1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery History

 This Regular Force regiment originated in Kingston, Ontario and Quebec City, Quebec on 1 December 1898, when the 'Royal Canadian Artillery (Field Division)' of The Royal Canadian Artillery was authorized to be formed. It was redesignated: 'Royal Canadian Field Artillery' on 1 June 1901; 'Royal Canadian Horse Artillery' on 1 September 1905; '71st Regiment (Royal Canadian Horse Artillery)' on 16 October 1946; '1st Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery' on 7 July 1949; and '1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery' on 18 June 1951.

1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery - Directorate of History and Heritage

History 1953-2001

On 1 May 1953 ‘1st Light Battery (Parachute), RCA’ was re-designated ‘Z Battery (Para), RCHA’ and remained in Shilo as an Airborne Battery.  In 1956 all 25 pdr guns were replaced with 105 mm C1 Howitzer.  Z Battery was also converted and replaced all of it guns and mortars with 105 mm C1’s and moved to Winnipeg.

In November 1957, the Regiment moved to Germany replacing 4 RCHA, to take up its initial cycle of tours with NATO’s British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) at Fort Prince of Wales near Hemer, Westphalia in West Germany.  Z Battery did not remain with 1 RCHA and was attached to 2 RCHA at this time.  In December 1960 1 RCHA was replaced by 3 RCHA and moved to Camp Gagetown.  The Regiment consisted of a Regimental Headquarters, A, B, C, H, and U (Locating) Batteries and contained an Air Op Troop.  A, B, and C Batteries were equipped with 105mm howitzers, and H Battery was equipped with 155mm towed  howitzers.  

In March 1967, 1 RCHA deployed to Germany with A, B, and C Battery becoming the permanent "Gunnery" unit supporting 4 CMBG.  U Battery was converted to Counter Mortar Radar section and later disbanded in 1970.  Shortly after deploying in July 1968 all 105 C1 guns were replaced with 155 mm M109A1 Howitzers.  1 RCHA maintained the two-troop system until the downsizing of the Brigade announced in 1969 and moving to Lahr in 1970.  In order to maintain three firing units, the number of guns were scaled back to six per Battery and the single fire unit concept was adopted.

On February 1,1968, Canada’s three services (Army, Navy, Air) ceased to exist as separate entities.  Integration brought about the amalgamation of these services to form what is now called the Canadian Armed Forces.

In October 1970, 1 RCHA together with 4 CMBG, moved from BAOR in Hemer, West Germany to Schwarzwald (Black Forest) with the rest of the brigade group, to become Central Army Group’s reserve force (CENTAG), and was based in Lahr, South West Germany.  In 1975, an Air Defence Troop of 15 Blowpipe Detachments was added to the Regiment's establishment as well as the equipment and skeleton staff of a fourth Battery, resurrecting Z Battery.

On August 10,1985, soldiers of 3 RCHA, Shilo, Manitoba arrived in Lahr.  This increased Z Battery to full strength on a permanent basis.  The event made 1 RCHA the largest manned medium gun Regiment in NATO at the time.  On June 30,1988, the Air Defence Troop was transferred to 4 Air Defence Regiment.  Z Battery was reduced to nil-strength in 1991.

1 RCHA was brought back to Shilo briefly and replaced 3 RCHA on its reduction to nil-strength on July 30,1992.  The 4 CMBG disbanded in 1993.

The First Regiment deployed August 1992 to Cyprus under the command of LCol M.D. Capstick in an infantry role for ‘OP SNOWGOOSE 58’ as part of the United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).  With the mandate to stop the periodic outbreaks of fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, and to contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order.  The First Regiment returned to Shilo in February 1993.

In October 1993 1 RCHA took over Op PALACI in Rogers Pass, British Columbia.  Since 1962, artillery Regiments in Shilo have taken part in the largest avalanche prevention programs in Canada, protecting an 18 km stretch of the TransCanada Highway, the main route through the Rocky Mountains.  Essentially, to safe guard the people who travel the Rogers Pass route.  Since the road opened, detachments of artillery soldiers have been sent there during the avalanche season, from early October to late May.  Firing modified 105 mm C-1 howitzers, the shock of the exploding shells triggers controlled avalanches.

A Mortar Troop from 1 RCHA mounted in six M-113 mortar vehicles under the command of an armoured officer deployed to Bosnia as part of United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) for ‘Op HARMONY’ from April to October 1994.  Their mandate was to ‘deter or respond to violence and, thus, provide the safe and secure environment necessary for the consolidation of peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina’.

In the summer of 1994, the assistance of the First Regiment was requested to provide ‘Aid to Civil Authority’.  On July 26,1994 A Battery deployed to Penticton B.C. to fight fires, while C Battery was requested in Tisdale Saskatchewan to augment search parties for a missing child.

In 1997, the C1 howitzers in the Regular Force units were replaced by the 105mm LG1.  That year the First Regiment continued its support to UN missions.  During Op PALLADIUM in Bosnia, the First Regiment provided a Battery Commander's party, two Forward Observer (FOO) / Forward Air Controller (FAC) parties and Liaison Officers.  This was the first mission in support of 2 PPCLI Battle Group.  In addition, during rotation 1, the Regiment augmented the Lord Strathcona's Horse Battle Group with a mortar platoon, a Battery Commander's party and 2 FOO/FAC party and Liaison Officers.

Also at the time responded to an ‘Aid to Civil Authority’ request in the Apr- May 1997.  The First Regiment deployed on OP ASSISTANCE to help Manitobans fight the "Flood of The Century".  For this occasion, the remaining personnel of 1 RCHA amalgamated to form Flood Battery as part of the 8500 CF personnel drawn from across the country.

The First Regiment deployed in response to a ‘Aid to Civil Authority’ request on short notice on 8 January 1998 on OP RECUPERATION as a devastating ice storm raged in the province of Quebec depriving more than a million people of electricity. Again, the 1st Regiment’s performance was excellent.  This was the largest domestic emergency response operation ever conducted by the CF, with over 15,000 CF personnel deployed.1 RCHA sent A, B, and C Battery in September separately to Op PALLADIUM.  

In February 2000, A Battery deployed the first gun Battery to a theatre of operations since the Korean War to a ‘Stabilization Force’ (SFOR) Base in Tomislavgrad, Bosnia  to provided peace and stability in the near by town of Glamoc.  The Battery had with them six 105mm LG1 howitzer for this operation.  The Battery deployed with these guns, where they took on the dual role of peace-support patrolling and training as an artillery sub-component of the NATO Offensive Support Group.  C Battery deployed as an infantry company as part of the 2 PPCLI Battle group.  B Battery deployed to Bosnia as part of Roto 7 in October 2000, and replaced A Battery at the end of its tour.  B Battery was replaced in March 2001 by 2 RCHA.

History 2001-Present

On the morning of September 11, 2001, 19 Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners. The hijackers intentionally crashed the planes into targets in the north east of United States killing 2993 people including 24 Canadians and citizens of 90 different nations.

On October 7, 2001 the Prime Minister announced that Canada would contribute air, land and sea forces to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) being formed to conduct a campaign against terrorism in Afghanistan, thus, establishing OP APOLLO; in view to:

  • Defend Canada's national interests,
  • Ensure Canadian leadership in world affairs, and
  • Help Afghanistan rebuild.

In February 2002 1 RCHA deployed a Dismounted Mortar Troop from C Battery as a compliment to the Canadian Forces being deployed as part of the ISAF deployment in Afghanistan.  It consisted of Four 81mm Mortar Tubes, with three Fire Effects Detachments (FED) for a total of 28 Personnel.  C Battery’s tasking included Defensive Operations, Combat Operations and Resupply Operations within the Area of Operations.  The first round fired by the troop was the first Artillery round ‘fired in Anger’ since Korea.  The Battery returned to Shilo in July 2002.

While C Battery was in Afghanistan the First Regiment had other personnel on Op GRIZZLY, the Canadian Forces support to the G8 Summit, in Kananaskis, Alberta in Jun 2002.  The Regiment supported the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

On August 2, 2003, the provincial government of British Columbia December declared a state of emergency, with forest fires burning all over the province.  The next day, the government of B.C. requested military for ‘Aid to Civil Authority’ assistance, and Op PEREGRINE was launched.  85 troops from the Regiment deployed to Merritt, B.C. to fight the fires.

Op APOLLO ended in 2003 and was replaced by Op ATHENA until July 2005.  1 RCHA retuned to Afghanistan with Op ARCHER.  The 1st Canadian Battle Group was deployed with support from A Battery for TASK FORCE Orion (1-06) February 2006.  The Battery consisted of 101 personnel, two Gun Troops each with two 155mm M-777, three Fire Effects Detachments (FED), and eight Forward Air Controls embedded in the Task Force.  Over 114 Operational Fire Missions carried out in support of Task Force Operations.  A Battery Returned to Shilo in November 2006.

January 2008 Op ARCHER still continuing, B Battery as part of Task Force AFGHANISTAN (1-08) deployed.  The Battery consisted of 3 gun troops each with two 155mm M-777 and mortars as part of each gun detachment, four Fire Effects Detachments, Surveillance and Target Acquisition Troop, Headquarters and a Fire Support Coordination Centre.  The Battery’s manning totaled over 250 personnel.  B Battery fired the first Excalibur Round in support of combat operations.  The Battery returned to Shilo in November 2008.

In October 2009 the Regiment provided Fire Support for the Battle Group of TF 3-09 deploying C Battery.  The Battery consisted of three Gun Troops each with two 155 M-777 and mortars as part of each gun detachment, five fire Effects Detachments, Surveillance and Target Acquisition Troop, Headquarters and an Fire Support Coordination Centre.

In May-July 2011 the Joint Task Force West / Land Forces Western Area Commander took action in response to a ‘Aid to Civil Authority’ requests by the Canadian government.  The First Regiment deployed on OP LUSTRE and OP LYRE to help Manitobans fight the highest flood level ever recorded on the Assiniboine River.  All personnel of 1 RCHA amalgamated into the 2000 CF personnel force drawn from across western Canada.

The Regiment is currently under the command of LCol L.J. Hammond and continues to fulfill its role of providing indirect fire support to the 1st Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group.  The Regiment is pursuing a training regime that permits it to be ready for any task. 

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