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THE IRISH REGIMENT OF CANADA

 


Pipers' Caubeen Badge and Collar Badges of the Irish Regiment of Canada


Caubeen Badge of Drummers and soldiers of the I.R. of C
(Credit for photographs of the badges goes to Clifford Weirmeir, with his splendid website about the Irish regiment of Canada)

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Wartime printed on canvas (Left) and emboidered (Right) shouldertitles of the I.R. of C.


The Irish Regiment of Canada as they paraded while still in Toronto, Canada, their famous Regimental Mascot (shown above here),
called "Captain Kilkenny", a great Irish wolf-hound, died in August 1941,

 

IRISH REGIMENT of CANADA PIPES AND DRUMS, MULGRAVE, NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA (Early 1940’s)


Back Row: Weir M, Lee M, Elder A, Puddy G, Watson J, Pate G (Pipe Major), Crossan J, Burke T, MacDonald D, O'Kell W,
Front Row: Weingard A, Bennett J, Brandon G, Craigmill K, Wilson W, Gallagher T.

 

As the uniform of this regiment has some very special features, here follow some more photographs to illustrate these:


The special regimental Tartan of the I.R. of C.

 


World War 2 Kilts and leather sporrans of the I.R.of C.

 


A Horsehair Dress Sporran of the I.R. of C.

 


Also, the pipers of this regiment (Pipe Major George Pate shown here) played on
TWO- drone Irish style bagpipes (One bass- and ONE tenor- drone)

 

From: THE STORYOf the IRISH REGIMENT OF CANADA 1939-1945 By Major Gordon Wood

The move to Great Britain.

In August 1942, the Irish were outfitted for the Big Move, which occurred on October 28, 1942. At Halifax, Nova Scotia the delighted men boarded the R.M.S. Queen Elizabeth [see below for details], and by the 4th-5th of November were busily disembarking on the Clyde, at Greenock and Gourock, Scotland. It was not until a quarter to five in the morning of the 6th of November that the first party arrived in Aldershot, Hants.


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.

On the eleventh of January 1943, the Regiment was transferred to the 5th Canadian Armoured Division. Together with the Perth Regiment, and the Cape Breton Highlanders of Canada, the Irish formed a part of the Eleventh Cdn. Infantry Brigade (11 C.I.B.) in the Fifth Div.

On the 4th of July the Regiment moved to King’s Lynn for further training, and it was while it was there that the Irish Regiment of Canada mounted the Royal Guard on Sandringham House nearby. It was on the 4th of August 1943, that the Guard arrived at York Cottage, Sandringham, and were shown their posts. When the King and Queen arrived the following day the Guard had been mounted, and for a few minutes Their Majesties chatted with Pte. S. Moore, who had the good fortune to be on duty at the time. The memorable day came on Sunday, the 8th of August, when the Royal Family inspected the Guard before going to church.

     
Taken at Sandringham Castle in August 1943 during the time the Irish Regiment of Canada were honoured to guard the Royal Family

From: THE STORYOf the IRISH REGIMENT OF CANADA 1939-1945 By Major Gordon Wood

Onward to Italy - including quotations mentioning the I.R. of C. pipe band.

On the 23rd of October the Regiment boarded the Grace Line “Monterey” at Liverpool, and by the 4th of November was passing Gibraltar. The pleasant passage which had until this time made life a round of chicken was somewhat disturbed by an incident which occurred on the evening of the 6th of November. At about a quarter after six, just after twilight, German aircraft attacked the convoy and torpedoed both a Dutch ammunition ship and the “Santa Elena”, another Grace Line ship, carrying 14th General Hospital, and a reinforcement battalion. The Dutch ship was immediately destroyed , but the “Elena” managed to stay barely afloat. The “Monterey”, under Captain Johannsen, moved as close as possible to the stricken ship, and lowered boats to pick up survivors. Men of the Irish Regiment of Canada and the Cape Breton Highlanders of Canada, who had manned Bren Gun posts on the decks during the battle with the aircraft were followed now by other men who assisted in rowing the lifeboats. All the troops of the Eleventh Bde., who were on the ship, worked ceaselessly assisting the survivors on board, lending them dry clothes, and finding them something to drink and a place to sleep. As present writer was one of the unfortunates, he can well assert that the reception accorded to the almost 1300 survivors was most admirable.


The Troopship Monterey

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Monterey:

In World War II Monterey served as a fast troop carrier, often operating alone so she would not be slowed by formation navigation in a convoy. The United States Marine Corps chartered her in 1941 before the US declaration of war to carry 150 Chinese, Korean and Japanese missionaries and stranded US citizens back to San Francisco. Once home, she was quickly refitted to hold 3,500 soldiers. On 16 December 1941 she steamed to Hawaii with 3,349 fresh troops, returning with 800 casualties of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
On 22 August 1942, the ship was briefly acquired by the United States Navy for use as a troopship and assigned the name and designation USS Alameda (AP-68), the second U.S. Navy ship to bear that name. However, she was returned to the War Shipping Administration on 25 September 1942 and thus never served under that name.

War voyage: 8 October 1943 New York to Liverpool with 6,747 troops; on to Gibraltar and Naples in convoy of 43 ships.
The voyage to Naples was her first taste of combat. On 6 November 1943 in an action off Cape Bougaroun, Algeria, 25 aircraft attacked the convoy. Monterey shot down an enemy bomber which passed over the ship and tore away the radio mast before crashing into the ocean. In convoy, the Grace Line troopship Santa Elena was torpedoed and began to sink. Monterey rescued 1,675 using her boats and nets, taking the survivors to Naples.
 

On the 7th the ship anchored for a day in Philippeville Harbour, but attempts to transfer the survivors to another ship were prevented by a heavy sea. That night the “Santa Elena” was towed into the harbour, but sank a few hundred yards from safety, almost exactly 24 hours after having been torpedoed.

- It was on the 10th of November that the Regiment finally landed in Naples, and marched behind the Pipe Band through the bizarre, filthy streets which were typical of the life in the midst of which the Unit was to move for almost a year and a half.

 

- It is amusing to note an entry made in the War Diary of 16 January: “Our forward Company heard a ‘moaning minnie’ in the distance today.” The time was not far off when those wailing shells would be heard in our midst in numbers all too great! Strangely enough, one of our first casualties was Pipe Major George Pate, who received a piece of shrapnel in a spot which prevented him from seating himself with any degree of comfort for some time.

- On the first of May: While the Regiment was in the line the pipe band, under George Pate, had the honour of playing before Lt. General Freyberg, V.C., K.C.B., D.S.O. and Bar, to whose 2nd New Zealand Division our Eleventh Brigade was attached at Cassino.

- After the fall of Rome, trips to the Eternal City were organized. One of the most important was a party which proceeded there under the M.O., Captain Bolley, who had succeeded Capt. Boyden in the previous December. The group paraded to St. Peter’s and were received in audience by His Holiness Pope Pius XII, following Mass. On the 1st of July the Pipe Band played at the opening of the Canada Club, on the Via Nazionale in Rome.

- On the evening of the 12th of September, the officers of the London Irish Regt. visited our officers to dine with us and wish us luck. Our pipers under Pipe-Major George Pate, played airs together with the pipers of the London Irish. Before leaving, the C.O. and the Company Commanders were presented by the visiting officers with the blue hackles which the British Regiment wear in their Caubeens as a part of their dress. These our officers wore into action that night, and the hackle has since been adapted as part of our dress.


The Blue Hackle of the I.R. of C.
This was worn above the badge on the RIGHT side of the caubeen (which is different from a Scottish Bonnet, for it does not have a toorie on top),
unlike the Irish Fusiliers of Canada, who wore their badge on the left side like the Scottish regiments do.

- On the night of the 14th of Sept., the Unit marched once more into San Giovanni, welcomed by the strains of the Pipes, as they entered the narrow and dusty streets. The following day a German Mark IV (Special) Tank rolled into town. It had been captured intact by our troops, and on its side was placed a plaque bearing the crests of the 8th N.B.H. and of the Irish Regiment.


An original distinguishing patch for the Irish Regiment of Canada. The unit didn't end up wearing them (although there is a picture with someone wearing these patches) .
Most units of the 5th Canadian Div wore distinguishing patches while in Italy....The Irish were one that didn't

On the 27th of December the Regiment was relieved by the Westminster Regiment, and moved into Ravenna, where they indulged in Christmas festivities, such as there were available. The Regimental Dinner was held in a huge, semi-destroyed building, whose sparse natural comforts were augmented by all the oil stoves the Unit possessed, together with a lighting system devised by the ingenious Lt. Jack Asselstine. There was a lot of turkey, Christmas Pudding, and Canadian Beer for all, and Gen.Foulkes, the Corps Commander, Maj.- Gen. Hoffmeister, the Divisional Commander, and Brigadier Johnson, the Bde. Commander, were all on hand with greetings for the men who within the year had become veterans in the tough Italian theatre.


Above are the WWII pipers of the Irish regiment of Canada leading the battalion into Ravenna, Italy in 1944.

 

 

France and Belgium.

On the 10th of February Recce Parties left, shrouded in the utmost secrecy, for destinations unknown. The Unit followed on the 15th, on Exercise “Gold-Flake”, bound for they knew not where. This was the beginning of the tremendous operation which moved the whole of the 1st Cdn. Corps to the North-Western Theater, and gave the Irish one of the finest trips they had ever enjoyed. The trip to Belgium began from Cattolica on the Northern Adriatic Coast, on the 15th of February 1945.

By February 26th, all the troops were in the camp at Marseilles, and the next day the long trip through France began. The Regiment traveled up the Rhone Valley, complete with all their trucks and equipment, in a secret move which forbade stoppage in any towns or speaking to civilians. All Division Patches and Unit identity had been removed, as in preparation for the Line, but we wore our Irish bonnets as always, perhaps to confuse whatever agents were about into a belief that a Regiment from Ireland was on the move.

The first night halt was spent outside St. Rambert, the second at Macon, and the night of March 1st found us on the airport of Les Laumes. The next night brought us to Melun, and our last staging area was near Cambrai, on the night of 3rd March. The following day we were in Belgium at our destination in the Ypres- Poperinghe area..During the journey the G.F. (Golf Flake) Route would take us two hundred miles in a day, sometimes only ninety, and often a reasonable one hundred and fifty, but whenever we stopped, usually off the main highway along a country road, the kitchens would be set up, and soon there would be a hot meal ready. At nights there was usually a movie, after which we would curl up under our blankets, out in the open. The billets into which we were welcomed in Belgium were clean and very comfortable.

The Regiment was scattered among a number of small villages which deserve mention for the warm-hearted welcome the accorded us. Battalion Headquarters and Headquarters Company were in Oostvleteren, “A” Company was in Westvleteren, “B” in Reninghe, “C” in Loo, “D” in Zudyschoote, and Support Company in Woesten.

On March 27th the Unit moved up to Holland on very short notice, and arrived that night in a concentration area near Nijmegen. Col. Payne had gone ahead on a recce., and the following day the Battalion moved into the Line on Nijmegen Island, south of Arnhem, in a holding role. The actual area was along the Linge Canal around the villages of Hemmen and Zetten. Ahead lay the Neder Rhine, flowing past the City of Arnhem which lay on its far bank.

On the 13th of April the Belgians relieved us, and we were moved up to the Rhine facing across Arnhem, in the area of Elden,

The Unit moved back to Oosterhout, near Nijmegen, on the 14th and the following day set out for Arnhem, crossing the great pontoon bridge which had been already erected. After a night spent in the heart of the deserted and looted city, the Regiment, under Col. Payne, set out with the remainder of the 5th Division in an armoured drive in the true sense of the word. It was a swift drive north from Arnhem to the Zuiderzee, designed to cut the opposing forces in two. The drive had taken only five days.

The final push to Delfzijl.

The day following the conclusion of the drive to the Zuider Zee, the Regiment moved over into Friesland, in the Joure—Sneek area, where they took over from units of the 3rd Division on a wide holding front, designed to stop up the Frisian end of the Causeway, the great dyke, which carried a highway across to the Amsterdam Peninsula. The towns garrisoned were Joure, Sneek, Lemmer, Makkum, and Stavoren.

The fighting in that area ended after the surrender of the Germans at Delfzijl, after which the Regiment moved back to Siddeburen. The war was over an the 8th, and in Holland it was over on the 5th when the German troops there surrendered.

After the war.

For awhile the Regiment remained in Siddeburen, where they dis armed after the message arrived which read: “Cancel all offensive operations forthwith and cease fire at 050800B”. Further detail later.” The ending of the war on our front was swiftly followed by the Germans’ complete collapse, and with the Dutch civilians we joined in rather provincial celebrations which included the burning of effigies on a great bonfire, and in gala parades. From Siddeburen we moved in Groningen, on 2nd June. This move followed a Divisional March Past, Exercise “Finale”, aptly named, in which the 5th Armoured Division, in all its glory, drove past General Crerar, the Army Commander, at Groningen. During this period detachments of the Unit were dispatched to the Sneek area to Guard Prisoners who were constructing the camps through which the main body of Germans then in the Amsterdam area would pass on the long trek home.

On the 5th of June the Regiment moved to Heerenveen with “B” and “C” Company’s in Joure. Capt. Rowland M.C. held his final Memorial Service in Heerenveen on the 1st of July, and soon after left for home himself. The Unit settled down to wait for the call to the ships.

 


 the Irish Regiment Pipe Band at Band Practice, Heernveen

 

 


The Green Bonnet monthly magazine

A monthly magazine, the “Green Bonnet”, was begun under Major Wood, and Supervisor Brett has organized his facilities to provide movies, dancing, and a dry canteen. During our stay in Heerenveen several marriages occurred between men of the Regiment and Dutch girls, one of which was solemnized in the Parish Church between Cpl. Mackenzie and a girl of Groningen. Also there occurred a tragedy when Major Charles Gordon and Sgt.Volkes died as a result of jeep accident. Services were held on October 18 in the Parish Church and the remains were interred at Groningen in the 5th Division cemetery.
See the same below, from the War Diaries:

 


Cpl. McKenzie of the YMCA was married to Miss Berendina Pluim of Groningen

From the RIR War Diaries:

October 16, 1945

Cpl. McKenzie of the YMCA was married to Miss Berendina Pluim of Groningen in the Reformed Church of Heerenveen. A reception was held in the Green Hackle Club after the ceremony. Major N. Hickling and Capt. J.L. Watson attended the service. H/Capt. G.D. Petrie officiated and Major G.J. Wood was at the organ.


Pte. Burling sounded Last Post and Reveille

From the RIR War Diaries:

October 18, 1945

The funeral services for Major Gordon and Sgt. Volks were held today in the Reformed Church. The funeral procession formed upon the main street at 1020 hrs. The flag draped caskets were carried on trailers drawn by jeeps. The procession was led by the firing party from “A” Company, followed by the Pipe Band and the bearers. The men of “A” Company lined the route on either side. The Church Service was conducted by H/Capt. Petrie. At the conclusion of the service a guard was mounted over the bodies until 1300 hrs when the cortege proceeded to Groningen for the graveside service at 5 Cdn Armd Div (Temporary) Cemetery. At the burial service, Pte. Burling sounded Last Post and Reveille and the Pipe Band played Lament. There were numerous floral tributes from civilian friends and from organizations within the Regiment.

Weather—Fair and warm.

 

 


Irish on the march in Heerenveen

 


Canadian soldiers help the dutch farmers with stocking wheat

 

 

14 Juli: the Irish Regt. & CBH pipe bands play for Prince Bernhard at farewell to the B.S. Leeuwarden

 


On his birthday, H.R.H. Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands is escorted by the Commander of the Cape Breton Highlanders, T. S. Sommerville, during the final inspection of the B.S.


The combined (5th. Division) pipe bands of the Irish Regiment and Cape breton Highlanders of Canada  arrive on the Wilhelminaplein


H.R.H. Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, escorted by CBH Commander T.S.Sommerville, greeting the B.S. (Dutch Resistance) at their farewell parade

 
The combined (5th. Canadian Armoured Division) pipe bands of the Irish Regiment and Cape breton Highlanders of Canada playing for the march-past of the B.S.

 

9 September 1945: Irish Regt. and CBH - Mounting 11th. Brigade Guard-Leeuwarden

From THE IRISH REGIMENT OF CANADA Battle Diaries - September 9, 1945:

The Brigade Guard, consisting of 36 Other Ranks, under the Command of Lieut. H.B.Perkins, mounted at Leeuwarden this afternoon. The Commanding Officer watched the mounting which was an impressive and colourful affair and a great delight to the local citizens. The Pipe Band played throughout the ceremony.


11 Infantry Brigade Officers during the Crerar visit:
L. to R.: O. in C. The Irish Regt. of Can.: Lt. –Col. L.H.C. Payne, Commander 11th. Can. Inf. Bde.: Brig. E.S. Johnston, General Crerar,
O. in C. The Cape Breton Highlanders: Lt. –Col. T.S. Somerville, O. in C. The Perth Regt.: Lt. –Col. M.W. Andrew.


9 September 1945: The combined pipe bands of the Royal Irish regiment of Canada and the Cape Breton Highlanders
at the Mounting of the 11th. Brigade Guard-Leeuwarden



9 September 1945: The combined pipe bands of the Royal Irish regiment of Canada and the Cape Breton Highlanders
at the Mounting of the 11th. Brigade Guard-Leeuwarden

 

 


The regimental newsletter "The Green Bonnet" of August 1945 (see cover above here), printed in Heerenveen, Friesland,
featured an article on the Irish Regiment of Canada's Pipe Band:

 

The Green Bonnet - August 1945

THE PIPE BAND

On the opposite page we are publishing one of the last pictures of the Pipe Band, as it moved off to pipe the Irish to the Memorial Service held recently in Heerenveen. At as head is the capable Pipe-Major George Pate, whose tireless leadership has brought the band renown and acknowledgment throughout all our campaigns.

On every occasion the skirl of the pipes has lent both dignity and colour to the event, whether it happened to be a Royal Guard, a visit from a General Officer, or a mounting of the Battalion Guard on town squares scattered from Altamura to Ravenna and from Westvleteren to Heerenveen. The pipes led the Irish Regiment of Canada through the streets of Naples as they landed in Italy, and greeted them as veteran soldiers marching along the road which led from Coriano into San Giovanni.

The shrill lament of the pipes rose from many an Italian field as yet another Irish soldier came to his last rest, even as in more lilting measures "The Wearing of the Green" had led him to his first Battalion Parade. Although the band is smaller now than in the glorious days when it joined the pipers of the London Irish, and marched proudly through dusty San Giovanni, still the sound of the pipe band, calling the Irish Regiment of Canada to parade, holds an immeasurable thrill for those of us who have woven the strains of the pipes into the most treasured memories of our unforgettable days in the Regiment!

Are any of your Irish pals at home now, or serving elsewhere? Send them a "Green Bonnet" Available each month, complete with envelope.

Price: One Guilder. On sale at Y.M.C.A.


A traditional Friesian blue plate from , made in Makkum 1945,
in honour of the Irish regiment of Canada.

Here follows the description from the Battle Diaries of the Irish Regiment of Canada's move back to Toronto, via Great Britain and New York:

November 1, 1945 Heerenveen

It is strongly rumoured that the Div will begin to move from Holland 1 Dec. We may reasonably expect to leave about 6 Dec. Weather—cloudy and cool

November 11, 1945

Today the Battalion held a memorial service in the local church with our new Padre, H/Capt. J.M. Anderson, MC, officiating. All Coys sent parties to various cemeteries throughout Holland to place wreaths on the graves of our Irish dead. “B” Coy went to Otterloo, HQ and A Coys to Groningen and C and D to Wollendorp. In all 26 graves were visited. Weather—fair and cool

November 12, 1945

This morning the Battalion held a “dress rehearsal” for the forthcoming inspection by Gen Simonds. This will be, in all probability, our last formal parade in Holland. Weather—cloudy and cool

November 13, 1945

A quiet day with the whole Battalion blanco-ing web and shining brass in preparation for tomorrow’s inspection. The Irish Basketball team scored a victory over Bde HQ in Leeuwarden. Our Officers’ and OR’s Volleyball teams are tied for second place in the Bde league. Weather—cloudy and mild

November 14, 1945

Lt-Gen. G.G. Simonds, G.O.C. in C., CFN., visited the Battalion this morning. He inspected each Coy in turn and then talked to the men for about ten minutes, explaining the system of repatriation, the shipping system and the probable date of return. He thanked the men of the Regiment for the splendid way they supported the Victory Loan and wished them success and good luck on their return to civilian life. Gen Simonds was accompanied by Brig. I.S. Johnson, and Lt-Col. Somerville. This evening a farewell party was held for the Officers of the Bde at the Bde HQ Mess. Weather—fair and cool

November 15, 1945

This morning the men said goodbye to their rifles for the last time. All Arms were turned in to the QM to be packed away for shipment.

November 16, 1945

Today the Regiment received more good news. Our date for departure has been further advanced. The Div will start to move on the 26 Nov and must clear the Continent by 1 Dec. This means that we should be on the move by the 29 Nov. Weather—cloudy and cool

November 21, 1945

The Adjutant and the QM attended a meeting at Div HQ to discuss “A” and “Q” plans for the Div move. It is now definitely settled that the Irish will start to move on 30 Nov. Weather—fair and cold

November 22, 1945

The Commanding Officer and Major W.S. Elder, MC, attended a meeting at Bde HQ presided over by Brig. Rutherford who spoke about the organization of the Repat Depots in England. Weather—cloudy and mild

November 23, 1945

All Unit vehicles were inspected and classified by a RCEME team prior to final turnin. A large group of low-pointers proceeded to Groningen en-route to CAOF.

November 24, 1945

A “Farewell to Holland” dinner was held this evening in the Officers’ Mess, arranged by Capt. H.G. Herman. Irish “expatriates” present included Major Tom Popplewell, Capt. Jack Hanley, Capt. S.C. Bell and Lt. R. Michener..Weather—Cloudy and mild

November 26, 1945

A quiet uneventful day with preparations for the move going apace. Major Elder, and Capt. Charette returned from Hilversum. Lt. G. Mullins returned from Div HQ. All vehicles were grounded prior to turn-in to the Demob Vehicle Park. Weather—fair and cool

November 28, 1945

Capt. B. Sandwell and Lt. R. Roberts returned from HQ 11 CIB bringing our officer roster up to full strength. Capt. Turner, Lt. Haines, and Sgt.s Kehl and Burkholder left for 4Bn Nijmegen as our Bn advance party. Lt. Haines returned later in the day with information about the camp. He was informed that we would be going to No.9 Repat Depot near Haselmere. Weather - cool with showers

November 30, 1945

At 0240 hrs the long awaited signal was given and the first TCV moved off in the direction of Groningen. The last fond farewell was said and the convoy disappeared into the night. At 0500 hrs the convoy drew up in front of the main station at Groningen, the troops debussed and were guided to their coaches by the RTO staff. After a long and cold journey in a dilapidated German train via Appeldoorn and Utrecht, we arrived at Nijmegen about 1530 hrs. We were marched to our billets at 4Bn, the Officers in the main building and the OR.s in Nissen huts.

December 1, 1945 Nijmegen

After breakfast all ranks were paraded to the Paymaster for delivery of currency and the Post Office to order cigarettes for delivery in England. The OR’s were inspected by the MO. In the afternoon there was a final muster parade at which time every man’s name was called from the new nominal roll. We received the disappointing news that we would not be moving that night but would probably pull out on Sunday. Weather—cloudy and mild

December 2, 1945

This morning we got the further news that we would not be leaving for Ostend tonight but would be obliged to move across to the Leave transit camp to make room at 4 Bn for the drafts moving up behind us. At 1800 hrs the TCV’s arrived and we were driven to the most uncomfortable quarters we have ever occupied since our fighting days. However, everyone accepted the situation with good grace and we settled down for what we hoped would be our last night in Holland. Weather—Fair and mild

December 3, 1945

Still another setback today. The Trains were to crowded to accommodate us so our departure was again postponed. However, good meals and plenty of entertainment kept the men in good spirits. Weather—warm with rain

December 4, 1945

This morning we were given definite assurance that we were to move this evening. At about 1600 hrs the TCV’s arrived and we were driven down to the RE siding. The train which was waiting for us was an English one and, although crowded, was immensely more comfortable than the old German one which had taken us from Groningen to Nijmegen. At about 1900 hrs we started off, crossed the Dutch frontier for the last time and headed toward Ostend. Weather—Fair and warm

December 5, 1945 Ostend and Dover

At about 0300 hrs we arrived at Ostend. At the transit camp we were given a hot meal and managed to snatch a couple of hours’ sleep. In the morning the rolls were checked and we were marched to the quayside where the Channel Steamer was waiting. The crossing was something most of us would prefer to forget. The seas were mountainous and at least half our personnel were obliged to sacrifice all the nourishment they had taken aboard during the last 24 hrs. When we arrived at Dover those of us who could still eat were given a huge hot meal at the Transit Mess and then herded into two special trains which were to take us to our final destination. Weather—cloudy and cool

December 6, 1945 Haslemere

At 0100 hrs we arrived at Haslemere and conveyed in 3 tonners to No9 Repat Depot, our base of Operations in England. None of us were very pleased with what we found when we arrived; a low stench of scrubby forest, miles from anywhere. Damp, chilly Nissen huts and not a pub in sight. Only the knowledge that we were on our way home kept our spirits up. In the morning the entire Battalion were paraded before Lt-Col. A.J.A. Baxter ED, O.C “B” Wing, who outlined the procedure followed in the Repat Depot and described the “Sausage Machine” through which all of us would have to pass for checking and documentation. Col. Baxter told us all about leave which will be from the 8th Dec to the 17th Dec. From there we proceed to the Paymaster, N.O.,S.P.O., etc. Arrangements were made for those who wished to spend their 30-days leave in England and all sorts of personal problems were ironed out. In the evening a film was shown in the Camp Cinema. Weather—Cloudy and Cool

December 7, 1945

The whole morning was taken up with further documentation and a mail and cigarette parade. The Officers trunks arrived from trunk storage in Aldershot where they had been stored since we first left for the Continent. In the evening a live show was staged in the Camp Theatre. Weather—Cloudy and Cool

December 8, 1945

Early in the morning the whole Battalion were paraded in alphabetical order for the issue of leave passes and travel warrants. At about 1000 hrs the TCV’s pulled out and we were driven to Croyden underground station, where the troops dispersed to their various leave destinations. Weather—Cloudy and cool

December 20, 1945

Another quiet day. The men’s kit was turned in to pack stores prior to leave. Warrants and Leave Passes were prepared. Lt. R.T. Homewood left the draft to proceed home on Industrial Repat. Weather—Fair and cool

December 21, 1945

This morning the troops were moved to new quarters to make the distribution of the unit more compact. After lunch, all personnel going on leave were driven to Haslemere station to entrain for their various destinations. Major G.J. Wood left the Regiment to proceed home on special Repat in order that he may take a position as lecturer in English at the University of New Brunswick. Lt. H.B. Perkins left on Industrial Repat. Weather—Cloudy and Cool

December 22 to December 28, 1945

Battalion on leave.

December 29, 1945

With all ranks back from leave, kit was withdrawn from stores, cigarettes were issues and the men went through medical and dental inspections. Weather—Cold with rain

December 30, 1945

No Parades today, except a muster roll call. A good many men took advantage of the recreational transport to visit nearby towns. The Canadian Army Show, “Rhythm Radio” was well attended by Irish personnel. A small group of Officers held a dinner party at the Crown Hotel in Chittingfold. Weather—Cloudy and cool

December 31, 1945

The Padre, H/Capt. G.D. Petrie, gave a lecture to the troops on Rehabilitation problems and a rehab film was shown in the camp theatre. The Regiment has been granted a further short leave from 2 Jan to 4 Jan. Our availability date has been defiantly set at 8 Jan. We hope to embark on the Queen Elizabeth on that date. During the evening several members of the Sergeants Mess and some personnel from the Pipe Band, all of whom shall remain nameless, organized a parade which invaded the Officers Mess, The C.O.’s quarters and various other places of interest. Otherwise, the last night of 1945 was celebrated fairly quietly, with everyone’s thoughts concentrated on the future than the present. Weather—cloudy and cool

January 5, 1946

All ranks returned from leave and final preparations are underway for the last stage of the long trip. We are to leave for Southampton on Monday morning 7 Jan. to embark on the Queen Elizabeth, sailing 9 Jan. All hold baggage was turned in today for loading aboard the transport. Weather—cloudy and cool

January 6, 1946

Final medical and dental inspections completed, baggage checks issued and all preparations complete for our departure.


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.

January 7, 1946

Reveille at 0230hrs., breakfast at 0300 hrs, final clean up of huts and quarters. The Battalion paraded at 0400 hrs for issue of embarkation cards. We boarded the special train at Haslemere at 0618 and arrived Southampton about 0830 hrs. No time was lost in boarding the Queen Elizabeth where we have been selected to perform the Provost Duties. The Officers and men were all berthed in cabins on the upper decks, crowded but reasonably comfortable. Lunch was served at noon—the best meal we had tasted for some considerable time (Xmas and New Year’s excepted) Officers and NCO’s were selected for various duties aboard the ship which is due to sail on 9 Jan. at 1400 hrs. Weather—Cloudy and mild

January 8, 1946 Aboard Ship

A quiet day on board with the ship still moored in Southampton harbour. Provost Duties were begun with the Irish men secreted in every corner of the ship to prevent smoking in “unauthorized places.” All day drafts and units filed up the gangplanks— almost all of 5 Div and a large part of 4 Div were aboard by evening. Weather—cloudy and cool

January 9, 1946

The last Canadian troops were aboard by noon and just before sailing time, Mr Winston Churchill and party arrived. Very few of the troops had a chance to see the EXP. M., except the men on Provost Duty near the gangplank. Capt. J.C. Turner managed to snap a picture of “Winnie” just as he was getting in the elevator. At 1400 hrs. the ship weighed anchor, and slipped out of Southampton Harbour in the teeth of a rising gale which, for a time, had threatened our departure. By evening the ship was wallowing in a very angry sea; and a good many passengers had begun to wonder if it was all worthwhile. Weather—Cold and Stormy

January 10, 1946

well out to sea, everyone trying to adjust himself to the monotony of a crowded ship, with nothing to do and only two meals a day to fill in the time. The first lifeboat drill was held, which forced a good many people on deck who might otherwise never have left the seclusion of their cabins. Weather—Fair and cool

January 11, 1946

A completely uneventful day. Normal ship’s routine. Weather—Cloudy and Cool

January 12, 1946

Today we encountered a bad storm with a head wind of gale proportions. The master was obliged to reduce our speed drastically in order to avoid having the ship to badly buffeted by the mountainous seas. We just seemed to be holding our own against the gale.

Weather—Stormy and cold

January 13, 1946

This afternoon, Mr. Churchill addressed all troops aboard the ship, over the Public Address System. The Opposition Leader paid tribute to the contribution of the Canadian Forces in winning the war. He made special mention of the dark days of 1940 when the First Canadian Infantry Division was the only fully armed and equipped formation in England, after the debacle at Dunkirk. Weather—Cloudy and Cool

January 14, 1946

Owing to Saturday’s storm the ship will not dock in New York Harbour until 2000 hrs. and Canadian troops will not begin to disembark until Tuesday morning. At about 1600 hrs the northern tip of Long Island was sighted off the Starboard bow. At 1800 hrs we entered New York Harbour, passed the Statue of Liberty and slid quietly up the Manhattan side of the river. The sight of downtown Manhattan with its myriad of lights was a rare thrill for the lads who had become used to the halfhearted illumination of European Capitals. By 2100 hrs. the ship was moored at the Cunard-White Star Pier and a Negro jazz band was entertaining the troops at the quayside. Major Elder, MC, Sgt. Napper, Cpl. Bellinger, and Pte. Ridler, MM, disembarked to be interviewed by the Canadian and American Newsmen in the Customs Shed. Weather—Fair and cool

January 15, 1946

At 2000 hrs, the Battalion mustered on the Promenade deck, and stood for about two hours while an incompetent and muddleheaded group of officials struggled through the intricacies of calling a roll and issuing railway accommodation cards. Fortunately the American Red Cross were on hand with gallons of hot coffee and baskets of doughnuts. Finally the Battalion was crowded aboard one of the Hudson River Ferries and across to the Jersey side where we boarded the special train for Toronto. No sleeping accommodation was provided but there were comfortable air-conditioned day coaches. H/Capt. “Dave” Rowland MC, met in New York with information about the Civic reception which will be tendered us in Toronto at the Coliseum. Weather—Cool and Fair

January 16, 1946

After a soul satisfying Canadian breakfast, most of the morning was spent in spit-andpolish. We travelled up through Pennsylvania and New York State and crossed the Boarder at Niagara Falls. Leave passes, travel warrants, suit priority coupons, etc, were distributed to all ranks. At about 1500 hrs. the train pulled in to the special siding behind the Coliseum and the Companies formed up beside the Colour Party drawn from the 2nd Battalion and 1st Battalion Vets. With the pipes playing the Regiment marched into the Coliseum and formed up in mass; surrounded by admiring friends and relatives. After short addresses of welcome by the Mayor of Toronto and the Officers Commanding M.D.2 and a reply by Col. G.C.A. Macartney, the Colours were marched off, and the Battalion was dismissed for the last time.

Thanks to Clifford Weirmeir, for the use of material from his splendid website about the Irish regiment of Canada;
please do click on the I.R. of C. Pipers' Collar Badges below to go there.

Click here to go to  Clifford Weirmeir's Irish Regiment of Canada webpage