Royal Winnipeg Rifles

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Royal Winnipeg Rifles
RoyalWinnipegRifles.jpg
Cap badge of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles
Active1883–present
CountryCanada
BranchCanadian Army
TypeRifles
Part of38 Canadian Brigade Group
Garrison/HQMinto Armoury, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Nickname(s)Little Black Devils
Motto(s)Hosti acie nominati
March"Old Solomon Levi"
Websitewww.theroyalwinnipegrifles.com
Commanders
Colonel-in-ChiefThe Prince of Wales
AbbreviationR Wpg Rif

The Royal Winnipeg Rifles (R Wpg Rif) are a Primary Reserve one-battalion infantry regiment of the Canadian Army. Nicknamed the "Little Black Devils", they are based at Minto Armoury in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Royal Winnipeg Rifles are part of 3rd Canadian Division's 38 Canadian Brigade Group.

History[edit]

Royal Winnipeg Rifles, during Operation Spring, France, 25 July 1944.

The 90th Winnipeg Battalion of Rifles were formed on 9 November 1883 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel William Nassau Kennedy. Within two years of formation, the 90th battalion served in the 1885 North-West Rebellion, fighting at Fish Creek and Batoche.[1] The regimental Latin motto is hosti acie nominati, which means “named by the enemy in battle”. After the Battle of Fish Creek, a captured Métis asked, "The red coats we know, but who are those little black devils?" – infantry of the line wore red tunics, but the Winnipeg soldiers were clad in rifle green, a shade dark enough to be mistaken for black. From that point on, the 90th Rifles (and later Royal Winnipeg Rifles) became informally nicknamed the "Little Black Devils".

Some former members of the 90th Rifles served in South Africa during the Second Boer War as members of other Canadian units, resulting in the award of the South Africa 1899–1900 battle honour.[2]

The distinguishing patch of the 8th Battalion (90th Winnipeg Rifles), CEF.

The regiment raised several battalions for the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the Great War, the most notable being the 8th Battalion (90th Winnipeg Rifles), CEF, which served in the 2nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division. The battalion saw some of the heaviest fighting in World War I, distinguishing itself at battles such as Ypres, the Somme, Vimy, Passchendaele, Amiens, Arras and Cambrai.[1]

Three members of the 8th battalion were awarded Canada's highest honour for gallantry in the face of the enemy, the Victoria Cross.[1]

In the 1920 reorganization of the Canadian Militia following the report of the Otter Committee, the regiment's former designation as 90th Regiment was dropped and became known as The Winnipeg Rifles. In 1935 the unit was awarded the prefix 'Royal' for its distinguished service to King George V, and the current designation of The Royal Winnipeg Rifles (R Wpg Rif) was adopted.[1]

In World War II the regiment landed in England in September 1940. As part of the 7th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division, the Rifles were in the first wave of landings on D Day, 6 June 1944. The Royal Winnipeg Rifles fought throughout the Normandy campaign, fighting in famous battles such as Caen and the Falaise Gap. After helping liberate several of the Channel Ports, the regiment fought to clear the Scheldt Estuary to allow the re-opening of the Antwerp harbour. After helping to liberate the Netherlands, the regiment ended the war preparing to assault the northern German town of Aurich.[1]

Three battalions of the regiment served during the Second World War. The 1st Battalion served in the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, the 2nd Battalion was a reserve unit that remained on part-time duty in Winnipeg, and a 3rd Battalion served in the Canadian Army Occupation Force.

The 1st Battalion were among the first Allied troops to land on the Normandy beaches on D-Day. They served throughout the Northwest Europe campaign, including the Battle of the Scheldt, the Rhineland, and the final battles across the Rhine, before returning to Canada in 1945. The 3rd Battalion was raised in 1945 and remained in Germany until 1946.


In 1950 the regiment helped the civil authority during the Winnipeg flood during Operation Red Ramp. During 1951–53, they provided men to the 1st Canadian Rifle Battalion for NATO duty with 27th Brigade Group in Germany. Members of the regiment also served with other units during the Korean War. In 1955 the Winnipeg Light Infantry amalgamated with The Royal Winnipeg Rifles bringing together the histories and traditions of two military units with no change in designation.[1]

On 6 June 1964, a commemorative D-Day monument was erected on the beaches at Courseulles-sur-Mer. In 1978 Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, became the Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment. Subsequently, a contingent of Rifles attended the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer on 29 July 1983.[1]

In 1983 The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, celebrated a one hundred years of military service to Canada with numerous events and an official postage stamp.[1]

The regiment contributed numerous soldiers to overseas deployments in the Balkans and to Canadian operations in Afghanistan.[1]

In 2009, the Royal Winnipeg Rifles and the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders (both stationed at Minto Armoury) merged into the Winnipeg Infantry Tactical Group (Wpg Inf Tac Grp, or WITG). Both infantry regiments retained a large majority of their traditions but had a mixed and fully cooperative chain of command with only one commanding officer (CO) for both units. In 2018, the units were disaggregated, now with two separate chains of command and with different roles. The new main role for the Royal Winnipeg Rifles is maintaining the Arctic Response Company Group.

The Royal Winnipeg Rifles perpetuate the 91st "Winnipeg" Battalion of Light Infantry of 1885–1888 and the 8th, 10th, 27th, 44th, 61st, 90th, 101st, 144th, 190th, 203rd, 222nd and 226th Battalion(s), Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Lineage[edit]

Lineage of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles:[3]

Lineage
1878Winnipeg Inf Coy
188390th "Winnipeg" Bn of Rifles
1885Winnipeg Light Inf Bn
188691st "Winnipeg" Bn of Light Inf
1888Disbanded
190090th Regt "Winnipeg Rifles"
1912106th Regt, Winnipeg Light Inf
19148th Bn, CEF10th Bn,CEF27th and 44th Bn, CEF
191590th and 144th "Overseas" Bn,CEF61st and 101st "Overseas" Bn, CEF
1916190th and 203rd "Overseas" Bn,CEF222nd and 226th "Overseas" Bn, CEF
1917DisbandedDisbanded
1920DisbandedThe Winnipeg RiflesDisbandedThe Winnipeg Light InfDisbanded
1932Perpetuates 91st Bn
1935The Royal Winnipeg Rifles
1936The Winnipeg Light Inf (MG)
1940The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, CASF
19401st Bn, The Royal Winnipeg Rifles,CASF2nd (Reserve) Bn, The Royal Winnipeg Rifles
19423rd Bn, The Royal Winnipeg Rifles,CASF1st Bn, The Winnipeg Light Inf, CASF2nd (Reserve) Bn, The Winnipeg Light Inf (MG)
1943Disbanded
 
19454th Bn, The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, CIC, CAOFDisbandedThe Winnipeg Light Inf (MG)
1946DisbandedThe Royal Winnipeg RiflesDisbandedThe Winnipeg Light Inf
 
1951"E" Coy, The Royal Winnipeg Rifles"F" Coy, The Royal Winnipeg Rifles
1951Absorbed by 1st Canadian Rifle Bn
1952Absorbed by 2nd Canadian Rifle Bn
1955The Royal Winnipeg Rifles
1969Perpetuates 44th Bn
1999Perpetuates 27th Bn
2021
Abbreviations used in the chart
Abbreviation Phrase
Bn Battalion
CAOF Canadian Army Occupation Force
CASF Canadian Active Service Force
CEF Canadian Expeditionary Force
CIC Canadian Infantry Corps
Coy Company
Infy Infantry
MG Machine Gun
Regt Regiment

Structure[edit]

The Royal Winnipeg Rifles Band during a Remembrance Day ceremony at Minto Armoury, 11 November 2018.
  • Leadership and appointments[4]
    • Colonel-in-Chief: Charles, Prince of Wales
    • Honourary Colonel: Emőke Szathmáry
    • Honourary Lieutenant-Colonol: Abdo El Tassi
    • Commanding Officer: Lieutenant-Colonel D.G Desrochers
    • Regimental Sergeant Major: Chief Warrant Officer C.J. Hayden
    • Band Sergeant Major: Master Warrant Officer Emily Kenny
  • Battalion structure[4]
    • Alpha Company
    • Regimental Band
    • Ceremonial Detachment (The Skirmishers and The Pioneers)
    • Sub-Units

The Regimental Band is as old as the Regiment, dating back to 1883, making it the oldest concert band in Winnipeg. In 1885, members of the band accompanied the Regiment to the Northwest Rebellion. At first consisting only of buglers and drummers, the band has developed into a professional brass and reed concert band, capable of supporting vocals and a multitude of styles and genres in its repertoire, while maintaining its traditions with a bugle line. Bugles, by tradition and practical use, are closely associated with Rifle Regiments; in garrison and on the battlefield, orders were relayed by buglers. Today the Band continues to entertain the people of Manitoba and assist in the esprit de corps of the Regiment.[5] Bands of the perpetuated regiments date back to when the 106th Winnipeg Light Infantry Band was organized. During the First World War, bandmaster Thomas William James took the band to England where it would merge with the 10th Battalion Band to become the first Canadian band to serve on French soil.[6]

Traditions[edit]

Troops of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles near Ifs, Calvados, France, 25 July 1944.
Bugle Band of 144th Battalion, CEF

The Royal Winnipeg Rifles follow the traditions of rifle regiments throughout the Commonwealth. Thus they do not have a stand of regimental colours, and they march at the traditional rate of 140 paces a minute instead of the CF standard 120. Rifles are usually carried "at the trail". Battle honours are borne on the cap badge and drums. The regimental badge depicts a devil carrying a trident and in imitation of a rifleman's role on the battlefield, he is depicted as running. As is also traditional in rifle regiments for reasons of concealment, buttons and badges are "blackened" or darkened and are not polished.

The rank designation of a trained private (one chevron) of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles is "Rifleman."

The regimental band's drums are emblazoned with the unit's battle honours. The regimental pioneers form the escort to the colours when on parade. The pioneers wear leather aprons and carry special tools and weapons: axes or hatchets, picks, and halberds. Along with the pioneers there are also skirmishers who wear the traditional uniform of a 90th Battalion rifleman circa 1885. The skirmishers often appear in ceremonies and memorials such as Remembrance Day and events.

The regimental march of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles is "Pork, Beans and Hard Tack (Old Solomon Levi)" and the double quick march is "The Keel Row."

Recognition[edit]

On 10 November 1983 Canada Post issued 'The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, The Royal Canadian Dragoons as part of the Canadian Forces, Regiments, 1883–1983 series. The stamps were designed by Ralph Tibbles, based on a painting by William Southern. The 32¢ stamps are perforated 13.5 x 13 and were printed by Canadian Bank Note Company, Limited.[7]

Battle honours[edit]

In the list below, battle honours in small capitals were awarded for participation in large operations and campaigns, while those in lowercase indicate honours granted for more specific battles. The battle honours in bold type are emblazoned on the cap badge.

North West Rebellion
South African War
First World War
Second World War
War in Afghanistan

Alliances[edit]

Royal Canadian Army Cadets[edit]

The RWR has an army cadet corps of the same name, Royal Winnipeg Rifles Cadet Corps, formed in 1947. The cadet corps is based at Minto Armoury in Winnipeg.

Victoria Cross holders[edit]

The Royal Winnipeg Rifles Museum and Archives[edit]

The Royal Winnipeg Rifles Museum and Archives
LocationMinto Armoury, 969 St. Matthews Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
TypeMilitary Museum

The museum preserves the history of The Royal Winnipeg Rifles through the collection, conservation and display of artefacts and archives commencing with the Red River Expedition of 1870 to the present. It provides a source of training in the regiment's history for all members of the regiment and the public, fostering an interest, knowledge and sense of pride in the regiment's activities and accomplishments. It also maintains a current record of all regimental memorials and monuments in Canada and elsewhere.[9] The Museum is affiliated with: CMA, CHIN and Virtual Museum of Canada.

Media[edit]

  • Named by the Enemy: A History of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles by Brian A. Reid (Jan 31 2010)
  • Little Black Devils: A History of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles by Bruce; Wells, Eric Tascona (1983)

See also[edit]

Order of precedence[edit]

Preceded by
The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (Duke of Edinburgh's Own)
The Royal Winnipeg Rifles Succeeded by
The Essex and Kent Scottish

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Royal Winnipeg Rifles". Army.gc.ca. 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
  2. ^ "38 Canadian Brigade Group website".
  3. ^ "The Royal Winnipeg Rifles". Official Lineages Volume 3, Part 2: Infantry Regiments. Directorate of History and Heritage. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  4. ^ a b https://www.theroyalwinnipegrifles.com/the-royal-winnipeg-rifles-battalion
  5. ^ https://www.theroyalwinnipegrifles.com/band
  6. ^ https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/bands-emc#ReserveBands
  7. ^ Canada Post stamp
  8. ^ "South-West Asia Theatre Honours". Office of the Prime Minister of Canada. Archived from the original on 12 May 2014. Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  9. ^ A-AD-266-000/AG-001 Canadian Forces Museums –Operations and Administration 2002-04-03

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°53′27″N 97°10′44″W / 49.8907°N 97.1788°W / 49.8907; -97.1788