Queen's Own Rifles D-Day
Survivors Silently Fade Away
In 1994, the members of the committee planning the regiment's participation in the ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the landings in June, 1944 were all D-Day veterans. Twenty years later only one was still alive, CQSM Jack Martin, second from the left in the photo. The others (l. to r.) Rolph Jackson, Jack Martin, John Missons, Col Hank Elliot,CD, Jim Leslie, Col C.O Dalton, DSO, RSM Charlie Martin, MM, DCM. They are seated before the painting by war artist Capt Orville Fisher of their landing on that fateful day almost 50 years before.
With the loss in 2014 of D-Day veterans WO Ted O'Halloran of Guelph and Elwyn Smith of Banff, the ranks of those of The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada who landed on Juno Beach on 6 June, 1944 were slowly being winnowed down. The loss over previous months of D-Day veterans Orville Cook, Bill Bettridge, Jasper Martin, Simon Goldenthal, Harold Goss, Clay Bell, Peter Rea, Robert Mitchell, Bill Ives and Alex Kemp reduced the known total of Queen's Own Rifles veterans of the Normandy landing to just 17. Those remaining, now all in their 90s, living in Ontario were: Alec Adair, Cobourg, Fred Barnard, Uxbridge, Edward Butler, Orono, Alec Greer, Port Carling, Jack Hadley, East York, Ken Jamieson, Iroquois Falls, Jack Leggett, Toronto; Nils Lindenas, Port Colborne, Jack Martin, North York; Jim McCullough, Loretto, Roy Shaw, Barrie, Jim Wilkins, North York and Tom Wilson, Thorndale. Bill Ross was in Montreal, Ernie Kells in Gibsons, BC, John O'Neill in Fredericton, NB and the lone known survivor in Alberta was Joe Wagar.
They were among the list of known veterans of the Second World War who went into battle wearing the cap badge and shoulder flashes of The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada and who were also still members of the regimental family. The others were, in Ontario, George Beardshaw, London, Ray Collins, Burlington, Bob Firlotte, Scarborough, Frank Goddard, Kincardine, Sid Stocks, Niagara Falls, Ken McLarty, Lanark and Paul Sterling, Newmarket. Also Joe Gallant, whose address is unknown.
Toronto-born Queen's Own Rifleman Elwyn Alfred Smith had just celebrated his 28th birthday two days before crossing the English Channel and making an opposed landing on the sandy shores of Juno Beach on D-Day. A member of the anti-tank platoon, he was in the second wave in the support company commanded by Captain R.A. Cottrill. His family said that, like many others who participated in the bitter fighting and survived the war, he never talked about his experiences, preferring to live in the present rather than in the past.
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"IN PEACE PREPARED"
This new hardcover book is an interesting and informative account of the military history of the regular force and militia battalions of Canada's oldest continuously-serving infantry regiment from the post-World War Two years to the present time. Includes much anecdotal material provided by those who have served in The Queen's Own, along with numerous photographs.
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Pictures from D-Day+70 Tour
Members of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada present in Normandy for D-Day+70 ceremonies were photographed with their Colonel-in-Chief, HRH Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, GCVO, CSM.
Queen’s Own Rifles Guard at Vimy.
Bugle Major Emily Kenny and drummer Laura Savage lead The Queen’s Own contingent through the Menin Gate, in Ypres.
More then 30 members of the regiment and the association represented The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada at D-Day+70 events held in Normandy. They were photographed at the regiment’s memorial on Juno Beach at Bernieres-sur-Mer where the regiment landed on 6 June, 1944.
Queen’s Own Rifles D-Day veteran Jack Hadley salutes as Last Post is sounded at one of the many ceremonies.
Queen’s Own Rifles D-Day veteran Jack Hadley was among the many who gathered at the Juno Beach Centre in Normandy for D-Day+70 ceremonies.
Former Queen’s Own RSM Brian Budden, CD, led members of the regimental association at a Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate at Ypres, in Belgium. The gate bears the names of 54,000 British and Commonwealth WWI soldiers who have no known graves.
Members of a regimental family tour were photographed at the Vimy Memorial.
Members of the regimental association gathered at a new memorial honouring members of the Third (Toronto) Regiment killed at Passchendaele. (l. to r.) LCol John Fotheringham, Bugler George Walford, Rob Latham, Clay Downes, Peter Szepes, Dave Lavery, Brian Budden, George Carrigan.
Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Wreath.
Canadian Flag flies at the Vimy Memorial.
Poppies blow in the Normandy breezes.
(Photos by Maj Sandi Banerjee, Capt Sam Leibel and Brenda Butt)
Meeting with the Duchess of Cornwall
HRH Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, GCVO, the Colonel-in-Chief of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, met with members of the regiment during a brief stop in Winnipeg recently. Here she is photographed with (l to r) Colonel Paul F. Hughes, CD, Mrs. Bev Hughes, Mrs. Pamela Stevenson and Honorary Colonel Larry Stevenson.
Edward (Ted) O'Halloran, CD (1921-2014)
Warrant Officer Edward (Ted) O'Halloran, CD (1921-2014)
Former Queen’s Own buglers who marched with WO Ted O’Halloran sound Last Post as the Canadian Flag flies at half staff.
WO Ted O’Halloran is laid to rest in Guelph beside his brother Jim, who was killed in Italy in 1944.
Members of the Royal Canadian Legion and Toronto EMS formed a colour guard.
Led by LCol Peter St. Denis, members of The Queen’s Own salute WO Ted O’Halloran following the service.
Former Queen’s Own RSM Brian Budden presented a eulogy at the funeral of WO Ted O’Halloran.
Battle of Ridgeway Ceremony
QOR Association members raise the Union Jack at a ceremony to mark the 148th anniversary of the Battle of Ridgeway in 1866, in which nine Queen’s Own were killed.
Sign at Battle of Ridgway Park, site of the 1866 battle.
Royal Hamilton Light Infantry soldiers fire a volley.
Queen’s Own Rifles bugler sounds Last Post and Reveille.
Association members and Skirmishers pose for their portrait.
CWO/RSM Paul Martin, CD, Steps Up
32 Brigade Commander Colonel Dwayne Hobbs, CD, inspects the troops during change of RSM ceremonies.
Director of Music Designate, Cpl Megan Hodge, CD, conducts the band during inspection of the troops.
Bugle Major Emily Kenny, CD, salutes as Col Hobbs prepares to inspect the band.
Incoming CWO/RSM Paul Martin, CD, is drummed onto the parade square by Sgt John Missons, CD.
Colonel Hobbs presents RSM’s sword to CWO Martin, who is supported by WO Cecil Parrish, CD. Outgoing RSM Mark Shannon, CD in background.
Gillian Martin, wife of the new RSM, receives a bouquet from PO Karen Nickerson, chief clerk. Daughter Kylie, 8, looks on.
Outgoing CWO/RSM Mark Shannon, CD, makes his farewell remarks.
In Rifles tradition, RSM Shannon "doubles" through the ranks as he leaves the regiment.
Shannon makes his way through the ranks.
Led by LCol Peter St. Denis, MSC, CD, the regiment passes the saluting base at the close of the ceremony.
Remembrance Day Church Parade
10 Nov, 2013
Pioneers Cpl Adam Gee, MCpl Chris Abate and MCpl Steve Thomas head the parade.
The regimental band marches on.
LCol Peter St. Denis MSC, CD and CWO/RSM Mark Shannon CD lead the troops.
Association members assemble at the Cross of Sacrifice.
Wreath is placed at the Cross of Sacrifice by Honorary Colonel Larry Stevenson.
Buglers Geordie Hill and Sgt Emily Kenny sound Last Post.
Skirmishers rest on their rifles reversed at the Cross of Sacrifice.
View of St. Paul's Anglican Church during the service of worship.
Hon Col Larry Stevenson and Hon LCol Brendan Caldwell take the salute.
The regiment en route to Moss Park Armoury.
Association members pass the saluting stand.
An excellent turnout by The Queens Own Rifles cadets.
Remembrance Day Service 2013
The above is a copy of a program insert produced for distribution to worshipers who attended the annual Remembrance Day church parade of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada in St. Paul’s Church, Toronto, on Sunday 10 November. The regiment paraded in large numbers, followed by a strong contingent from the Toronto branch of the regimental association as well as an excellent turnout from 2881 Scarborough Rifles cadets. Although it was windy and cool, the promised rain never materialized. The salute was taken by Honorary Colonel Larry Stevenson and Honorary Lieutenant Colonel Brendan Caldwell.
The Queen's Own Rifles Day at Casa Loma
Members of the regiment and volunteers recently combined efforts to offer information and entertainment for visitors to the regimental museum at Casa Loma recently. Young visitors in particular enjoyed the opportunity, as the photos show.
Bandmaster Sgt Jonas Feldman led the regimental band in Casa Loma.
Cpl Jacob Ng got Evelyn Hodge, 3, into camouflage.
Jean Gibbings, 3, gives a "Thumbs Up" to Matthew Langille
Cpl Filippe Neto details Ensign McEachern's death in the Battle of Ridgeway in 1866.
Abigail Bondy, 7, wears a WW1 cap and Collin Bridge, 9 has a WW2 helmet.
Collin Bridge, 9, is in winter kit while Abigail Bondy, 7 is more fashionably dressed.
Lt Dan Copeland, (right) and his associate were kept busy in the WW1 and WW2 room.
"Ask me about Afghanistan" was the sign at Sgt Adam de Bartok's station.
Jacques de Winter (left) presents his handcrafted stained glass regimental badge to museum curator John Stephens and association representative Brian Budden.
A Message from The Maritimes Newfoundland QOR Association Branch
As some of you may know, we are planning a celebration for 2015 to erect a Memorial Stone Marker at both Gander and Botwood in Newfoundland in Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the posting of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada to these two locations in 1940. We are hoping we can raise sufficient funds to have these stones mark this special occasion in both towns. We are looking forward to seeing members from all Branches of the Association here for this event. We have an update of the activities of the Botwood & Gander 2015 Celebrations Planning Committee, which is available to read on our web page at www.qor-east.com. Please read and download at your leisure.
We are licensed to run a 50-50 draw. Licenses are good for only 12 months and then we have to reapply. We have less than 30 days before the first draw. This gives you time to make sure you are ready for the draw. No hurry for those who are digitally savvy because we have a Pay by Phone or internet service. It is a quick, simple, convenient, and secure way to send and receive money directly from one bank account to another. Go to this Interac site to learn more - http://www.interac.ca/en/interac-etransfer/etransfer-detail. Check your financial institution’s web site for your particular information. Some links to banks in our area will be found on our update page.
Because lotto licence costs money and requires a regular Financial Report to be made to Government Services, I have set up two QOR Bank Accounts to help keep track of our finances. To help with accounting and bookkeeping procedures, I ask you to note the following: If you are mailing in your 50-50 purchase, please Download an order Form make cheque payable to: 2015 QOR MN Association and mail to: 2015 QOR MN Association, 17 Riverview Ext., Clarenville, NL, A5A 4N2
We have the QOR bank account set up at BNS - http://www.scotiabank.com/ca/en/0,,317,00.html. Our QOR lotto account number is 305930145211. You may need this for phoning in your purchases. You can also pay your dues that way so long as you state in you phone procedure it is for dues and not the lotto.
If mailing in your dues the address header is different to show it belongs to another account. Both national and branch combined dues for Maritimes Newfoundland are $20.00 made payable to QOR NL Association. Mail to: QOR NL Association, 17 Riverview Ext., Clarenville, NL, A5A 4N2.
I will be sending out snail mail to branch non-email members. I would appreciate you informing both present and potential members about our planned events, especially those who are without e-mail service.
This promises to be a "Once in a Lifetime" event and we can assure you that you won’t regret the visit to this wonderful Rock.
Regimentally yours, Ben Turpin (firstname.lastname@example.org.) 17 Riverview Ext., Clarenville, NL, A5A 4N2.
Service Pins Awarded in Calgary
Peacekeeper Ed Widenmaier (L.) receives his 10 year CAVUNP service pin from Billy Willbond, Secretary of the Mark Isfeld Memorial Chapter. Ed is a retired WO former QOR OF C Rifleman and PPCLI Ranger trained soldier. Billy is a retired Operations Sergeant, ex QOR, PPCLI, Airborne Regiment, SSF.
Peacekeeper Bob Beaver (l) receives his 10 year CAVUNP service pin from CAVUNP Western Director Jim Sidel. Bob is a retired WO Physical Education Recreation Instructor and Jim is a retired Air Force Combat Medic.
Family Day at Moss Park Armoury
The youngsters were the principal focus as the regiment held Family Day recently with a number of different activities in place and members of the regiment and the association’s Toronto Branch on hand to ensure everyone had a good time.
Aydin Hing, 3 on the ascension line.
Heidi Stewart watchers carefully as Rylan celebrates his first birthday by taking the wheel.
Sgt Bill Paton gets Anthony Carvhalo into the harness for the high line ride.
MCpl John Kuzub helps Connor Patrick 9, to get his rifle sighted in.
Max Pampe, 1 and 3/4 years old spots a target for Cpl Ryan Wood.
Georgia Pampe, 3, prepares for her favourite trick, making hamburgers disappear.
Sgt Dave Hodgson gives instruction to Dev Banerjee and Christian Pierobon in the Small Arms Training area.
Action on-screen in the SAT area.
Keira Robinson, 4, gets an early start on Halloween.
Sgt Dmitri Frounze and Cpl Usana Mehmood promise Zoe Difelice-Cole, 3, that she’s in for a fun ride on the jump tower but she doesn’t seem convinced.
Riflemen Awarded Bursaries
By 78th Fraser Highlanders
Two members of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada were awarded $1,000 bursaries by the 78th Fraser Highlanders for their high academic standing and excellent military records.
Seen here are Corporal Andrée Vachon (top) and Corporal Phillip Hordo with their cheques. Also in the group are (l. to r.) LCol Peter St. Denis, MSC, CD, commanding officer, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, Major Jonathon Avery, officer commanding the York Garrison of the 78th Fraser Highlanders, Lionel Goffart, a member of the QOR of C Senate, and CWO/RSM Mark Shannon, CD, QOR of C.
RIFLEMEN AWARDED BURSARIES BY 78th FRASER HIGHLANDERS
On August 1, 2013, two young riflemen from The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada were awarded $1,000 bursaries by the 78th Fraser Highlanders. Corporals Andrée Vachon and Phillip Hordo were selected on the basis of their high academic standing and excellent military records. Cpl Vachon is a student at the Canadian Montessori Teacher Education Institute in Toronto and Cpl Hordo studies at Seneca College in Toronto. A qualified paratrooper, Cpl Hordo was a member of the Canadian Reserve Force Team at the 2013 Territorial Army (British Reserve Force) Operational Shooting Competition at Bisley, England earlier this year, where he won ten medals, six of them gold.
The bursaries were presented at a formal reception and dinner held at the historic Albany Club in Toronto. In attendance were LCol Peter St. Denis, MSC, CD, commanding officer of The Queen's Own Rifles, and the regimental sergeant major, CWO Mark Shannon, CD. Also present were Major Jonathon Avery, officer commanding the York Garrison of the 78th Fraser Highlanders, along with several officers of the 78th, including Captain Gerald Nudds, presiding officer of the event.
For some years, the York Garrison of the 78th Highlanders has presented $1,000 educational bursaries to members of selected Canadian Primary Reserve Force units based in Toronto. The recipients must be engaged in a course of studies at a recognized educational institution in Toronto. In 2012, a similar bursary was presented to Master Corporal Darnel Leader of The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada.
The original 78th Fraser Highlanders was one of the earliest highland battalions of the British Army. It was raised in 1757 for service in what is now Eastern Canada, where Britain was then at war with France. The battalion took part in the siege and capture of the great fortress of Louisburg and in three battles around Quebec City. These were the battle of the Plains of Abraham, the recapture of St. John's, Newfoundland from the French and the occupation of Montreal and conquered New France. In 1763, the war for which the battalion was raised came to an end and the 78th Fraser Highlanders were disbanded.
The 78th Fraser Highlanders, as it exists today, arose from an initiative of a group of generous Montrealers of Scottish descent. Their aim was to keep alive the memory of a Scottish battalion which had played a distinguished part in the history of Canada. The recruits are dressed, armed and drilled as in the original battalion. They mounted the guard of honour for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the 1967 Montreal International Exhibition (Expo 67), and on a subsequent royal visit to Canada. More recently, the unit paraded before HM Queen Elizabeth at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
There are now garrisons of the new 78th Fraser Highlanders in a number of major cities in Canada.
Juno Beach Centre July 2013 Newsletter
& Autum 2013 Newsflash
In this issue:
Colonel Neville A. (Robbie) Robinson,
CD, ADC (1924-2013) - NEW!
The news of the recent passing of Colonel Neville (Robbie) Robinson, CD, ADC, former Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, has now been made known to many members of the regimental family. As a courtesy to the Robinson family we are reproducing a revised death notice which contains details of his World War Two service. Along with this are several new tributes now added to those previously provided by those who who knew this fine officer who served in World War Two with the British Army's Parachute Regiment and upon his emigration to Canada, spent 16 years with the Queen's Own Rifles, serving in Korea and Cyprus. His outstanding military career lasted from 1941-1982.
ROBINSON, NEVILLE ARTHUR (ROBBIE) COLONEL, C.D. ADC
Born in Hornchurch, England in 1924, son of Dr. Harold S and Vera E Robinson. The Parachute Regiment 1941-1951, and Queens Own Rifles of Canada 1952-1982. He joined the Kings Royal Rifle Corps in 1941 at 17 years of age and volunteered for the formation of the Parachute Regiment in 1942, joining the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Brigade. First war action was sinking, as his troop ship, The Strathallan, was torpedoed during the invasion of North Africa. First armed action was the jump on Oudna, a German air field near Tunis, deep behind the lines. Surrounded, and unable to be relieved or resupplied, the Paras refused the German offer of surrender and fought their way 55 miles back through enemy held territory, under constant attack by German forces from both ground and air.
The battalion lost about half it’s numbers during the withdrawal. He remained on the front lines through out the advance into Tunisia, engaging in numerous battles and skirmishes, and was wounded in the forearm by a mortar bomb in the Battle of Tamera while tending a Bren gun in a rear guard action while under German assault. In the final four months of battles for Tunisia, his battalion suffered 80% casualties. By the end of the North Africa campaign, they had earned an epithet from the Germans: the ‘Red Devils’. In the invasion of Sicily, he jumped with the Brigade on Primosole Bridge. However only 295 Paras from the 1856 strong Brigade were able to assemble on the objective, about the strength of a single company. Nevertheless they prevented the bridge from being destroyed. Over the next 48 hours of continual attack and counter attack before 8th Army reinforcements arrived, they stood off an elite heavily armed German paratroop regiment with artillery support that outnumbered them more than 4 to 1. Over half were killed, wounded, or captured, and he was wounded again, taking a bullet through the hand while throwing a grenade at a bunker.
In Italy he landed at Taranto following the Italian surrender, and moved with the battalion north, being delayed only by showers of fruit, flowers, and flagons of wine from the jubilant Italians and some accidental fire from the Canadians. He went back to England for officer training, and participated in Operation Fortitude North, the D-Day deception for an invasion of Norway. He rejoined the Regiment as a Lieutenant with the 3rd Para Battalion in India, training and preparing for a jump to recapture Singapore. Whilst there he contracted Typhus and nearly died, spending several months in hospital. Post war he served in Egypt, and then in Palestine fighting terrorists and peace keeping. In 1947 he was promoted to Captain and sent to Greece to liaise with the Royalist forces during the Greek Civil war, and then in 1948 to France to assist with allied troops unable to return to their home nations now behind the iron curtain. He finished his service with the British Army in England in 1951 as a Major (Acting), commanding a company in the 10th Para Battalion.
In 1952 he transferred to the Canadian Army, first serving as a Lieutenant with the Royal Canadian School of Infantry, and then in 1954, having been promoted to Captain, as 2nd In Command (2IC) D Company (Coy) for 2nd Battalion (2) Queens Own Rifles of Canada (QOR of C), where he served in Korea before being transferred to HQ of the Commonwealth Division responsible for a South Korean Army battalion. On return to Canada in 1956 he served as 2IC C Coy 1 QOR of C, and then attended Staff College in 1958. Promoted to Major he rejoined 2 QOR of C, serving as 2IC and with the HQ of the Canadian Contingent of the UN Forces in Cyprus in 1965. In 1966 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and took over as Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion of the Queens Own Rifles of Canada, returning with the Battalion to Cyprus for another 6 month tour in 1967. He was CO when the Battalion was stood down in 1968 due to government cutbacks. Under his leadership as CO the battalion won numerous awards, and many of his officers went on to distinguished careers, four of them becoming Generals. In 1968 he transferred to NATO HQ in Brussels, where he was responsible for receiving and disseminating intelligence regarding the location of Soviet mobile nuclear missiles, and the subsequent re-targeting of the Allied missiles in response.
He returned to Canada in 1972, accepting a posting to HQ Vancouver District and then in 1975 to HQ Military Area Pacific. In 1978 he was promoted to Colonel, and served as Commander Vancouver District. He retired in 1982 after 41 years of Army service. On retirement he held the following medals: The 1939-1945 Star, The Africa Star with 1st Army Clasp, The Sicily / Italy Star, The Defence of Britain Medal, The Victory Medal, The Palestine Medal, The Canadian Special Service Medal with two Clasps, The Peacekeeping Medal, The Cyprus Medal with Clasp, The Canadian Centennial Medal, The Queens Silver Jubilee Medal, and The Canadian Decoration with two Clasps. He was appointed Honorary Aide-De-Camp to the Governor General of Canada in 1980. He was Past President of the Royal United Services Institute, a past Commissioner of the Delta Police Board, a past member of the Delta Citizens Advisory Board, a member of and past Director of the Beach Grove Golf Club, a member of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Association, The Parachute Regiment Association, The 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Association, the 2nd Para (1940-45) Club, The National Defence Committee of the Federation of Military Institutes. He was a past member of the Board of Governors of the Outward Bound School, a member of the Dominion Institute Memory Project and member of the Health Administrators Association of BC, having served as the Administrator of the Canadian Red Cross for BC and the Yukon.
He is survived by Brenda, the love of his life, whom he married in 1952, his son Michael, his daughter Lindie, his grandson Milo, his grandson Jaz, his brother Dr. Derek Robinson and family, his daughter-in-law Alison and his son-in-law Mark. His grandson Jaz has autism, and in his final years Robbie was extremely devoted to him. In lieu of flowers any donations in his memory to www.autismsupportdogs.org would be appreciated.
“The silver bugles call high and clear”
During the 1966 Wainwright summer concentration I had the good fortune to be assigned to BGen Ned Amy, the brigade commander as his ADC, Jon Pellow, another QOR was his pilot. Ned loved to surprise his unit commanders dropping in by air. On our first visit to 2 QOR he spotted someone on the ground wearing a floppy, dirty, tattered Australian style hat. It turned out to be the CO, Neville Robinson. On the second visit, prior to landing, I was told in no uncertain terms, "Lew, tell Colonel Robinson to ditch that hat. I don't ever want to see him wearing it again!" I duly passed on the message to the good-natured CO who promptly took the hat off and stuffed it in his pocket. After a 30 minute visit we took off and a few hundred yards down range I leaned out and looked back and could easily spot the hat back on the owner's head.
Robbie Robinson was my first Commanding Officer. I told him many times that I was so very fortunate and grateful to have begun my military career with such a wonderful leader and commander. In his humble way, he would not accept credit for the tremendous and positive influence he had over me (and others) and my desire to continue to serve in the military, but rather would say that it was he who was blessed with fine leaders in 2 QOR of C, and his contribution was to mold them into better leaders. Which he did in spades!
I first met Robbie as a wet-behind-the-ears subaltern, newly arrived in the unit, and was marched into his office by Bill Minnis (the Adjutant). I was extremely nervous and feared a real ‘talking to’. Instead, I felt it was more of a fatherly inspirational meeting in which Robbie made me feel fully accepted as a subbie and part of the leadership of the unit. On the way out of his office in the Athlone building in Calgary, he shouted to me “and by the way, don’t forget to sign up for the jump course.”
When running a range for the annual rifle qualifications that fall, the Commanding Officer showed up and immediately became ‘Rifleman Number One’ on the relay. Needless to say, I was extremely nervous (again) and after the qualifications were over, Robbie approached me and offered in a very fatherly and gentle way a few pointers about how I could get more out the range qualifications. He stayed around to watch the next few relays and when he left, simply said in a reassuring manner “that’s better.”
One morning I was about to begin PT with my platoon and appearing in the distance was the Commanding Officer. He informed me that he was going to participate in the session and made it clear that I was not to change anything in the program “because the old man” was there. I was amazed with his stamina and physical prowess – and embarrassed that he was more fit than a few of the young soldiers in my platoon.
As the Transport Officer on a particularly challenging road move to the Chilcotin area from Calgary for Exercise Panther Leap, I reported to the overall convoy commander (Ron Werry) at the end of the first very long day, and as I left Ron’s tent, I ran into Robbie who had seen me come into the marshaling area. He was very interested in how the convoy had moved and what the problems were. Again, he spent several minutes explaining how I might do a better job the second day. As we parted, he casually asked me where Brenda and I would like to be posted – at that time 2 QOR of C had been advised of the reduction to nil strength – and I told him Germany. He simply said ‘ok’. At the end of the exercise on arrival back at Calgary a few weeks later, he advised me that we were indeed posted to Germany. That was Robbie.
Robbie and I stayed in touch through phone calls, letters and Xmas cards – and far too infrequent get-togethers. A few years ago, I received a newspaper article that appeared in the Vancouver Sun entitled ‘The Old Soldier Down the Street’. It described Robbie to a ‘tee’; humble, fit, witty, professional, caring.
Robbie was a tremendous leader with a gentle yet no-nonsense touch that made you feel like you were an important part of the team. He led by leading and getting around to find out what was really going on. He had a great wit and a command presence that was demanding yet oozed confidence. My respect for Robbie was immeasurable. His influence on me was enormous and it was his outstanding approach to command and leadership that played a huge part in my decision to remain in uniform.
I will miss my first CO, but the memories of what he meant to me will live forever. Lieutenant General (Ret'd) Ray Crabbe, Colonel of the Regiment, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry
I had the good fortune to serve under Robbie twice: first when he was Acting CO of 2nd Battalion in 1964-65; and second as his Intelligence Officer 1966-68. It was in the second capacity in Currie Barracks, in Camps Sarcee and Wainwright, and in Cyprus that I really began to appreciate what a great opportunity had been afforded me to work close to such a fine soldier. Of course, like any job, it was not all roses. Robbie had a Basset Hound, named “Sam”. Jammed into the rear seat of a jeep between two 42 radio sets and Sam, could be especially uncomfortable for a rather large Intelligence Officer. It was sometimes a question of who was more sorrowful looking – Sam, or me. I had no doubt where I sat in the pecking order as Sam never learned voice procedure. In this capacity and in many other situations, I learned a great deal from Robbie, especially about his abiding concern for the well-being of his soldiers. I consider myself so very privileged to have served under such a fine CO as Robbie was. None in my experience was better. Albeit infrequent, I treasure the times we were able to share in more recent times, especially the fine lunch Carol and I enjoyed with Brenda and Robbie at the Golf Club in April, 2013. Our country deserves more of Robbie's ilk: unassuming, patient, courageous, loyal, thoughtful and a true "gentle" man, to name but a few of his many great qualities. He will be missed, but ever in our hearts.
I have a copy of the very important letter Lt Col Robbie Robinson, as CO of the QOR of C Home Station, wrote to all serving officers and units in the Regiment on 2 July 1968. In characteristic style, Robbie's letter covers in detail the events and challenges which took place in the Home Station "over the last two difficult years". Robbie's leadership in the Regiment during this painful period must be remembered. As usual ,it was exemplary.
The letter runs to six pages and I will send it to RHQ in the hope that appears in all its detail in a future edition of the Rifleman. The letter deals with the introduction of the base system into the CF and Currie Barracks beginning in February 1967, and finishes with the disbandment of the Depot and reduction to nil strength of Second Battalion.
Real difficulties and challenges for Robbie began 1967 when he was directed to turn over the Home Station Corporals' Mess and the Mens' Mess to the base-difficulties arose after the expiration of a one year agreement that eventual disposition would be discussed - Robbie was presented with a written ultimatum that the F and E did not belong to the Regiment and would be turned over to the base at no cost. Thus began a terribly difficult time for Robbie as he dealt with a confused Canadian Army reeling from the political decisions damaging the regimental system.
Robbie took Second Battalion to Cyprus in 1967 and he had to wrestle with all these issues while there- I was his adjutant and can attest to the agonizing decisions he had to ponder on behalf of the Regiment, and his tough stand on such issues as his direction that the Sergeants Mess would not be allowed to re-open on the units return-Robbie to keep the Mess locked on return- with all Regimental F and E from the Mess locked within.
After five months it was decided to move the furniture and treasures to Esquimault-the move was done at night by a civilian carrier-attempts by base MPs to stop this produced some interesting situations at the main gate-tales probably left untold-but Robbie saved these treasures from the mean-spirited folks running the base. In November 1966 the Regiment was ordered to turn over the complete Officers' Mess to the base-the Army cancelled that order in December, but by then the decision had been made to sever the Mess financially, and it operated as an independent financial unit . However, in May of the next year, he was again ordered to turn over the Mess to the base. The difficult decision was made to donate $15,000 to enable the new base mess to operate-typical of Robbie's generous and professional style. Remainder of possessions were sent on the July convoy to Victoria.
He then had the agonizing challenge of managing the reduction of his beloved Battalion, and the disbandment of the Depot. Only those close to him could see the pain this produced, but all saw only a cool and calm plan to handle this . We heard the first rumours while in Cyprus, and with this Robbie had to keep the battalion happy and soldiering hard-that he did-in spades. On 7 May 1968 the Calgary Herald splashed the reduction announcement across its front page. The Regiment was not officially informed and Robbie had to scramble to inform the colonel in chief and honorary colonels. The Battalion did not receive official direction until a month later! Imagine the challenge of leading a proud unit through the terrible CF handling of the process-
Robbie's leadership was superb during this extremely stressful time- as I have said, those close to him knew the wrenching pain this caused him. The letter contains his direction for the final Battalion parade on 15 July 1968- an event burned into the memory of those serving with Robbie.
Robbie also managed the disbandment of the Regimental Depot. He and the Regiment formed a new Regimental Home Station within 1 QOR of C. 9 July saw a seven deuce and a half convoy depart for Victoria carrying the treasures of a regiment - from Regimental Fund F and E to sports stores and band instruments. Robbie had to manage the problem of a Regimental Museum-with 8000 items! This letter states that the intention was to move the Museum to the Third Battalion.
The letter closes with this statement. " The Home Station is more a set of values than a set of buildings, more a sign of regimental comradeship than a sign of wood and paint and more lasting as a point to which the Black Network can refer than any base or garrison system which may replace or supersede it. We have put a lot into all this. Our time, our money, our energy and our devotion. I do not believe any of that has been wasted because it produced something that was and is essentially good and a symbol of high values, high standards and a great tradition". Great leadership over an extremely difficult time. Classic Robbie Robinson. Colonel (ret) Bill Minnis, M.S.M. CD, Adjutant 2 QOR of C 1967 , Subsequently commanded 2 PPCLI and was Commander, Canadian Contingent UN Middle East.
"I am proud to have served with Col Robbie in 2 QOR of C Calgary and Cyprus, during three separate postings and in four different positions. I knew that Col Robbie was a very special kind of soldier, teacher and leader when I was a platoon comd in his rifle company, and he introduced me to soldiering, his way. He taught us the responsibilities of commanding soldiers, but also what great fun it could be. He was demanding, but always fair and consistent, and his wonderful sense of humour was never far from the surface.
When he was T/CO (the last ever?) he encouraged young officers and senior NCO's to apply for the Basic Para Course, and also pulled many strings to get the vacancies for us. When one of our number returned from Rivers, proudly wearing his new wings, we joined him down in the Stable Bar so that he could regale us with stories of his six jumps. Col Robbie was standing quietly at the end of the bar. Our jumper turned to him and asked: "How many jumps do you have, Major?" There was a pause, and then Col Robbie quietly responded: "I'm not really sure. I only count four." Our jumper blundered on. "What do you mean you only count four, sir?" Col Robbie smiled and replied: "Well, David, I did two in North Africa, one in France and one in Holland--those four." Needless to say, we were all speechless, and there was certainly a lot less bragging about our six Rivers jumps, at least when Col Robbie was around.
Every time I served with Col Robbie, and particularly while I was his Adjutant, he very willingly spent a lot of extra time to ensure that I understood not only what had to be done, but why they should be done a certain way. He went out of his way to teach me, rather than simply doing it himself or telling me what to do. I really learned from his: "OK Don, what would you do in this case?", and from the discussion which always followed. He was a wonderful mentor to so many of us. For the rest of my career, and even today, when facing a difficult problem, I ask myself: "What would Col Robbie have done?"
I only served once with Robbie Robinson – First Battalion at Calgary in the late 1950s. He was a Captain and the 2IC of our rifle company. During an annual summer concentration at Wainwright I will always remember his complete dedication to improving the knowledge of the junior officers and NCOs. No one took training more seriously – particularly tactical training. I can still recall standing in line for lunch with him as he continued to pepper me with questions about various tactical scenarios confronting a leading platoon in the advance to contact. He was an excellent role model and all who came under his guidance benefited greatly. He also had an excellent sense of humour. Later, during another summer concentration at CFB Wainwright when he was CO 2 QOR of C, he invited all the officers of 1 QOR of C to a dinner at their tented Officers’ Mess in the southeast corner of the training area. The vehicle park was some hundreds of metres away from the Mess. As we made our way single file to the Mess we were ambushed with rifle and machine gun fire, thunder flashes, artillery simulators and – best of all – mortars firing wet and very sticky spaghetti! They must have practiced this before our arrival as they had the range down to a T and we were covered with the stuff. The stains remained on our combat clothing for several washings! Great fun to start off a fun evening, building up the spirit of the Regimental officers. Major General John Sharpe, CMM, CD, ex-The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, former Commanding Officer 1st Bn Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, former Commander of 1st Canadian Brigade Group and Canadian Forces Europe.
I have known Robbie since 1955 when he returned from Korea and reported to the 1st battalion in Calgary. Our careers paralleled each other for many years of regimental and other duties. It was an honour to serve as his Operations Officer (having been “pulled" from D Company) during his term as Acting CO at Wainwright in 1964. We were a happy battalion having only four majors left in the unit for the summer and Robbie ran it well. I was his PMC at Wainwright when the incident described by John Sharpe (above) took place. My memory is slightly different as the organizer of the event in that we got the attendees from our sister battalion to sit for a photo (along with Robbie as decoy) so the range of the “spaghetti mortar” was known! Robbie was a tribute to his regiment, his battalion and his country throughout his service and after retiring. I had the opportunity, on behalf of the Rifles, to tell him this and to thank him, a day before his passing as his wife, Brenda, held the phone to his ear. A good friend and excellent soldier has left the square for well-deserved rest. We’ll miss him but remember him. “Thanks Robbie from all of us”. Major General Herb Pitts, MC, CD, former Commanding Officer, 1st Bn The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, Regimental Commander, Canadian Airborne Regiment and Commandant, Canadian Forces.
When I joined The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada in 1962, Robbie Robinson had already been in the army for almost 20 years, had served in the British Army’s Parachute Regiment since its formation in the early 1940s and had been under fire in North Africa (where he was wounded) as well as in Sicily and Italy. The Queen’s Own was fortunate that when he came to Canada in early 1950 he chose our regiment in which to continue his military career. He served for 30 more years in the Canadian Forces, commanding the 2nd Battalion The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada until 1968. He is remembered respectfully and fondly by those who served with him as having shaken the hand of every member of the battalion on parade on that fateful day in 1968 when, following an emotional parade at Calgary’s Currie Barracks, the 2nd battalion stood down for the last time, victim of government cutbacks. On behalf of all members of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, particularly those members of the regiment who proudly wear the wings and maroon beret identifying them as airborne-qualified riflemen, I offer our condolences to his family. He was a great soldier and comrade and we are proud and privileged to have known him and to have had him march in our ranks. Col Paul F. Hughes, CD, former Honorary Colonel, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada.
Whenever I think of Robbie I see a smiling face with a hint of mischief in the eyes and the most pleasant, gentlemanly demeanour. He was a brave soldier; loved by his troops and admired by his peers. Col Richard (Dick) Cowling, CD, former Honorary LCol The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, former Commanding Officer 3rd Battalion PPCLI and Commander, Canadian Airborne Regiment.
As I read Colonel Robinson’s biography I was reminded why his generation has often been referred to as the “Greatest Generation”. His illustrious career spanned 41 years and he served in two wars, the Second World War and Korea. He was an outstanding leader who had a gift for nurturing talent and getting the best out of people. As a fellow paratrooper I can say with certainty that Colonel Robinson will be missed by many current and former members of that elite fraternity. Colonel Lawrence N. (Larry) Stevenson, Honorary Colonel, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, former member The Canadian Airborne Regiment.
I was very sorry to hear about the death of Col "Robbie" Robinson. Although I served at Currie Barracks for two years, 1965-67, initially as a company 2/IC and then OC recce platoon, my time with the battalion was very short. The 2nd battalion was selected for UN duty in Cyprus so thereafter I was attached to Brigade HQ. I do however have happy memories of my time with Robbie's battalion amongst the "mozzies" at Wainwright and eating oysters flown in from English Bay whilst training at a TA camp somewhere in the Okanagan valley. Also I was very grateful to Robbie for giving me the last place on a parachute course subject to my getting all the others on the course "in shape", and for letting his tame Brit accompany any company or platoon to experience different parts of Western Canada. I have happy memories of my time with 2 QOR of C and the many kind friends I made, not least of whom was CSM Olmstead who taught me how to survive in the snow and lent me all sorts of kit I am sure he shouldn't, with which to go camping round Canada and the U.S. Robbie was a fine soldier who will be greatly mourned. Captain Hamlyn (Ham) Whitty, British Army exchange officer from The Buffs, an allied regiment of The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada since 1914.
Robbie was a great soldier, paratrooper and rifleman. He was an outstanding leader and many young officers were trained by this wonderful leader/warrior. He will be sorely missed by his family, friends and fellow soldiers. On the Airborne side Robbie was a member of 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion Association and the Canadian Airborne Forces Association. Wayne Dehnke, President Canadian Airborne Forces Association, Branch #8 - Bornewest
Just opened my apple to become overwhelmed with the sorrow at the passing of Robbie Mk 111. Like many I am keenly aware that we have lost a most popular CO, a devoted Head of a special battalion family, a determined leader that brought together a formidable fighting team and a most loyal friend. To Brigadier Brenda I offer my sympathy and thanks for allowing us to have Robbie's presence in our lives. Spoke to both Rs some time back, after the fall & cracked ribs. With a chuckle we came up with the solution, that of requesting the return of the loaned rib, in the garden, at the beginning of time.
There are many tales out there to remind us all of the close connection. I offer one of several. As the clock ticked down to nil strength, the Second Battalion was paraded in the drill hall at Currie and from the Junior Rank,in reverse alphabetical order (snake), the remnants marched up the line, shaking hands with all until Robbie was the last Rifleman standing. A poignant moment.
Greetings to all in the address list. Robbie brought us together. A special thanks to "Odd Job"Dehnke for his watchful & caring eye and his escort services. To Hiram and Marshall Dillon (or was it Susan) for bringing us the unabridged version of G & OrK. Musical renditions are cemented in our 2nd Bn fibre. For a few, Hiram will remember closing the hospital ward and allowing Lonesome Crew to sing "Hoist up the UN flag". Also Le Grand Charles made us weep with "Way down in Seoul City". There are many, many others. A special thanks to "Destruct" Catton for drawing the fateful card!
Thanks again to "Tupp" Brenda for our Robbie and to all members of a fabulous Family. AWFUL OUT. Eve and Ron (Awful Weary) Werry, CD.
"In Pace Paratus - In Peace Prepared"