Wednesday, May 13, 2015

World War Wednesdays: The Elgin Regiment and the Second World War

 
"Everywhere. Whither Right And Glory Lead"
 
 
     One of our area's most significant contributions to Canadian military effort in general is the Elgin Regiment, which has been a proud representation of the area in numerous conflicts throughout history, beginning before the nation was even confederated.

     On 14 September 1866 the 25th “Elgin Battalion of Infantry” was authorized to be formed from five existing independent marine, infantry and rifle companies which had previously been established on the following dates:
'No. 1 Company' (The 1st Volunteer Militia Rifle Company at St. Thomas, 17 July 1856),
'No. 2 Company' (Volunteer Marine Company at Port Stanley, 31 January 1862),
'No. 3 Company' (Volunteer Militia Company of Infantry at Vienna, 29 October 1862),
'No. 4 Company' (Tilsonburg Infantry Company, 13 July 1866), and
'No. 5 Company' (Aylmer Infantry Company, 8 June 1866)

     In 1915 the Regiment, answering Europe’s call to arms, had details placed on active service for local protection and augmenting the Canadian Expeditionary Force with volunteers for overseas service. Among providing soldiers to other locally raised battalions of the CEDF, the Elgin Regiment was instrumental in the raising of the 91st Overseas Battalion, CEF. This unit was authorized on 22 December 1915 and sailed for England on 29 June 1916, its personnel were absorbed by the '12th, 35th, 36th, 37th, 38th and 39th Reserve Battalion'(s) on 15 July 1916 to provide reinforcements for the Canadian Corps in the field. Perpetuation of the 91st Battalion, CEF, is still carried by the Regiment today.
     In 1920, as part of the general reorganization of the Militia, the Regiment was redesignated “The Elgin Regiment.”
     On 24 May 1940, the regiment mobilized 'The Elgin Regiment, CASF', for overseas service in the Second World War, and recruitment began in early June. In one month the entire 962-man wartime strength for the battalion was achieved. After extensive training, the Elgins moved to Toronto in 1941 where they were placed in the 12th Brigade.  This unit was converted to armour and redesignated the '25th Armoured Regiment (The Elgin Regiment), CAC' on 26 January 1942. Later that year, on 29 September 1942, the unit embarked for Britain as part of the 3rd Armoured Brigade, 4th Canadian Armoured Division.
Elgin Regiment at Thames Valley Training Camp, August-September, 1940. Elgin County Photograph Collection, C4 Sh4 P9

     The '1st Canadian Tank Delivery Squadron' was formed from "B" Squadron, 25th Armoured Regiment (The Elgin Regiment) on 6 May 1943. This Squadron landed in Sicily on 16 July 1943, and in Italy on 14 September 1943.
     The Regiment was converted and redesignated '25th Canadian Tank Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment), CAC' on 15 September 1943, and on 21 October 1943 the 1st Canadian Tank Delivery Squadron was redesignated "A" Squadron, 25th Canadian Tank Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment), CAC.
     On 15 March 1944 it was redesignated '25th Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment), CAC'. One squadron of the unit landed in Normandy on 8 June 1944, followed by Headquarters and other squadrons in July 1944. The detached squadron in Italy moved to North-West Europe in March 1945 to rejoin the Regiment. The overseas regiment was disbanded on 15 February 1946.
Welcome Home from the St. Thomas Times-Journal, January 26, 1946.

     After their return to Canada in 1945-46 the Elgin Regiment returned to an infantry role. Later, in 1954, The Elgin Regiment returned to the Armoured Corps where it remained until 1997. On 14 August 1997, The Elgin Regiment (RCAC) was disbanded for the purpose of conversion to an engineer unit the same day, becoming 31 Combat Engineer Regiment (The Elgins).
     Currently, the Elgin Regiment remains the 31 Combat Engineer Regiment and is headquartered in St. Thomas.

    The Elgins are associated with some of the biggest operations of the Second World War, and our local boys made a name for themselves in Europe and beyond in a number of different conditions.
     Do you know someone who served with The Elgins? We'd love to hear your stories!

Thanks for reading,

    Delany

Information courtesy of elgincounty.ca and forces.gc.ca


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