In 1914, the officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers of The Royal Canadian Regiment (The RCR) formed a large share of the approximately 3000 professional soldiers in Canada's army. While the single infantry regiment of Regulars might have expected to find itself despatched to Europe at the outbreak of the First World War, this was not to be. Instead, the Department of Militia sent its one infantry battalion to garrison Bermuda for a year while Sir Sam Hughes executed his plan to create a new Expeditionary Force separate from the Regular Army and the Canadian Militia. The RCR would later join the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France as a unit of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, and the question of its deployment to Bermuda would be raised in the Canadian Parliament.
First World War medals awarded to 477974 Sergeant George Webb of The Royal Canadian Regiment.
The RCR would serve in France and Flanders from November 1915 until the end of the War and approximately 4800 Canadians would wear the eight-pointed star and fight as Royal Canadians. From Mount Sorrel in 1916, through Vimy in 1917 and ending with the Pursuit to Mons in 1918, The Royal Canadian Regiment would be awarded 16 Battle Honours for its achievemnts and sacrifices on the fields of battle in France and Flanders.One member of the Regiment, Lieutenant Milton Fowler Gregg, would receive the Victoria Cross, and many other would receive other awards for acts of courage and meritorious service.
The pages linked from this introduction will attempt to present elements of the story of The RCR in the Great War through a new presentation of existing documents combining the unit's War Diary and existing information on the officers and the NCOs and soldiers of the Regiment.
While these pages will focus on the overseas battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment during the Great War, that story is only one part of the Regiment's complete history during 1914-1919. Less is known and much research still needs to be done to examine the roles and work of the rest of the Regiment during those years, both by members of the Regiment employed overseas but outside the battalion and the very important work in the Depots and Company Stations in Canada.
Lastly, it should be noted that, since the amalgamation of The RCR with The Oxford Rifles and The Canadian Fusiliers in 1954, the story of The RCR in the First World War also encompasses the stories of those two proud regiments of the Canadian Militia. The last act of the amalgamation took place in 1958, when the Regimental Senate of The RCR confirmed that the Regiment would adopt all perpetuations carried by The Oxford Rifles and The Canadian Fusiliers. This decision formally recognized the perpetuation by The RCR of five infantry battalions (the 1st, 33rd, 71st, 142nd and 168th Battalion) and one machine gun battalion (the 2nd Bn, C,M.G.C.) of the CEF; and of these, two passed down battle honours of their own into the history of The RCR.