Saturday, August 08, 2009

History of The Royal Canadian Regiment

Military history

Establishing A Legacy: The history of The Royal Canadian Regiment 1883-1953, by Bernd Horn.

This regimental unit history is particularly well done, likely because it was written by a distinguished army officer. Colonel Bern Horn clearly did Trojan work to distil a wealth of archives and reminiscences into a highly readable book.

He tells how The Royal Canadian Regiment started out as an infantry school corps to train the Militia. Soon it became a fully-formed army unit, and is now Canada's oldest permanent force infantry regiment. First, its soldiers took part in helping to suppress the Riel Rebellion, then provided the Yukon Field Force. A grimmer period followed, when the RCR went to South Africa with the Canadian contingent in the Anglo-Boer War, where "The Royals" acquitted themselves during the crucial battle of Paadeberg.

But it was the regiment's service in two world wars that tested the bravery and combat expertise of Canadian volunteer soldiers. The book gives a splendid account of RCR service in the 1914-1918 war, but provides most coverage of the RCR fighting in Italy during World War Two. There are harrowing descriptions of combat in both major conflicts, and the now almost forgotten Korean War.

Numerous atmospheric photographs are included, showing regimental activities in various campaigns across the years. One photo is especially poignant, showing two senior officers together just a couple of days before both were killed in action. Good maps are also included, which help the reader follow the battles described.

Sidney Allinson.

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