The Princess of Wales' Own Regiment

The Princess of Wales' Own Regiment

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=The Princess of Wales' Own Regiment

caption=Cap badge of The Princess of Wales' Own Regiment
dates=January 16, 1863
type=Line Infantry
role=Light Role
size= One battalion
command_structure=Royal Canadian Infantry Corps
garrison= Kingston
ceremonial_chief_label=Colonel in Chief
colonel_of_the_regiment_label=Honorary Colonel
march= Quick: "The Buffs"

The Princess of Wales' Own Regiment (PWOR) is a Primary Reserve infantry regiment of the Canadian Forces.

The regiment was created on 16 January 1863 as the 14th Battalion Volunteer Militia Rifles of Canada from the amalgamation of Kingston, Ontario’s seven independent rifle companies. Shortly after the wedding of the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) to Princess Alexandra of Denmark, the regiment asked for and was given permission to become The Princess Of Wales’ Own Regiment.

During the Fenian Raid of 1866, when the Irish extremists attempted to bring Britain to her knees by attacking Canada, the regiment was called to active duty, both to Niagara and later to Cornwall. The band mace presented to the regiment by its officers “In Remembrance of Cornwall” is in the museum.

In 1885, during the Riel Rebellion the PWOR was again activated, but not for field service in the West, as it had hoped. It was destined for garrison duties at Tete-du-Pont Barracks (now Fort Frontenac) and Fort Henry.

The Boer War, in South Africa, in 1899, again brought members of the 14th to the Colours. A number of members served in various units and because of the 14th’s contribution, “South Africa 1900” became the first battle honour. As a matter of interest, a PWOR officer by the name of Captain Carruthers, made his own way to South Africa, after being turned down for South Africa service, in Canada. He was “signed-on” as a Lieutenant and distinguished himself sufficiently that he was asked to join the regular force. When he returned to Canada, he was asked to set up the Canadian Signal Corps.

The outbreak of World War I in 1914 resulted in a response by members of the regiment that was quite remarkable. Very quickly a contingent of 80 men was formed under Captain George T. Richardson, (for which George Richardson Stadium in Kingston is named--he became the PWOR’s first officer fatality) and sent to the 2nd (Eastern Ontario Regiment) Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), of the 1st Canadian Division, which was part of Canada’s First Contingent.

At the same time, the 21st Battalion, CEF was formed in Kingston, under the Commanding Officer of the PWOR, Lieutenant-Colonel St Pierre Hughes. The PWOR also contributed officers and men to the 59th, 146th, and 253rd Battalions, CEF.

The history of the 21st Battalion, which the PWOR perpetuates, is far too long to relate here, however, it should be mentioned that the unit earned eighteen Battle Honours were won in three years of frontline service. A great deal of the 21st Battalion history, including its Colours, is found in the regimental museum. There is also a photo tribute to [ the 21st Battalion ] .

In 1920, in the post war re-organization of the Militia, the 14th Battalion Rifles, was re-designated as a line infantry regiment so that it could carry the Battle Honours and Colours of the 21st Battalion, CEF (A rifle regiment carries its Battle Honours on its drums).

The Princess of Wales’ Own Regiment, became allied on 15 July 1926 with the South Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Volunteers) who count among their Battle Honours Louisburg and Niagara. In the mid-1960s, the South Lancashire Regiment was amalgamated with other Lancashire regiments to form the present allied regiment- The Queen's Lancashire Regiment.

In the Second World War, the decision was made not to mobilize the regiment, because of the heavy losses suffered in the First World War. Instead, it provided one complete company to the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders (Glens), which went under canvas at the Kingston fairgrounds. The Glens went ashore on D-Day under a PWOR officer, Lieutenant-Colonel GH Christiansen, as part of the 9th (Highland) Brigade, commanded by another PWOR officer, Brigadier DG Cunningham.

In June 1942, the 1st battalion PWOR was formed under Lieutenant-Colonel E Cockburn and it served in Sherbrooke, Quebec and Debert, Nova Scotia, where it was deployed for east coast defence. All told, the regiment supplied 1500 men for active service including one Brigadier, four Colonels and eight Lieutenant-Colonels.

In 1963, the PWOR celebrated its Centennial, and was granted freedom of the City of Kingston. It was presented with the new Colours by the Lieutenant Governor, the Honorable Earl Rowe. On the Colours was emblazoned the badge of the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders, 1939- 1945, commemorating the service of PWOR members in that regiment.

The PWOR went through a decline during the 1970s and 1980s, where a measure of a unit’s success was simply the ability to remain active and keep off the increasing list of once proud units now relegated to the supplementary order of battle. The regiment was reduced to a minor unit, with only one authorized company for most of the Seventies, until finally in 1978, it was again elevated to major unit status.

The regiment has always acquitted itself well in competition over the years, whether in sports, shooting or skill at arms. In l895 the Regimental Quarter Master represented Canada at Bisley. His rifle and some of his winnings are on display in the museum. More recently a member of the unit was part of the 1990 Canadian Forces Bisley Team and a member of the unit's Cadet Corps distinguished herself on the same ranges.

Today, the regiment is composed of men and women from all walks of life including students, policemen and farmers. Members of the regiment have distinguished themselves on recent peacekeeping tours in Cyprus and the former republics of Yugoslavia.

Members of the regiment have also served on combat missions during Operation Medusa.

Today, the Princess of Wales’ Own Regiment continues to maintain itself as an effective component of the ‘Total Force’ army, preparing to fulfill its role, if called upon, as a first rate infantry unit. Nunquam Cede (Never Yield)


*GBR - The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment (King's Lancashire and Border)

ee also

* The Canadian Crown and the Canadian Forces

Order of precedence

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