4th Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment - History

Our History

The Royal Canadian Regiment (The RCR) was authorized as a unit of Canada’s Permanent Force, now known as the Regular Force, on 21 December 1883. Created for the purpose of instructing the Canadian Militia, the Regiment was originally known as the Infantry School Corps. The Regiment’s first garrisons, each occupied by a company plus the supported Instructional Cadre, were at Fredericton, St Jean (QC) and Toronto. A fourth Company was established in London, Ontario, in 1888.

Shortly after its formation, “C” Company of the Regiment saw action in the North-West Rebellion of 1885. In 1898, the Regiment provided men to the Yukon Field Force, which assisted with the policing of the Yukon Territory during the gold rush.

During the 1890s, the Regiment saw three changes to its title:

May 1892 – “Canadian Regiment of Infantry”

May 1893 – “The Royal Regiment of Canadian Infantry”

April 1899 - “The Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry”

The Royal Canadian Regiment formed Canada’s first contingent to the South African War when, in 1899, a 2nd (Special Service) Battalion was formed for service in South Africa during 1899-1900. A 3rd (Special Service) Battalion was also formed to provide the Halifax garrison between 1900 and 1902. Both of these units were comprised primarily of Militia soldiers who volunteered to serve in The RCR for the purpose of the operational deployment or garrison task.

In November 1901, the Regiment changed its name one more time, becoming “The Royal Canadian Regiment.”

At the outbreak of the First World War, The RCR was assembled at Halifax where Regimental Headquarters and six of the Regiment’s ten companies had been located since 1905, having replaced the last British Army garrison in Canada. The RCR was brought up to wartime strength in late 1914 as it started its first task which was to serve for a year as the garrison battalion in Bermuda until August 1915. The RCR then proceeded to England and onward to France as a battalion of the 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade in the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division.

The RCR was awarded 16 battle honours for its actions during the First World War, including the Somme 1916, Vimy Ridge and the Pursuit to Mons. One member of The RCR, Lieutenant Milton Fowler Gregg, was awarded the Victoria Cross.

In 1919, the Regiment received a singular honour when King George V granted the Regiment the right to wear Queen Victoria’s cypher – “VRI” – on its buttons and badges in perpetuity in recognition of its service in the First World War. This made the RCR the only Commonwealth regiment to wear a deceased sovereign’s cypher with no requirement to change cyphers following the coronation of a new King or Queen.

The RCR sailed for England shortly after the start of the Second World War where it trained for three years as a battalion of the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division. The Regiment entered combat when it landed on the beaches of Sicily on 10 July 1943 – a date still commemorated within the Regiment as “Pachino Day.” The RCR fought their way through Sicily and Italy over almost 18 months including participation in the battles at Ortona, the Hitler Line at Pontecorvo and the Gothic Line on the Adriatic coast.

In February, 1945, The RCR joined the final push to liberate Northwest Europe, fighting their last battle at Apeldoorn, Holland. In the closing days of the war, a second battalion of the Regiment was created in Canada, its planned employment being in the Pacific Force. With the capitulation of Japan, this requirement disappeared and, following the return and disbandment of the overseas battalion, the newly created 2nd Battalion became the single battalion of The Royal Canadian Regiment in the post-war Canadian Army.

On the outbreak of the Korean War, The RCR still consisted of a single Regular Force battalion. During the three years of the war, two new battalions would be formed for the Special Force which fought in Korea, and all three battalions would serve in Korea in turn. The 2nd Battalion deployed in 1951, the 1st Battalion in 1952 and the 3rd Battalion in 1953. Following the Korean War, the 3rd Battalion was disbanded and the 2nd Battalion remained a unit of the Regular Force.

In July 1954, The Royal Canadian Regiment gained a Reserve Force battalion, formed by the amalgamation of The Canadian Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) (Machine Gun) and The Oxford Rifles. This new unit was designated the London and Oxford Fusiliers (3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment).

More history on The Royal Canadian Regiment can be found on the History and Heritage website.

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