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THE QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS OF CANADA

 


Cap badge, metal shouldertitles and collar badges of
the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada

(Credit for photographs of the badges goes to Clifford Weirmeir, with his splendid website about the Irish regiment of Canada)

 


Embroidered shouldertitle of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada

 


The "Cameron of Erracht" tartan of  the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada

 


The Regimental History "Whatever men Dare"
with on the front the later Pipe Major Alex Graham who was taken prisoner at Dieppe.

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare", Ch 1, p5-7:

And wherever the Camerons were, there too were the pipes. Under Pipe Major Donald McLeod, the band was always on hand from the duty piper piping the officers out of their sacks in the morning to the thrilling, impressive Retreat at sundown.

Four formal church parades were held each year to First Presbyterian Church, Winnipeg. Other formal parades were the Annual Inspection, the Decoration Day Parade, and the parade on Armistice Day. For these, kilts and scarlets were worn. A good stock made it possible to outfit every man. And so, as the days of the civilized world rushed downhill towards the outbreak of another world war, the Camerons grew increasingly conscious of the fact that they were marching nearer and nearer to their logical destiny. They paused long enough in June, 1939 before 1,500 spectators who turned out for their annual inspection that year, to accept two awards won during the Royal Welcome Week International Band Competitions. There was the first prize in the pipe competition as well as first prize in the final open competition, which together put three hundred dollars in the "kitty". The "kitty" was needed if the Camerons were to step into the breach if and when hostilities started. It was needed to provide that hard core of peacetime militiamen who, together with the Regular Army, merged to become the foundation of the Canadian fighting Army during World War II.

 

IN CANADA - MOBILIZATION, 1939


Queens Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada - Headquarters Company - 1939. 
Pte. (later to become Pipe Major) W.J. MacLeod in the back, right with bagpipes. 

 

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare", Ch 2, p12-:

If the first days of mobilization were hectic, they were also coherent, consistent. Sunday found the medical board on the job at 8:00 a.m. pushing ahead with medical examinations. At 3:45 the C.O. was back at the radio station, making his second public appeal, personally, for volunteers. This day, Britain declared war. Canada's parliament was being summoned into emergency session.

By Monday, 4 September, the Cameron drive was in full swing. Newspapers carried advertisements for recruits. Cameron posters were up on hoardings all over the city of Winnipeg. Battalion Headquarters at 202 Main Street became a recruiting office, with a medical board on the spot. Two additional Boards had been established at Minto Armouries because two were needed there. Men were assigned to their companies - Ack, Beer, Charlie, Don, H.Q. - and wartime training commenced. Promptly at 8:00 a.m., the battalion fell in at the Main Street H.Q. for the daily morning route march to Minto Street.

With pipes playing, drums rolling, kilts swirling, Winnipeg's Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders were off this day, marching once again, off to war.

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare",Ch03 THE FIRST WINTER, p24:

[April 1939] But there was real heartbreak for the boys at the end of the month. All ranks, excepting the band, were ordered to turn in their kilts! This was presumed to have been done. Strangely, though, even mysteriously, many came to light later during early leaves in England.

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare", Ch04 Shilo Days, p27-29:

At Shilo, the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders together with the Calgary Highlanders gave a joint, joyous welcome to the South Saskatchewan Regiment when it rolled into camp on the 27th. The two pipe bands were massed for the occasion to Pipe the S.S.R.'s to their lines. All three regiments had been brigaded together prior to the war, and were to make up the 6th Brigade. The Camerons and the S.S.R. were to see a great deal of each other in ensuing years. The Calgary Highlanders subsequently went to 5th Brigade and Les Fusiliers de MontRoyal replaced them in the 6th.
On the 20th, Major General V. W. Odium, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., V.D., General Officer Commanding, 2nd Division, came to inspect all troops in Camp Shilo. For this auspicious occasion
the massed pipe bands played the Retreat.

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare", Ch05 Preparation for Overseas, p38-40:

[the move to Quebec] Earl Grey Terrace resounded to the pipes of the Winnipeg Camerons when they played the Retreat at the Flagstaff there followed later with the battalion ceremonial, drawing the cheers of hundreds of spectators. There was the pilgrimage to Ste. Anne de Beaupre, Sunday, 27 October after church parade that day.

 

THE MOVE TO GREAT BRITAIN


The band plays a Lament by a stream in  England, 1943

[The move to Great Britain] Early next morning [12 December 1939, in Quebec], Mount Joli echoed to the skirl of the pipes as Winnipeg's own Cameron Highlanders marched from their barracks to Limoulon Station where they would entrain. It was "Au Revoir" to French Canada for the time being. The trains left at 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. respectively.

Next day the whole unit was safely aboard the S. S. Louis Pasteur, a former French luxury liner which fell into Canadian hands as a result of the Vichy regime and was now being used as a trooper. Captain Mirchie, its master, had a cargo of 3,004 Canadians and a crew of 456 to guide across the Atlantic, infested as it was with German submarines.

Details on the S. S. Louis Pasteur:

On her maiden voyage the Pasteur helped save the gold reserves of France, just before the Germans invaded her homeland in World War 2, by making a high-speed run across the Atlantic, delivering a little over 213 tons of gold bullion from The Bank of France to Canada for safe keeping. On her maiden voyage the Pasteur helped save the gold reserves of France, just before the Germans invaded her homeland in World War 2, by making a high-speed run across the Atlantic, delivering a little over 213 tons of gold bullion from The Bank of France to Canada for safe keeping.Captured in Canada by the Allies, the Pasteur was converted to a troopship, and carried thousands of Allied troops to Europe and Africa during World War 2.
The Pasteur was 29,253 gross tons. She was 212.4 m long and 26.8 m wide. She had 11 decks and possessed extensive loading spaces. She was designed to carry 751 passengers. She could reach around 50,000 HP and up to 26 Knots run, but her usual service speed was around 22 knots, making her the third fastest ship of her time. Her depth was 93 m.. She had four propellers. Although she was sometimes referred to as an SS (steamship), she really was a TSS or TS (turbine steamship)

The Pasteur sailed at 0900 hrs, 16 Dec. 40 in convoy with the Cape Town Castle, the Pentland and the Columbia. This precious, but small group of ships was defended by the cruiser Revenge and two destroyers.

It was Christmas Eve when the Pasteur slipped up the Clyde to anchor at Gourock, Scotland. Christmas dinner was served aboard next day and Brigadier Sargent commanding the 6th Brigade, came aboard to welcome the troops to their theatre of war.

Delville Barracks, Cove, Hants., was their destination where they joined up with their advance party, 27 December, in nice time for the traditional New Year's Eve celebrations. It was good timing for a Highland unit.

THE DIEPPE RAID 19 August 1942

 

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare", Ch08 Dieppe Raid 19 August 42, p64-77:

"The Canadian attack on Dieppe was carried farthest inland by the lion-hearted Cameron Highlanders of Winnipeg, who fought their way 3,5 miles up the Scie river valley with unsurpassed bravery, halting at a point almost due south of Pourville; In the face of heavy German fire they landed at 5:35 a.m. an. fought with courageous determination and ringing heroism until they withdrew about 11 o'clock. They preserved good order and splendid discipline to the last." OPERATION JUBILEE, as the Dieppe Raid was known, was undertaken and completed in a few short hours on that fateful day.

All members of the beloved Pipe Band who took part in the operation were casualties. After skirling away on the beach Piper Gunn was killed and today's Pipe Major Alex Graham (whose picture adorns the book jacket of WHATEVER MEN DARE) was taken prisoner. This was the last time in the history of Canadian Highland regiments that pipers actually piped the troops into action.

[From the account by the Assistant Military Landing Officer for the landing operation at Pourville:] The summary reveals a unit, soundly trained, well-officered, well disciplined, with morale at the highest pitch. To the skirl of the pipes played on the beaches by L/Cpl. Graham, Pipers Campbell, Gunn, Young and Smith the unit went forward. Decimated, cut to pieces, disrupted in over-all organization, it still functioned as a disciplined group. Scores of men never returned, but surely this day must go down in the history of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada as some of their finest hours.

[survivors rescued] "After making one or two trips toward the beach, the ships finally turned for England, not without accompanying shell fire and bombing from the enemy during which we suffered a few more casualties. "Only through the excellent co-operation of the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force was it possible to bring back as many as we did. It was indeed a Combined Operation."

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare", Ch09 The Morning After, p80-81:

[B.B.C. Broadcast] "24 Aug. 1942. Weather Cloudy and cool. Lt.-Col. D. G. Cunningham assumed command of the Camerons of Canada, succeeding Lt.-Cots A. C. Gostling who was killed on the Dieppe Raid. The Commanding Officer spoke to the battalion at 1330 hrs. Major Ar T. Law, second-in-command, spoke over the B.B.C. on the part played by the Camerons in the Dieppe Raid."

505 fighting fit and well-trained Camerons started off on the morning of 19 August 1942 and on the morning of 20 August 1942, with the raid completed, only 159 able-bodied men could be assembled. There were 250 Camerons of all ranks that did not participate in the raid. They, together with the 159, were all that were left to carry the esprit de corps of the unit into the days that followed.

Major A. T. Law lost no time in writing to Major R. C. Huggard back in Winnipeg to advise that a serious depletion of the pipes had been suffered on the beaches at Dieppe. Major Huggard, whose deep disappointment over not being able to accompany the unit overseas had been channelled into good works almost too numerous to mention, took the matter to the Caledonian Club of Winnipeg. In very short order, by private subscription from well-wishers and business firms and officers and others connected with the Regiment, plus a donation from the City of Winnipeg, funds were available for a complete re-equipping of the famous Cameron Pipe Band. Many of the pipers had become casualties but enough were left to train others.

By the end of November a draft was sent to London to permit the purchase of all the necessary pipes and drums and other equipment for the band. As soon as the pipes were made they were put to good use, long before the official ceremonies were held. The delay in the official presentation was caused by the intensive training that was going on throughout the whole Canadian Army.

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare", Ch10 Rebuilding the Battalion, p82-84:

With the appointment of Lt.-Col. D. G. Cunningham, from Brigade Major, 4th Bde., a man who had transferred to the Camerons while a Staff' Captain, at Shilo, and had a deep respect for the regimental traditions, there was inaugurated a period of strenuous reorganization and training. Month followed month with new personnel postings and with great comings and goings to schools and training courses. The Pipe Band, restored to its former splendour, equipped with new pipes and reinforced with additional pipers, went to London to make a recording for rebroadcast to Canada.

 


47th Piping School, Edinburgh Castle 1943-1944 being led by Pipe Major Wm. Ross. 
Left to right: L/Cpl Duncan Lamont - Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders,  Pipe Major Donald MacLeod - Seaforth Highlanders, 
Pipe Major W.J. MacLeod - Queens Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada.

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare", Ch12 The Year of Decision - 1944, p95/96:

A day of special remembrance came on March 30, 1944 when the battalion was presented with new Pipes and Drums donated by the good citizens of Winnipeg. Actually the new equipment had been in use for some time, but the ceremonial presentation had been delayed because of the demands of training. A great deal of devotion and hard work on the part of the Regiment's friends in Winnipeg was represented by this handsome gift, the drive for which was sponsored by The Caledonian Club of Winnipeg. The presentation was made by MajorGeneral Sir James Drew, K.C.B., C.B., D.S.O., M.C., The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. All the band equipment that had been lost so pitifully on the beaches in Pourville during the Dieppe raid, was now replaced.

An amusing (at least at this distance), and slightly tragic, sidelight on this important ceremonial presentation, which had been made possible only by the devotion and hard work of many Winnipeg citizens, was the manner in which the event was reported in the Winnipeg newspapers of the time. It must be said at once that it was no fault of the local newsmen - the censor had been at work with his busy little fingers.

The censor must have had some sort of idea that "Pipes and Drums" were a new secret weapon, the location of which must be hidden, if not from the enemy, then from the folks at home. Here is how the story went:

Headline.

"(Censored) UNIT WINNIPEG'S GIFT OF PIPES REPLACES THOSE LOST AT DIEPPE"

"London: March 30. A colourful military ceremony took place somewhere in Britain when Maj.-Gen. Sir James Drew, on behalf of the citizens of Winnipeg, presented bagpipes to a famous Canadian unit." No prize was offered for the person to guess which famous Canadian unit!

 


London, March 30, 1944: M.Gen. Sir James Drew, KBE, CB, DSO, MC, DL, M.Gen. in Command Training, Combined Operations,
officially presents the new pipes and drums to the Cameron Pipes & Drums to replace those lost during the Dieppe Raid of 19 Aug, 1942.
The replacement pipes were a gift from the citizens of Winnipeg, MB.


Major General Sir James Drew handing over a set of new pipes to Piper L. Forman


All the instruments have been handed out

THE MOVE TO THE CONTINENT and HOLLAND

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare", Ch13 "D" Day Dawns, p99-101:

[D-Day Normandy] At 0700 Hrs. on 5 July, the vehicle troops embussed and were driven to Tilbury Docks where they arrived two hours later. A muster parade was held before embarkation on the U.S.O. Ship "Will Rogers" and the U.S.S. "Cyrus Eaton."

In three groups the Camerons embarked at Newhaven, Sussex, a spot they all knew well from previous training exercises. They left in a convoy of eight other craft and peat to sea for a very rough channel crossing on the night of 6/7 July. At early morning of Friday, 7 July the dim shore of Gray-sur-Mer, France came into view. By 1000 hrs. the Camerons had disembarked at Gray-sur-Mer, Calvados.

There was a delay in the arrival of the vehicle party. This convoy had remained in the Thames estuary until 2000 hrs. on 5 July. As the convoy weighed anchor during the oncoming darkness Pipe Major McLeod played "The Farewell to Gibraltar." It is not clear whether this inflamed the enemy, but in any event this stirring rendition by the gallant piper was followed by a volley of flying bombs which exploded in the convoy area off and on all night long.

At 2359 hrs. 8 July the vehicle party arrived at the battalion concentration area. At last the Camerons were all in France. Their part in the battle for Europe was about to begin.

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare", Ch15 - SECOND BAPTISM, p114:

[near May-sur-Orne, France] On the following day, 11 Aug., the Pipe Band arrived to play for the boys and also a Band from 2nd Div. who serenaded Bn. H.Q. and then marched to each company area.

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare", Ch17 Return to Dieppe, p125/126:

[Return to Dieppe.] Preparations were begun for the great march past which was to be held in the town of Dieppe, with General Crerar, the Canadian Army commander, and Lt.-Gen. Guy Simonds, Corps Commander, taking the salute. Troops were allowed to visit Dieppe in the evening. The few who remained of the 1942 raid walked again over the ground they once fought for and remembered their comrades who had not returned.

The following day, 3 September, in the morning, a representative party of Camerons of all ranks headed by Lt.-Col. Thompson with three of the pipers who had played on the beaches of Pourville on that fateful August day in 1942, Pipers Jess Christie, Tom Smith and W. Young, paraded to the Canadian Cemetery for church service of remembrance. All the graves were covered with flowers. The French people of the district had cared for these graves for more than two years. For this special occasion they had even prepared a centre piece of flowers in the form of a cross. On a tall flagpole the French tricolour waved in the breeze as if in gratitude for deliverance.

Besides the troops, a large crowd of Dieppe civilians attended the service, which was conducted by the senior 2nd Division Chaplain, with Padres from all the units attending. General Crerar gave a short speech on the importance of the Dieppe Raid in the subsequent planning of all Combined Operations. The short and dignified service ended with the plaintive skirl of the pipes in the "Lament" for all those who had already given their lives in freedom's cause. Aloft the wheeling seagulls echoed the wail of the pipes with their wild high calls. Lest we forget.

At 1330 hrs. the whole 1st Bn. Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada marched to Dieppe for the great march past of the Division. The people of Dieppe, and of the surrounding districts, turned out en masse to see the units parade in front of the review stand on which proudly stood General Crerar, Lt.Gen. Guy Simonds, the Town Major and leaders of the indomitable Free French.

Massed pipe bands of the 2nd Division played as the troops marched past the saluting base. As Canadian battalion passed by, the French people cheered themselves hoarse - it was as much their day as it was that of the victorious army.

Later that evening the Canadian Legion put on a show for all the troops, and 90 reinforcements that arrived to swell the Cameron ranks.

 


1st Battalion, Queen's own Cameron Highlanders of Canada Pipe Band, while stationed at Amersfoort, Holland August 1945
Back Row (Drummers): J.H. Burr; Sgt. G.C. Throne; T.L. Allen; J. Low; D.W. Stock; R.D. Paterson; A. Marks
Centre Row (Pipers): D. McKenzie; A.A. Wilson; H.D. Fraser; W.B. McKay
Front Row: A.V. Turner; W. Sheppherd; (Pipers) W. Burton; (Bass Drummer); Pipe Major W.J. MacLeod, ED; G. MacDonald; Cpl. L. Forman; (Pipers)

Pipers and Drummers not shown on the above Photograph: (Addition sent to us by Pipe Major W.J. MacLeod himself)          

PIPERS: G. Campbell, J.E. Christie, P/M D. Donald, J. Duncan, Cpl. A.H. Graham, C. Gunn, Sgt. J.L. Henderson, J. Johnston, D. MacDonald, A.W. McLellan, A. Moffat, D. Proctor, T. Smith, G.V. Wood, W.W. Young
DRUMMERS: B. Beer, L. Beer, A. Brown, H. Cooper, A. Duncan, S. Hughes, D. Kirk, D.J. MacKenzie, B. Pope, J. Stalker, L.A. Thorne, G. Elrick

 

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare", Ch18 The Channel Ports, p131-132:

The Pipe Band arrived under Pipe Major W. J. McLeod and played for the troops. The unit welcomed the rest which gave them a chance to clean up and reorganize. They were in this area for three days.

On 16 September a mass burial service was held for those who had been killed in the recent battles. One of the Cameron officers who attended this funeral was looking through the La Panne civilian cemetery when he came across the graves of three men of the unit who had been lost at Dieppe, one of whom was Cpl. Preece.

The Journey to Duffel went without incident and was completed in record time. The men thoroughly enjoyed themselves as they passed through villages, towns and cities. Cigarettes and chocolate bars were tps gifts to populace; fruit, drinks and flowers the people's gift to the tps. At every stop tps were surrounded by an admiring crowd. The pretty girls received special attention of the tps and cigarettes and chocolate bars were freely handed out." On arrival in Duffel the Pipe Band played "Retreat" in the town square.

On the next day orders were to be ready to move. At 0400 hrs. 23 September the battalion moved by its own transport to Wommelghem and then marched to the Brigade concentration area. The battle for the Scheldt was about to begin.

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare", Ch19 The Scheldt Battles, p144:

On 30 October the battalion moved by transport to Goes, preceded by the Pioneer Platoon clearing mines off the road. In Goes the Camerons relieved The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment of Canada).

From Goes the battalion moved in a couple of days Willebroach. However, this move was not made before the Band under Pipe Major W. J. McLeod played in the town square and the Canadian Legion came up with supplies of cigar chocolate, peanuts, gum, and lifesavers.

On 1 November the Camerons moved to the 2nd Div. area in Willebroach. This comparatively calm spot was a few miles south of Antwerp. There was a chance for short leaves and an opportunity to try the celebrated oysters of Ierseke. So ended the Camerons' contribution to the long bloody battle of the Scheldt. Altogether five days were spent in this area with several ceremonial parades making the streets of Antwerp and Malines resound with the skirl of the pipes.

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare", Ch20 Static War p150:

Special mention was also made at the time of the fine job being done by Pte. Puttaert of the Intelligence Section in producing the news sheet "Cameron Pipe Dream," a special production of Lt. K. A. Smith, the I.O., which was contributing greatly to keeping up the high morale of the Cameron men.

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare", Ch23, War of Movement p174/177:

In the early hours of 10 April, before first light, the Camerons were picked up by T.C.V.'s and moved in behind the Essex Scottish. Warning orders were received that the whole Bde. must be ready for a quick move. That night the move was ordered and the battalion travelled all night without incidents to reach the concentration area near Gramsbergen. After a brief halt the Camerons were again moving at high speed as far as Terhorst.

 


The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada playing after the liberation of the Town of Groningen,
17 April,1945

Plans now called for the Camerons to move to the outskirts of Groningen. The Brigade ordered the Camerons to concentrate on clearing the suburbs Haren and Helpman.

15 April at 1930 Hrs. the battle for Groningen was completed and the Camerons were ordered to move five miles to Ten Boer.


Left: By the bridge, the Canadian Camerons at Ten Boer, Groningen 15 April, 1945             -              Right: Sharing food, Ten Boer, Groningen 15 April, 1945

The Pipe Band, under Pipe Major McLeod, put on a fine show for the local inhabitants which was most enthusiastically received. The Pipers had not done much piping lately as they had had their hands full, mainly as stretcher bearers, a homely but often risky business that called for qualities of great coolness and courage.


Left: Remembrance service for those killed in action. Ten Boer, Groningen  -  Right: 18 April 1945 Cameron Pipes & Drums playing at Ten Boer, by order of the C.O. Camerons of Canada

On 18 April a battalion parade was held in Ten Boer with a Brigade inspection and march past. Brigadier Allard addressed the troops and complimented them on their fine work since he had taken over the Brigade.

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare", Ch24 Fighting Ends p184-187:

By 1645 hrs. on 3 May, the battalion had reached its final objective for the day, just outside Oldenburg.

At 2000 hrs the BBC news announced that all German forces in Northwest Europe would surrender unconditionally at 050800 B (Author's Note: 0800 hrs., 5 May) and that negotiations for the surrender were taking place. The BBC at 2100 hrs confirmed the news of the surrender.

Oldenburg, which is a pleasant old-world town dating back to the 12th Century, set in pleasant rolling countryside, had a prewar population of 80,000. It was a fitting backdrop for the ceremonial Victory Parade that took place on 9 May 1945.

In the morning the Camerons were busy with spit and polish getting ready for the big doings. At 1530 hrs. with the skirl of the Pipes flinging out the undying challenge to foemen far and near, Pipe Major McLeod led the Cameron Pipe Band in all its glory at the head of the Cameron men, as the battalion marched in review. Brigadier Allard, 6th Bde. commander, took the General Salute. Following the General Salute, the C.O. read messages of thanks from Army, Corps, and Divisional Commands. This was followed by a short service conducted by the Padre, H/Capt. T. R. Davies, M.C. Two minutes silence was observed in honour of those who had given their lives in the cause, followed by "Lament" from the Pipers. Then, smartly, with heads high in the knowledge of a good job well done, the Camerons did the traditional March Past with Brigadier Allard taking the salute.

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare", Ch25 Occupation Tasks p187-193:

According to "The Cameron Pipe Dream" which we quote: "Servicemen have reduced the maze of rules and regulations to three simple formulas: 1. If it moves, salute it. 2. If it doesn't move, pick it up. 3. If it's too big to up, paint it!!" Which is about as good a way as any to explain the mood of most fighting troops after the end of the battle and the inevitable "let-down" of garrison tasks. "The Cameron Pipe Dream" proved once more to be a most useful tool in helping keep up the morale of the Cameron men who were most anxious to get home.

By way of variety, repeated interruptions to the power supply prevented the showing of films, and, more seriously, stopped the publication of "The Cameron Pipe Dream" which had become an "institution."

On the 17 June, the battalion moved to Aurich and took up residence in the commodious ex-German naval quarters.

A Cameron rest centre was organized at Winschoten, where all manner of recreational opportunities abounded, and was gratefully utilized by the troops. About this time, too, Pipe Major W. McLeod began teaching Highland Dancing to those officers and men who wished to acquire this noble art.

Before the battalion finally left Germany, there was a great to-do about 2nd Div.'s celebrations for Dominion Day, 1 July. A "Mardi Gras" was planned to be held at Bad Zwischenahne.

The Massed Pipe Bands of 2nd Div. played several times and when day was done stirred the hearts of all with "Retreat." All in all it turned out to be quite a day, regardless of the elements.

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare", ch26 Back to Holland p196-201:

On 10 August the W.O.'s and Sergeants held a dance in a hotel on the outskirts of Amersfoort, which was generally considered to be an outstanding event. Highland dancing classes were resumed under the supervision of Pipe Major McLeod.

Word was received on the morning of 15 August that World War II was now officially over, with the unconditional surrender of the Japanese.          A holiday was declared for the remainder of the day with the following day to be regarded as a Sunday. This did not inhibit the pay parade, one parade that never gathered much opposition, and this fact no doubt expedited celebration of VJ Day.

On the last day of August each Company had a platoon on parade to aid the Dutch people in their "end-of-the-war" celebrations.

The month of September was made notable by a big victory celebration that was held in La Panne, Belgium, with a special party of 70 all ranks, including the Pipe Band, representing the Camerons. The party, headed by the C.O., arrived in La Panne at 2100 Hrs. 8 September.

 All ranks were billeted in hotels and arrangements were made for the Belgian Red Cross to serve breakfast in the morning. This was duly done, with the Red Cross ladies coming around the tables to give out invitations from Belgians who wished to entertain Camerons at lunch after the victory ceremonies.

The parade marched to the Cenotaph in the centre of the town where a hollow square was formed and the Cameron Pipers played the "Lament." After this the Burgomaster made a speech in Flemish and French. Lt.-Col. R. L. Rutherford received the Freedom of the City and Major W. C. Pearson was made an Honorary Citizen. Following the ceremonies at the Cenotaph the parade moved off to the Town Square where Colours were presented to the famous Belgian "White Brigade", the partisan troops who had been such a thorn in the side of the Nazis. Everywhere the Camerons went they were received with enthusiasm by the Belgian citizens. Many Camerons carry with them today happy memories of the hospitality given them by the good citizens of La Panne.

Another outstanding event of the month of September was the informal, impromptu, and enthusiastic, farewell parade held by all ranks for Capt. G. I. Theal, who had been the Camerons' Medical Officer for many months. He was transferred back to his old regiment the R.H.C. (Black Watch). The parade, head by two jeeps, marched to the square in front of Bn. H.Q. where the good Doctor was serenaded by the Pipe Band. All hands then embussed for the Bn. H.Q. of the Black Watch, debussing just before they got there. They then formed up and marched Capt. Theal, to the skirl of the pipes and the thunder of drums, into the Black Watch camp area. The Highlanders were somewhat bewildered over all the fuss as they had not yet been informed that they were to have the honour of Capt. Theal as their M.O. Everything was eventually straightened out and the parade returned to the Cameron area, leaving Capt. Theal to settle in his new quarters and live peacefully with his brightly burnished reputation.

A visit was received from Major-General Bruce Matthews G.O.C. 2nd Canadian Infantry Division who inspected all companies and the administration.

During his stay, which occurred on 13 September, the Pipe Band played in front of the Bn. H.Q. The following day, Brigadier J. V. Allard, D.S.O., came to inspect the unit and to say farewell. The inspection had to be cancelled on account of rain but the Brigadier delivered his talk to all ranks in the Drill Hall.

Results of Pipe Major McLeod's Highland Dancing lessons were made evident on 15 September when a Highland Dancing Competition was held in front of "Support" company's billets.


But of course there were other musicians with the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada too then !

Excerpt from "Whatever men Dare", Ch27 Last Lap of Homeward Journey p202-204:

On 25 September, the troops had their last look at Northern Holland, moving through the countryside by transport to camp at Nijmegen where they arrived around noon. On the following day, the Pipe Band played "Retreat" in Nijmegen camp at 1730 hrs., with all personnel in the camp being on parade. Early on 27 September, the battalion was processed with names A to J under C.S.M. Chutschoff and those from K to Z under C.S. H. E. Sims. This was followed by cigarette parades, medical parades, and a pay parade. At 1830 hrs. the battalion moved to the transit camp led by the Pipe Band in flamboyant style there to await trains to take them to Calais.

At 0100 hrs. 30 September, they arrived at the embarkation camp at Calais to await the boat that was to take them across the English Channel. Fourteen months had passed since they had journeyed in the reverse direction to a very different type of reception.

Another muster parade was held and embarkation cards were distributed. At 1300 hrs. the Camerons marched behind their Pipe Band to the docks to board a boat that was to separate them from an experience in which their unit had helped to make world history. The boat docked at Dover at 1500 hrs. 30 September, and disembarkation was begun.

Three hours later they were on board a train bound for Farnborough, where they arrived at 2215 hrs. From the station they were transported to camp and, after another hot meal, settled down for the night.

Another six weeks were to pass before the impatient Camerons were actually on board ship on their way home across the Atlantic.


RMS Queen Elizabeth

Details on the R.M.S. Queen Elizabeth
Gross Tonnage - 83,673 tons - Dimensions - 300.94 x 36.14m (987.4 x 118.6ft)
Number of funnels - 2 - Number of masts - 2 - Construction - Steel
Propulsion - Quadruple screw - Engines - Single reduction steam turbines
Service speed - 29 knots - Builder - John Brown & Co Ltd, Glasgow
Launch date - 27 September 1938
Passenger accommodation - 823 1st class, 662 cabin class, 798 tourist class
In 1942 the Admiralty drew up plans to convert the two Queens into aircraft carriers but these were later abandoned as it was considered that their troop carrying role was too important.
In April 1942 the Queen Elizabeth relocated from Sydney to New York. Here the troop accommodation was altered to make its capacity 10,000. In June 1942 it began to make voyages from New York to Gourock and then to Suez, via Cape Town. In August it began a shuttle service between New York and Gourock. Despite the ever present threat of U-boats the ship continued its service unscathed, although the German press stated that a U-boat had hit the vessel with a torpedo on 11 November. By the end of the war in Europe the Queens had brought over a million troops to the war zone. The ship's next duty was to repatriate these troops and redeploy troops for the war against Japan. The repatriation of American troops continued until October 1945 when the Queen Elizabeth was released from US service and allocated to the repatriation of Canadian troops. On 6 March 1946 it arrived back in Southampton and was released from Government service as the need for troop movements had diminished. During the war it had carried over 750,000 troops and travelled 500,000 miles.

Finally the great day came. On 13 November' 1945 the Camerons set sail from Southampton on the giant Queen Elizabeth, homeward bound. The crossing was not particularly comfortable as the ship was crowded to the stacks. But at least they were moving at high speed in the right direction!

From Halifax the battalion was moved quickly to Montreal where a conducting party boarded the train to ride the rest of the way to Winnipeg with them.

22 November 1945, the 1st Battalion of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada had returned home.

 

Map showing the travels of the Regiment in Europe, during the second World War, since arrival in England.