Researching The Royal Canadian Regiment

The March of the Lone Baptist

During the early years of the reign of His Majesty King George V, the official badge (in the eyes of the Militia Department) for The RCR was that ensigned with the King's cypher. The Regiment, however, continued to wear "VRI" badges and to pursue official permission to wear the cypher of Queen Victoria, which was granted in 1919.

Apr 27, 1913

The Royal Canadian Regiment, 1883-1933, R.C. Fetherstonhaugh, 1936

As the Headquarters' file of Regimental Orders for 1913 and most of 1914 was destroyed in the Halifax explosion in 1917, and as a prolonged search has failed to discover copies in Ottawa, or at any of the Regimental Depots, the exact sequence of events in this period is now difficult to ascertain, but, thanks to private diaries and similar memoranda, a record of some incidents has been preserved. There was, for example, the March of the Lone Baptist, an event unparalleled in the Regiment's, or perhaps any other regiment's, history.

From the time when the unit assumed garrison duties in Halifax in 1905, it had been the custom of the band to march in the church parades of the Church of England, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic detachments in rotation, leaving the smaller denominations to proceed without musical accompaniment. On the complaint of certain Ministers in Halifax against what they considered unfair discrimination, the Honourable the Minister of Militia and Defence ruled that all denominations must be treated alike and that the band must accompany each detachment in turn. In accordance with these orders, Sunday, April 27, was allotted to the Baptist denomination. There were three Baptists serving in the Regiment in Halifax at the time, two of whom were on detached duty, but the orders were explicit. Accordingly, the lone Baptist was paraded, Lieut. H.T. Cock assumed command of the parade, the Regimental Sergeant-Major took his appointed post, two police joined the detachment as usual, the band of approximately 40 pieces struck up an appropriate air, and off the Baptist was marched to his place of worship more than a mile away. Flattering as the escort must have been, the service would have seemed to have displeased him. No exact explanation is now available, but it is on record that he paraded before the Commanding Officer and changed his religion on the following day, an example which the adherents of other minor denominations were prompt to follow.

elipsis graphic

From the regimental journal The Connecting File, Volume VIII, No. 1, March 1929, the year of this event is given as 1912 and the soldier's name as Private Gale:

"DO YOU REMEMBER  . . . In 1912 when the band was detailed to play each religion in its turn to church on Sundays?  It was the Baptists' turn for the band and only two men paraded on the square.  One man accepted the offer to be dismissed (Gus Berry) but the other (Pte. Gale) insisted on going to church.  the band played him to church and played him back to barracks, much to the amusement of the remainder of the Regiment, who were waiting under the archway to welcome him back.

Pro Patria

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