In the 263 years of history since the Queen’s York Rangers first emerged – with muskets, 60 rounds per man and hatchets at the ready – it should be no surprise that there is a lengthy list of accomplishments to note. Er, as an aside, the Queen's Regulations and Orders have some things to say about helping yourself to things you shouldn't have nowadays... some old ways really do belong in the past.
Rangers must be inquisitive and conditionally aggressive; that was what Robert Rogers needed, and it is good to know that a habit of acquiring things still endures. However, some things never really change. There are things officers and sergeants major should know about, things they will know about and pretend that they don’t, and things they shouldn’t know about.
Most of the long list of things the Rangers have acquired over the years are things that history and regimental diaries have recorded. There are other things perhaps best left forgotten, and some things worth remembering.
Accordingly… a very far from complete list of things that Rangers have captured:
1. A German train; sitting on the tracks at a station, steamed up and ready to go on a moment’s notice. This was on August 8th, 1918 at the Battle of Amiens and the boys from the 20th Battalion were about 10 km past where the German front line had been that morning. There was also some looting of a German general’s luggage and a stash of supplies of German officers’ rations – but a soldier is entitled to a few creature comforts at the end of a day like that.
2. Detroit; Okay, Sir Isaac Brock and Tecumseh get an assist on this one back in August 1812. However, we could make a case for previous ownership having received the keys for Fort Detroit itself from the previous French owners in 1760.
3. The Ontario Regiment’s recce-squadron headquarters. Oh, if only they had paid more attention to their communications security… Anyway, it was the 1970s and they must have been a little distracted.
4. Five French Naval Vessels: Okay, so it was two armed schooners and three Tartanes and not 74 Gun Man o’War, but still… These were captured just below Ȋle aux Noix in August 1760 en route to Montreal; apparently the last thing the French expected at dawn was a hoard of naked Rangers, each with a belt and a razor-sharp hatchet, swimming out to them in a narrow river and they got kind of panicked. Who wouldn’t?
5. 150 Barrels of Tar, some Hogsheads of Rum, and cattle. It was the winter of 1777-1778 and George Washington and his men were stuck in Valley Forge and were creating an American legend out of their sufferings and deprivations that winter. We’re glad we could help. The tar got handed over to the Royal Navy for something nautical, the record is mute about what befell the rum and beef.
6. 45 Maxim Guns, three trench mortars and five field guns. This was all during the advance down the Scarpe and the capture of Cambrai in August and September 1918; trophies were being amassed and records had to be kept. Damaged equipment didn’t count and we still have one of the Maxim Guns in our museum, shame we couldn’t keep the 150mm howitzers.
7. A Solid Silver Statue of Our Lady of Chartres. In October 1759, the Rangers wrote another chapter in the 130 years of sordid frontier warfare between the New England colonies and the French and Indians, by descending on the Settlement of St Francis. Things were done that were typical of the literal cut and thrust of this kind of warfare and the retiring raiders absconded with the treasures of the church there. Anyway, in the 250-mile withdrawal to safety the statue got buried out there somewhere.
8. The Caroline. William Lyon Mackenzie and his defeated followers were using the steamboat Caroline to supply them in their so-called ‘Republic of Canada’ on Navy Island in the Niagara River following the failure of their rebellion. Anyway, with a history of seizing vessels in our history, Rangers grabbed the Caroline and sent her – gloriously aflame – over Niagara Falls on the night of December 29th, 1837. Score another international diplomatic incident for our Regiment!
9. A Depot of Fodder and Hay. Horses need to eat, and if Washington’s men have a stores depot handy… why not fake a signature, help yourselves, get your cavalry squadron restoked? You can always burn the place down as you leave. Brunswick, New Jersey, in the Autumn of 1779.
10. A Nice Flashlight. After the Rangers captured their objectives up on Passchendaele Ridge, Sgt Stevens just kept going by himself for another couple of hundred meters and found some dead Germans. One had a very nice -looking flashlight, and Sgt Sevens helped himself to find he was actually knee deep in sleeping Germans… and tiptoed back.