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PPCLI, The Regiment: A Brief History

 

 

 

 

Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry was founded by an act of philanthropy as a result of the acceptance of the offer of Captain Andrew Hamilton Gault, a Montreal entrepreneur, on the 3rd of August 1914 to provide $100,000 to raise and equip a battalion for overseas service. PPCLI has served Canada and Canadians continuously since its founding in Ottawa on 10 August 1914. Since then more than 1,850 Patricia’s have fallen in the service of Canada, in her wars, in peacekeeping and peace support operations in Canada and elsewhere. In addition, many thousan ds of other members of the Regiment have been wounded or injured through their service of Canada.

 

On 6th August 1914 Captain Gault’s offer was provisionally accepted by the Canadian Government. Authority was formally granted on 10th August (by way of a Report to the Privy Council of Canada (PC 2112)) to raise and equip an infantry battalion, with the remainder of the cost being defrayed by the Department of Militia and Defence.

On 10th August 1914 the Charter of the Regiment was signed and on the next day mobilization began. Eight days later, it was completed, as old soldiers flocked from every part of Canada to Lansdowne Park in Ottawa, where the Regiment was assembled. Out of 1,098 all ranks accepted into the new Regiment, 1,049 had seen previous service in South Africa or in the regular forces of the British Empire. In addition to personnel from the Royal Navy and Marines, almost every unit in the British Army was represented.

Lieutenant Colonel Francis D. Farquhar, DSO, an officer of the Coldstream Guards who was Military Secretary to His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, The Governor-General of Canada, was selected to command the new battalion. Farquhar suggested the Regiment bear the name of the Duke’s youngest daughter, Her Royal Highness Princess Patricia of Connaught. The request was made to the Princess, who graciously consented to the Regiment bearing her name. The Light infantry came about because Captain Gault, a veteran of the South African War, liked the “irregular feel” it gave the Regiment.

The full title of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry was too long for everyday use, and the new unit became known as “PPCLI”, with “PP’s” or “Pip Pip’s”, the most common variants. The Regiment was best known to the public as “Princess Pats” or merely the “Pats”, but this partial abbreviation is discouraged and the Regiment prefers to be known as the “Patricia’s”.

The Edmonton City Police Pipe Band had enlisted in Ottawa under a gallant old Highlander, Pipe Major C. Colville. Reporting in full Highland Kit with the Hunting Stewart tartan, they announced to the Colonel that they had come “to pipe you to France and back again”. Colonel Farquhar was able to take them into the Regiment and they lightened many a march for the Regiment and proved stouthearted stretcher bearers in action as well.

Being the first Canadian arms unit into battle in World War I, the Regiment began a history of service to the Nation that continues today. The PPCLI have been in every major operation undertaken by Canada since including Sicily, Italy and Western Europe in World War II, Korea, Germany as a part of NATO, UN peacekeeping operations, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan. Domestically the Regiment has participated in numerous operations including the Olympics of 1976, 1988 and 2010, flood relief in the Red River Valley on several occasions, and the ice storms of 1998. More than 1850 members of the Regiment have given their lives and countless others have suffered wounds or injury (in many cases resulting in permanent disability) from their service to Canada.

The Regiment’s mission today has not changed: to provide an excellent infantry regiment for service to Canada. The serving component of the Regiment is currently located in Edmonton Alberta (1 PPCLI, 3 PPCLI and Regimental Headquarters), Shilo Manitoba (2 PPCLI) and several Patricia’s serving in various capacities throughout the Canadian Forces. The retired component consists of members of the PPCLI Association in 10 branches located across Canada.

Summary of PPCLI Accomplishments

PPCLI Colours

The PPCLI has 39 Battle Honours, including one for perpetuation, that were awarded for specific distinguished actions and general actions on active service in World War I, World War II and Korea. Twenty-two of these Battle Honours are displayed on the Regiment's Colours.

The PPCLI was awarded the Battle Honour, Siberia 1918-1919 in recognition of the deeds and sacrifices of the 260th Battalion (Canadian Rifles), a unit that served as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force sent to Siberia in 1918. This unit's history and accomplishments are perpetuated by the PPCLI because many of the soldiers who served with this unit served with the Regiment during World War I.

 

Colours 

PPCLI wreath of Laurel

PPCLI Battalions also carry a Wreath of Laurel affixed to the head of the pike of the Regimental Colour. This decoration was presented by Her Royal Highness Princess Patricia of Connaught on 21 February 1919 at St. Leger, Belgium. The Wreath bears the inscription "TO THE PPCLI FROM THEIR COLONEL-IN-CHIEF PATRICIA IN RECOGNITION OF THEIR HEROIC SERVICE IN THE GREAT WAR, 1914-1918." The PPCLI is the only Canadian unit to have a Standard, Colour or Guidon so decorated.

 

 

 

 

1 PPCLI

The 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (1PPCLI) is located at Lancaster Park on CFB Edmonton in Alberta. 1PPCLI is a mechanized infantry battalion of the Regular Force and uses the LAV III (light armoured vehicle) as its primary fighting vehicle. The battalion is made of four rifle companies, one support company and one command and support company.

 

Operation Athena Canadians were one of the leading combatants and the first fighting when the Battle of Panjwaii, Afhanistan, took place. Complex mud-walled compounds made the rural Panjwaii district take on an almost urban style of fighting in some places. Daily firefights, artillery bombardments, and allied airstrikes turned the tides of the battle in favour of the Canadians. For their actions, 1PPCLI and Task Force 1-06 were given the Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation from the Governor-General of Canada

2PPCLI
The 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (2PPCLI) is based at Kapyong Barracks on CFB Shilo, Manitoba. The battalion is a mechanized infantry unit of the Regular Force and is part of the 1CMBG. The battalion is composed of three rifle companies (Alpha, Bravo and Charlie), one fire support company, and one command and support company.

The Second Battalion (2 PPCLI) was awarded the United States Distinguished Unit Citation for its actions at Kapyong, Korea on the night of April 24-25, 1950. This award is recognized with a blue streamer embroidered"Kapyong, Korea," which is fastened to the top of the pike of 2 PPCLI's Regimental Colour. It is also recognized with a blue ribbon that is worn on both shoulders of the dress uniforms worn by 2 PPCLI soldiers.

2 PPCLI was awarded the Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation for its courageous execution of duty during the Medak Pocket Operation, The Former Yugoslavia during the period September 15-16, 1993. This award was presented to the Battalion by the Governor General at Winnipeg on December 1, 2002. The award is represented by the Vice-Regal Lion that is affixed to the top of the staff carrying the Regimental Colour. The insignia of this award is worn by all of the soldiers who took part in the operation.

3PPCLI
The 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (3PPCLI) is based at Lancaster Park on CFB Edmonton, alongside the 1st Battalion. The battalion is a light infantry unit of the Regular Force, and the only one in Western Canada. The battalion is composed of two rifle companies (airborne and mountain), a fire support company, and a command and support company.

The Third Battalion (3 PPCLI) was awarded the Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation for its service in Afghanistan on Operation APOLLO from February 4 to July 30, 2002. This award was presented by the Governor General on parade in Edmonton on December 8, 2003.

4PPCLI (The Loyal Edmonton Regiment)

The 4th Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (4PPCLI), also known as the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, is the only Primary Reserve battalion of the PPCLI. The unit, part of the 41 Canadian Brigade Group, is located at the Brigadier James Curry Jefferson Armoury, in Edmonton, Alberta.

PPCLI Battalions deployed to support United Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organization operations in Germany, Cyprus, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. Patricias have also served with the United Nations missions in Israel, the Golan Heights, Egypt, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, the Congo, Vietnam, Central America, Angola, Somalia, Rwanda, Korea, Croatia and Bosnia.

In addition to the awards above, the PPCLI was awarded Freedom of the City in Calgary (1952), Esquimalt (1963), Victoria (1963), Ypres, Belgium (1964), Edmonton (1966), Winnipeg (1972), Ottawa (1985) and St. Albert (2001).

The PPCLI also responded to numerous emergencies in Canada, most notably: Operation ASSISTANCE (Canadian Forces emergency assistance during the 1997 Red River Flood); Operation RECUPERATION (the Canadian Forces emergency response to the Quebec Ice Storm in 1998); Operation MOLLUSK (Canadian Forces emergency assistance to fight BC forest fires in 1998); Operation GRIZZLY (the Canadian Forces operation to provide security for the G8 summit at Kannanaskis, Alberta in 2002); and Operation PEREGRINE (Canadian Forces assistance to fight the British Columbia forest fires in 2004).

Battalion Base Brigade Type
1st Battalion CFB Edmonton (Alberta) 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Mechanized Infantry
2nd Battalion CFB Shilo (Manitoba) 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Mechanized Infantry
3rd Battalion CFB Edmonton (Alberta) 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Light Infantry
4th Battalion CFB Edmonton (Alberta) 41 Canadian Brigade Group Primary Reserve, Infantry

Alliances

 United Kingdom - The Rifles

 Australia - The Royal Australian Regiment

 New Zealand - The Hauraki Regiment

A History of the PPCLI Association

No one knows for sure when Patricia’s started to gather in informal groups but we do know that it started shortly after the first men were wounded. Because the Regiment was so closely knit they sought each other out in hospital. Rank was not important but being a brother Patricia meant the world. We do know that at Cooden Camp in England the Patricia’s started a newsletter at the Cooden Camp hospital covering the whereabouts of men in hospital, sent home and those still at the front.

Men who where sent home to Canada and released because of their wounds corresponded with those still at the front and those in hospitals. Once home they sought their comrades, forming loose groups that met on a regular bases discussing the war, their wounds and how best to try and fit into the regular world again.

They did not forget those still in conflict and kept touch by letter and what they could find in the papers. Soon after a dress code was in effect to distinguish Patricia’s from other veteran groups, Blazer and tie, an arm band worn on the right sleeve and a beret with a Patricia crest, this was followed by a formal name, "The Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Service Club".

Over 5000 men served in the Regiment during those first five years. The Patricia veterans were in Ottawa to welcome the Regiment home 19thMarch 1919.

The date and location is unknown, but the first annual dinner of the Patricia Club took place during 1919. The second Annual Dinner of the Patricia Club took place on February 28th1920 in Ottawa.

Soon Branches of Patricia Clubs where formed across Canada. The first annual banquet of the Saskatchewan Branch was held on January 6th1920.

The members of the Patricia Clubs kept in contact with the serving members of the Regiment attending the Annual 8thof May battle of Frezenberg memorial, they took part in, The trooping of the Colours, Regimental sports days and other events that the Regiment was involved in. Many members of the Patricia Club belonged to the National Rifle Association and fired many rounds of ammunition along side serving Patricia's in sport and competition shooting.

Members of the Patricia Club opened their homes to serving Patricia's passing through on leave or on course. And job offers where there for those who sought retirement or release from the service.

A keen interest was held by the members in the training and equipment of the Regiment and its members.

With the out break of World War Two the Patricia Clubs saw the Regiment off to war including sons of First World War Patricia’s who now worn the red and white shoulder flash of the Regiment.

In Windsor Ontario on August 31st1942 the Patricia Clubs became more official instituting an official uniform for the Association, and in order to raise funds for the war effort and the Regiment to helping to provide better aid to wounded Patricia's returning home.

As the Regiment has always said that we are a family which does include wives and children the wives took a very active part in supplying comforts for the boys overseas. By 1945 the six Branches of the Wives Club raised $27886.75, 1625,00 cigarettes, and 38397 knitted articles for the troops over seas. With the Esquimalt and Winnipeg Branches sending many more items as well.

Both the Patricia Clubs and Wives Clubs continued long after the war. Finally in 1947 the Founder of the Regiment organized all clubs relating to the Regiment and formed the P.P.C.L.I. Association. At 11:00 O’clock, on the 24thof October 1947, at Calgary Alberta. Major MacDougald representing the Regiment fully agreed stating that a closer bond between the Regiment and the Association would be welcomed.

The new Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Association was accepted by all ranks, retired an serving. It continued to be the home of the Patricia's who have served the Colours and the home of those still serving the Colours.

The Association has and continues to be a large part of the Regimental family wither in peace time or in war, the serving and retired family stays very close.

On the first of September 1953 the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Association was incorporated and remains so to this day.

The Association has kept abreast of changing times, sending coffee to the Regiment in the former Yugoslavia, the Volunteer Patricia Program in each branch. The program was started to assist those returning to civilian life, and those with PTSD. Operation Small Pack was started to support those who were injured and sent to Germany. Each small pack contained the basics required for personal grooming and clothing. . The Association sent money to the families left behind for children’s Christmas parties. In 2008 the Association was presented The Canadian Forces Medallion for distinguished service in support of the Regiment and the Canadian Forces. The Association also offers bursaries’ to all members of the Regiment and their families.

All serving members are welcome to any branch meeting across Canada, and are more than welcome to join while serving or after release. This includes all trades who have been attached to the Regiment.

Courtesy of  Bob 'Zub' Zubkowski

   

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