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History

 

 Regimental History

The North-West Rebellion

The Boer War

World War I

Inter-War Years

World War II

Korea

NATO Duty

At Present

   

 Regimental History

 The First Regiment of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery is the senior unit of the regular component of the Canadian Forces. The Regiment traces its origin to 20 October 1871, when the first units of Canada's Permanent Force, A and B Batteries of Garrison Artillery, were authorized by Militia General Order No. 24. Stationed at Kingston and Quebec respectively, the batteries also functioned as Schools of Gunnery for Militia field batteries.

    The Commanding Officers were LCol G.A. French (A Battery) and LCol T.B. Strange (B Battery) both of the Royal Artillery. LCol Strange devoted ten years to the fledgling Canadian Artillery and diligently worked to establish it as an effective nucleus for the future RCA. LCol Thomas Bland Strange, therefore, has the distinction of being considered the "Father of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery". In the autumn of 1873, LCol (later MGen Sir) G.A. French was appointed by the Government of Canada as the first Commissioner of the Northwest Mounted Police. For the new police force, 15 NCO's and men from B Battery and more volunteers from A Battery joined to fill key appointments. With them on their initial journey west went two 9 pounder RML's to augment their arsenal.

    On August 10, 1883, the formation of C Battery was authorized. The artillery batteries were brigaded as the Regiment of Canadian Artillery. It was not until 1887, however, that C Battery was actually formed at Esquimault.

            

  The North-West Rebellion

  In 1885, A and B Batteries under command of LCol C.E. Motizambert, with four guns and a combined strength of 219 officers and men of the permanent force artillery joined MGen Sir Frederick Middleton's column while B Battery, commanded by Maj G.J. Short went with LCol William D. (later Gen Sir William) Otter's column. A Battery, with its two 9 pounders was the first of the Regiment to see action at Fish Creek where a skirmish with a heavily defended Metis position resulted in great praise being given to gunners. B Battery having traded their own 9 pounders for two lighter but decrepit 7 pounders from the NWMP met the enemy, Chief Poundmaker and his 200 man force at Cut Knife Creek. Once again the gunners fought with distinction, employing in support a Gatling gun to stave off repeated rushes by the enemy. The North West Rebellion was quelled with A Battery participating in the final battle at Batoche. The Northwest Campaign cost A and B Batteries together in casualties, four killed and 19 wounded. Gunners’ Corpre and Beudry of A Battery were recommended for the Victoria Cross for their acts of bravery in rescuing a wounded comrade at the battle of Batoche.

         

               The Boer War

  In 1899, the Canadian Government decided to send a contingent of the Army to fight for the Empire in South Africa. C, D, and E Batteries represented the Canadian Artillery. C Battery, equipped with six smooth bore 12 pounders, was selected to provide the artillery support for the Relief of Mafeking. This involved making a 2600 mile approach march by a round about route to link up with Colonel Herbert Plumer's advancing force. C Battery displayed its professionalism by first conducting a surprisingly quick and efficient forced march to Cape Town throughout the night and by noon the next day, having all its guns and equipment boarded on ship ready to sail for action. After a 1500 mile voyage through the Indian Ocean, the battery now had to travel another 650 miles by train and foot to get to the battle area. This incredible journey illustrated the pluck and fortitude of the Canadian Gunners in the eyes of the much-relieved British Forces awaiting their support. In May of 1900, C Battery completed its exhausting march with what the British considered "incredible rapidity". 

             

               World War I

 

Testing a trench bridge with a 13-pdr Gun, June 1916

  During the first year of WWI, the Canadian Artillery was mobilizing. The Royal Canadian Horse Artillery Brigade at Kingston was sent to administer and act as instructors in artillery at Camp Valcartier. When the War Office accepted a Canadian offer to provide "two regular horse artillery batteries", LCol H.A. Panet was appointed to form and command the First Royal Canadian Horse Artillery Brigade (A and B Batteries) which would support the Canadian Cavalry Brigade. C Battery remained in the United Kingdom as a training cadre while the 13 pounder guns of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery Brigade earned their battle honours in many noteworthy operations in World War I including the Somme, Amiens, Arras, Cambrai and Hill 70 to name but a few. 

          

               Inter-War Years

C Battery fording the Elbow River, Sarcee Camp, 1933

    Between the First and Second World Wars the batteries were employed in training of the Militia artillery units. The RCHA Brigade represented the only three permanent artillery batteries and had its headquarters with A and B Batteries at Kingston and C Battery at the Fort Osborne Barracks in Winnipeg.

             

World War II

A 25 Pdr Detachment 1 RCHA, 1st CDN Div engaging a German position on the hill near Ortella, Italy Sept. 1943

   In December 1939, the First Field Brigade RCHA (later the First Field Regiment RCHA) moved its headquarters from Kingston to England as part of the First Canadian Division. 1 RCHA, now equipped with the 18/25 pounder howitzer and under the command of LCol J.H. Roberts, was on, 11 June 1940, steaming its way to Brest as part of the Canadian Division's attempt to maintain an allied foothold in France. By the time of 1 RCHA's arrival on French soil the French Army had effectively capitulated leaving the two British Divisions plus the newly arrived Canadians in an untenable situation. Faced with a withdrawal by sea, it was due to LCol Roberts’s insistence and determination as well as l RCHA that allowed the Regiment to save its guns during the evacuation at port of Brest. The Regiment again entered action in 1943 in the Sicilian Campaign with 25 pounder MK1 guns. l RCHA experienced some of the Western Front's heaviest action in Italy, particularly near Ortona when it lost 6 FOO's in one week. In early 1945, l RCHA with the First Canadian Division was transferred to North Western Europe until the war’s end. The Regiment fired its last round in action on 3 May 1945. In June 1946, A, B, and C Batteries were located at Petawawa as the 2/1 Field Regiment, RCHA but moved later the same year to Shilo which was chosen as the permanent site of all field branch Active Force Artillery. The 71 Field Regiment RCHA, as it was designated in 1949, was upon its own request, granted its wartime designation namely 1st Field Regiment RCHA in 1950. B Battery, RCHA, was honoured in 1949 by being given an airborne role. Later this became the nucleus for the formation of Z Battery (Para). Copyright © 1997 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery

       

          Korea

B Troop, A Bty fired the first rounds in Korea, 1952

  In the spring of 1952, 2 RCHA was replaced in Korea by 1 RCHA under the command of LCol E.M.D. McNaughton (who later changed his name to Leslie). The unit distinguished itself particularly during the enemy assault on the 1 RCR position of Hill 355 in October 1952. During the conflict the Regiment fired 247,182 rounds.

25pdr Gun Pit in Korea,1952

       

               NATO Duty

C Battery fires the first 105mm round in Germany, Dec. 1957

  In November 1957, the Regiment moved to Germany, to take up its initial cycle of tours with NATO at Fort Prince of Wales near Hemer, Westphalia. In 1960 the unit moved to Camp Gagetown, New Brunswick where it remained until 1966. At this time 1 RCHA consisted of a Regimental Headquarters and five batteries. The locating battery (U) and an Air Op Troop and A, B, and C Battery, equipped with the 105 mm towed howitzer and H Battery equipped with 155mm towed Howitzers. In 1967, 1 RCHA once again deployed to Germany as a three-battery regiment and became the permanent "Gunnery" unit supporting 4 CMBG until the Brigade’s disbandment. in 1993. 1 RCHA maintained the two-troop system until the downsizing of the Brigade announced in 1969 and its move to Lahr in 1970. In order to maintain 3 fire units, the number of guns was scaled back to six per battery and the single fire unit concept was adopted. U Battery did not deploy with the unit to Germany in 1967 however later; a Counter Mortar Radar section was organized (just in time to be disbanded in 1970)

    In July 1968 1 RCHA received new guns changing from the 105 C1 and 155mm towed to the M109 SP howitzers. In 1970, 1 RCHA together with 4 CMBG moved from BAOR in Northern Germany to CENTAG in South West Germany. The Regiment's new home was a former French airfield at Lahr. In 1978, an Air Defence Troop of 15 Blowpipe Detachments was added to the Regiment's establishment as well as the equipment and skeleton staff of a fourth battery, designated Z Battery.

    On 10 August 1985, soldiers of 3 RCHA, Shilo Manitoba arrived in Lahr. This increased Z Battery to full strength on a permanent basis. The event made 1 RCHA the largest manned medium gun regiment in NATO. On 30 June 1988, the Air Defence Troop was transferred to 4 Air Defence Regiment. Z Battery remained an integral unit of the Regiment until it was reduced to zero-strength in 1991. The Regiment hosted a ceremony (on 21 October 1985) that witnessed the changing of its colours from the M109A3 to the M109A2. The tradition of calling the guns the Colours of Canadian Artillery stems from the glorious history of Royal Artillery. In 1832 the word Ubique (everywhere) replaced all battle honours of the Artillery when they had become too numerous to list on a standard. King William IV added the motto Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt (whether right and glory lead) and 94 years later, in 1926, King George V bestowed this same honour on the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery.

    With Canada's reduction in Europe and her eventual withdrawal, 1 RCHA was brought back to Shilo, Manitoba and replaced 3 RCHA on its reduction to zero-strength on 30 July 1992.

Road Move In Munster Germany, Nov. 1983

         


               At Present

    1 RCHA has been very busy since its return to Shilo. The Regiment deployed to Cyprus under the command of LCol M.D. Capstick in the infantry role for OPERATION SNOWGOOSE 58 from August 1992 to February 1993.

    Canada's increased commitment to UN Peacekeeping operations has influenced the Regiment's training schedule significantly. Basic Soldiering skills such as small arms training and physical fitness are constantly stressed, as well as mastering tactical gunnery skills suitable for a mid-intensity mechanized war. A mortar troop made up of soldiers from the Regiment deployed to the former Yugoslavia from April to October 1994.

    In the summer of 1994 the assistance of the Regiment was requested to aid civil authority. A Battery deployed to Penticton B.C. to fight fires while C Battery was requested in Tisdale Saskatchewan to augment search parties for a missing child.

    In 1997, the 1st Regiment continued its support to UN missions. During OPERATION PALLADIUM in Bosnia, 1 RCHA provided a Battery Commander's party, two forward observer's "FOO" party/ forward air controller "FAC" and liaison officers (LOs). This was the first mission in support of 2 PPCLI Battle Group. In addition, during rotation 1, the 1st Regiment augmented the Lord Strathcona's Horse Battle Group with a mortar platoon, a Battery Commander's party and 2 FOO/FAC party and LOs.

    Also at the time, in the spring of 97, 1 RCHA deployed on OPERATION ASSISTANCE to help Manitobans fight the "Flood of The Century". For this occasion, the remaining personnel of 1 RCHA amalgamated to form Flood Battery. The performance of the Regiment during this natural disaster was noteworthy.

    1 RCHA was called to the rescue again in January 1998 on OPERATION RECUPERATION as a devastating ice storm raged in the province of Quebec depriving more than a million people of electricity. Again, the 1st Regiment's performance was excellent.

A Battery in Bosnia, 2000

The year 2000 will be remembered as the year 1 RCHA sent each Battery, individually to Bosnia on Op PALLADIUM. A Battery's deployment was perhaps the most historically significant for the Royal Regiment, as it was the first gun battery to deploy to a theatre of operations since the Korean War. One noteworthy fact about this deployment was that in three short months, the Battery left their familiar 155 mm howitzers and completed all the training and exercises required for them to become capable of standing in on the 105mm LG1 howitzer. The Battery deployed with these guns to the Bosnian town of Tomislavgrad, from April to September (Roto 6+), where they took on the dual role of peace-support patrolling and training as an artillery sub-component of the NATO Offensive Support Group.

C Battery patrolling in Bosnia, 2000

A Battery was not alone in demonstrating their versatility during the year 2000. C Battery also re-rolled, from a light gun battery to an infantry rifle company. Since the Battery’s normal affiliation was with 3 PPCLI, it only made sense for them to augment the Battalion as a third company for the 3 PPCLI Battle Group that formed the basis of Op PALLADIUM Roto 6. As a whole, C Battery’s deployment provided the Royal Regiment with a wealth of knowledge on aspects of infantry operations. It also proved to skeptics that the Canadian Artillery is capable of taking on any tasking.

25C awaiting order to fire in Bosnia, Nov. 2000

B Battery deployed to Bosnia as part of Roto 7 in September of 2000, and replaced A Battery at the end of its tour. Battery continued to provide peace and stability in the town of Glamoc.

    The Regiment is currently under the command of LCol I.A. Miezitis and continues to fulfill its role of providing indirect fire support to the 1st Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group. The Regiment is pursuing a training regime that permits it to be ready for any task.

 

     

Updated:  07/09/03 

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