There are 3 standing Regiments of Infantry standing today in Canada. They are the RCR (Royal Canadian Regiment), the R22R (the Royal 22 Regiment also known as the Van doos) and the PPCLI ( Princess Patricias Canadian Light Infantry).
I am going to start with the PPCLI because I was a proud member from 1974 until 1989, with both the 3rd and 2nd Battalions, (moc 031) and remustered to Airframe Tech with 414 Sqn.(moc 512)
When I think of the PPCLI, 3 names come to mind. Andrew Hamilton Gault, Lt.-Col Francis Farquhar and H.R.H Princess Patricia of Connaught, whom the Battalion was named after. There were other key players in the formation and I will cover them also.
First, Andrew Hamilton Gault, also known as “Hammie”, born in England. Although schooled in business at Bishops College School and McGill University he craved adventure and at the chance,he jumped at the chance to be commissioned in the Military. He served with the Royal Canadian Dragoons in the Boer Wars and returned with the Queens Medal. And after unsuccessfully trying to join the British Calvary Regiment, he returned to Montreal as a Captain with the 5th Black Watch. In Montreal, Gault took up his business life and was even appointed Consul-General for Sweden in Canada and was a member of the Montreal Board of Trade from 1911 to 1913. But Gault had little interest in business and missed the adventure of military life. When war broke out on August 4 1914, Gault had chance to return to military life. He was anxious to get involved and afraid Canada would miss the chance to be an international player. Inspired by Lord Strathcona, who raised the Lord Strathcona Horse, Gault went to Sam Hughes, Minister of the Militia and Defence, and offered $100,000 of his own money, to finance and equip a regiment. Prime Minister Robert Borden’s government was all to happy to accept, after already committing Canada to raising a division of 25,000 men as an initial contribition to the war.
Joined by Lt-Col Francis Farquhar, a British Army Veteran and Military Secretary to the Governor General, they went to work on a cross country campaign for new recruits. Over 3,000 men answered the call. Every type of man applied, farmers, trappers, business men, prospectors. By Aug 19 almost 1100 men were chosen. These men became know as the Originals. Farquhar was named Regimental Commander.
Now remember Farquhar was Military Secretary to the Governor General, who at the time was Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught. They approached the Governor General’s daughter, Princess Patricia, and asked if they could name the the regiment after her. She was honoured and pleased and offered to design a regimental colour for them.
Now, there are theorys about the name of the Regimental Colours. One of which is the Gaelic meaning “cloth of thy mother” and another is it came from the Black Watch which Gault was a member of and another is the scarf or favour presented to knights . It became known as the
Capt. J.N. Edfar (left) and Capt. C. White (right) display the Ric-A-Dam-Doo. The camp colours were hand-sewn by Princess Patricia, a gift to the regiment that bore her name (PPCLI Archive and Museum).
Princess Patricia, Colonel in Chief, inspecting
the battalion at Bramshot. Here she is placing a
laurel wreath on the standard. Carried into every battle
in which the PPCLI fought.
The cap badge of the PPCLI in WW1
The flower in the centre is the Marguerite in honour of Hamilton Gaults wife.
When Princess Patricia presented the colours, she told the soldiers ” I have great pleasure in presenting you with these colours, which I have worked myself. I hope they will be associated with what I believe will be a distinguished corps. I shall follow the fortunes of you all with the deepest interest, and I heartily wish every man good luck and a safe return.”
It was a heartfelt wish, but one she knew was not to be. It was war after all. The Patricias boarded RMS Royal George for England and on Dec 20 after only a few months of training they were sent to Le Havre. And after 2 weeks training there they were sent to Ypres Salient. They were the first Canadian regiment to go into battle.
More to come