When Canada Raised An Imperial Regiment

The Story of the Old Hundredth

Phil. Ives September 1 1910

When Canada Raised An Imperial Regiment

The Story of the Old Hundredth

Phil. Ives September 1 1910

When Canada Raised An Imperial Regiment

The Story of the Old Hundredth

Phil. Ives

WHILE changed in name and no longer a distinctly Canadian regiment, the Old Hundredth or Royal Canadian Regiment still preserves many of the special observances, handed down from past years, which render it of particular interest to Canadians.

The ist Battalion of the Prince of Wales’ Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadian) was formerly the iooth Foot, the 2nd Battalion, the 109th Foot. The ist Battalion was originally raised in 1760 and disbanded in 1763. Raised again in 1780, in 1781 it was selected to form part of an ex74

pedition against the Cape of Good Hope, but the troubles in India increasing at that time, it went on to India, where it was engaged for four years in the field. In 1784-85 it returned to England, when it was disbanded. In 1805,. it was raised again and served with distinction in the war with America in 1813-14, at the storming and capture of Fort Niagara on the 13th of December, 1813, the iooth Regiment was very conspicuous by its daring, and for the part played by it in this action, the regiment was granted permission to bear the word “Niagara” on its colors and appoint-

merits. Again on 5th July, 1814, Major-General Riale advanced against the Americans 6,000 strong and attacked them with a force of British numbering only 1,500 of whom 400 belonged to the old hundredth regiment. Although their efforts were not crowned with the success they deserved, still they showed great courage under a heavy and destructive fire from the enemy in greatly superior numbers and position.

The regiment was disbanded in 1818, but was raised again by Canadians in 1858 who wished to give tangible proof of the devotion of Canada to their Queen and to the defence of the British Empire, when the whole world was shuddering at the atrocities of the Indian Mutiny and when British supremacy in the east seemed for a time to be trembling in the balance.

Canada previously, when the Crimean war was raging, had expressed her willingness to raise a body of troops to assist the mother country in her need. But their services in 1854-5 were not required, and the regiment was not actually raised until 1858, although a great many people still believe that they got as far as Gibraltar in 1855, when peace was declared with Russia.

The newly raised regiment was inspected on January 10th of that year, by His late Majesty, then Prince of Wales, who conferred on it the highest honor in his power by attending at Shorncliffe Camp and presenting it with colors, this being his first public act, since he had been gazetted to a colonelcy.

It is worthy of notice that the first authoritative use of our national emblem—the maple leaf—by the Imperial Government was when it was embroidered on the regimental colors of the regiment and presented by the Prince of Wales. The maple did not come into use in Canada until September 8th, i860, on the occasion of the Prince of Wales’ visit to Toronto. On this visit all native Canadians joining the procession, whether identified with the national societies or not, wore the

maple leaf as an emblem of the land of their birth. The Globe of this date has the following paragraph in the report of the procession where it states:

‘‘Then walked the Canadians some with silver maple leaves, and others with those supplied by nature.”

Amongst the first officers of the Old Hundredth Regiment were Colonel, Major-General Viscount Melville and Lieut.-Colonel George de Rottenburg, C. B., serving in Canada at the time, Major Dunn, V.C., Brevet-Lieut-Col., was an old Upper Canada boy, son of the Honorable John Dunn, formerly the Receiver-General of the Province of Upper Canada. He received the V.C. in the Crimean war and an address and sword on his return home by the people of Toronto. Major Dunn previous to joining the 100th, had been in the nth Hussars. He belonged to the Light Brigade, and was one of the famous Six hundred. On the retirement of Colonel de Rottenburg in 1861, he became commander of the regiment. Some years after he exchanged into the 33rd and in January, 1868 on the march to Magdala, in the Abyssinian expedition was killed by the accidental discharge of his gun while deer shooting. He was buried at Senafe, much beloved and regretted by the rank and file. Capt. John Clarke, who was afterwards employed in Toronto, upon the recruiting staff, although not a Toronto man himself, was closely connected by marriage with one of the best-known Toronto families, having married Miss Widmer, daughter of the late Dr. Widmer, who served as surgeon in the Peninsular war with great distinction.

Captain C. J. Clarke was an Upper Canada College boy, son of Dr. Clarke who resided in Toronto. Previously to joining the 100th, he was captain of the Yorkville Cavalry.

Captains T. W. W. Smythe, George McCartney and Richard C. Price were all Canadians. Lieutenants Louis A. Cassault, L. C. A. L. De Bellefeuille, Philip Derbishire, Alfred E. Rykart, (Upper Canada College), Chas. H. Carrière, Brown Wallis, (Upper Can-

ada College) and Hy. T. Duchesney were all Canadians. So also were Ensigns: Jno, Gibbs Ridout, (Upper Canada College), Hy. E. Davidson, Chas. A. Poulton, T. H. Baldwin (both Upper Canada College boys) and W. P. Clarke.

Lieut. Cassault served in the Crimea and afterwards became lieutenantcolonel of the Canadian militia, and was made C.M.G. for his services during the first Northwest Rebellion.

There was much excitement in Toronto during the formation of the Old Plundredth Regiment. The first detachment left Quebec for England early in the month of June, 1858, and two other detachments followed shortly afterwards. After being stationed at Shorncliffe Camp for a short time to receive the necessary training, they proceeded to Aldershot, and in June, 1859, the regiment sailed for Gibraltar, from there, in 1863, t° Malta, returning to Canada in 1866. In 186364 there were no fewer than three officers of the regiment wearing the Victoria Cross, quite a record, we believe.

Whilst serving in Canada it took part in the celebration of the Confederation of Canada, now known as “Dominion Day,” July ist, 1867, and ever since the anniversary is regular-

ly observed by all ranks of the regiments wearing maple leaves in their headgear; the regimental colors, as well as the officers’ mess table being also decorated. These leaves are specially selected and sent out from Canada to the regiment, wherever it may be serving. Special athletic sports and a ball are also held.

When practical, the colors are trooped. The regiment, which has for its badge the plume of the Prince of Wales, and in each of the four corners a maple leaf, is one of the few regiments in the British army having a Dominion-beyond-the-seas or colonial title. The battle honors borne on the colors are to-day: “Niagara,” “Central India,” “South Africa, 1900-02.” Uniform, scarlet; facings, blue; regimental district headquarters and depot, Bizz. The commanding officer, Colonel Alastair Macdonald, and the ist Battalion is now stationed at Blackdown, Farnborough.

Its nicknames are numerous and curious, and are as follows: “The

Crusaders,” so called from the fact of its having been raised so that in case of it might assist in the suppression of the Indian Mutiny; “The Wild Indians,” owing to the mistaken English idea that it was recruited from

the backwoodsmen of North America; “The Beavers,” because in former years the “Beaver” of Canada was borne on the appointments of the ist Battalion; “The Old Hundredth,” on account of its rank and file being much older men than in other regiments at the time it was first raised, and from its being the “iooth Foot,” was named “The Centipedes,” which title is supposed to be the invention of some witty Spaniards when the regiment was stationed at Gibraltar. Needless to say, all these queer and distinctive names are carefully preserved to this day by the regiment with pride.

The original colors of the iooth (now the Prince of Wales’ Leinster Regiment,—Royal Canadians, having, with other infantry corps, lost its numerical distinction) were a few years ago presented to the Dominion of Canada, and nowr hang over the clock in the Parliamentary Library in Ottawa, serving as a mute memorial of the only colonial regiment ever raised for general service in the British Empire.

During the Boer war, the ist Battalion formed part of the 8th Division, under Sir Leslie Rundle, and was brigaded with the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards, the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards, and the 2nd Battalion East Garshire Regiment.

Of Sir Leslie Rundle’s operations Sir Conan Doyle speaks as follows : “So well, however, did he select his

position (Wittebergen), that every attempt of the enemy (10,000 under De Wet and Painsloo), and these were many, ended in failure. Badly supplied with food, he and his halfstarved men held bravely to their task, and no soldiers in all that great host deserve better of their country.” Although De Wet and a certain number of Boers eventually slipped out, the exertions of our troops were rewarded by the surrender of General Painsloo and 4,150 men. Nine soldiers of the regiment won the medal for distinguished conduct during the South African campaign.

Very few members of the Old Hundredth remain alive to-day. Sergt. Chas. Seamore, late of the Toronto police, died three years ago; Carroll Ryan and Thomas E. Champion, who both took up journalism, died this year; Henry J. Grassett, late of 10th Royals, Chief of Police, still remains. He held a commission in the regiment for .nine years, .being adjutant for some long time. Hugh Rowlands, V.C., at one time Lieutenant-Governor, who distinguished himself in the Crimea, was for a short time junior major in the year i860. Robert Ed. Colborne Jarvis was a subaltern in the iooth in the early days of his military career, and was with Lord Roberts on his march to Candahar. Henry A. Jones, one of the wellknown Brockville family, was one of its junior officers, who died several years ago.