Battle Honours of The
It is tradition in the
Canadian Army to award Battle Honours to individual regiments. These
honours mark the deeds of units during war. The rationale for
awarding honours differs from conflict to conflict. During the First
and Second World Wars, a unit had to have at least half its strength engaged in a particular
action to be considered eligible.
Of these honours, a select few are permitted to be "emblazoned", or
in other words, borne by the Regimental Colour, as well as appearing
on the Regiment's drums. The Drum Major also wears these honours on
his distinctive uniform sash.
Battle Honours are
granted by a special committee appointed to research all the actions
and claims submitted by individual units, name the individual
battles, and consider which aspects of which battles were worthy of
recognition. The process for awarding Battle Honours for the
First World War took over a decade, and The Calgary Highlanders were first
awarded Battle Honours for the actions of the 10th Battalion, CEF,
on 15 September 1929.
Oddly, the official
granting of Battle Honours to the 10th 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."
The dates on some Battle
Honours are to distinguish like named battles that occurred in different
To the Calgary Highlanders' dismay, while the overall battle of
Saint-Julien was considered worthy of a Battle Honour, the counter-attack
at Kitcheners' Wood was not. This led to the introduction of the Oak
Leaf shoulder badge, which is described under Regimental Dress on this
The Battle Honours for the
First World War, as granted to The Calgary Highlanders, are listed below.
Note that the proper method of listing Battle Honours is in chronological
order, from top to bottom, or if in more than one row, from left to right
and top to bottom. Battle Honours selected for Emblazonment are noted
below in bold type:
Ypres, 1915 - 17
First World War
Arras, 1917, '18
Canal du Nord
Pursuit to Mons
France and Flanders, 1915-18
After the Second World War,
the Calgary Highlanders once again submitted their recommendations for
Battle Honours, which were officially bestowed in the late 1950s.
Second World War
Faubourg de Vaucelles
Forêt de la Londe
North-West Europe, 1944-45
In May 2014,
the Canadian government began the process of bestowing honours for the
campaign in South-West Asia.
Battle Honour - South-West Asia
Battle Honour Descriptions - First World War
Ypres, 1915 - 17 -
The Second Battle of Ypres in 1915 was the first major action for
the First Canadian Division, with whom the 10th Battalion served. It was
also the first instance on the Western Front of the use of poison gas as a
weapon of war. A wide scale German attack using this gas routed two
entire French Divisions, but the First Canadian Division held firm, at a
cost of some 6,000 of its 10,000 men. It was during this battle that the
St. Julien battle was fought, and the counter-attack at Kitcheners' Wood
was mounted, for which the Oak Leaf shoulder badge distinction was
eventually granted. St. Julien's Day is commemorated annually by the
Regiment, and one of the Regiment's official toasts is "To The Glorious
22nd of April."
The Third Battle of Ypres in
1917 describes very large operations in this area, including the Battle of
As a note on pronounciation -
while the people of Flanders pronounce this name as "ee-pray" (and in fact
have changed the spelling to Iepres), to many Canadians who served and
died there, it was known more familiarly simply as "Wipers".
- The Gravenstafel Ridge was a low rise east of Ypres, one of the key
features in the German attacks from 24-26 April, 1915. The 10th Battalion
by this point, after suffering heavily in its counter-attacks of 22-23
April, mustered only 174 men but still contributed enough to the defence
of the position to merit a Battle Honour for their work.
- The town of St. Julien was located east of Ypres, in the south-western
part of Belgium known as Flanders. The 10th Battalion was called forward
on the night of 22-23 April to counterattack the strong German formation
advancing through a large gap in the line created by the rout of two
French divisions. Forming up in front of the Sixteenth Battalion, the two
units mounted a hasty assault on an oak plantation known as Bois de
Cuisineres, or Kitcheners' Wood, so named because the French had
located their field kitchens there. The assault cost the life of the
Tenth's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Boyle, and of the 816 men
who crossed the start line on 22 April, only some 193 survived.
Nonetheless, the German advance was stopped. This action moved the
overall commander of the French Army to describe the attack as the single
bravest act of the entire war.
- Fought twenty kilometres north of Vimy, France, this unsuccessful
attempt to capture K5, a small hill, was stopped short with heavy losses
due to wet terrain, strong German defences, and little time to prepare.
Mount Sorrel -
Another unsuccessful assault, this counter-attack by the 10th Battalion
was launched on a small knoll in the Ypres Salient on 3 June 1916.
Considerable losses were suffered. Despite the relatively low height of
this feature, it provided an excellent viewpoint over the otherwise flat
terrain in the area and was of considerable strategic importance.
Somme, 1916 -
The Canadians were not involved in the opening phases of this
campaign, which began on 1 July 1916 - the "July Drive." That first day
was the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army, with 20,000 men
being killed and 40,000 more being wounded. That opening day was only the
beginning of several months of major operations by both the British and
French armies. By the time the battle wound down to an official
conclusion in November, hundreds of thousands of soldiers on both sides of
the lines had been killed, and thousands more maimed and injured. The
10th Battalion was involved in a series of operations from 8 September and
17 October, primarily defensive actions which were successful, north of
Albert, France near the town of Boiselle.
Thiepval Ridge, near the town of Courcelette, represented a successful
offensive operation for the 10th Battalion, fought on 26 September 1916,
at the cost of 241 casualties.
- Another successful defensive battle fought by the 10th
Battalion, during the Somme Campaign, near the town of Albert, France.
Modest casualties were suffered during the action on 10-11 September 1916.
Arras, 1917, '18 -
The Arras battles refer to the overall British offensives in that area of
Northern France, the first battle (in 1917) of which included the dramatic
Canadian capture of Vimy Ridge. The 10th Battalion fought in the Arras
battles of 1917 and 1918.
Vimy, 1917 -
Intended as a diversion to draw attention away from French actions farther
south, and often serving only as a footnote to the less successful overall
Battle of Arras in 1917 waged by the British armies, Vimy was the greatest
victory of the war for the Canadian Corps, which by 1917 numbered four
divisions. In a dramatic assault on Easter Monday, the 9th of April, and
representing the best in Canadian tactical ingenuity, military
engineering, and technical innovation, the Canadians seized most of this
dominating feature in a few short hours, and finally clearing the entire
ridge in three days. The British and French had been unable to clear
these heights since the Germans first seized them in 1914, and had lost
more men in the process of trying than the Canadians as a whole started
out with on 9 April. The 10th Battalion had its own role to play in this
great drama, and reached all its objectives on time, at the cost of 374
Arleux - The Arleux Loop was
a follow up to the Vimy operation, launched on 28 April 1917, aimed at
capturing a major German billeting area at Arleux-en-Gohelle. The
operation went in over open ground and produced serious casualties.
Hill 70 -
Rising only 15 feet over surrounding terrain, this hill north of Lens,
France was the scene of a diversionary attack to relieve pressure on the
city of Lens itself. On 15-16 August 1917, a strong German counter-attack
was repulsed by the 10th Battalion. Private Harry Brown, who was killed
acting as a courier during this battle, was posthumously awarded the
Victoria Cross. In addition to the VC, three DSOs, 7 MC, 9 DCMs and 60
(!) MMs were earned by the 10th Battalion - giving the 10th Battalion the
distinction of winning more medals than any other Canadian combat unit in
a single action in the course of the First World War.
- Named for a village located on a low rise in the Ypres Salient,
the very word Passchendaele has become synonymous with suffering and
waste. Strong German defences in this area, developed over the
course of more than two years, gave the British extremely hard
The 10th Battalion were
called out of reserve to assist an attack on Hill 52, part of the
same low rise Passchendaele itself was situated on. The Battalion
was not scheduled to attack, but the CO wisely prepared his soldiers
as if they would be making the main assault - a decision that paid
dividends when the unit was called out of reserve. On 10 November
1917, the 10th Battalion took the feature with light casualties.
Amiens - The
offensive Allied campaign under the command of Marshall Foch of the French
Army cleared the Germans from positions near the important rail centre of
Amiens. Consisting of a series of battles fought from August to September
of 1918, it signalled the beginning of the end of the war on the Western
Scarpe, 1918 -
A defensive operation, finding the 10th Battalion once again in the Somme
sector. A successful defence of the Fampoux area on the Anzain-Arras Road
was made beside the Scarpe River, between 27 April and 4 May 1918.
The D-Q Line, as it was commonly known, was but a part of the
famous Hindenberg Line, a large series of German fortifications and
defensive positions. During the Amiens campaign mentioned above, the 10th
Battalion was part of a successful advance along the Arras-Cambrai road
towards Viller-lez-Cagnicourt. Acting Sergeant Arthur Knight was
posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his expemplary courage during
Hindenburg Line -
The last line of defence for the German Army in the Amiens
campaign, broken when Cambrai fell on 9 October 1918, and the beginning of
a German retreat that would not end until the Armistice on 11 November.
Canal du Nord -
The last major operation of the 10th Battalion, part of the
Battle of Cambrai. The Fighting Tenth mounted a crossing of this obstacle
on 27-28 September 1918, suffering heavy losses.
Pursuit to Mons -
The fight at Mons in August 1914 had been one of the opening acts
of the war on the Western Front, and the city had great sentimental
significance to the British, who had lost it to the Germans. The 10th
Battalion entered the newly captured city during the war's last days, when
it was a prime objective for the British Army seeking revenge, and were
there when the Armistice was declared.
France and Flanders,
1915-18 - This Battle Honour reflects the continuous service by
the Battalion from February 1915, when it went into the lines in France,
to November 1918. During the First World War, more than 1300 soldiers
were killed while serving as members of the 10th Battalion, Canadian
Battle Honour Descriptions - Second World War
(CLICK MAPS TO ENLARGE)
An interesting comparison can
be made between the official list of Battle Honours for the Second World
War, above, and the following list, which was submitted by the Regiment
for consideration by the committee. It can be seen that many of the
individual actions by the Regiment were incorporated into larger overall
Battles. The committee also consolidated the Verrières Ridge and
Tilly-la-Campagne honours into one single Battle Honour.
- located to the south of Caen, the capital of lower Normandy and
one of the original D-Day objectives, this ridge was the dominating
feature crucial to the success of any further movements beyond the city.
When Caen finally fell one month after D-Day, this ridge, and the adjacent
Verrières Ridge, became the scene of much fighting. The Calgary
Highlanders launched two attacks on the Bourguébus Ridge, a failed attempt
on 25 July 1944 to secure the heights, and a successful action from 7-9
August. The cost of these actions was very high.
Vaucelles - A suburb of Caen, south of the city and the
Orne River. During Operation Atlantic and Operation Goodwood, the
Highlanders launched successful attacks in the vicinity of this city
during the period 18-21 July 1944.
Ridge, Tilly-la-Campagne - Adjacent to the Bourguébus
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.
The next significant feature after the Verrières 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.
- 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.
Forêt 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.
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.
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 5th 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
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 northwest 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.
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
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 Regiment 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
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
1944. 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.
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
Regiment de Maisonneuve to advance into the inner city.
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.
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.
“Afghanistan” Theatre Honour
In May 2014, the first honours for
service in Afghanistan were bestowed. From the Prime Minister's website:
The process for
the creation of Theatre Honours is the same for all types of Battle
Honours. Following the end of a conflict, the Canadian Armed Forces
begins the process of determining battle nomenclature (theatres,
campaigns, battles, etc.) in order to create the specific Battle
Honours for that conflict. Afterward, the eligibility criteria for
awarding each of those honours is then determined. Each of these
steps ultimately leads to approval by the Chief of the Defence
Staff, who then forwards them to the Governor General, the final
authority for the creation of Battle Honours and the eligibility
criteria for each. The third step in the process is the allocation
of the Battle Honours to individual Canadian Armed Forces units by
the Chief of the Defence Staff.
Units of the Royal
Canadian Navy will be granted the Theatre Honour “Afghanistan” if
their cumulative contribution of personnel reached a minimum of 20
per cent of the strength of the originating unit in the geographical
area of Afghanistan.
Units of the Canadian
Army will be granted the Theatre Honour “Afghanistan” if their
cumulative contribution of personnel reached a minimum level of 20
per cent of the effective strength of the originating unit in the
geographical area of Afghanistan.
Units of the Royal
Canadian Air Force will be granted the Theatre Honour “Afghanistan”
if they deployed within the air space of Afghanistan.
Units of the Canadian
Special Operations Forces will be granted the Theatre Honour
“Afghanistan” if they deployed within the land space of Afghanistan
and their cumulative contribution of personnel reached a minimum
level of 20 per cent of the effective strength of the originating
unit in the geographical area of Afghanistan.
The Calgary Highlanders deployed 126 soldiers
to Afghanistan as individual augmentees or on other assignments to
Regular Force units during the war in Afghanistan.
Major Simon Cox (at centre, with map) was
Mentioned in Despatches. "On July 28th 2008, the lead element of a joint
Canadian-Afghan patrol was pinned down by insurgents in Zhari District,
Afghanistan. With the squad in danger of becoming encircled, Major Cox,
then Captain, moved through intense enemy fire to reinforce the isolated
Afghans. Despite fierce enemy resistance, he persistently continued
forward, returning a heavy volume of fire to suppress the insurgent
position. Major Cox's courage and selflessness prevented the patrol
from being surrounded by a numerically superior enemy."
MCpl C. Martin (above) and Cpl Malone (below) receive commendations for
for their service in Afghanistan while serving in theatre. Making the
presentation are Lieutenant-General Gauthier (Canadian Expeditionary
Forces Command), General W.J. Natynczyk (Chief of Defence Staff) and
Brigadier-General Thompson (Task Force Kandahar).