Queen’s Own Rifles
Queens Own Rifles of Canada – History
click on the link to their site – The Rifleman Online – The QOR of C
On 1 January 1983 The QOR — the militia battalion based in Toronto — received an operational tasking to provide a parachute platoon to support 3 Commando of the Canadian Airborne Regiment. In September 1984 the tasking was upgraded to providing two platoons and a company headquarters. In fulfilling this tasking, The Queen’s Own have sent Riflemen on the Basic Parachutist Course, Airborne Indoctrination Course, DZ LZ EZ Controller Courses, Packer Rigger Course, Jumpmaster Course and Parachute Instructor Course. The Regiment has also sent Riflemen on exercises and postings with the Airborne Regiment and has supported Tactical Airlift Exercises of the Air Command. After the disbandment of the Canadian Airborne Regiment, an unofficial liaison was formed with 3RCR, Airborne Holding Unit. Today our official tasking is to support the Canadian Parachute Centre in Trenton Ontario.
For a more complete history of The Queen’s Own read The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada 1860-1960 One Hundred Years of Canada by Lieutenant Colonel W. T. Barnard, ED, CD, and visit the Regimental Museum at Casa Loma in Toronto. While the original hardcover copy is long out of print, you can buy a reprinted soft cover edition at the Regimental Kit Shop. Work is currently underway to produce an updated history of The Regiment , covering the period from 1960 and is targeted for publication in time for the 150th birthday of The Queen’s Own Rifles in 2010.
Many Queen’s Own soldiers served in various parts of the world, including Korea, Cyprus and Germany. On 16 October 1953, the 1st and 2nd Canadian Rifles became the 1st and 2nd Battalions, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, of the Canadian Army. The Regular Army Battalions drew many recruits from members of The Queen’s Own who had seen action in the Second World War. The militia battalion that was serving in Toronto became the 3rd Battalion. The Canadian Rifles Depot was also formed in early 1953 and was later renamed The Queen’s Own Rifles Regimental Depot.
The 2nd Battalion was reduced to nil strength on 31 August 1968; the 1st was re-badged on 26 April 1970; and the Regimental Depot was closed on 7 December 1968.
The Second World War
The Queen’s Own mobilized for the Second World War on 24 May 1940. The Regiment’s first assignment was the defence of the two strategic airfields of Botwood and Gander, Newfoundland then a posting to New Brunswick for additional training and integration into 8th Brigade. Eventually, the Regiment was posted to England, in July 1941, as a part of the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade of the 3rd Canadian Division. During the Regiment’s training in the UK, the Colonel-in-Chief, Queen Mary, visited the battalion in Aldershot.
The Queen’s Own’s first action came forming part of the assault wave of the D-Day invasion, 6 June 1944. The Dalton brothers — Majors Charles O. and H. Elliott– were the assault company commanders in the landing. The Regiment hit the beach at the small Normandy seaside resort of Bernieres-sur-Mer, shortly after 0800 hours, on 6 June 1944. They fought through Normandy, Northern France, and into Belgium and Holland, where they liberated the crucial channel ports. In capturing the tiny farming hamlet of Mooshof, Germany, Sergeant Aubrey Cosens was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
The last action of the war for The Queen’s Own Rifles came at 1200 hours on 4 May, when C Company attacked a cross roads just east of Ostersander, Germany. It was taken by 1500 hours, and the order came to discontinue fire on the enemy unless fired upon. Unfortunately, two members of The Queen’s Own lost their lives on this the last day of the war in Europe. The official cease fire came at 0800 hours on 5 May 1945 followed by VE Day on 8 May. The battalion paraded to a church at Mitte Grossefehn and Major H.E. Dalton, now the acting Commanding Officer, addressed the Regiment. During the war 463 Queen’s Own were killed in action and are buried in graves in Europe and almost 900 were wounded, many two or three times. Sixty more QOR personnel were killed serving with other units in Hong Kong, Italy and Northwest Europe.
“In Pace Paratus – In Peace Prepared”
Major Murray Edwards lays a Remembrance Day Wreath at Saanich Cenotaph