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The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa

A Brief Regimental History

"The regiment traces its history back to 1861 when a number of Militia companies were organised for the defence of Canada during the American Civil War. One of these companies was mobilised during the first Fenian Raid (Irish nationalists) into Canada from the United States in 1866. Later that year, nine independent infantry companies were united to form the 43rd Carleton Battalion of Infantry. In 1867, the 43rd provided the guard of honour for the opening of the first parliament of the newly formed Dominion of Canada. The 43rd Carleton Battalion of Infantry was disbanded in December 1875.

On 5 August 1881, the formation of the 43rd Battalion of Infantry (not to be confused with the 43rdCarleton Battalion of Infantry) was authorised. Almost immediately the unit was converted to rifles and redesignated the 43rd Ottawa and Carleton Battalion of Rifles. Permission was granted in January 1882 for the regiment to adopt the motto of the City of Ottawa -ADVANCE. This remains the motto of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa and is worn on their badges.

During Canada's North-West Rebellion of 1884-85, volunteers from the 43rd served with other units deployed for the campaign.

During the South African War (1899-1902), the regiment provided the officer commanding and the majority of men for D Company, The Royal Canadian Regiment. One soldier from this group, Private R. R. Thompson, was awarded a distinctive honour from Queen Victoria in the form of the Queen's Scarf, of which only 12 were presented.

In 1901, the regiment was inspected by the Duke of Cornwall (later King George V). He was so impressed that he intimated he would be pleased to become its Colonel-in-Chief. This was soon approved and, on 1 March 1902, the regiment bore the new name 43rd Regiment, Duke of Cornwall's Own Rifles.

The 43rd contributed soldiers to the 2nd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force which was formed in September 1914 just after the outbreak of the First World War. The 43rd later recruited for the 38th and 207th Battalions. The 38th served in Bermuda from August 1915 until May 1916 after which it served in France and Flanders until the Armistice. The 207th provided reinforcements for the Canadian Corps in the field. Victoria Crosses were won by two members of the 38th battalion: Captain (later Lieutenant-Colonel) T. W. MacDowell at Vimy Ridge and Private C. J. P. Nunney at Drocourt-Queant. Private Nunney later died of wounds.

The 38th returned to Canada in June 1919 and was disbanded. Many members of the 38th continued to serve in various Militia units, in particular, the 43rd Regiment, The Duke of Cornwall's Own Rifles.

In 1920, the 43rd was reorganised and redesignated The Ottawa Regiment (The duke of Cornwall's Own). Later that year, the unit was converted into a Highland (kilted) regiment and in 1922 was redesignated The Ottawa Highlanders.

An alliance with The Queen's Own Camerons Highlanders of the British Army was approved in 1923. This alliance continues today with The Queen's Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons).

In August 1933, the unit was once again redesignated, finally becoming the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa.

During the Second World War, the Camerons served in Iceland from July 1940 until April 1941 after which they proceeded to the United Kingdom. The regiment landed in Normandy on D-Day, 6 June 1944, the only Ottawa unit to participate in Operation Overlord. It fought at Carpiquet, Buron,Falaise Gap; the pursuit across the Seine; the capture of Boulogne and Calais; and the clearing of the Scheldt Estuary. The Camerons then took up a static role on the Nijmegen Salient.

Beginning in February 1945, the Camerons took part in clearing the area west of the Thine for the assault on Emmerich. The regiment was preparing the attack on Aurich and Emden when the cease fire was announced on 5 May 1945. The Camerons served as part of the occupation forces in Germany until May 1946.

In Ottawa, on 5 July 1967, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II presented new colours to the Camerons. In 1969, on 24 May (a holiday in Canada celebrating Queen Victoria's birthday) the unit was accorded the privilege of the Freedom of the City of Ottawa.

The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa, as part of the Canadian Forces Reserves, provides soldiers to Canada's many NATO and UN Peacekeeping missions.

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The Pipes and Drums of the

CH of O

The Pipes and Drums of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa were founded in 1921. Since that time they have participated in many of the military and state functions that take place in Ottawa. During the Second World War, they accompanied the Regiment to Iceland, the United Kingdom and on to continental Europe eventually taking part in the Victory Parade at Utrecht, The Netherlands in 1945.

In addition to its ceremonial and other military duties, the Pipes and Drums of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa participate in numerous local, national and international events. The band has appeared at both the 1974 and 1983 Edinburgh Military Tattoos in Scotland and in the 1976 Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California.

The musicians, as members of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa, are part of the Canadian Forces Reserves. As such, they are trained soldiers and are required to perform ordinary military duties when not engaged with the band. Although drawn from various civilian occupations, their common interest in military music has caused them to devote many hour of their spare time to rehearsals and performances.

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*quoted from the liner notes of the CD -The Pipes and Drums of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa 'ADVANCE'.Copyright by the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa Foundation. All Rights Reserved.The CD may be purchased from the Regiment.
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Strange harvest

(A Tribute to the Canadian 3rd Division)

Dip gently your scythe good reaper,
O'er the fields of Calvados,
Tread softly Normandy's furrowed earth,
From Epron to the coast,
For the harvest is not all the yield of the soil,
Nor the furrows mark of the plough,
But the earth is rich with the blood of the dead,
The dead who are sleeping now,
They came from the sea like you and me,
But they beached on a steel-rimmed coast,
They carved their way through the Hun at bay,
And blasted the tyrants boast,
That no might could breach the wave locked shores,
No Allied foot gain hold,
The sea would be red with the blood of the dead,
The dead that had been too bold,
On the left and right were Britains men,
And from the south of the forty-nine,
Came the western flanks of the allied ranks,
Through motars, shells and mines,
The wall was stormed the beaches won,
As grey skies grew sullen and wild,
Till the strength of the mighty men of the sea,
Seemed less than the strenght of a child,
Three precious weeks they fought each yard,
From their hand dug holes in the clay,
Through the treacherous grain up the rising plain,
From Malon to La Folie,
Who will forget the Falaise Gap?
Or Pincon west of the Orne,
But at Auchie, Gruchy and Franqueville,
Where these later victories born,
Great cities and countries have fallen,
To the host of this vanquard led,
Let us not forget the debt we owe,
To the oft unhonoured dead,
I have seen the Hell where a hundred fell,
At Rots and Grey Le Vey,
Midst the reeking corn all motar torn,
From Gazelle to Carpiquet,
Les Buissons is the resting place,
Of men who cannot die,
Glengarrons, Novas, Camerons, Hussars and H.L.I.,
They learned to fight 'midst the frtid stench,
At Burons and Periers,
They pitted their youth 'gainst the war learned craft,
Of the Panzer Grenadiers,
So honour the men of the western plain, 
Black Devils, Reginas too,
The Queens, North Shores, and Chaudieres,
And Scots from the western blue,
Victoria, Winnipeg, Ottawa, 
Sent sons for the treacherous trial,
The men who dare not fall,
Who must feed the guns and the tanks and the men,
There were gunners and sappers from homes that range,
From the east to the setting sun,
And many lie where the ripening rye,
Danced to the devils fun,
They do not ask for a golden casque,
Or a tower of graven stone,
But that men may live in a world set free,
From guilt from blood atoned,
Dip gently your scythe good reaper,
O'er the fields of the hallowed dead
For young men fought and young men died,
Near the sea where the earth is red.

Written by H.Capt. Stanley E. Higgs
This poem was submitted by Bob & Darla McGraw.

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This page was updated on 26 November 2007.

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