The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (Duke of Edinburgh's Own) - History

Our History

The Regiment traces its history back to 1861 when a number of Militia companies were organized for the defense of Canada during the American Civil War. One of these companies was mobilized 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 was authorized. Almost immediately the unit was converted to rifles and re-designated 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 re-organized and re-designated The Ottawa Regiment. Later that year, the unit was converted into a Highland (kilted) regiment and in 1922 was re-designated The Ottawa Highlanders.

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, June 6th 1944, the only Ottawa unit to participate in Operation Overlord. It fought at Carpiquet, Buron, Authie and Caen. It took part in the closing of the 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 May 5th 1945. The Camerons served as part of the occupation forces in Germany until May 1946.

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

Recently, the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (Duke of Edinburgh's Own), as part of the Canadian Forces Reserves, have provided soldiers to Canada's many NATO and UN Peacekeeping missions. In addition to several peacekeeping tours, roughly 90 Camerons have proudly served in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.

More history on The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (Duke of Edinburgh's Own) can be found on the History and Heritage website.

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