, 1941, after training in Debert, the 1st Battalion boarded
ship for England, docking at Glasgow at the beginning of September. HRH
Princess Mary inspected it on September 23, 1941. Friendships were
struck up with The Royal Scots, who adopted and kept Wallace in
Edinburgh Castle for the duration of the war. Two years and nine months
of training in southern England would ensue before it would be able to
take part in the liberation of North West Europe.
The Canadian Scottish boarded assault ships in June 3, 1944. One company
landed in Normandy on June 6th (D-Day) as a component of the 7th
Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. The main body, under
Lieutenant-Colonel F.N. Cabledu, followed in 7th Brigade reserve and
passed through the other two battalions. With the Scottish in the lead,
the assaulting brigade advance a total of six miles farther inland than
any other assaulting brigade of the British Second Army. Its first
twelve hours of action had cost the battalion 87 casualties against an
estimated 200 inflicted on the enemy.
One of the battalion’s last actions of war was the clearing of the Dutch
village of Wagenborgen. It first attacked on April 21, 1945 with only
one company, but that proved insufficient. Two days later it
successfully attacked with three companies and beat off repeat
counter-attacks. Canadian Scottish casualties at Wagenborgen were 23
killed and 41 wounded. Estimated enemy casualties, as on D-Day, were
200. In 1958 the regiment received 17 Second World War battle honours,
but Wagenborgen was not among them. Thirty years later, a former
commanding officer succeeded in having the error rectified.
Many battle honours were earned as the regiment passed through France,
Belgium, and Holland and over the Rhine into Germany. Lieutenant-Colonel
D.G. Crofton accepted for formal surrender of all German Forces in
Calais after bloody battle on October 1944. On November 2, he accepted
the pistol of the commanding officer of the German forces of Cadzand,
taking over 800 prisoners. Lieutenant-Colonel Crofton was wounded in
Niel, Germany on February 8, 1945. His successor, Major LS Henderson
(later Colonel) was preparing to assault Aurich in May 5, 1945 when news
of Germany’s surrender was received. Returning to Canada, the active
role of the 1st Battalion ended on January 15, 1946, when it reverted to
reserve status. On April 1st the 3rd Battalion, less its numerical
prefix, became a one-battalion regiment of the Canadian Army (Regular
Force). Total battle casualties for the Scottish were 349 killed or died
of wounds, 952 wounded and 85 taken prisoner. Honours and awards
included 4 DSOs, 6 MCs, 5 DCMs and 13 MMs.
The regiment mobilized the 2nd Battalion, The Canadian Scottish
Regiment, CASF, on January 1, 1941. This unit served in Canada until
disbanded on October 15, 1943. The 4th Battalion, formed in June1, 1945
for service in the Canadian Army Occupation Force, was disbanded on
April 29, 1946. The 2nd and 3rd (Reserve) Battalions served in the
Reserve Army. In May 1951, the Canadian Army raised a new brigade group
of the Active Force for service in West Germany under the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO). The 1st Canadian Highland Battalion, D
Company, represented the infantry units until October 1953, when the
entire unit became a Battalion of The Black Watch (Royal Highland
Regiment) of Canada.
The 1950 reunion of the Canadian Scottish veterans was perhaps the
largest ever held in Victoria. Some 500 veterans assembled in Pioneer
Square, where a granite reproduction of the original wooden Vimy Cross,
now encased in the Bay Street Armoury, was dedicated to the fallen of
both wars. The post-war years have been highlighted by the official
visits of HRH Princess Mary on October 15, 1955 and June 16, 1962, when
she presented new colours, which carry the battle honours from both
world wars. The sadness of her death on March 28, 1965 was relieved by
the appointment of HRH Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Mrs. Angus
Ogilvie, as the new Colonel-In-Chief on June 11, 1977.
Freedom of the City of Victoria was presented to the Regiment on June 6,
1964, and the freedom of the City of Nanaimo on October 5, 1974. HRH
Princess Alexandra visited The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess
Mary’s) on May 2, 1980, and on this occasion officially opened the
Regimental Museum. On Saturday, September 23, 1989, during her second
visit, HRH Princess Alexandra presented the new Queen’s Colour to the
Today the unit remains spread across Vancouver Island with the Battalion
Headquarters, A Company, Administration Company, and the Pipes and Drums
in Victoria at Bay St. Armoury. B Company consists of a platoon in
Nanaimo and one in Courtenay at Seal Bay.
The Canadian Scottish Regiment is the largest unit in British Columbia
and is one of few units in Canada authorized to have two companies as
“mission elements” under the Total Army Establishment (TAE).
Battle of Vimy Ridge (Canada In WW1 Documentary)
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