Sherbrooke Hussars
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Sherbrooke Hussars

Sherbrooke Hussars
Sherbrooke Hussars cap badge.jpg
Active21 September 1866-present
Country
BranchCanadian Army
TypeLine cavalry
RoleArmoured
SizeOne regiment
Part of35 Canadian Brigade Group
Garrison/HQSherbrooke, Quebec
Motto(s)Latin: In hoc signo stabilitas, lit. 'In this sign, stability'
March"Regimental March of the Sherbrooke Hussars"
Websitearmy-armee.forces.gc.ca/en/sherbrooke-hussars/index.page Edit this at Wikidata
Insignia
AbbreviationSher H

The Sherbrooke Hussars is a Primary Reserve armoured regiment of the Canadian Forces and perpetuates the Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment of the Second World War.

Joint mobilization of Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment

Early in the Second World War, the Sherbrooke Fusiliers Regiment was formed with men from Les Fusiliers de Sherbrooke and the Sherbrooke Regiment. The community spirit favoured units formed by volunteers who would carry the honour of their hometown. Shortly after establishment, the spelling was changed to "Fusilier", as Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment. This singular form of the name is on the cap badge and shoulder title. Its Royal Canadian Armoured Corps lineage, battle honours and armoured traditions are perpetuated by the Sherbrooke Hussars through the Sherbrooke Regiment. Les Fusiliers de Sherbrooke is an infantry regiment and shares the battle honours.

Further evidence of the singular form of the regimental name is found on the metal cap badge, which consists of a flaming grenade and a banner with the motto droit au but in French. The motto and the bomb were borrowed from Les Fusiliers de Sherbrooke. In the centre is a horse's head surrounded by the words "Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment". The horse was found on the family coat of arms of Sir John Coape Sherbrooke, namesake of the home city.

The official Canadian Forces names must not be translated haphazardly. After GO 42/41 and GO 62/41, the name 'Fusiliers' changed from the plural to the singular 'Fusilier' form.[1] Therefore, only during 1940 was the regimental name plural.

Both the Sherbrooke Hussars and Les Fusiliers de Sherbrooke share the Second World War battle honours of the 27th Armoured Regiment (The Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment). However, the Sherbrooke Hussars perpetuate the armoured corps lineage.

Naming conventions

The naming conventions of the Canadian Army can be confusing. Regular Force armoured and infantry units are not usually named for a location, because personnel are drawn from across the country. Artillery and engineer units are almost always numbered, but may carry a distinctive nickname. Reserve armoured and infantry units generally are named, and may have a number if it has historical significance. In wartime, units raised for the duration of the war tend to be numbered with a local name added for identity.

During the Second World War, The Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment was the 27th Armoured Regiment. The number 27 having no particular significance, and the unit was demobilized in 1946. That same year, the Sherbrooke Regiment was renamed the 12th Armoured Regiment (Sherbrooke Regiment). Again the number 12 meant nothing. Numbers 12 and 27 which had been associated with Sherbrooke units were issued to other units. In 1954, the Elgin Regiment, which was known as the 25th Armoured Delivery Regiment in the Second World War, and had coincidentally served in close cooperation with the Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment, was renamed the Elgin Regiment (27th Armoured Regiment). Why the number 25 was not reactivated is unknown. In 1968, only a few years after The Sherbrooke Hussars was formed with the merger of The Sherbrooke Regiment and the 7th/11th Hussars, itself numbered as the 16th, the number 12 was issued to the 12e Régiment blindé du Canada. The 12eRBC was raised as a francophone Regular Force armoured regiment adopting the badge and customs of 12th Armoured Regiment (Three Rivers Regiment). The wartime Three Rivers Regiment was reconstituted in 1947 as the 24th Armoured Regiment (Three Rivers Regiment) as a reserve unit, and in 1968 assumed a new identity also as the 12eRBC.

Sherbrooke Regiment

The Sherbrooke Regiment was initially formed on 21 September 1866 in Melbourne, Quebec as the Sherbrooke Battalion of Infantry, becoming the 53rd (Sherbrooke) Battalion in 1867. The regiment perpetuates the Frontier Light Infantry as well as the 1st and 4th battalions of the Eastern Township District (1812-1815) from the War of 1812. As a result, the regiment carries the Theatre Battle Honour, Defence of Canada 1812-15, in recognition of the service rendered by the Frontier Light Infantry at the Battle of Lacolle Mills (1814).

On 22 March 1867, it was reorganized as two separate battalions designated the 53rd Melbourne Battalion of Infantry and the 54th Sherbrooke Battalion of Infantry. It was redesignated as the 53rd Sherbrooke Battalion of Infantry on 10 May 1867 and then the 53rd Sherbrooke Regiment on 8 May 1900

The regiment provided volunteers for the 12th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1914. The following year, it provided men to the 117th (Eastern Townships) Battalion, CEF. After proceeding overseas the 117th was broken up to provide reinforcements for several other Canadian units serving France. In 1920, the Sherbrooke Regiment was reformed with two battalions - the 1st Battalion perpetuated the traditions of the 117th CEF. Following the Great War, the regiment was renamed The Sherbrooke Regiment on 29 March 1920 and re-roled as a machine gun battalion as The Sherbrooke Regiment (MG) on 15 December 1936

In 1940, parts of the regiment amalgamated with Les Fusiliers de Sherbrooke to form the Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment (27th Canadian Armoured Regiment) which was an armoured regiment, while the Sherbrooke Regiment continued as infantry.

After the end of the Second World War, The Sherbrooke Regiment re-roled as armour, becoming the 12th Armoured Regiment (Sherbrooke Regiment), perpetuating the traditions of the Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment. In 1957, large print advertisements encouraged recruits to join the Sherbrooke Regiment, as well as other units of 9 Militia Group. At the time, there were no dispersed subunits. In 1958, the number was dropped, and the regiment became The Sherbrooke Regiment (RCAC).

In 1965, it amalgamated with the 7th/XI Hussars to become The Sherbrooke Hussars.[2]

The camp flag of the Sherbrooke Hussars

7th/XI Hussars

The 7th/XI Hussars was formed in 1936 through the amalgamation of the 7th Hussars and XI Hussars. Recruits from the same area had formed the World War 1 overseas 5th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles, CEF which despite the name was a mounted infantry unit[3], and the 7th/XI Hussars proudly perpetuated their legacy. In 1940, 400 men of the 7th/XI Hussars were mobilized as infantry with the 1st Battalion, Royal Rifles of Canada. It was redesignated the 2nd (Reserve) Regiment, 7th/11th Hussars on 27 February 1941. The regiment itself became the 16th (Reserve) Armoured Regiment, before being disbanded in 1943, with its personnel absorbed by the 5th Canadian Armoured Division of I Canadian Corps.

Brigade Headquarters of 5 Canadian Armoured Brigade was nicknamed "Headquarters Squadron (7th/XI Hussars)", and saw service in the Italian and Northwest Europe campaigns. Two HQ Sqn (7th/XI Hussars) members received periodic MBEs for their wartime service, Captain Robert Rutherford was brigade reconnaissance officer, and Squadron Serjeant (sic) Major Cecil Raven was de facto HQ RSM.[4]

In 1946, the regiment was raised again in Canada, perpetuating the 16th Armoured Regiment, as 16th Reconnaissance Regiment (7th/XI Hussars), RCAC on 1 April 1946. It was redesignated the 7th/11th Hussars (16th Reconnaissance Regiment) on 4 February 1949. Converted to armour as the 7th/11th Hussars (16th Armoured Regiment) on 1 September 1954 and finally the 7th/11th Hussars on 19 May 1958.

Large print advertisements in the local English and French language newspapers for 9th Militia Group units emphasized the dispersed catchment area of the 7th/XI in 1957. Headquartered in Bury, subunits were reported in Scotstown, Cookshire, East Angus, Windsor Mills, Richmond and Danville.

On 15 February 1965, it was amalgamated with The Sherbrooke Regiment (RCAC) to form the Sherbrooke Hussars.[5]

The First World War

The distinguishing patch of the 5th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles.

Details of the 53rd Sherbrooke Regiment were placed on active service for local protective duty on 6 August 1914. The 5th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles, CEF was authorized on 7 November 1914 and embarked for Britain on 18 July 1915, arriving in France on 24 October 1915, where it fought as part of the 2nd Brigade Canadian Mounted Rifles until 3 January 1916. The Regiment was converted to infantry and became part of the 8th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division. The regiment was redesignated the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles Battalion, CEF on 24 December 1915. The battalion fought in France and Flanders until the end of the Great War and was disbanded on 30 August 1920.

One of the most notable members of the regimental family was George Harold Baker, MP for Brome. Elected as a Conservative on 21 Sept 1911, in 1915 he raised the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles, took them overseas and led them into action in France. He was killed in action at Ypres on 2 June 1916. LCol Baker is the only Member of Parliament to be killed in military action while serving as an MP.[6] Previously, George Baker was Lieutenant-Colonel of The 13th Scottish Light Dragoons.

The other notable member of the regimental family was George Randolph Pearkes, VC.[7] Major George Pearkes was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery at Passchendaele October 30-31, 1917. George Pearkes was born in England in 1883, and immigrated to Western Canada in 1906. He joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force during WW1, and joined 5CMR in September 1916. During the Battle of Passchendaele, despite a leg wound, he led some of his men through heavy enemy fire across open ground to capture a strategically located farm. For more than a day, they fought off numerous counter-attacks. He served again during the Second World War, was later a federal cabinet minister and the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia.[8]

The 117th (Eastern Townships) Battalion, CEF, which was authorized on 22 December 1915 (began recruiting on 5 November) as the 117th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force and embarked for Britain on 14 August 1916. It provided reinforcements for units in the field until 8 January 1917 when its personnel were absorbed by the 23rd Reserve Battalion, CEF, with the battalion being disbanded on 30 August 1920.

The Second World War

The guidon of the Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment, image rotated 90-deg to the left

The Sherbrooke Regiment mobilized the No. 1 General Base Depot, Canadian Active Service Force, on 1 September 1939, which embarked for Britain on 25 January 1940 where it provided guards for vulnerable points until disbanded on 6 July 1940. The city-based regiment then, in conjunction with Les Fusiliers de Sherbrooke, mobilized The Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment, CASF, for active service on 24 May 1940. In later years, a well-regarded senior officer described the Fusiliers in those years as perhaps the most unusual regiment in the army. While it later became entirely English-speaking, at that time it had French-speaking Catholics in two companies and English-speaking Protestants in the other two. The adjutant was Jewish. The commander could not speak French while at least one of the senior officers could not speak English.[9][10]

It was redesignated as the "1st Battalion, The Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment, CASF", on 7 November 1940, then as the "1st Battalion, The Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment, CASF", on 15 November 1940 and upon conversion to an armoured regiment, as the "27th Armoured Regiment (The Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment), CAC, CASF", on 26 January 1942 and "27th Armoured Regiment (The Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment), RCAC, CASF" on 2 August 1945. In the case of the overseas unit 'Fusilier' is always in the singular.[2] The regiment served overseas initially in Newfoundland from 13 August 1941 to 15 February 1942, and embarked for Britain on 27 October 1942. After selection as a tank regiment, The "Sherbrookes" as they called themselves became part of the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade.[11][12][13][14][15][11]

Rather than detail all other units raised in the Sherbrooke area, it is worth highlighting the 2nd (Reserve) Battalion, The Sherbrooke Regiment' which was designated on 7 November 1940. Across Canada, Non-Permanent Active Militia units formed a recruiting base and community focus. For example, during the Great War (1914-1918) replacement soldiers were formed into new battalions for the front. LCol Bertram Dawson Lyon (1905-1986) was already a long-serving Militia officer when he was named Commanding Officer in 1943. Typical of the expectations of the community, he supported his family through his business and also served in the Militia. When war broke out, he volunteered for active service with the Sherbrooke Regiment, and shipped out for England with the 27th Armoured. He was seriously injured in training in 1942, and repatriated to Canada as unfit for duty. However, his experience was put to use as Commanding Officer of the 2nd (Reserve) Battalion from 1943 to 1946.[16]


Lieutenant-Colonel Melville "Mel" Burgoyne Kennedy Gordon (1905-1974)[17][18] was commanding officer from 1943 to 1945. He graduated from the University of Toronto in 1926, and was in their Canadian Officers Training Corps from 1922 to 1924. He was commissioned as a lieutenant to the Governor General's Body Guard in 1924, where he served until 1928. That year he changed affiliation to the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards in Ottawa, where he rose to captain and major. From 1931 Gordon practiced law in Ontario and Quebec, and returned to the legal profession after the war. In 1941 as a trained major, Gordon was posted to the 12th Armoured Regiment (Three Rivers Regiment) at Camp Borden, Ontario. He was officer commanding "B" Squadron in Canada and in England until January 1943. At that time, Gordon was promoted to lieutenant-colonel and given command of the 27th Armoured Regiment (Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment).

A well-liked and respected leader, Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon led the regiment through training in preparation for the D-Day landings, then in combat through France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Gordon's regimental headquarters Sherman is noted in the regimental war diaries as the first tank into the liberated French town of Caen. He was immediately inducted to the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in the field in Belgium. Uncharacteristic of most Canadian combat leaders, Gordon retained his command despite heavy losses, setbacks, and the challenges throughout the Northwest European campaign. In December 1945 and prior to demobilization, Gordon was promoted colonel. At some point after the war, he was promoted brigadier.[19]

From D-Day, when the Allies landed on the beaches of Normandy until the German unconditional surrender in May 1945, the First Canadian Army under General Harry Crerar fought in seven major battle campaigns. These included: the Normandy Landings, the capture of Caen, closing the Falaise Gap, clearing the coastal ports, clearing the Scheldt Estuary, invading the Rhineland and the liberation of the Netherlands. One very readable discussion of the Normandy campaign was published as a 1997 McGill University PhD Thesis by LCol (retd) Roman J. Jarymowycz.[20]

Normandy Landings (6 June 1944)

The narrative of D Day has been well recorded, but the subsequent battles tend to be underreported. The 27th Armoured Regiment (Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment) (SFR), loaded their Landing Craft, Tank in Ostend, UK on 3 June.[21] The regiment was equipped with waterproofed Sherman and Sherman Firefly tanks, pulling "Porpoise" sledges filled with supplies. After a 24hr weather pause, they landed to the west of Bernières-sur-Mer of Juno Beach just after noon on 6 June 1944 with the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade (CIB). The SFR was their assigned tank force to exploit through the bridgehead created by the assault infantry and tanks of the 8th CIB. The beach was congested with other troops, and progress was slow getting inland to their assembly area near Beny-sur-Mer.

With about 3 hours of daylight remaining and three companies of North Nova Scotias riding on their tanks, the SFR passed through the assault battalions' forward lines and fought their way southward toward their preplanned D-Day objectives. The North Nova Scotia's reached Villons-les-Buissons by dusk and ran into more German resistance. When it was evident that their objectives were still about four miles beyond near Carpiquet, they formed all-around defences around La Mare for the night. Behind them the brigade was fighting bypassed German positions in the assembly area.

Authie (7-8 June 1944)[22] Starting from their exposed but advanced positions, on 7 June a force including all SFR squadrons pushed out in four prongs towards a cluster of villages south of Villons and Les Buissons, including Buron and Authie; A Sqn right, HQ and C Sqn centre, B Sqn left, and Recce Troop exploring the enemy's rear area. The advance-to-contact included tank-on-tank combat. The SFR lost several tanks including most of the Fireflies which were commanded by junior officers. A number of men were killed, wounded, missing and captured.[23][24][25][26] Twenty-three Canadian prisoners including six SFR soldiers were killed by their captors at the Ardenne Abbey massacre. After the war, the German commander Brigadefuhrer Kurt Meyer was convicted of war crimes.[27][28][29]

The SFR's Anglican padre Capt Walter L Brown, Bishop's University, Huron University College of Orillia was one of two Canadian padres killed in Normandy. After landing on the 6th and throughout the day of the 7th, Brown was helping the medical officer at the regimental aid post. On the evening of 7 June, he responded to a message that, "the padre is needed at the front". Travelling by Jeep, Brown, his batman and driver Lt Grainger, and a passenger LCpl Greenwood, turned a corner and immediately encountered a German patrol. There was an exchange of fire. Greenwood was killed and Grainger was injured. Brown was seen surrendering and later reported missing. His body was identified on 10 July at a casualty collection point. The regimental padre observed marks on his chest suggesting Brown was possibly bayonetted by his captors.[30][31]

The battle did not change the front substantially. However, this action and the next month of skirmishing blunted half an enemy division, prevented them from attacking into the beachhead, and remained a preoccupation for the German leadership. B Sqn started with fifteen tanks and ended with five, including "Bomb". The SFR and the North Nova Scotia Highlanders are the only Canadian units with the Authie battle honour.

Caen (8-9 July 1944) Operation Charnwood

The advance to Caen renewed in early July 1944. To the West the Americans had cleared large areas of western Normandy and pushed out of their bridgeheads. Although the Canadian and British divisions were strong, the thick hedges of Normandy favoured the defenders, especially around Caen. If anything, the comparative stalemate kept the Germans from moving troops away from Caen.

The battle of Orne began when the Canadians pushed out to the towns of Buron and Gruchy. Two SFR squadrons were attached to two battalion-strength infantry battlegroups. Once into the village of Buron, A Sqn's tanks helped the infantry fight house to house. The German defenders stubbornly fought to the last man rather than withdraw. On the afternoon of 7 July, the SFR and two British M10 self-propelled anti-tank gun troops destroyed 14 counterattacking tanks. By nightfall on the 8th, A Sqn's five remaining tanks had the high ground south of Buron. By 9 July the German defences outside Caen collapsed. The SFR CO himself (LtCol Mel Gordon) and his HQ were the first tanks into Caen.

Crossing the Orne

While somewhat anticlimactic compared to other battles, the assault crossing of the Orne River by SFR tanks provided hard-pressed infantry battalions with much needed close support as they struggled to secure the crossing in depth.

Official war artist Major W.A. Ogilvie Will Ogilvie produced a dramatic panchromatic watercolour of the tanks, entitled, "Tanks of the 27th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Sherbrooke Fusiliers Regiment) Cross the Orne Near Caen by Ferry, 19 July 1944".[32] Modern-day researchers, writing in French, have identified numerous crossings pushed by Canadian engineers over the Orne River, including photo comparisons to the Ogilivie work.[33][34]

Faubourg de Vaucelles Operation Spring

The Canadian infantry continued their fight clearing the Faubourg de Vaucelles suburb of Caen, south of the Orne River. Just as the SFR's tanks reinforced the infantry, the enemy's withdrawal allowed them to harden their defences, which could have been disastrous for the attackers. The battle turned when a strong British force hooked around behind the built-up area from the northeast and linked up with the Canadians.

Bourguébus Ridge[35]

As high command pressure grew for bolder strategic gains, the Canadians were grouped into larger and larger manoeuver formations. Over two weeks' of fighting in mid-July, Canadian infantry were thrown toward the small towns and dominating high features south of Caen. Available tank squadrons were paired with attacking battalions. The SFR's battles were between the Orne River and nearby Bourgébus Ridge. Across the division's frontage, Canadian casualties were very heavy. When the SFR was pulled back, A Sqn was down to six tanks and the other squadrons not much better. While the overall operation did not achieve all of its objectives, the Germans had had to contain aggressive attacks across a wide front and were left so badly weakened that the next battles were decisive.[36]

Operation Totalize and 7-9 August 1944

During Operation Totalize, A Sqn of the regiment commanded by Major Sydney Radley-Walters was in a support position with six 75 mm Shermans and two 17-pounder Sherman Fireflies in a walled Chateau compound when SS-Hauptsturmführer Michael Wittmann, known as the "Black Baron", led a heavily armoured counterattack on 8 August 44 near Gaumesnil attempting to drive a seam between British and Canadian formations. The SFR tanks were placed behind stone walls with holes knocked out for firing positions about 300m broadside to the German platoon's axis of advance. The Canadian tanks destroyed two Tiger tanks, two Panzer IVs and two self propelled guns while British tank fire destroyed three other Tigers. The German counterattack collapsed.[37] Wittmann and his crew in their Tiger I tank were killed by tank fire from either British or Sherbooke tanks.[38][39] Modern investigations and interviews suggest that the SFR tank was most likely responsible as the British tank gunner, Joe Ekins of 3 Troop, A Sqn, 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry in a Sherman Vc Firefly, was probably too far away.[40]

The intensity of the break-out battles can be seen in the number of replacement vehicles that had to be brought forward. At the beginning of August the 27th Canadian Armoured Regiment had 63 fit Sherman 75mm and Firefly 17-Pounder tanks. In the next two-and-a-half weeks, 23 were lost or damaged by enemy action, and half of those were repairable. Thirteen more were out of action for 2nd line maintenance, or work that was beyond the immediate capability of the unit's mechanics or facilities. Two were in 1st line maintenance, or temporarily out of the line for manageable repairs. Thirteen replacement tanks were received, either newly arrived from stocks in UK or repaired from battlefield salvage. Therefore, on 18 August, the SFR could field 38 fit tanks not including the two at the regimental Light Aid Detachment (LAD) on two-days availability. Though not a perfect count, this was enough to theoretically field three squadrons of four troops. Each troop could field three tanks each, plus four for the headquarters squadron. Other regiments involved in heavy combat equally received large numbers of replacement tanks in short order.[41]

Clair Tizon (10-14 August), The Liaison (14-16 August), Falaise (11-23 August), and Falaise Road

While the British and Canadians were holding the enemy in the east of the Normandy bridgehead, the Americans were able to break through German lines in the west. Meanwhile, the Germans started moving in another Army Group and redeployed others to attack the Americans. Seeing an opportunity to entrap the enemy, the Canadians were ordered to relentlessly drive south.

Clair Tizon was a series of infantry and tank engagements to capture bridges south of Caen.[42] The Liaison was another series of battles to clear a long narrow river valley. Falaise was the bigger battle to close off two trapped German armies.

After reviewing the last two months of fighting, the commander of II Canadian Corps, Lieutenant General Guy Simonds decided that to keep the enemy off balance, he needed to leapfrog German lines with half-squadrons of tanks, mechanized engineers, self-propelled artillery and infantry in armoured personnel carriers, grouped into fighting columns. Although highly classified in wartime, the Allies also had the German plans because of Top Secret intercepted signals decoded with ULTRA

Column after column of Canadians fought day after day to wear down the German defences. Nearby Polish and British divisions pressed hard. The Americans formed a big hook that trapped the Germans in the Falaise Pocket. Two SFR squadrons and their battalions actually entered the town of Falaise on 16 August. By 21 August, SFR tanks and infantry of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment, closed one of the last routes in or out of the pocket near Hill 258 northeast of Trun, near Les Champeaux. Nearly fifty thousand Germans were killed, wounded or captured. The battle of Normandy was over, but the pursuit of retreating Germans had just begun.

Operation Kitten, Operation Paddle

The closure of the Falaise Gap brought dramatic enemy capture and destroyed numbers, but the enemy was far from defeated. Their rearguard operations slowed the SFR and the various ever-changing brigades and regiments it supported. In the weeks that followed, the SFR refitted with replacement tanks and crews, worked on lessons learned, and halted when ordered due to fuel shortages.

Antwerp-Tournout, Belgium (September and October 1944)

As the Germans retreated from France into Belgium and the Netherlands, Allied supply lines became longer. The port of Antwerp was needed by the Allies to improve their logistics challenges, but the approaches to Antwerp were still controlled by the Germans.[43] The first step in a four-part battle was to clear the area north of Antwerp and secure access to South Beveland.

The SFR was attached to the I British Corps, with individual squadrons supporting different British infantry brigades' attacks. Initially daily advances gained bridges and valuable ground between the dominating canals. The operations were distinctive for the large numbers of disorganized prisoners taken while suffering limited friendly casualties. Despite the teamwork of the British, Polish and Canadians to clear the banks of the Scheldt, the enemy consolidated their resistance along the only axis available. The fighting was fierce. The well-entrenched German forces made it difficult for the Allied Forces to advance.[44]

The Scheldt (October and November 1944) Operation Switchback, Operation Vitality, and Operation Infatuate

Following the comparatively conventional battle for Antwerp, the action to clear the Scheldt Estuary was anything but simple.[45][45] Canadian and British forces, mostly infantry supported by artillery, and direct fire from tanks, struggled across terrible conditions to clear German defenders little by little from the shores and islands between Antwerp and the North Sea. It was one of the most distressing periods for the Canadian Army in WW2.

The Lower Maas

Through November and December after the intense actions to clear the Scheldt, the Canadians were ordered to move to a comparatively quiet sector held by the American 82nd Airborne and replace a British Guards regiment, which gave the SFR time to rest and receive training on new techniques. The front was still active, but generally static due to badly damaged roads, large flooded areas, and winter conditions. Throughout January and February 1945, the whole regiment or individual squadrons were moved around the 2nd and 3rd Canadian Infantry Division areas, and were often assigned direct and indirect fire tasks against enemy positions.[46]

In early January 1945, LtCol Gordon left the SFR in early Jan 45 and LtCol FT Jenner assumed command for the balance of the war.

The Rhineland and the Hochwald (February - March 1945) Operation Veritable

As late winter arrived, significant Canadian forces, with attached British divisions mounted Operations Veritable and Blockbuster to push into heavily defended German territory. Once more, the SFR was parcelled out to attacking brigades and regiments to fight the infantry onto their objectives. Mobility was hindered by sodden terrain, heavy forest, well-fortified defences and highly motivated defenders. With the general disappearance of enemy armour and more conventional tank fighting, the SFR's role was characterized by shock and firepower for the infantry, whose progress was regularly aided by Kangaroo APCs, flail minesweeping tanks, and flame-throwing tanks. Lesson learned from the costly Normandy campaigns.[46]

Xanten (February - March 1945) Operation Blockbuster

As winter ended, the First Canadian Army intensified the drive to overwhelm and defeat the Germans, starting with pushing them out of the area between the Maas River to the West and Rhine River to the North and against the Ninth US Army to the South. The opening attack of Operation Blockbuster saw the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade including the SFR and Fort Garry Horse, with infantry battalions from the 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade riding on the tanks or in Kangaroo APCs, attacking fiercely defending German positions. The last objective Xanten, was achieved in early March after fighting which the official histories described as the most grim and gruelling of the war.[47]

The Rhine Liberation of Arnhem

The Rhine River was both a physical obstacle for the advancing Allied armies, but a psychological barrier for the defending Germans. By establishing themselves on the eastern side of the Rhine, the Allies proved that they could control German territory and defeat the Third Reich.

Emmerich-Hoch Elten (March - April 1945)

Working from a previously earned Canadian bridgehead, squadrons of the SFR supported Canadian infantry clearing the German town of Emmerich on the eastern shores of the Rhine River. Even though this was a significant point of resistance for the Germans, the Canadians were well-practiced in their roles by this point in the war, and what might have been a weeks long set piece battle in Normandy was completed within days. Hoch Elten is a local high feature which was strongly defended, but overtaken.[46]

Zutphen (April 1945)

Once more, the SFR was dispatched to support attacking Canadian infantry battalions clearing resilient defenders.[48] Often carrying the foot soldiers on the tanks, the SFR provided direct and indirect fire against the enemy. As each obstacle was encountered, the close fighting relationships between tank troops and squadrons, A Squadron in particular, with particular battalions saw enemy positions destroyed or forced their retreat. Zutphen was notable for the close cooperation between pioneers and tankers to create small water crossings which were then successfully exploited.[46] The Zutphen battle honour was given to six infantry regiments and a reconnaissance unit, but the only armoured unit recipient was the SFR.

Deventer (April 1945)

Despite feelings that the war had been won, the enemy still showed resilience. The Dutch town of Deventer was still stoutly defended. Canadian infantry and a handful of SFR tanks from B Squadron engaged the enemy who quickly fled.[49] Although this was the last battle honour awarded the SFR, the remainder of April and May saw sharp enemy defensive actions and Canadian dashes to seize territory, with the associated drain on lives, men and material.[46]

North-West Europe 1944-1945,

LtCol S. Radley-Walters assumed command in July 1945. The Regiment was disbanded on 15 February 1946.[50][51]

Tank Bomb

Bomb a year after D-Day
Bomb is preserved in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Pictured here in April 2015.

The most important regimental artifact is Bomb, a Sherman III tank (British Commonwealth designation of the M4A2 Sherman), War Department registration T152656, serial number 8007, built by Fisher as build number 898. This tank survived from D-Day to VE-Day without being knocked out, an improbable achievement given the high casualty rate amongst front line combat equipment. Bomb crew, originally Troopers A.W. Rudolph, "Red" Fletcher, J.W. (Tiny) Hall, Lance-Corporal R. (Rudy) Moreault and Sergeant Harold Futter, crew commander, kept the tank in service, firing over 6,000 rounds and surviving at least one shell impact. Futter was wounded in July 1944; he and one other man were replaced in Normandy by Lieutenant Paul Ayriss and Trooper Ken Jeroux. Lieutenant J.W. Neill replaced Ayriss in August 1944, and was later awarded the Military Cross. Two more officers to command Bomb were Lieutenant Walter White, who was wounded in April 1945, and Lieutenant Earnest Mingo, who replaced him until the war's end.

Bomb was on display at the Champs de Mars Park, Queen Boulevard North, Sherbrooke, Quebec. In 2003, it received expert refinishing and repainting in a two-week-long technical visit by Canadian Forces maintainers from CFB Valcarter.[52] Nevertheless, by 2011 that work had deteriorated, and Bomb was removed from her plinth. Extensive cleaning and repainting with the correct markings was completed at 202 Workshop Depot in Longue-Pointe Garrison, and in September 2011 Bomb was relocated to the front lawns of the William Street Armoury in Quebec.[53]

Few tanks are film stars. Bomb was the subject of a Canadian Army Film and Photographic Unit production entitled Green Fields Beyond (number 2090) in 1945.[54][55][56] The script starts in England as the crew receives their Sherman III tank and christen it Bomb at the Sun Inn pub. The tank is waterproofed for D-Day, loaded onto Landing Craft, and personal effects (letters, pay books, memorabilia and valuables) collected for security reasons. The film includes footage Sergeant Bill Grant of the Canadian Film and Photographic Unit of the first wave landing at Bernieres-sur-Mer and Courseulles-sur-Mer. Additional footage portrays the landings, the bridgehead, fighting, a medal's presentation by Montgomery, resting, the arrival of replacement crew members, captured enemy, artillery fire, and moving vehicles. There is action footage of the Sherbrookes fighting at Falaise in August, Calcar in February, and into liberated Netherlands. Two stand out scenes are maps showing the line of advance through France, Belgium, and in the Netherlands superimposed over actions, and Bomb turned-in but arriving at the Port of Halifax with the disembarking troops.

Hong Kong

In July 1940, the 7th/11th Hussars contributed about half its officers and men to The Royal Rifles of Canada which fought in Hong Kong. From the elements not sent overseas, an armoured squadron was mobilized as the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade Headquarters Squadron (7th/11th Hussars) CASF on 27 February 1941. It departed Canada for the United Kingdom on 9 October 1941, however it was disbanded effective 1 January 1943 and personnel were absorbed by Headquarters, 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade.

Post amalgamation

The guidon of the Sherbrooke Hussars

The history of The Sherbrooke Hussars from 1965 to present has been distinguished by success by surviving. The Canadian Army doctrine changed in the 1950s from mobilizing units in Canada for overseas service, to maintaining standing forces in Europe. As a NATO Charter signatory, Canada's focus was to support first the 27th Infantry Brigade in Germany and later 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade. The role of reserve units changed to training individual soldiers to augment the regular force.[57] Throughout the period members of The Sherbrooke Hussars deployed on Exercise REFORGER 'call-outs' to Germany, including a formed Jeep light armoured reconnaissance troop attached to the 8th Canadian Hussars. Other operational deployment included United Nations missions in Middle East UNEF and UNDOF as support trades, such as drivers, Cyprus UNFICYP as peacekeepers, and extensively in the Former Yugoslavia UNPROFOR. A member of the regiment, Corporal David Galvin, attached to 12e RBC, was killed when his Cougar armoured car rolled over on 29 November 1993.[58][59] Several members of the regiment served in Afghanistan, including at least one soldier who was wounded by an improvised explosive device.[60] Although individual contributions were significant, the regiment did not meet the detailed criteria for the Afghanistan theatre honours. Elsewhere, personnel served in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.[61]

Reserve units in Canada face constant challenges of personnel attraction and retention. Often an employer will be reluctant to allow a reservist to leave their job to attend extended training courses or an operational deployment. One effort to reward cooperative employers has been through public recognition through the Canadian Forces Liaison Council. In 2005, the Most Supportive Employer in Quebec was the federal Department of Citizenship and Immigration on behalf of their employee, Captain Simon Hallé of the Sherbrooke Hussars.[62]

National Defence budgets have always set the tone for training and recruiting tempo. For example, in April 2010, both the Sherbrooke Hussars and les Fusiliers de Sherbrooke were required to reduce their operating funds by 40% in the middle of their training year.[63]

In 2019, the regiment perpetuates its Eastern Township roots as a bilingual unit in the Army Reserves. As a member of the Armoured Corps, the Sher H trains for, among other things, mounted reconnaissance, convoy escort and vehicle checkpoint establishment using the TAPV and G Wagen. Its unofficial motto is, is see without being seen.

Through the Strengthening the Army Through the Reserves (StAR) project, it will be assigned a mission task,[64] which is still in the analysis stage, to acquire Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) detection expertise. Two additional Regular Force cadre were posted to Sherbrooke to facilitate the capacity. Other units across Canada have been assigned significant mission tasks in three strategic approaches. Currently validated missions include Force Protection, Convoy Escorts, Arctic Response Company Groups, and Territorial Battalion Groups; newly identified missions like Infantry Platoons, Reconnaissance, Direct Fire Support, Assault Pioneers, Mortars, Influence Activities, Persistent Surveillance System, and Long Haul Trucking; and exploring future missions such as Assault Troop, Light Urban Search and Rescue, Light Engineer Bridging, Cyber Threats.

The Sherbrooke Hussars has used a variety of operational vehicles, including the M4A3E8 Sherman tank (retired in 1963), the Cougar AVGP (Armoured Vehicle General Purpose), the GMC M135 ​-ton Cargo ("Deuce and a Half"), the Dodge M37 ​-ton truck, the M38A1 ​-ton truck, the M151A2 ​-ton truck, the M35 series ​-ton 6×6 cargo truck known as the MLVW, various Canadian-produced 1-ton Dodge and ​-ton GM commercial vehicles Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle, and the Volkswagen Iltis ​-ton truck.

The current service vehicle is the Mercedes G-Wagen ​-ton truck, and the operational support vehicle is the MilCots commercial pattern extended cab 4x4 truck. There are six assigned for the echelon as fuel can hauler, ammo truck, Squadron Sergeant Major's resupply and canteen, 1st line mechanic, and Administration Sergeant in place of the retired LSVW. Since fall 2017, the transition to a new vehicle has begun, the TAPV, 18-ton Textron Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle.[65]

Armoury and Training Areas

Site Date(s) Designated Location Description Image
William Street Armoury

315 William St Sherbrooke QC J1H 4E8 Tel 819.564.4252

1908 Canada's Register of Historic Places; Recognized - 1991 Register of the Government of Canada Heritage Buildings Sherbrooke, Quebec
  • Housing The Sherbrooke Hussars and 52e Ambulance de Campagne à Sherbrooke. The front facing portion is the former Sherbrooke Court House, convenient to the adjacent former Winter Street Prison. The layout is a central hallway with two former courtrooms behind the front facade, offices beyond, QM in the basement and a mess on the entire second floor. A large steel gable roof drill hall is nested behind the offices, and is accessible from a large door on Winter Street.
William Street Armoury, Sherbrooke, Quebec.jpg

The question of maintenance on the William Street Armoury was asked of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his town-hall visits in January 2017. In mid-February, the MP for Sherbrooke, Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP sent a letter to the Minister of National Defence defending the institution of both armouries in Sherbrooke as historic buildings deserving of conservation, and signalling that the William Street Armoury is the one apparently in the poorest state of repair.[66]

The outgoing Commanding Officer LCol L-B Dutil stated that moving the four regiments to the Belvedere Street Armoury was unlikely to proceed, "With the growth of the reserves, with the new vehicles that have arrived, and with other factors, it means that this option may not be the best, ... (translated from French)." He also mentioned a visit in December 2017 by the Minister of National Defence who acknowledged rushing a decision was not in anyone's interests.[67]

In the early 1950s the Sherbrooke Regiment acquired a parcel of land west of Sherbrooke near the village of St Elie d'Orford commonly known as McBain's Farm. It provided off-road driving experiences for trainees, from open fields and sand pits, to overgrown farm fields, to dense brush and forested areas. Over the years many Basic Training courses dug defensive trench lines and waited in the gloom dawn to repel deliberate attacks, and practised compass marches through the swamps. A hardstand and a small hangar were built to suit the tanks. In the late 2000s, when land values had made McBains attractive to developers, a land swap was made for a 73-hectaire sized open field area 8km further west along Quebec Route 220, named Rutherford. It is managed as a field training area by the Regular Force garrison at Farnham.

Battle honours

Battle honours in small capitals are for large operations and campaigns and those in lowercase are for more specific battles. Bold type indicates honours authorized to be emblazoned on the regimental guidon.

War of 1812
Defence of Canada - 1812-1815 - Défense du Canada
The non-emblazonable honorary distinction Defence of Canada - 1812-1815 - Défense du Canada
First World War
Second World War

Honorary distinction: the badge of the Royal Rifles of Canada, with the year-date 1941, was awarded as an honorary distinction to the 7th/11th Hussars for significantly reinforcing the Royal Rifles of Canada during their operation in Hong Kong[68]

Perpetuations

Frontier Light Infantry and 1st and 4th battalions of the Eastern Township District (1812-1815).

5th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles, CEF [69] is perpetuated by The Sherbrooke Hussars, through the 7th/11th Hussars.

117th (Eastern Townships) Battalion, CEF is perpetuated by The Sherbrooke Hussars.

163rd Battalion (French-Canadian), CEF is perpetuated by Les Fusiliers de Sherbrooke.[70]

The guidon of The Sherbrooke Hussars has, at its centre bottom, the device of the Royal Rifles of Canada to denote the honorary distinction battle honour for Hong Kong.

Honorary appointments

Honorary colonels[71]

  • The Sherbrooke Regiment and The Sherbrooke Hussars
    • Colonel Edward Bruen Worthington, CMG VD 1937
    • Colonel (Brigadier-General) J.H. Price, CC, OBE, MC, ED 1968
    • Colonel Douglas Bradley
    • Colonel Thomas Garfield Gould, MC
    • Colonel J. Garneau, CD 2006
    • Colonel (Lieutenant-General retired) Paul Addy, CMM, CD
    • Colonel (Maître) Sylvestre
  • The 7th/XIth Hussars

Honorary lieutenant-colonels

  • The Sherbrooke Regiment and The Sherbrooke Hussars
    • Lieutenant-Colonel C.J. McCuaig 1913
    • Lieutenant-Colonel E.B. Worthington 1926
    • Lieutenant-Colonel A.A. Munster 1937
    • Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Lloyd Penhale 1958
    • Lieutenant-Colonel (Brigadier-General) J.H. Price, CC, OBE, MC, ED
    • Lieutenant-Colonel D. Bradley
    • Lieutenant-Colonel D. Ross
    • Lieutenant-Colonel J. Garneau CD 1991
    • Lieutenant-Colonel Jacques F. Girardin CD 2006
    • Lieutenant-Colonel Jean Vaillancourt
    • Lieutenant-Colonel (Maître) David Rothschild
  • The XIth Hussars
    • Colonel (Brigadier-General the Honourable) C.M. Nelles, CMG, RO 1921

War Of 1812

The Frontier Light Infantry

1st and 4th battalions of the Eastern Township District (1812-1815)

The Great War

5th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles, CEF

117th (Eastern Townships) Battalion, CEF

Commanding officers and regimental sergeant majors

Commanding officers

  • Lieutenant Colonel Harry Blue
  • Lieutenant Colonel Jack Hawkins
  • Lieutenant Colonel Jim Strickland (1967)
  • Lieutenant Colonel Maurice "Moe" Jackson
  • Lieutenant Colonel Ross Bishop (1976)
  • Lieutenant Colonel Allan Marshall
  • Lieutenant Colonel Gary Connors
  • Lieutenant Colonel John Murray
  • Lieutenant Colonel Alain Martineau, CD (to 1993)
  • Lieutenant Colonel Ernie Garbutt, CD (from 1993)
  • Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Braun (to 2000)
  • Lieutenant Colonel Warren Sanderson (2000 to 2003)
  • Lieutenant Colonel Alain Martineau (to 2008)
  • Lieutenant Colonel Luc Tremblay (from 2008)
  • Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Lamoureux (12eRBC)
  • Lieutenant Colonel Louis-Benoit Dutil (2015 to 2018)[72]
  • Lieutenant Colonel J.A. Éric Beaudoin (2018), former commanding officer of Les Fusiliers de Sherbrooke (2005 to 2010)[67][73]

Regimental sergeant majors

  • Chief Warrant Officer George Lavigne
  • Chief Warrant Officer Garth Bishop (1970)
  • Chief Warrant Officer Ernie Kirby
  • Chief Warrant Officer B.P. Bourque (1976)
  • Chief Warrant Officer Jim Oakley
  • Chief Warrant Officer Ryan Quinn
  • Chief Warrant Officer Denis Gauthier
  • Chief Warrant Officer Jeff George
  • Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Galvin
  • Chief Warrant Officer Brian Rowell (2002-04)
  • Chief Warrant Officer Jacques Madore (2004-?)
  • Chief Warrant Officer Éric Decubber (2008-11)
  • Chief Warrant Officer Sebastian Landry
  • Master Warrant Officer J.S.B.M. (Mathieu) Giard (2015-18),[72] promoted chief warrant officer and appointed regimental sergeant major of 2 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (2018-)[73]
  • Chief Warrant Officer D. Lapalme-Robitaille (2018-)[73]

Notable Sherbrookes

Including post-war service:

Second World War Gallantry Awards:,[74][75]

Officers

Rank / Surname / Names / Decoration / Immediate Or Periodic / Date

  • Major WALSH Vincent Owen DSO Immediate 07 Jun 44
  • LtCol GORDON Melville (Mel) Burgoyne Kennedy DSO Immediate 08 Jul 44
  • Capt GOULD Thomas Garfield (Garry) MC Immediate 26 Feb 45[76][77]
  • Lt NEILL John Wesley MC Immediate 26 Feb 45 (Lt Neill was Crew Commander of Bomb when he receive this award)
  • Major HOUSTON Ross Melvin DSO Periodic Jul 44 - Feb 45
  • Lt CLOUT Edward Albert MC Immediate 03 Mar 45
  • Lt WARRINER Robert Alfred MC Immediate 29 Mar 45
  • Capt SPAFFORD Elliott MC Periodic Jun 44 - Mar 45
  • Lt GOODWIN George Douglas MC Immediate 28 Apr 45
  • Major RADLEY-WALTERS Sidney Valpy DSO & MC Periodic Aug 44 - Apr 45 (see above)
  • Capt BRENNAN John Paul MC Immediate 28 Apr 45

Other Ranks

Rank / Surname / Names / Decoration / Immediate Or Periodic / Date

  • Squadron Sergeant Major NICHOLSON Claude Linden MM Periodic 07 Jun 44
  • Sergeant BEARDSLEY Ralph Robert MM Immediate 08 Jul 44
  • Squadron Sergeant Major HOWLAND Ernest Arthur MM Periodic 13 Aug 44
  • Sergeant CUDDIE Lloyd William MM Immediate 22-24 Jul 44
  • Sergeant (RCEME) SODEMAN Eugene Frederick MM Immediate 26 Feb 45 (As a member of 85 Light Aid Det att 27 Cdn Armd Regt)[78]
  • Sergeant BOWERS Victor Ray MM Periodic 27 Feb 45
  • Trooper SCHULER Vernon Peter MM Immediate 08 Mar 45
  • Sergeant RIGBY Arthur MM Immediate 10 Apr 45
  • Lance Sergeant CONNELL Armond Thomas MM Immediate 23 Apr 45
  • Lance Corporal DAVIS Milton David MM Immediate 26 Apr 45
  • Trooper BARLETT David Douglas MM Periodic 14 Jun 45

Immediate award for a specific act of gallantry. Periodic Award. Not for a specific act, but can encompass gallant behaviour over a period of time or noteworthy service.

Modern era Notables:

  • Major (Retd) Edson Warner, CD QM5 [Sherbrooke Regiment, 7th/11th Hussars, Sherbrooke Hussars 1949 - 1973] - Canadian Olympian, rifle and pistol shooter, member of Canadian Forces Sports Hall of Fame, Dominion of Canada Rifle Association Target Rifle and Service Rifle Halls of Fame.[79][80][81]
  • Hon. David Price, P.C. MP [Sherbrooke Regiment 1959 - 1965] - elected Member of Parliament for Compton Stanstead. Elect Progressive Conservative 2 June 1997 to 13 Sept 2000; sat as Liberal 14 Sept to 27 Nov 2000; reelected 27 Nov 2000 to 27 June 2004 (7 years 26 days). Mayor of Lennoxville (1989-97) and Counsellor for the Borough of Lennoxville in Sherbrooke (2009 to 2017).

Alliances

Order of precedence

Sixth of 18 Canadian reserve armoured regiments.

References

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  30. ^ interview 28 Oct 19, Maj. (Padre) Rev. Dr. Tom Hamilton B.A., M.Div., M.A., Ph.D., unpublished PhD dissertation, U of T
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Further reading

  • The Royal Canadian Armoured Corps, an illustrated history, by John Marteinson and Michael R McNorgan, published by the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps Association, 2000. ISBN 1-896941-17-6
  • The Postwar Sherman in Canadian Service by Rod Henderson, Service Publications, Ottawa, 2012 ISBN 978-1894581-76-9
  • 'Hughes, David The British Armies in World War Two: An Organisational History Volume Six: The Canadian Army (The Nafziger Collection, Inc., West Chester, OH, 2003) ISBN 1-58545-105-3
  • Lieutenant-Colonel H.M. Jackson, The Sherbrooke Regiment (12th Armoured Regiment), (n.p., 1958). Limited print run.
  • Garneau, Grant, The Royal Rifles of Canada in Hong Kong, 1941-1945, Baird O'Keefe Pub Inc, (Sherbrooke, 2001), ISBN 9781894439053
  • List of military operations in the West European Theater during World War II by year#Western Front
  • Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War, Volume III, THE VICTORY CAMPAIGN
  • The Operations in North-West Europe 1944-1945 by CP Stacey [1]
  • War Diaries held by Library and Archives Canada "27th Armoured Regiment" reels 14823 (1940 and 1941), 14824 (1940 and 1941); 14825 (1942 and 1943), 14826 (1943 and 1944), 14827(1943 and 1944), 14828 (1944 and 1945), 14829 (1945) and 14830 (1945). Not digitized or available on line as of May 2018.

External links


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Sherbrooke_Hussars
 



 



 
Music Scenes