Regimental history -Chapter 4

The Crown awards regiments with honours to commemorate distinguished performance in a battle or campaign.1 Emblazoned on the guidon of a cavalry regiment or the colours in the infantry,2 they remind serving members of their unit’s proud heritage as well as honouring their predecessors who fell in those engagements. Based on the British practice, the Canadian army began the custom shortly after Confederation and continues it to this day, most recently with the distinction “Afghanistan” for those regiments that participated in that theatre in the early twenty first century. Although some were granted for the Fenian Raids of 1870, the earliest battle honour on the standard of an existing regiment are for those who participated in the Northwest Campaign of 1885, which includes the Queen’s York Rangers.

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Christmas in the Trenches

Christmas in the Trenches

The members of the 20th Battalion, CEF were amongst the earliest volunteers for the First World War, many of who enlisted in September of 1914. They spent the next five Christmas’ away from their families, either training in Valcartier, PQ (1914), in France (1915-1917) or in Germany on occupation duties (1918).

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Updated Regimental History

Updated Regimental History

Thanks to a generous grant from the Macdonald Stewart Foundation, the Regimental Council will publish a third edition of Stewart Bull’s history of the Regiment.  I am revising the text, both to bring the story into the 21st century as well as to incorporate new research.  For those of you who have the time and inclination, I thought it might be useful to post each chapter as I write it. If anyone does see any mistakes or want to make a comment, please contact me at dschimme@hotmail.com

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Captain Graeme Delamere Black DSO, MC - A Ranger in the Commandos

Captain Graeme Delamere Black DSO, MC - A Ranger in the Commandos

 

The role of the Queen’s York Rangers in the Second World War was limited to its necessary though dull duties on the home front, and the individual exploits of the many men who were trained by the Regiment and who joined other units overseas.  One of these individuals, who served with great distinction, is Captain Graeme Delamere Black.  On the seventy-fourth anniversary of his death, it is fitting that we remember him and his service.

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Rangers on the Somme - One Hundred Years Later

Rangers on the Somme - One Hundred Years Later

The British Army that started the great Somme Offensive of 1916 was enthusiastic, amateurish, and the disaster of the first day was --until the surrender of Singapore in 1942 -- the worst catastrophe in the history of the British Army.  With 57,470 casualties, including 19,240 dead, to the British 4th Army alone on July 1st, it was certainly the bloodiest day in the history of British arms.

While many people regard this -- rightly -- as a debacle, they forget that the Somme Offensive continued until early November; even then this is widely regarded as an exercise in bloody-minded futility by a set of out-dated Generals incapable of understanding modern war.  This opinion is dead wrong.  

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The Regiment's Commanding Officers - Between Rogers and Simcoe (Part Two)

The Regiment's Commanding Officers - Between Rogers and Simcoe (Part Two)

John Graves Simcoe’s deeds are well documented, and while he deserves much credit, it is doubtful that the Regiment he commanded would have been as successful as it was without the efforts of Christopher French and James Wemyss. It was Wemyss after all who commanded at Brandywine.

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The Regiment's Commanding Officers From Rogers to Simcoe (Part One)

The Regiment's Commanding Officers From Rogers to Simcoe (Part One)

Most people with a passing familiarity with the Queen’s York Rangers know that the first Commanding Officer was Robert Rogers.  The next most famous commander of the Regiment is John Graves Simcoe.  And while both men commanded the Regiment during the American Revolution, Simcoe did not succeed Rogers directly – there were two other Commanding Officers between their tenures.  These two men, Christopher French and James Wemyss, are little known officers whose history deserves to be shared

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Rangers Remembered

Rangers Remembered

Travelling in the United States about ten years ago was the first time I received a “Thank you for your service”. I was at Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay, FL and I was about to receive four free tickets for admission to the park as a retired member of a foreign military. All I had to do was show my NDI 75 Record of Service Identification Card and I was IN, saving about $150 on tickets. At that time there was not much in the way of discounts in Canada for serving military, and even less for retired reservists, and the generosity of the Anheuser-Busch company was very much appreciated, as was the free beer at their “Beer School”, unfortunately now discontinued.

 

Learn more about deals for former veterans -

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Regimental Dining

Regimental Dining

The Fine Art of Regimental Dining  - For the uninitiated, the term “mess dinner” may be confusing.  Why would anyone choose to eat in a mess?  Do people not clean up after themselves anymore?  Are military people that untidy?  The mystery lies in the word “mess”.  In military circles, a mess is a group, which dines together, a club.  The word “mess” comes to us through Old French from the Latin missus, – a course of a meal. 

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Fading Away? Not if we can help it!

Fading Away? Not if we can help it!

What happens when a Ranger leaves the Regiment? It does happen you know and it’s generally called life. Yes, there IS a life outside the Regiment and sometimes it  gets in the way of even the most loyal Ranger: finishing school and moving on, moving out of town, getting a new job, a full time job or a more demanding role, getting married, starting a family, growing old, reaching the Compulsory Retirement Age …. Everyone eventually gets caught up in “life”.

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Move Fast .... Fight Dirty

Move Fast .... Fight Dirty

We now know why the QYR are “Warriors of the Crescent Moon”.  As I recall, it has something to do with owls riding fiery steeds while shooting arrows during the Battle of Brandywine; but let’s move on.  What is this nonsense about moving fast and fighting dirty?  Another good question!

Remember the last blog?  We had a tie (no, not that kind of tie!) in our “Quotes for Tees” contest so the CO declared two winners.  Well the other winner was Julian Forbes with his submission of the “move fast” motto.  You can certainly see why the CO could not decide; this motto describes us today and reminds us of our past.  This takes a bit of explanation.

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Warriors of the Crescent Moon

Warriors of the Crescent Moon

Like all military units, the Queen’s York Rangers (1st Americans) proudly continues a heritage from days gone by.  Traditionally, Rangers were intrepid souls who were wanderers and protectors of certain territories, of “ranges”.  They lived off the land, were loyal to their lords and could appear out of nowhere be it forest, mountain or meadow.  Such was the reputation of rangers already in the early 18th century when Major Robert Rogers, our first CO, formed his Rangers in the 1750s and then later led them against those unruly colonists who opted to leave His Majesty and form their own republic.  Just as all Rangers before and since, they have had a symbolic attachment to the crescent moon; we are all “warriors of the crescent moon”. But why?  Good question!

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