The Calgary Highlanders is a Canadian Forces Land Force Primary Reserve infantry regiment, headquartered at Mewata Armouries in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The regiment is a part-time reserve unit, under the command of 41 Canadian Brigade Group, itself part of Land Force Western Area (LFWA), one of four land force areas in Canada.
The badge is based on that worn by the 10th Battalion, CEF, whom the Regiment perpetuates. Significantly, a St. Andrew's Cross has been added to the design (this is not a representation of the Roman Numeral ten as is often erroneously reported). The crown is of the reigning monarch; a Tudor Crown was used from the introduction of this badge until 1953, and the ascension of Queen Elizabeth II. The crown was then changed to a St. Edward's Crown. These are sometimes referred to as "King's" and "Queen's" Crowns. The beaver and maple leaves are representative of Canada and the scrolls bearing thistles are representative of Scotland. The City of Calgary grew out of Fort Calgary, established in 1875 and so named by Colonel James Macleod after Calgary, Scotland, a location near his sister's home.
The badge appears not only as a cap badge, but is also seen on the Regiment's Drums, as well as the Drum Major's Sash and Regimental Pipe Banners.
Oddly, the official granting of Battle Honours to the Tenth Battalion was not done until 15 October of the same year. There was also one minor change; while the Calgary Highlanders were granted "Arras, 1917, '18" as a Battle Honour, the 10th Battalion's Honour read only "Arras, 1917." While the overall battle of Saint-Julien was considered worthy of a Battle Honour, to the dismay of those regiments perpetuating the units involved, the counter-attack at Kitcheners' Wood was not. This counter attack, 22 April 1915, was thrown into the first German gas attack of the war. In recognition of this gallant effort and the persistence of the Winnipeg Light Infantry, the Calgary Highlanders and the Canadian Scottish, a special 'Honorary Distinction' was granted by Orders in Council no. 10, 1934 of a special Oak Leaf shoulder badge now unique in the Canadian armed forces, and worn only by those three regiments at the time of adoption in 1938, and today by only two units, The Calgary Highlanders and The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's).
Fauborg de Vaucelles — A suburb of Caen, south of the city and the Orne River. During Operation Atlantic and Operation Goodwood, the Highlanders launched successful attacks south of the city during the period 18-21 July 1944, notably at Hill 67.
Verrières Ridge, Tilly-la-Campagne — Adjacent to the Bourgeubus Ridge, Verrières Ridge was another dominating feature of which German possession ensured the British and Canadians in Normandy would be pinned against the sea. On 25 July, 5th Brigade assaults on this feature proved costly for the Calgary Highlanders, and especially for the Black Watch who lost over 300 men in the course of a few hours, making their attack the costliest single day of battle for a single battalion, not counting Dieppe.
Falaise — The next significant feature after the Verrierres Ridge was the town of Falaise; a German pocket was created when they counterattacked towards Mortain—the American Armies, moving fast from the south under the command of General George S. Patton Jr., threatened to cut off this pocket of Germans and trap an entire Army. The northern shoulder of the "Falaise Gap" was the scene of much fighting, and the Battle Honour covers all the fighting from the eventual breakout at Verrières and Bourgebus ridges, to the final collapse of German resistance on 16 August 1944.
Falaise Road — Operations Tractable and Totalize were conducted in the period 7 – 16 August 1944, and The Calgary Highlanders were involved in fighting along the road to Falaise during this period. Clair Tison — Located near the Falaise Road, this surprise attack by The Calgary Highlanders on the night of 12-13 August 1944 forced a German abandonment of positions during the Falaise Road fighting, and was executed with very few casualties. The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel DG MacLauchlan, was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his handling of this battle.
Foret de la Londe — This forest, located on the Bourgtheroulde-Rouen Highway, was nestled in a bend of the Seine River and was an excellent defensive position for German forces retreating to the other side of the river. A blocking position here was assaulted and overwhelmed during a series of actions from 28-30 August 1944, with moderate losses to the unit.
Dunkirk, 1944 — Allied supplies were being sent to France mainly via the open beaches in Normandy; the need to secure a sizeable port facility was thus acute. The port of Dunkirk was put under siege, and the Highlanders joined these actions from 6 to 18 September 1944. The action here was mainly patrol work, though a successful battle to liberate the town of Loon Plage stands out from this otherwise dreary episode. The port never fell, and like many of the French Channel ports, it remained in German hands until May 1945. Wyneghem — In September 1944, the acute need for a port promised to be alleviated by the capture of Antwerp, with its large port facilities intact. However, the British failed to act quickly to secure the Scheldt Estuary, the waterway leading into Antwerp. No Allied ship could come within miles of Antwerp until the large number of coastal guns lining the Scheldt were silenced. The Germans were aware of the importance of the Scheldt, and hastily organized an amalgam of veteran parachute units and low grade infantry units. The Canadian Army moved to clear the lands east of Antwerp, and south of the Albert Canal. Wyneghem was one of the towns in this area, and was cleared of Germans by the Highlanders in September.
Antwerp-Turnhout Canal — This canal was one of the waterworks connecting with the city and its badly needed port facilities. The Calgary Highlanders arrived in this area on 18 September 1944, and on the 21st a bridgehead over the Albert Canal was created by Sergeant Ken Crockett and a handpicked section of ten men. His brave foray into enemy territory was soon expanded to a company sized bridgehead, after which the entire Fifth Brigade was able to follow. His nomination for a Victoria Cross was turned down at the highest levels of command for a very well deserved Distinguished Conduct Medal instead. The Scheldt — The Scheldt battles were fought on both sides of this waterway during September, October and the early part of November 1944. All three Canadian divisions in North-West Europe took part in these actions, as well as several other divisions under the command of First Canadian Army. Major features north of the Scheldt Estuary included, from west to east, Walcheren Island, North Beveland, and the South Beveland Peninsula. To the south of the Estuary was the area known as "The Breskens Pocket". The Calgary Highlanders fought many actions in the Scheldt battles, highlighted by the Battle Honours listed next.
Woensdrecht — a village at the base of the South Beveland Peninsula in the southwest of The Netherlands. Any units seeking to gain access to South Beveland had to clear a series of villages in this area of enemy soldiers. From 22-27 October, much mighting was seen in this area between the 5th Brigade and veteran German paratroops of Battle Group Chill. South Beveland — a long peninsula marking the northern boundary of the Scheldt Estuary, the waterway through which Allied ships would have to sail to reach Antwerp and shorten Allied supply lines, still being traced over land all the way back to Normandy. The failure to secure a port closer to the front line meant the expenditure of thousands of gallons of gasoline trucking supplies through France, Belgium and Holland. The Highlanders fought their way west down the Peninsula with the rest of the 2nd Canadian Division, in order to reach Walcheren Island and silence the many German coastal batteries there.
Walcheren Causeway — After South Beveland was secured, the only land route to Walcheren Island—last holdouts on the Scheldt Estuary—was a long causeway just 40 metres wide and over 1000 metres long. The Slooe Channel through which the Causeway ran was too shallow for assault boats, and the salt marshes and mud made the way impassable to land vehicles or marching infantry. On Hallowe'en Night, the Calgary Highlanders followed up a disastrous attack by the Black Watch on the Causeway, and managed to force a shallow bridgehead on the far end. Fierce fighting ensued, and the Highlanders were relieved by Le Régiment de Maisonneuve on 1 November. Sixty-four Highlanders were killed or wounded in the action; the ferocity of the fighting was testified to by the actions of Sergeant Emil Laloge, who was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for, among other things, picking up German grenades and throwing them back at the enemy before they could explode among his men. This battle is commemorated each year by the Regiment with a drumhead ceremony and visit from the Dutch community.
The Rhineland — After the Battle of the Scheldt, the Canadian Army spent the winter of 1944-45 in static positions in the Nijmegen Salient. The next big offensive action was in February and Operation Veritable, when all remaining land west of the River Rhine—the last great barrier between the Allies and the heart of Germany—was to be cleared in anticipation of a massive assault crossing of the great obstacle itself. The fighting in the Rhineland was fought in terrible conditions of terrain and weather, and the Calgary Highlanders' part in that fighting is exemplified by the other Battle Honours, listed below, earned in that campaign.
The Reichswald — a small forest by the Hochwald which needed to be cleared to make possession of the Hochwald possible. The fighting here was part of Operation Blockbuster.
The Hochwald — A small national forest just east of the Dutch border, south of the River Rhine. This forest blocked access to the town of Xanten, which was a key German defensive position on the Allied side of the river. Several difficult and costly actions were fought here, also as part of Operation Blockbuster, which commenced 26 February 1945 and ended with the capture of Xanten on 7 March.
Xanten — Key defensive position defending the approaches to the River Rhine, and ultimate objective of Operation Blockbuster. Xanten was completely ruined in the bitter fighting there.
The Rhine — The bitter fighting in the Rhineland paved the way for the much anticipated assault crossing of the Rhine which went ahead on 23 March 1945. Units of the Third Canadian Division participated in the earliest battles on the far side of the Rhine, with units of the Second Canadian Division crossing over after the bridgehead was formed. One of the major battles of this phase was in Doetinchem in which the Calgary Highlanders played a major part.
Groningen — Capital city of the province of Groningen in the northeast of the Netherlands, this city was held by a mixed force of Germans, stiffened with Dutch SS who felt compelled to fight to the death. The Calgary Highlanders participated in the assault on the city, attacking from the west on 14 April 1945, penetrating the Oranje Kwartier (Orange Quarter) and paving the way for the Black Watch and Régiment de Maisonneuve to advance into the inner city.
Oldenburg — Final battle fought by The Calgary Highlanders in the Second World War, on German soil once again just east of the Dutch border, on 3-4 May 1945. The Regiment was in place in Oldenburg on VE Day, 8 May 1945. "Betsy', the only surviving 6-pounder gun of the original 6-gun platoon, fired the last shot of the Regiment in World War Two here. During the approach to Oldenburg, heavy fighting took place at Gruppenbühren, for which several awards for valour were made.
North-West Europe, 1944–45 — An all encompassing Battle Honour reflecting the long march of the Regiment from the initial landing in Normandy on 6 July 1944 to the final shots in May 1945. Over 400 Calgary Highlanders sacrificed their lives during this campaign.
The Calgary Highlanders adopted many dress distinctions of the allied regiment in Scotland in the 1920s and continue to cherish those distinctions into the 21st Century, including the red and white diced glengarry worn by all ranks (except pipers), the badger head sporran worn by officers, warrant officers, and senior NCOs, the six point horsehair sporran worn by junior NCOs (except pipers), and the striped necktie of the 2nd Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, also worn by officers, warrant officers, senior NCOs, pipers and drummers of The Calgary Highlanders. It is unclear if any of these dress distinctions will continue to be worn in Scotland now that the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's) have been amalgamated into the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
In 1921, the Canadian Militia was reorganized and the 103rd Regiment became simply "The Calgary Regiment". The 1st Battalion of this new unit became known as the Calgary Highlanders. The regiment was permitted to perpetuate the history of the 10th Battalion, CEF, and inherited that units battle honours (granted in 1929) as well as inheriting the memory of two Victoria Cross holders, Acting Sergeant Arthur George Knight and Private Harry Brown, both of whom were awarded the VC posthumously in the last year and a half of the Great War.
In the mid 1920s, the regiment formed an official alliance with The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's) of the British Army. In 2006, that affiliation will officially end as the Imperial Argylls are absorbed into the Royal Regiment of Scotland. It is unclear if previous affiliations will be permissible between single battalions of the new Regiment, or if any future affiliations will be with the Regiment as a whole. In either event, all Canadian regiments now affiliated with British regiments scheduled for amalgamation will need to be renewed separately.
In the late 1930s, a special oakleaf shoulder badge was bestowed to the regiment in honour of the first combat action of the 10th Battalion, at Kitcheners' Wood during the Battle of St. Julien, part of the Second Battle of Ypres fought in April 1915 in the area of Belgium known as Flanders.
In September 1940, the 1st Battalion arrived in England.
During the Dieppe Raid of August 1942, the mortar platoon commanded by Lt. FJ Reynolds was attached to the 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade but stayed offshore during the raid. Sergeants Lyster and Pittaway were decorated with a Mention in Despatches for their part in shooting down two German aircraft during the raid, and one officer of the regiment was killed while ashore with a brigade headquarters.
The Calgary Highlanders pioneered battle drill for the Canadian Army, which was a realistic system of training infantry for the hardships of modern war. They themselves learned battle drill from the British 47th Division.
On 6 July 1944, one month after the Normandy landings, the regiment landed in France. In Operation Spring, the Calgary Highlanders were part of the Battle of Verrierres Ridge, along with the Black Watch, in which the regiment took heavy casualties. The unit saw extensive action in Normandy, marched through Dieppe with the 2nd Division in September 1944 as liberators, then moved on to the fighting for the Channel Ports. By the end of September the regiment was in Belgium and forced a crossing of the Albert Canal, northeast of Antwerp.
The regiment saw extensive fighting in the Netherlands in October 1944, opening the way to South Beveland, and then west to the Walcheren Island Causeway where the brigade fought an extended battle beginning on Hallowe'en night.
From November to February 1945 the regiment wintered in the Nijmegen Salient, then was back in action in the Rhineland fighting, clearing the last approaches to the River Rhine itself. Fighting resumed on the far bank in March, and city fighting in Doetinchem and Groningen followed. The regiment ended the war on VE Day on German soil.
The Victory Campaign had cost The Calgary Highlanders over 400 men killed, from a war establishment of just over 800 men. Several times that many were wounded in action.
bordercolor="#000000" bordercolorlight="#000000" bordercolordark="#000000">
Gallantryand Leadership Awards – The Calgary Highlanders
Award DSO MC DCM MM MiD For. Number 5 2 7 15 13 13
In the 1980s, the Regiment trained as Mechanized Infantry using the Grizzly Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Militiamen and even Army Cadets were routinely flown to NATO exercises in Germany, Norway and Alaska to participate in realistic training, as the perceived threat of Warsaw Pact military aggression was felt to be high. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, the emphasis on training throughout Force Mobile Command moved away from large scale armoured formations fighting Soviet tank formations in central Europe. The Grizzlies were withdrawn by the mid 1990s and the Regiment resumed training in a Light Infantry role.
Most significantly, The Calgary Highlanders have contributed hundreds of soldiers to peacekeeping missions in the years since 1945, including peacekeeping, peace enforcing, and observation missions in Cambodia, the Persian Gulf, the Middle East, the former Yugoslavia, and Sudan. Recently, they have contributed soldiers to the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, including the deployment in early 2008 of 55 soldiers.
The Government tartan kilt is worn, with pleats arranged in box style according to the pattern worn by the Argylls. Several types of sporran are worn. All ranks wear a brown leather purse when in Walking Out Dress (ie with green Lovat Hose); NCMs wear a simpler version with brass stud closure, officers wear a separate pattern with hidden snap fastener. For dress parades (CO's Parade Dress), corporals and master corporals wear the 6-point horsehair sporran while Senior NCMs and Officers wear a badger head sporran. Pipers wear three point horsehair sporrans while the Pipe Major and Drum Major wear a separate pattern of 3 point sporran. Hose tops and diced hose are in red/white dice, with pipers wearing Rob Roy tartan (red/black dice).
Honorary Colonel Richard Bennett originally outfitted the Pipes and Drums with Royal Stewart tartan kilts and plaids in the 1920s; when the band of the 1st Battalion arrived in England in 1940 they were very quickly informed that Royal Stewart was the prerogative of Royal Regiments only and they were to cease wear of that tartan at once. Pipers in the 2nd Battalion (Calgary) continued to wear Royal Stewart tartan until 1947.
During the Second World War, "The Glen" was the regimental newspaper of the overseas battalion beginning in September 1939, and "The Glen" continues to be the Regimental Journal of the 10th Battalion Calgary Highlanders Association. "The Glen" is published semi-regularly.
As part of the celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of VE Day, a special celebrations committee in the City of Doetinchem, The Netherlands, recommended that the City Park be renamed in honour of Lieutenant Colonel Mark Tennant and that a monument for the Calgary Highlanders who were killed in the fighting there be established. Tennant distinguished himself during the battle for Doetinchem where the Highlanders fought to clear the city between 1 and 3 April 1945.
As a measure of thanks on the fiftieth anniversary of Holland's liberation, the City of Doetinchem named the park "Mark Tennantplantsoen – Een Canadese bevrijder" – "Mark Tennant Park, A Canadian Liberator." Trees in the park still contained shrapnel; mute evidence of the fighting that raged there in April 1945.