Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   
Artillery - (15) Canada, Shelldrake, Canadian Artillery Museums and Gun Monuments

Shelldrake, Canadian Artillery Museums

and Gun Monuments

Data current to 8 Feb 2021.

I would imagine that many of you who are reading this book are very likely familiar with the standard routine of military training exercises and the rigours of being in the field in all seasons, not to mention the conditions found on deployment these days. Whether or not you have experienced it, I am sure you can well imagine what it is like to train and work in the heat, the dust and the mosquitoes in summer, the wind, the rain and the mud in the spring and fall, the snow and the cold in the winter and of course the routine day-to-day challenges of combat exercises in the training areas of the Canadian Forces. For most in the Army, this includes CFB Gagetown, CFB Valcartier, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Shilo, CFB Edmonton, CFB Wainwright, CFB Suffield and all the fields and exercise areas of LFAATC Aldershot and LFCATC Meaford and their environs.

As an Army Officer in the Canadian Forces, it has been my privilege to have served alongside a tremendous number of highly professional military men and women of our nation while taking part in training in Germany, the UK and the USA and while on operational deployments to Cyprus, Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Afghanistan. During my training and military professional development, I have learned much about our long military history. My interest in our multi-faceted historical record has led me to write about it and to seek out the stories about Canada's military servicemen and women and the tools and equipment they used to preserve our security when warclouds darkened our horizons.

As a military history enthusiast, I have learned over the years that there are many with similar interests in preserving our story. We have all seen the odd old gun or retired tank placed on display outside a Militia Drill Hall, War Memorial, city park site or Royal Canadian Legion Hall, and many will have enjoyed visiting a number of our military Museums. The vast majority of retired wartime combat equipment used by members of the CF have dwindled in number, many being scrapped, others being shot up as targets, while a few have been sold to overseas operators and collectors. Fortunately, a handful of important examples of retired CF guns and war machines have been preserved and may be found in a wide variety of locations throughout Canada.

Curators, docents and volunteers working in Canada's military museums have been successful in preserving a good number of retired military weapons of war and many are still being sought after and in some cases, being restored to running condition again. As an artist, photographer and military history enthusiast, I have attempted to keep track of where historic Canadian military equipment has survived and is presently located and to make that information available to others with the same interest. For those of like mind, the purpose of this handbook is to provide a simple checklist of the classic Great War and WWII artillery that is part of our military heritage and a location guide to where they can be found in Canada. The book includes a number of photographs to illustrate an example of each gun wherever possible, and lists the locations of the survivors by province.

The numbers of restored Canadian guns is actually increasing as a few rare examples are being recovered from scrapyards and monument sites and salvaged for restoration. (Ultra rare items such as Skink AA gun turrets come to mind). One of the aims of this book is to help an enthusiast track down these monuments and museum artefacts and to have a simple reference book on hand with more detailed information about them such as a serial number, a Museum location and contact information which might be helpful in learning a bit of the history of a particular vehicle. The guns detailed in this handbook are listed alphabetically by manufacturer, number and type in the order that they came into service with the CF. The data is also appended with a list of most of the current guns found in the various collections and Museums in Canada. The book is also meant to serve as a companion volume to "Ironsides", Canadian Tanks and Armoured Fighting Vehicle Museums and Monuments, also available online.

It is my sincere hope that more of the guns and artillery found in this list will one day be added to the record of historically important military armament survivors that have been recovered and restored.

Shelldrake can be ordered online in softcover or e-book at these bookstores: 

Photos and technical data on artillery preserved in Canada may be viewed by Province on separate pages on this website.


During my service as an Army Intelligence Officer in the Canadian Forces, I was taught to use the combat arms radio call sign “Sheldrake” whenever the message traffic being relayed referred to artillery.  This designation has been replaced with the call sign “Golf”.  The armour elements were “Ironsides”, now “Tango, hence the title of the companion volume to this series.  For the interested reader, “Acorn” was my call sign as the Brigade G2 Intelligence Officer.

Opposite Sides

While serving in the Canadian Army at home and overseas in Germany, Cyprus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colorado and Afghanistan, I came to appreciate that no matter which side you are on, the weather and terrain tend to be the same, only the enemy is different.  Political decisions, attitudes and current events had similar effects on the soldiers who came before us in much the same way as they do now, and often in many strange ways.

There are always two sides to a story, but because my grandfather Frederick Christensen Skaarup died before I knew him, I did not hear the stories from “the other side.”  He was living in the German occupied area of southern Denmark when the First World War came and he was called up for active duty.  Having been conscripted into the German Army in 1910, he served two years compulsory service as a gunner and bandsman (trumpeter), and then went into the reserve mobilization force.  He was recalled on mobilization, and therefore fought in the First World War in France and Belgium from day one in 1914 through to its conclusion on 11 November 1918.  In 1926, he immigrated to Canada with his family and settled in the farming community of New Denmark in the Northwest section of New Brunswick, not far from the Saint John River.

My grandfather Walter Ray Estabrooks, from Carleton County, New Brunswick, was a Canadian gunner who also served in the First World War.  Unlike many of his comrades, he survived and came home to establish his family near Hartland on the Saint John River.  As a boy chopping wood and haying with a team of horses on his farm during the summers we came home to visit from the RCAF Stations where my father served, I had lots of opportunities to hear about his experiences during the Great War.  My Skaarup grandparents died before I got to know them, so I asked a lot of questions and was rewarded with many interesting stories.

I was curious to know whether or not my two grandparents had fought in the same area, or perhaps been in the position where they might have been firing on each other during the war.  Because of our family tradition in the field of music, Grandfather Estabrooks was able to tell me this incredible story about how he knew they had been in the same place at the same time on a battlefield in France.

“I met your grandfather Skaarup about 1937 or 1938.  The next winter Mrs. (Anne) Skaarup came down and I exchanged words with them quite often while threshing.  There were no combines then.  We often listened to him playing the trumpet on the veranda in the evenings.  We discussed the war many times.  While serving on the guns in France on 5 February 1918, I had charge of a team getting some lumber salvaged from an old blown up school.  We heard a German band playing the boys rotating out of the line to go on leave in Lens just across no-man’s land from Liévin where we were.  We checked the dates and your grandfather said that he may have been playing in that band”.

“I have seen troops coming out of the line tired and dirty after a big push, and make their first halt for a little rest.  Sometimes a band would be waiting for them.  Marching when not weary and with a good band will give some folks a tremendous thrill.  But can you imagine a depleted unit coming out of the line from a hard position, tired, dirty, muddy and lousy, stumbling along just after dark, a few minutes’ halt just out of maximum gun range?  Orders are given, “Fall in…Quick March.”  Imagine that a band has been waiting for them and what it would feel like as it begins playing “The British Grenadiers.”  The men would hunch their equipment up higher on their backs and their shoulders would straighten up.  They would all have fallen in line four abreast without an order.  No need for left-right.  The muddy boots would seem to lighten up, and darned if the feet don’t seem to get the beat of the music.  They are old hands, and would soon be disappearing into the night.”

And about those Whiz-bangs, “a Whiz-Bang was an artillery shell fired by the Germans.  It traveled with great speed, and was fired by a fast action gun.  There was not much time to duck as one just heard Whiz.  Bang!  A Woolly Bear was another type of shell that was used for demolition, and when it burst on impact, it made a big hole and left a tremendous cloud of black smoke.  They were slower than a Whiz-Bang and could be ducked by a man with a sixth sense.”[1]

I know my brothers and I listened raptly as he told his stories, and I have the priviledge to retell some of them here.  This guidebook is intended to honour our military heritage, because it needs to be remembered and preserved for all of those who have served and continue to serve in the Canadian Forces on our behalf.

[1] Sgt Walter R. Estabrooks, , 32nd Field Battery, 8th Army Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery in the First World War, from the author’s book Whiz Bangs and Woolly Bears.


Military equipment has played a constant role throughout my 40 years of service with the Canadian Forces.  My father served in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) for many years, retiring as a Warrant Officer in 1974 and moving back to his farm near Lakeville, New Brunswick .  As a dependent member of his family, we lived at a number of bases and stations including overseas at 3 Fighter Wing, Zweibrücken, Germany from 1959 to 1963, and on at home in Canada at Borden, Trenton, North Bay, Gypsumville, Gander and Chatham during his service.  As both a dependent back then, and in my current service as an Army Intelligence Officer, I have had the chance to see NATO firepower when its list of combat ready fighting equipment numbered in the thousands.  Today, to have hundreds of pieces of Canadian heavy combat equipment available at any given time would be unusual, with the exception, perhaps, of our forces serving in Afghanistan.

During my service in the Canadian Forces as an Army Intelligence Officer (G2), I too had the great good fortune to be posted overseas, twice to Germany.  I worked in Lahr with the Headquarters Canadian Forces Europe Intelligence Section from 1981 to 1983, and as the Intelligence Officer with 4 Canadian Mechanised Brigade Group, 1st Canadian Division Forward from 1989 to 1992.  While serving with 4 CMBG, our NATO colleagues from US bases at Hohenfels and Grafenwohr in Southwestern Germany provided our Intelligence Section with a large number of Russian-made guns, tanks and armoured fighting vehicles (AFV), as well as a variety of small arms which were used to familiarize our soldiers with foreign weapons and equipment.

The Russian equipment we handled included 122-mm D30 Field Guns, 152-mm Howitzers, T-55 and T-62 tanks, a T-80 tank mock-up and BRDM-2, BTR-60, BTR-152 APC, BMP-1 and BMP-2 Armoured Fighting Vehicles.  On exercises we (Blue Force) fought against a mock enemy (Red Force) (sometimes called “Fantasians”) from other nations, and would often engage in long-running operations with our NATO allies.  We moved every night and hid by day in our M577 Command Post Vehicles, and using duplicate sets of HQ vehicles we leapfrogged each other from hide to hide and laager to laager.  The exercise participants often covered hundreds of kilometres as the exercise unfolded while ranging from the south-eastern area of Germany near Regensburg on up to the Rhine and Mosel Rivers near Koblenz and beyond.

I remember the Berlin Wall going up as a child in theatre in August 1961, and the tension in the homes of Canadian families living in Germany during the critical years of the Cold War.  My family and I were living in Lahr (1989 to 1992) when things changed again as the Berlin Wall fell in October 1989.  With this change, most of us realized the brigade’s future in Europe was soon to end.  It was not long afterwards that the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina took everyone’s attention, and soldiers from 4 CMBG moved south to take part in sorting out the conflict in the Balkans.  Even with the ongoing conflict in Europe, the brigade was withdrawn and the bases in southern Germany closed in 1993.  Division and Brigade-sized elements of the CF began to diminish as Canadians began to seek a “Peace Dividend” and when the 11 September 2001 attacks took place, soldiers everywhere knew that a military price would have to be paid.  It was not long before we were on our way to Afghanistan, and casualties began to roll in.  I was serving with NORAD in Colorado when the terrorists struck.  Not long after my return to Canada, I received orders to be sent back for a second tour in Bosnia.

My orders were changed, however, and in January 2004, I found myself in Kabul serving with the highly dedicated and professional soldiers of 5e GBMC as part of the Kabul Multi-National Brigade.  A week later, a suicide bomber killed a young Newfoundlander named Murphy and wounded several more Canadians.  Within a few hours, a second suicide bomber had killed and wounded British Gurkas and many others not far from the front gate to our camp.  We still had to travel those same roads every day, and the drivers taking us to and from the various camps and headquarters located many kilometres apart through crowded Afgan streets drove us with a very wary and watchful eye.  My deputy, a sharp-minded Intelligence Officer named Captain Melissa Olegario, sat behind me with her 9-mm pistol in her lap keeping a watchful eye at those staring into the windows of our vehicle on each of our daily trips to the HQ.

The peculiar state of risk and circumspect calm of our daily routine in interesting circumstances made me think of some of the conversations I and my colleagues have had with veterans of the Normandy Campaign during a battlefield tour of Normandy with the Canadian Land Forces Command and Staff College (CLFCSC) in May 1989.  Our group had the privilege of being escorted and briefed by battlefield experienced officers  including Brigadier-General S.D. Radley-Walters, CMM, DSO, MC, CD.  Listening to him describe the battles he took part in while standing on the ground in the present day farmer’s fields where the action took place in the summer of 1944 was a fascinating experience.  The stories have been told that “General Rad” had been shot out of four tanks and two armoured cars during his wartime experiences in Normandy. 

We stayed in Caen, and by day were driven by bus to St. Aubin-sur-Mer and the Normandy beaches with a group of Canadian and German veterans.  Our group hosted German Second World War combat veteran Colonel Helmut Ritgen of the Panzer Lehr Division, and his perspective on the actions that took place on the ground we were standing on was sobering to say the least.  There are always two sides to a battlefield story, and it is rare now to have an opportunity to speak with people who were actually there when things recorded later took place.  Suffice it to say, there is a lot that isn’t in the history books from the participants perspective.  We visited Bernières-sur-Mer and Courseulles-sur-Mer, both invasion beach landing sites, as well as Creully, Putot-en-Bessin, Buron, and Villons les Buissons.  (We were also provided with a French Army box lunch, which included a bottle of red wine).  You will hear these battlefield sites mentioned on occasion by a number of Canadian gunners who took part in the combat operations that made use of many of the guns mentioned in this guidebook.

The Canadian and German veterans described their experiences at Marcelet, Carpiquet, Caen and a number of other battlefield sites, with lectures and briefings on site at Hill 112, St. André, Troteval Farm, Bourgebus, “Tilly” and the area covered during “Operation Totalize.”  (On the evening of 8 August 1944, 720 guns of all kinds supported the launch of Operation Totalize, firing a tremendouse bombardment straddling the Caen-Falaise highway, ploughing a swath four thousand yards wide and six thousand yards deep.  Every two minutes the guns lifted two hundred yards...some 312 guns, including the heavies, fired a 20-minute intense bombardment on”known hostile batteries”).[1]

The tour ended with a visit to one of the Canadian cemeteries some of which had a large number of unknown Canadian soldiers.  Our visit ended with a Lockheed CC-130 Hercules flight from Carpiquet Airport, the site of a major battle involving Canadians early after the D-Day landings.  If you have not had the opportunity to do so, please visit these sites for yourself.  It is a moving experience to walk the battlefields of Normandy where our soldiers fought – and where many are buried - for what we have today.

Throughout our military training at home and abroad and during preparations for operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Afghanistan, we had to become familiar with how effective our own equipment was and what we were likely come up against in engagements with opposition forces.  Seeing the damage that could be and often was inflicted by the wide variety of artillery weapons we had to confront brought home the very real need to ensure our troops were well-trained and familiar with equipment recognition, both friend and foe.  As such, we taught courses in weapons and vehicle recognition that trained men and women in how to recognize the difference in gun bore evacuator placement, road wheel spacing on tracked self-propelled guns, camouflage patterns, and signature weapons and equipment which could b e useful in identifying enemy units.

It would seem that the value of artillery is such that once the guns have served their purpose and outlived their useful serviceablity; many have been disposed of as scrap.  Only a few have been set aside for preservation in Museums or for display outdoors as gate guards or as memorials.  Even fewer War Trophies from the First World War and the Second World War have been kept for display, although Canadians have recently begun to take an interest in salvaging some of them.  The reader will find information here on a number of German, Japanese, Italian and former Warsaw Pact equipment that has  been preserved.

This handbook is one attempt to identify historical artillery that survives in Canada and to list the guns and equipment in a catalogue format that will enable the serious researcher and gunnery enthusiasts to find them and learn something about their history.  The list includes Field Artillery, Self-Propelled (SP) and Anti-Aircraft (AA) Guns in Canada that have been or are currently being salvaged and preserved, particularly where they are of significant historical interest.

There are unfortunate numbers of Canadian-related combat equipment that have seen service on the battlefields of Europe where no examples exist.  A good number brought back to Canada, including captured war prizes from the First World War were melted down or turned into scrap for war production in the Second World War, or sold off to private collectors to support a Museum that had the kit but couldn’t afford to keep it maintained.  Many others in more recent years have been lost to scrap yards, buried in landfill sites, or sold to people in other countries.  On the up side, there is a wonderful collection of individual historic artillery survivors in Canada that can still be found and viewed in museum collections, and some are on display as gate guards, monuments and memorials.

The purpose of this handbook is to provide a simple checklist of where the surviving Field Guns of all ages and eras in Canada are now, and to provide a photograph of each of the major types mentioned for recognition purposes.  This list is also appended with a brief summary of the guns presently on display within each province by location, weight, serial number, Royal cypher and where applicable a bit of the weapon’s history during its use in Canada or by the Canadian military.  Due to space limitations, the details contained in this handbook are limited to a selection of only those pieces of artillery that can be found in or have a connection with Canada.  The story of the gun worldwide is vast and beyond the confines of just one book.

If you are interested in other books on military equipment like this one, they are available through the author’s website at and with online bookstores.  It is my sincere hope that the list of Canada’s preserved and historically significant artillery and artefacts will continue to grow as more of them are recovered and restored.  It is my hope that you find this handbook useful.

[1] George G. Blackburn, The Guns of Normandy.  A Soldier’s Eye View, France 1944.  (McClelland & Stewart Inc., Toronto, Ontario, 1995), pp. 326-327.

Pre-Confederation Artillery in Canada
“By each gun a loaded brand, in a bold determined hand.”[1] 
 (Author Photo)
Three SBML 18-pounder Guns from the era of King George III (1760-1780) weighing more than 4,000 lbs each, mounted on long wood traversing gun carriages, guard St Andrews by the Sea.  They are mounted in defensive positions in front of the St. Andrews Block House National Historic site in New Brunswick.

The history of the gun has been documented at length in many books and records.  Muzzle-loading guns such as the one shown above on display at St. Andrews, New Brunswick appeared from 1725 and remained in British service until 1808.  The plain round button on these early model guns was evenutally replaced with Blomefield pattern guns which had a reinforced loop to more securely tie down the gun.  Blomefield Guns were in use roughly from 1783 and served well into the 1800s, before in turn being replaced by Millar pattern guns which had a single large reinforced loop in place of the button with a removable cotter pin.  Millar pattern guns were in use from about 1827, and the similar style Dundas pattern guns after 1846.  Names such as Whitworth and Palliser who added improvements to these guns turn up in connection with various pieces of artillery found on display in many locations in Canada, and those are just the British guns, as many French-made cannon arrived well before them.

No one book can presume to cover all the gunpowder-based firearms and weapons of war that exist in Canada, let alone the rest of the world.  This book is about where to find just the historic guns that are on display in Canada at present, specifically for the interested explorer, historian and military enthusiast.  To that end, the data for the artillery field pieces and weapons in the Chapters that follow is primarily focused on the guns that can be found and photographed today, most of which date from the post-Canadian Confederation of 1867 era, along with location data for guns known to exist on site by province.

The guns that were used or captured by Canadians are listed in a somewhat (but not necessarily) chronological order, and/or by bore calibre/inch size.  A few of the artillery pieces found in Canada today may have been missed, and updates on where and what they are would be most welcome.  One source described how in the process of taking apart his 150-year old home in Newfoundland, he discovered one corner of the house had been reinforced with an upright cannon cemented in the foundation.  Many of the guns that were on display between the wars are known to have been cut up for scrap or placed in a landfill, which has led to a considerable reduction in the numbers of viewable historic guns.  These guns have been part of Canada’s history, and as such every effort to preserve and document the survivors should be made in order to keep their story from fading.

The enormous number of cannon, guns and field artillery in use by the French and British forces that garrisonned the forts and fortresses, citadels and redoubts, blockhouses and field defence positions throughout Canada’s early history are numerous and varied and may not all be listed in this book.  Much of our early military history is controversial.  Crossbows and possibly hand-held cannons equpped the earliest European visitors who explored the coasts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, likely including those who came up the Saint John River in 1398 with Henry Sinclair’s expedition.[2]  Although Sinclair’s explorations and those of other Europeans that came before him to Canada are in dispute, his documented use of cannon during his explorations from the Orkney Islands would place him in the earliest list of artillery users in Canada’s history.

 (Canada Post Photo)

Canadian 20-cent postage stamp honoring Jaques Cartier's exploration of Canada, issued in 1908.

The first officially recorded use of artillery in Canada took place in 1534 when Jacaques Cartier fired two of his ship’s cannon to repel the canoes of Mi’kmaq warriors on the North side of the Baie des Chaleurs (Chaleur Bay), off the coast of New Brunswick’s North Eastern shore.[3]  On his third visit in 1541, Cartier brought three guns ashore from his ships to protect the log fort at Charlesbourg Royal.[4]

The Penetang Gun is believed to have been brought to New France from the old world as can be seen by the insignia on the breech.  It is stamped 1630, LeGC with a crown.  The initials stand for”Le Grand Condé” who served under Prince Louis II as Captain General of the French Army in the mid-17th century.  The gun’s breech is made of Brass which has been cast in a hexagonal shape.  Its iron barrel is reinforced with iron hoops.[5]  The chase and breech-ends of the cannon are of separate construction.  The wrought iron construction of the chase is associated with guns of the late 15th and early 16th centuries.  The octagonal section of the cast Brass breech and the shape of the cascabel also indicate a date in the first half of the 16th century.  To be operational it would have been strapped with iron bands or strong ropes onto a wooden bed, which could itself be mounted on a yoke or carriage.

The gun would have been brought to Sainte-Marie by the Militia hired to protect the Jesuit Mission.  The cannon was reputed to have been found in 1919 by Mr. King of Christian Island which links it with the Jesuit missionaries who fled Sainte-Marie in 1649.  The missionaries and a large group of Huron people spent the winter of 1649-50 establishing Sainte-Marie II on Christian Island, in Georgian Bay.  This gun was referred to by Father Jerome Lalemant in the August 1648 Jesuit Relation documents:

“On the 6th, the 50 or 60 Huron Canoes started from 3 rivers, which took on board 26 Frenchmen…5 fathers, one brother, 3 Boys, 9 workmen, and 8 soldiers, -besides 4 that were to be taken at Montréal; a heifer and a small piece of Cannon.”[6]

In the summer of 1609, Samuel Champlain made alliances with a group of natives in New France known as the Wendat (called Huron by the French) and with the Algonquin, the Montagnais and the Etchemin, who lived in the area of the St. Lawrence River.  These tribes demanded that Champlain help them in their war against the Iroquois, who lived further south.  Champlain set off with 9 French soldiers and 300 natives to explore the Rivière des Iroquois (now known as the Richelieu River), and during the expedition he became the first European to map Lake Champlain.  Since they had not encountered the Iroquois up to this point, many of the men headed back, leaving Champlain with only two Frenchmen and 60 natives.

Somewhere in the area near Ticonderoga and Crown Point, New York, Champlain and his party encountered a group of Iroquois.  A battle began the next day.  On 29 July 1609 two hundred Iroquois advanced on Champlain’s position, and one of his guides pointed out the 3 Iroquois chiefs.  Champlain fired his harquebus killing two of them with a single shot, and one of his men killed the third.  The Iroquois turned and fled.  This action set the-tone for French-Iroquois relations for rest of the century.[7]

On 16 October 1690 several New England ships under the command of Sir William Phips, governor of Massachusetts, appeared near Québec City off the Island of Orleans, and an officer was sent ashore to demand the surrender of the fort.  Governor Louis de Baude de Frontenac, responded with the famous words:

“Non, je n’ai point de réponse à faire à votre général que par la bouche de mes canons et de mes fusils.” - “I have no reply to make to your general other than from the mouths of my cannons and muskets.”

Part of Québec‘s defences were formidable for the time and when Frontenac had his gunners fire on the invaders’ ships, the upper town was protected by a good wall with intermittent batteries and more defensive works up near the Chateau Saint-Louis near Cape Diamond.  In the lower town, there were two strong French shore batteries armed with heavy 18 and 24-pounder Naval cannons along the city’s harbour.[8]  On the landward side, a line of earthworks punctuated with 11 redoubts enclosed the city from the western side.  Frontenac had about 3,000 soldiers including three battalions of Colonial Regulars.  As well, his gun batteries effectively covered the water approaches to Québec City, and as a result of their vigorous defence they successfully fought off Phips forces.[9]

Phips had brought 2,300 Massachusetts Militiamen and 32 ships although only four were of significant size.  The British plan had been to land their main force on the Beauport shore, but a 1,200-strong English landing force under Major John Walley, Phips’ second-in-command, never got across the Saint Charles River.  Frontenac had sent strong detachments of Canadian militiamen under Jacques Le Moyne de Sainte-Hélène, along with some Indians, into the wooded areas east of the river.  When the English landed on 18 October, they were immediately harassed by Canadian militia, while the ships’ boats mistakenly landed the field guns on the wrong side of the Saint Charles.  Meanwhile, Phips’s four large ships, quite contrary to the plan, anchored before Quebec and began bombarding the city until 19 October, at which point the English had shot away most of their ammunition.  The French shore batteries had also proved to be much more than a match, and the ships were pounded until the rigging and hulls were badly damaged; the ensign of Phips’ flagship the Six Friends was cut down and fell into the river, and under a hail of musket shots, a daring group of Canadians paddled a canoe up to the ships to capture it.  They triumphantly brought the ensign back to the Governor unscathed.

During the bombardment, the land force under Walley remained inactive, suffering from cold and complaining of shortage of rum.  After a couple of miserable days, they decided to carry the shore positions and try to overcome the French earthworks.  They set out on 20 October “in the best European tradition, with drums beating and colors unfurled,” but there was a skirmish at the edge of the woods.  The New Englanders could not cope with the maintained heavy Canadian fire, and the Brass field guns fired into the woods had no effect.  Although Sainte-Hélène was mortally wounded, 150 of the attackers had been killed in action, and were utterly discouraged. They made a retreat in a state of near panic on 22 October, even abandoning five field guns on the shore.  Frontenac learned from the lessons of the battle and as a result had a complete shore battery, known as the “Royal battery”, built immediately after the siege.  It was shaped like a small bastion, and featured 14 gun embrasures to cover both sides of the Saint Laurence and the river itself.[10]

In 1696, the capital of Acadia was Fort Nashwaak (Fort St. Joseph), on the East side of the St. John River now part of the city of Fredericton, New Brunswick.  Robineau de Vellebon was the Commandant in charge of a fort 200 feet square with four bastions and surrounded by a palisade and ditch.  A New England force led by Colonel John Hawthorne prepared to attack the fort on 18 October, but in preparation for the assault, de Villebon had built a second palisade around the fort and mounted ten cannon and eight swivel guns on its walls.  The British set up camp and a battery across the Nashwaak River but after two days of ineffective bombardment and suffering the harassment of French and native skirmishers in the woods, the British withdrew on 20 Oct.[11]

Large guns and mortars were put to good use in the two major sieges of the French fortress of Louisbourg at Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in 1745 and 1758.  During the first siege, forces from New England landed 8 km southwest of Louisbourg at Gabarus Bay in a flanking manoeuvre and proceeded overland with their cannon on sleds.  The French defenders of the strategically important Island Battery successfully stopped several assaults, inflicting heavy losses on the New England troops.  However, the New Englanders eventually established gun batteries at Lighthouse Point that commanded the island, leading to its abandonment by its defenders.  The New Englanders’ landward siege was supported by a fleet led by Commodore Warren and, following 47 days of siege and bombardment, the French surrendered Louisbourg on 28 June 1745. 

When the war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, Louisbourg was returned to France in exchange for the return of Madras (capital of the Indian state of Tamil), to Britain, and the withdrawal of French troops from the Low Countries.[12] 

Fort Beauséjour sited on the present day New Brunswick border with Nova Scotia, was built by order of the Marquis de Jonquière, Governor of Canada, between 1750 and 1751.  On 22 May 1755 a fleet of three warships and thirty-three transports carrying 2100 soldiers sailed from Boston, Massachusetts, landing at Fort Lawrence on 3 June 1755.  The following day the British forces attacked Fort Beauséjour and on 16 June 1755 the French forces evacuated to Fort Gaspéreau, arriving on 24 June 1755 and onward to Fortress Louisbourg where they were re-garrisoned on 6 July 1755. 

A number of guns and mortars may be viewed on the grounds of the present day fortress, located near Aulac, Westmorland, County, New Brunswick, formerly Sunbury County, Nova Scotia.  A plaque on the site commemorates the fort’s history:

“Fort Beauséjour was taken by Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Monckton with volunteers from New England known as Shirley’s Regiment, raised by Lieutenant-Colonel John Winslow, aided by men of the Royal Artillery and other British troops after a siege lasting from 3 to 16 June 1755.  Renamed Fort Cumberland, it was besieged again by rebels under Jonathan Eddy from 4 to 17 November 1775; defended by the Royal American Fencible Regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Gorham and relieved by Major Thomas Batt with a body of Royal Marines and Royal Highland Emigrants, who routed the besiegers.”[13]

Fort Cumberland was abandoned in the late 1780s.  With the British resumption of hostilities with the United States in 1812, British forces reoccupied and refurbished the fort.  Although it did not see any action during this conflict, the presence of a British garrison served as a deterrent to attack.  In 1835 the British military declared the fort surplus property and it was abandoned until 1926 when the property was declared a National Historic Site by Canada.[14]

The British government realized that with the Fortress of Louisbourg under French control, it would be difficult for the Royal Navy to sail down the St. Lawrence River for an attack on Québec unmolested.  Therefore, in 1758 the fortress of Louisbourg was assaulted and captured again by the British in a pivotal battle of the Seven Years’ War (also known as the French and Indian War).  The British were fired upon by French gunners during their initial seaborne landings, as observed by General Jeffrey Amherst who who noted, “...the enemy...acted very wisely, did not throw away a shot until the boats were close in shore and then directed the whole of their fire of cannon and musquetry upon them.”[15]

General James Wolfe eventually got ashore and moved his British artillery batteries over land.  On 19 June 1758, they were in position and the orders were given to open fire on the French.  The British battery consisted of seventy cannon and mortars of all sizes.  Within hours, the guns had destroyed walls and damaged several buildings.  The French used twelve large iron or Brass mortars with a 10-inch bore or larger and five smaller mortars in the towns defence.[16]

On 21 July a mortar round from a British gun on Lighthouse Point struck a 74 gun French ship of the line, L’Entreprenant, and set it ablaze.  A stiff breeze fanned the fire, and shortly after the L’Entreprenant caught fire, two other French ships had caught fire.  L’Entreprenant exploded later in the day, depriving the French of the largest ship in the Louisbourg fleet.  On the evening of 23 July a British “hot shot” set the King’s Bastion on fire.  The King’s Bastion was the fortress headquarters and the largest building in North America in 1758.  Its destruction eroded confidence and reduced morale in the French troops and their hopes to lift the British siege.  Louisbourg held out long enough to prevent an attack on Québec in 1758, but in 1759, it too would fall.  The capture of Louisbourg ended the French colonial era in Atlantic Canada and led directly to the loss of Québec in 1759 and the remainder of French North America the following year.[17]

When General Wolfe moved on from Louisbourg to Québec, he took some powerful artillery units with him, although they played only a small part in the final attack which was essentially an infantry battle.  Montcalm’s forces were short of both powder and gunners but did manage to deploy at least four field guns.  The British for their part had just two 6-pounder Guns in action on the Plains of Abraham on 13 September 1759.  Siege guns were later brought up to the site of the battle and arrayed against the City just before it was surrendered.[18] 

Following the surrender of Québec, an inventory of the gun batteries defending the city counted “180 pieces of Cannon” ranging in size from 2-pounder Guns to 36-pounder Guns, as well as 15 mortars ranging in size from 7-inches to 13-inches.  Another 50 iron guns were found between the St. Charles and Montmorency Rivers.[19]  When the Seven Years War ended, Île-Royale and much of New France was ceded to Britain under the terms of the 1763 Treaty of Paris.

Gun Sleighs

Winter in Canada posed serious problems for the practical movement of artillery over snow and ice, and it is likely that the early iron and Brass Guns in use were disassembled and transported by sled.  In 1760, the Royal Artillery Institution at Woolwich in the UK had sleighs designed “from which a gun or Howitzer could be fired.”

“During the late War in America the Seven Years War, it was found very inconvenient in the Winter to transport Guns and Howitzes [sic] over the Snow on their own Carriages made with wheels, Slade [sic] were therfore made at Québec for light six-pounders and Royal Howitzers…”[20]

“Captain John Knox, who kept a journal during the winter of 1759-1760 at Québec, noted that, around the middle of January 1760, “our artificers are constructing sleigh carriages for the service of cohorns [sic], and guns of six and twelve-pounders.”  Early in February, he wrote,  “A six and twelve-pounder were mounted on distinct sleighs, when trial was made of them, and the invention answered to our most sanguine wishes, being drawn and worked with as great facility, as upon wheeled carriages.”[21]

At least two kinds of sleighs were used by the British forces during the American Revolution, both in Canada and in New York.  One type was a travelling or field carriage, with the wheels removed  and mounted on a sleigh, while a second type was a specially designed  garrison style of carriage mounted on runners.  They apparently didn’t work as well as intended, but improvements in design followed and a design known as the “Woolwich Pattern” went into service in the 1830s, along with an ammunition sleigh.  These sleighs were built by contractors in Canada.[22]

During the period of the American Revolution, American forces captured Montréal and then marched on Québec City where they attempted to “lay siege to the city.  In fact, it was more of a blockade than a true siege, because their artillery was not a serious threat.  From December 1775 to May 1776 some 780 cannonballs and 180 bombs were fired on Québec, injuring two seamen and killing a child.  The defenders returned their fire a hundredfold, sending 10,466 cannonballs and 996 bombs onto their lines.”[23]

According to author J. Gottfried, there are “several records of small artillery pieces being used in the interior of the Northwest.  Peter Fidler had a cannon style swivel gun (probably of the 1-½ pound type) at Chesterfield House in 1802 (Fidler 320n5).  Simon Fraser carried another swivel gun with him on his journey down the river that bears his name.  At one point they went to demonstrate it to the natives, and upon loading it with three gills of powder, it promptly blew to pieces and wounded the gunner (Fraser, 133).”

“A pound-and-a-half swivel gun on display at Old Fort William is of the type carried by Alexander Henry the younger.  In 1814 Fort Astoria had a cannon style swivel gun and several heavy guns which had been brought by sea.  These included a four pounder and six long naval six-pounders from the Isaac Todd (Henry 759, 807, 907).  In fact, Alexander Henry the younger noted that canoes leaving Fort Astoria enroute to Fort William carried with them one Brass four-pounder with carriage, one iron swivel gun, and one Brass swivel gun (Henry, 876).”

“Henry himself was a great believer in artillery.  He carried a pound-and-a-half cannon style swivel gun across half the continent and frequently used it to threaten the Blackfoot (Henry, 546).  He also carried a kind of small mortar called a Coehorn which was used for launching grenades.  He had it mounted in an oak carriage when in use (Henry 428, 430).”[24]

There are two bronze 3-pounder field guns mounted on wheeled carriages, on display in front of the Lanark Count Court House at Perth, known as the "Verbruggen Guns".  According to a Perth & District Historical Society paper, entitled The Verbruggen Guns and the Legend of Crysler’s Farm, by Ron W. Shaw, drawing upon multiple sources, the inscription on the breech of each of the guns reads: “J. & R.  VERBRUGGEN, FECERUNT, 1775" on one, and "1776", on the other.  This is an indication that the guns were made at the Royal Foundry, Woolwich, England.  While nearly identical, they are not.  The gun cast in 1775 is a ‘Pattison’ model ‘Grasshopper’, the only known surviving gun of its kind.  The other, cast in 1776, is a ‘Congreve’ model ‘Butterfly’.

3-Pounder guns were first produced at the Royal Foundry Woolwich in 1775.  The Verbruggens cast two different models; the Pattison, of which six guns were cast, and the Townshend, of which four (or possibly eight) guns were cast.  The Court House gun at Perth marked 1775 is, therefore, either a Pattison or a Townshend.  The elevation screw design of the Townshend gun is very different from that used on the Pattison and Congreve models.  The elevation screw of the Townshend attaches to the gun with a bolt through an eye cast under the gun’s cascabel, whereas the throat of the cascabel on the Pattison and Congreve models simply sits in an oar-lock-like top of the elevation screw.  The consensus is that the 1775 gun is a Pattison.

All three models of the 3-Pounder “fired either round shot or a case round of 36 shot, with a charge of six or eight ounces of powder, and had a recoil of five feet at three degrees of elevation”.  The 3-Pounder classification relates to the weight of round-shot they were designed to fire.   Grasshoppers & Butterflies: The Light 3-Pounders of Pattison & Townshend, by Adrian B. Caruana (1980).

The gun cast in 1776 is a Congreve because it is known that only the Congreve model was cast from January 1776 through to the end of the Revolutionary War in 1782.  It is one of only ten or so known to exist.   The surviving Congreve model 3-Pounders are on display at the Bennington Museum, Bennington, Vermont; Kentucky State Military History Museum, Frankfort, Kentucky; Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown, Virginia; New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site, Vails Gate, New York; Fort Ticonderoga Museum, Ticonderoga, New York; Vermont State House, Montpelier, Vermont; Valley Forge National Historical Park, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; Saratoga National Historical Park, Stillwater, New York; Montreal Military and Maritime Museum, Montreal Quebec; and the Lanark County Court House, Perth, Ontario.

The earliest record of the origins of these guns was presented in an Ottawa Daily Citizen story dating back to 5 Nov 1877, which reported that the guns were manufactured for the French army, and captured by the Duke of York’ during the Flanders Campaign.  They later served the British in the American Revolutionary War.  They were were surrendered to the rebel Continental Army led by General Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga (19 Sep to 7 Oct 1777).  They were retaken from the Americans by the British during the War of 1812, at the Battle of Crysler’s Farm on 11 November 1813.  In 1824, the two guns were sent to the Perth for purposes of saluting high days and holidays, where they were later mounted on the grounds of the County Court House to honor Perth’s military pedigree.

According to Ron W. Shaw, there are some significant discrepancies in this story.  Gun-founders Jan and Pieter Verbruggen, father and son, were Dutch natives, but in 1775-1776 they were not in Holland or Belgium, they were manufacturing guns for the British army and navy at the Royal Brass Foundry, in Woolwich, England.  The guns were cast as a "new pattern, light, 3-pound gun" suited to the rugged terrain and conditions of North America.

On 8 Feb 1775, the Verbruggens received their first high priority order for six ‘Pattison’ model 3-Pounders.  Even before these were finished another order was received from the Board of Ordnance to produce four, or possibly eight, brass 3-pound guns of the ‘Townshend’ model.  In early 1776 the Ordnance Board followed up with orders for 20 units of a third variant of the new 3-pound gun, the ‘Congreve’, specifically to equip to an expedition destined for Canada under the command of General John Burgoyne.  These bronze guns accompanied General John Burgoyne and the British Army in 1777 on his raid from Canada, along the Hudson River-Lake Champlain axis during the American Revolution.

These guns were the first ever to be mass produced in the modern industrial sense.  They acquired the nicknames ‘Grasshopper’ and ‘Butterfly’ in relation to their original carriage design, not the guns themselves. At a weight of under 100 kilograms (220 pounds), they could be drawn by a single horse, strapped to a pack mule, or broken down and carried by men across terrain that was inaccessible for heavier weapons.  They could even be mounted on small boats.  Designed for use by infantry units the 3-Pounders were also known as ‘Battalion Guns’.  In action they could be worked by only three men, usually an artilleryman and two infantrymen, but sometimes by infantrymen alone.[25]

During the War of 1812, General Isaac Brock captured an American fort on Mackinac Island with the aid of an iron 6-pounder Gun that had been brought by canoe and much man-handling to a spot where it commanded the American position.  He would later fire his 6-pounder Guns and 3-pounder “grasshopper” cannon against Detroit before it surrendered.[26]  The SBML 9-pounder Guns of the Kingston, Ontario defences took on the SBML 24 and 32-pounder Guns of seven American ships that unsuccessfully attempted to destroy the British warship HMS Royal George in the harbour there in 1814.[27]

Many of the guns listed here originate with The Royal Artillery presence in Canada, which dates from at least 1745 when a train of the Royal Artillery (RA) was stationed in Louisbourg Nova Scotia, after its capture in that year.  The RA played a prominent part in the battles with the French for control of the country.  From the time of the conquest until 1855, the defence of Canada rested mainly with the British regulars garrisoned here, but, like the French, they also had to rely on Canadian assistance.  All Canadian men between 16 and 60 were liable to be called up for military service in an emergency.  Canadians saw service in 1775-1776, the War of 1812 and the Rebellion, 1885s of 1837.  At this time Upper and Lower Canada were defended by troops from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, who were independent colonies until their respective confederation with Canada.[28]  Normally, however, the Canadian commitment entailed nothing more than an annual muster parade.  Enthusiasm varied from place to place and some localities organized their own militia units.  One such unit, “The Loyal Company of Artillery“, was formed in 1793 at Saint John, New Brunswick.  This unit is perpetuated in Saint John today by the 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, RCA.[29]

Four Classes of Ordnance

In the 19th century, British military authorities ordnance and “all war-like stores, whether for Land or Sea service”.  A piece of ordnance is a barrel with its proper carriage, or a suitable firing platform.  The Artillery Branch was responsible for the complete cannon, with its barrel, carriage, limber, rods, swabs, wad hooks, side arms, ammunition and the personnel to operate it.  The specific identification of a particular piece of ordnance depended on the material of the barrel (i.e.  Brass, Brass or iron), the-inch, the design pattern and type of barrel, the weight of the barrel and the type of carriage or firing platform on which it is mounted.  An example would be “a Blomefield iron 32-pounder of 55 hundred weight (cwt), mounted on a wooden garrison carriage.”  For guns of the 18th and 19th centuries, there were four main types or classes: guns, Carronades, Howitzers and mortars.[30]

Before a piece of ordnance was accepted into service, it was necessary to ascertain that it me the specifications set forth by the Board of Ordnance and that it was safe to fire.  A British parliamentary commission in 1783 described the process as follows:

“Every gun first undergoes an examination, and then a proof” (i.e.  It is test fired).  “The examination is performed with instruments calculated to discover errors in the forms and position of the bore, and to ascertain whether the construction is agreeable in every respect, to the mould sent as a pattern to the Gun-Founder; then by forcing water into the bore; and lastly by an inspection of the inward surfaces, effected by throwing into it a quantity of light, by means of a mirror, which frequently discovers congealed defects that escape every other examination.”[31]


“Guns may be defined as those pieces which have a length of at least 12-inchs and upwards, and which are adapted for firing either shot or shell”, horizontally, or at very low angles, over the greatest possible distance.  The-inch of a gun is based on the approximate weight of the ball or round it discharges.  Castings varied, but the rounds generally equated with the size of the gun (i.e.  An 18 pound shot was fired from an 18-pounder Gun).  During the earliest period of gun-making, they were all muzzle-loading (ML) guns in which the powder and projectile were rammed from the muzzle to the rear of the bore with the rammer; or breech-loading (BL) guns in which the ball and powder was inserted from the breech.

All guns were made of iron or Brass, although because Brass was expensive and it tended to be recyucled more often because of its value, more iron guns are to be found today.  In the late 18th century, however, the number of Brass (Brass) and iron guns manufactured was nearly equal.  Most British muzzle-loading guns were cast solid in a vertical mold with the breech down and a deadhead plug at the muzzle.  The deadhead was removed after the casting and the gun was bored out to the right-inch.

Once they had been manufactured, the guns were weighed and the barrels were stamped with their weight, usually chiseled on the breech near the vent, and on some guns just over or under the cascable.  The numbers are always given in groups of three, separated by a dash or a dot in one hundred weight (cwt = 112 pounds), quarters (of-cwt) and pounds.  Thus 24-3-1 would  be 24 X 112, plus 3 X 28, plus 1 = 2,773 pounds.

Gun barrels were also usually marked with the cypher of the reigning monarch.  In Canada the cypher of Queen Anne (1702-1714) is a raised rose and crown.  The cypher of King George I has no number, while the cyphers of King George II, III and IV have the number 2, 3 or 4 woven into the letter G in the upper left corner.  On Brass Guns cast after 1770, the Royal cypher is combined with the garter and motto engraved on the first reinforce.  The most common cypher found on guns in Canada is that of King George III (1760-1820).  Another important mark usually found on the top of the gun is a broad arrow which indicates Government ownership.  A registry number, usually in Roman numerals is often found above the arrow and the date of manufacture may be stamped below it.[32]“As regards the proper length and charge for a piece, …if the length of a piece of any-inch be 21 diametres of its shot, and loaded with powder equal to half the weight of the shot, it will carry farther than any other of the same-inch, either longer or shorter, loaded with any charge whatever.”  John Muller, Treatise of Artillery, 1757.[33]

Naval Artillery

Many significant modifications to guns on land were developed through the use of Naval artillery in the Age of Sail.  This era encompassed the period of roughly 1571-1863, when large, sail-powered wooden Naval warships dominated the high seas, mounting a bewildering variety of different types and sizes of cannon as their main armament.  By modern standards, these cannon were extremely inefficient, difficult to load, and short ranged.  These characteristics, along with the handling and seamanship of the ships that mounted them, defined the environment in which the Naval tactics in the Age of Sail developed.[34]

Firing a Naval cannon required a great amount of labour and manpower.  The propellant was gunpowder, whose bulk had to be kept in a special storage area below deck for safety.  Powder Boys, typically 10-14 year old children, were enlisted to run powder from the armoury up to the gun decks of a vessel as required.

The firing procedure for a cannon was as follows: A wet swab was used to mop out the interior of the barrel, extinguishing any embers from a previous firing which might cause the next charge of gunpowder to go off prematurely.  Gunpowder, either loose or in a cloth or parchment cartridge (in which case it would have a hole made in it with a metal ‘pricker’ through the touch hole), was placed in the barrel, followed by a cloth wad (typically made from canvas and old rope), and rammed home with a rammer.  Next the shot was rammed in, followed by another wad (to prevent the cannon ball from rolling out of the barrel if the muzzle was depressed).  The gun in its carriage was then ‘run out’-  men heaved on the gun tackles until the front of the gun carriage was hard up against the ship’s bulwark, and the barrel protruding out of the gun port.  This took the majority of the manpower as the total weight of a large cannon in its carriage could reach over two-tons, and the ship would probably be rolling.  The touch hole in the rear (‘breech’) of the cannon was filled with finer gunpowder (‘priming powder’), or a ‘quill’ (literally the quill from an animal such as a porcupine, or the skin-end of a feather, pre-filled with priming powder; using these obviated the need to separately pierce the cartridge by pricking) and ignited.

The earlier method of firing a cannon was to apply a linstock - a wooden staff holding a length of smouldering match at the end - to the touch-hole of the gun.  This was dangerous and made accurate shooting from a moving ship difficult, as the gun had to be fired from the side, to avoid its recoil, and there was a noticeable delay between the application of the linstock and the gun firing.  In 1745, the British began using gunlocks (flintlock mechanisms fitted to cannon).

The gunlock was operated by pulling a cord, or lanyard.  The gun-captain could stand behind the gun, safely beyond its range of recoil, and sight along the barrel, firing when the roll of the ship lined the gun up with the enemy and so avoid the chance of the shot hitting the sea or flying high over the enemy’s deck.  Despite their advantages, their use spread gradually as they could not be retrofitted to older guns.  The British adopted them faster than the French, who had still not generally adopted them by the time of the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), placing them at a disadvantage as they were in general use by the Royal Navy at this time.  After the introduction of gunlocks, linstocks were retained, but only as a backup means of firing.

The linstock slow match, or the spark from the flintlock, ignited the priming powder, which in turn set off the main charge, which propelled the shot out of the barrel.  When the gun discharged, the recoil sent it backwards until it was stopped by the breech rope -  a sturdy rope made fast to ring bolts let into the bulwarks, and a turn taken about the gun’s cascabel, the knob at the end of the gun barrel.

A typical broadside of a Royal Navy ship of the late 18th century could be fired 2-3 times in approximately 5 minutes, depending on the training of the crew, a well trained one being essential to the simple yet detailed process of preparing to fire.  Ironically, the British Admiralty did not see fit to provide additional powder to Captains to train their crews, generally only allowing 1/3 of the powder loaded onto the ship to be fired in the first six months of a typical voyage, barring hostile action.  Instead of live fire practice, most Captains exercised their crews by “running” the guns in and out `- performing all the steps associated with firing but for the actual discharge.  Some wealthy Captains - those who had made money capturing prizes or from wealthy families - were known to purchase powder with their own funds to enable their crews to fire real discharges at real targets.

A complete and accurate listing of the types of Naval guns requires analysis both by nation and by time period.  The types used by different nations at the same time often were very unlike, even if they were labelled similarly.  The types used by a given nation would shift greatly over time, as technology, tactics, and current weapon fashion evolved.  Some types include: Gun, Demi-cannon, Culverin, Demi-culverin, SBML Carronade and the Paixhans Gun.  The Paixhans Gun was the first Naval gun using explosive shells.  It was developed by the French general Henri-Joseph Paixhans in 1822-1823, by combining the flat trajectory of a gun with an explosive shell that could rip apart and put on fire the bulkheads of enemy warships.  The Paixhans gun ultimately doomed the wooden sailship, and forced the introduction of the ironclad after the Battle of Sinop in 1853.

One descriptive characteristic which was commonly used was to define guns by their pound rating: theoretically, the weight of a single solid iron shot fired by that bore of cannon.  Common sizes were 42-pounders, 32-pounders, 24-pounders, 18-pounders, 12-pounders, 9-pounders, 8-pounders, 6-pounders, and various smaller-inches.  French ships used standardized guns of 36-pound, 24-pound and 12-pound-inchs, augmented by Carronades and smaller pieces.  In general, larger ships carrying more guns carried larger ones as well.

The muzzle-loading design and weight of the iron placed design constraints on the length and size of Naval guns.  Muzzle-loading required the cannon to be positioned within the hull of the ship for loading.  The hull was relatively narrow, with guns on both sides.  There are hatchways in the centre of the deck which also limit the room available.  Weight is always a great concern in ship design as it affects speed, stability, and buoyancy.  The desire for longer guns for greater range and accuracy, and greater weight of shot for more destructive power, led to some interesting gun designs.

One unique Naval gun was the long nine.  It was a proportionately longer-barrelled 9-pounder.  Its typical mounting as a bow or stern chaser, where it was not perpendicular to the keel, allowed room to operate this longer weapon.  In a chase situation, the gun’s greater range came into play.  However, the desire to reduce weight in the ends of the ship and the relative fragility of the bow and stern portions of the hull limited this role to a 9-pounder, rather than one which used a 12 or 24 pound shot.

The Carronade was another compromise design.  It fired an extremely heavy shot, but to keep the weight of the gun down it had a very short barrel, therefore short range and lesser accuracy.  However, at the short range of many Naval engagements these “smashers” were very effective.  Their lighter weight and smaller crew requirement allowed them to be used on smaller ships than would otherwise be needed to fire such heavy projectiles.[35] 

Blomefield SBML 32-pounder 55-cwt Gun

The Blomefield Guns were named after the Inspector of Artillery, Thomas Blomefield, who designed them in the latter part of the 18th Century.  They are distinctive in that they are very plain in design and have a breeching loop cast into the rear portion.

Blomefield’s appointment at the time was rather unusual as he was a land artilleryman and the Board of Ordnance was chiefly focused on the design of Naval cannons.  However, the board was responsible for providing arms and ammunition to both the Navy and the Army.  It appears that after the Napoleonic Wars the Blomefield Guns were quoted as being used for “Upper Deck 74 Gun Ships, Garrison and Battering trains.”

Nearly all of the ML guns of this time were manufactured by civilian contractors in England, such as Samuel Walker of Rotherham, The Carron Company of Falkirk and the Low Moor Ironworks of Bradford.

The Blomefield Guns predate the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery and were never used in service by any of its units.  12, 18, 24 and 32-pounder Gun examples are on display in Central Park, Port Hope, Ontario; two Blomefield cannons flank the Sir John A.  MacDonald statue in the City Park at the corner of King and West Street, Kingston, Ontario, four are aligned along the water’s edge at Fort Frontenac, Kingston, and one stands guard at Fort Anne in Nova Scotia.  Two are mounted on concrete stands at the Naval Memorial, Fernhill Cemetery, Saint John, New Brunswick.

SBML 9-pounder Gun

British SBML 9-pounder Guns were in use from about 1810 until the 1860s.  They were standard issue in the Foot Brigades of the Royal Artillery and were used against the Emperor Napoleon’s Army at the battle of Waterloo in 1815.  Smoothbore artillery refers to weapons that are not rifled.  One SBML 9-pounder Gun is on display in the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum, CFB Shilo, Manitoba.  Another is on display at Fort Henry, complete with limber, sidearms and tools.

Towards the middle of the 19th century, experiments were begun with rifled guns, so that two new categories came into being, rifled muzzle-loading (RML) and rifled breech loading (RBL) guns.[36]

RML 16-pounder 8-cwt Gun

The British rifled muzzle-loading (RML) 16-pounder Gun of 1873 was used for defence in a number of colonies, including Newfoundland.  One of these guns is on display in front of the Visitor’s Office on Signal Hill, St. John’s, Newfoundland.  It appears to be the only 16-pounder preserved display in Canada.

RBL 6-pounder 3-cwt Gun

The Rifled Breech Loading (RBL) 6-pounder Gun made by Armstrong was the British Army’s first RBL Gun.  It was initially recommended for use as a mountain gun in 1858 but the Royal Artillery considered it too heavy for that purpose.  Many were used by Canadian coastal batteries.  The barrels of these guns were made of wrought iron and were strengthened by having ingeniously designed jackets shrunk onto them.  The twisted rifling consisted of numerous grooves, and the elongated projectiles were coated with lead to permit the rifling to cut into them and impart rotation.[37]  

RBL 20-pounder 16-cwt Field Gun

The Armstrong Breech Loading 20-pounder Gun (RBL 20-pounder 16-cwt Gun), was an early modern 3.75-inch light gun of 1859.  This gun was a larger version of the RBL 12-pounder 8-cwt Armstrong and was supplied in different versions for land and sea service.  The Land Service version of 16-cwt was introduced in 1860.  It has a bore of 84 inches (22.36 calibres) and the appearance of a field gun.[38] 

Twelve RBL 20-pounder 16-cwt Field Guns were allocated to the defence of Halifax by the British War Office in January 1873.  These guns were likely intended only to be stored in the Halifax Citadel until an attack on Halifax seemed imminent.[39]

One RBL 20-pounder 16-cwt Gun is on display in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Stadacona, CFB Halifax; another is preserved in the Halifax Citadel, and a third is mounted on concrete posts and displayed at Fort Anne, Annapolis Royal, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

RBL 40-pounder 35-cwt GunThe RBL40-pounder 35-cwt Gun was an early attempt to use William Armstrong‘s new and innovative breechloading mechanism for medium artillery.[40]  The Armstrong “screw” breech had already proved successful in the RBL 12-pounder 8-cwt Gun, and the British Government requested it be implemented for heavier guns despite Armstrong’s protests that the mechanism was unsuited to heavy guns.  The first version weighed 32-cwt, followed by the 35-cwt version which introduced a longer and stronger breech-piece.  The gun was recommended in 1859 for the Royal Navy as a broadside or pivot gun.  The guns were typically employed mounted on high “siege travelling carriages” for use as semi-mobile guns in forts, firing over parapets.

One RBL 40-pounder 35-cwt Gun is on display in the RCA Museum, CFB Shilo, Manitoba, a second can be viewed at Fort Henry, Kingston, Ontario, and a third is in the artillery display in the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa.

RML 64-pounder 71-cwt Gun

The RML 64-pounder 71-cwt Guns (converted) were rifled muzzle-loading guns converted from obsolete Millar SBML 8-inch 65-cwt Shell-Gun.  “71-cwt” refers to the gun’s weight rounded up to differentiate it from other “64-pounder” guns, (1-cwt = 112 pounds).  This gun was deployed on many smaller British cruising warships around the world, and also as a coast defence gun in British colonial garrisons including Canada.

When Britain adopted rifled Ordnance in the 1860s it still had large stocks of serviceable but now obsolete smoothbore guns.  Gun barrels were expensive to manufacture, so the best and most recent models were selected for conversion to rifled guns, for use as second-line Ordnance, using a technique designed by William Palliser.  The Palliser conversion was based on what was accepted as a sound principle that the strongest material in the barrel construction should be innermost, and hence a new tube of stronger wrought iron was inserted in the old cast iron barrel, rather than attempting to reinforce the old barrel from the outside.[41] 

SBML Carronades

The Carronade was a short smoothbore, cast iron gun, developed for the Royal Navy by the Carron Company, an ironworks in Falkirk, Scotland, UK.  They were usually 7-inchs in length.  SBML Carronades were used from the 1770s to the 1850s.  Their main function was to serve as a powerful, short-range anti-ship and anti-crew weapon.  While considered very successful early on, Carronades eventually disappeared as long-range Naval artillery led to fewer and fewer close-range engagements.

A Carronade was much shorter and a third to a quarter of the weight of an equivalent long gun: a 32-pounder Carronade, for example, weighed less than a-ton, but a 32-pounder long gun weighed over 3-tons.  SBML Carronades were manufactured in Naval gun-inches: 6, 12, 18, 24, 32 and 42-pounder Guns, and 68-pounder versions are known.  The Carronade disappeared from the Royal Navy from the 1850s after the development of steel-jacketed cannon by William George Armstrong and Joseph Whitworth.[42]

SBML Carronades are on display in Fort Henry and many early Canadian forts, field fortifications and museums, including the Canadian War Museum and the New Brunswick Military History Museum.


Howitzers are Shell-Guns intended for high angle fire.  The trunnions of early 18th and 19th century Howitzers were located in line with the bore of the gun.  All 18th century Howitzers were made of Brass.  Their length varies from 5 to 10-inchs and their carriages allowed for a greater elevation to be obtained than that of a conventional gun.  Early Howitzer barrel designs were very short in length, and they were built in a variety of-inchs with bore diametres of up to 10-inches.[43]

SBML 24-pounder Brass Howitzer

When positioned in defensive positions and field fortifications, 24-pounder Brass Howitzers were extremely useful pieces of Ordnance because of their powerful 5.82-inch shells.  Their 1400 pound weight made them a very hard to manoeuvre in the field, and their 1300 yard effective range put them at a disadvantage to other artillery pieces.  Nevertheless, infantrymen could not have relished the idea of charging a battery of 24-pounder Howitzers.[44]

When the American Civil War ended in 1866, there was a great deal of fear that the 40,000 to 50,000 Fenian sympathisers discharged from the US Army would seize the opportunity to invade Canada.  The Fenians were groups of Irish Americans who believed that there was a possibility of invading Canada and using it for a negotiated trade for a free Ireland.  Composed of many former Civil War veterans, the Fenians staged several unsuccessful attempts in the Niagara peninsula.  Several battles were fought between the Fenians and the British Regulars and Canadian Militia including the Battle at Ridgeway, Ontario.

The citizens of British Columbia called for reinforcements to beef up their “Volunteer Rifles”, and as a result, the Seymour Artillery Company was formed on 16 July 1866.  The Company was named in honour of Governor Seymour, Governor of the Colony of British Columbia located on the mainland) who had authorized its raising, and was comprised of five Royal Engineers and 35 citizens.[45]

On 15 September 1866, two ML 24-pounder Brass Howitzers arrived on board HMS Sparrowhawk.  These were war surplus guns from the Crimean War and were used for training and local defence until 1873.  They were also used to fire official salutes, such as for Queen Victoria’s birthday.  These refurbished guns now sit in front of City Hall in New Westminster, BC.  They were restored in 2004 by the Royal Westminster Regiment Historical Society.  A plaque provides a short history and thanks the major sponsors, the City of New Westminster and the Millennium Committee.  The cannons both bear an ornate cipher of Queen Victoria (1837 to 1901), the reigning British Monarch at the time of their production, what appears to be a production cipher and a date stamped in the trunnion of 1858.[46]


A mortar is an indirect fire weapon that fires shells at low velocities, short ranges, and high-arcing ballistic trajectories.  It is typically muzzle-loading and has a barrel length less than 15 times its-inch.  Mortars were designed to shoot an exploding shell at a very high angle, 45 degrees or more.  They were used in the siege and defence of fortifications.  An explosive shell fired into the air, curved to drop within the defences of the enemy.  When the shell’s fuze burned down, it exploded.  These projectiles are the ‘bombs bursting in air’ mentioned in the American national anthem, where they were being fired from the British fleet attacking Baltimore.

A mortar is relatively simple and easy to operate.  A modern mortar consists of a tube into which gunners drop a shell, which is usually referred to as a bomb or round.  The tube is generally set at between 45 and 85 degrees angle to the ground, with the higher angle giving shorter firing distances.  The shell contains a quantity of propellant.  When it reaches the base of the tube it hits a firing pin, which detonates the propellant and fires the shell.  Some larger-inch mortars have a string operated firing pin instead of a fixed one.

These attributes contrast with the mortar’s larger siblings, Howitzers and Field Guns that fire at higher velocities, longer ranges, flatter arcs, and sometimes using direct fire.  These weapons also do not use the mortar’s gravity-assisted means of detonating the shell.

French Land Service Mortar, ca. 1758, Fortress Louisbourg, Canadian War Museum.  (Author Photo)

From the 18th to the early 20th century very heavy, relatively immobile Land Service Mortars were used, of up to one metre-inch, often made of cast iron and with outside barrel diameter many times that of the bore diameter.  Smaller and more portable designs were introduced during the First World War, primarily for trench warfare, which took place at relatively close ranges.  Mortars continue to be in use to the present day.

Light and medium mortars are portable, and usually used by infantry units.  The chief advantage a mortar section has over an artillery battery is the flexibility of small numbers, mobility and the ability to engage targets in the defilade with plunging fires.  Mortars are able to fire from the protection of a trench or defilade.  In these aspects the mortar is an excellent infantry support weapon, as it can be transported over any terrain and is not burdened by the logistical support needed for artillery.

Heavy mortars are typically between 120-mm and 300-mm-inch.  These weapons are usually towed or vehicle-mounted, sometimes breech-loaded, and normally employed by infantry units attached to battalion through division level.  Even at this size, mortars are simpler and less expensive than comparable Howitzers or Field Guns.[47]

The Militia Act of 1855

The Militia Act of 1855, passed by the Parliament of the United Provinces of Canada, was a milestone in Canadian military history.  Faced with the withdrawal of British troops for the Crimea, Canadians now had to be more actively involved in their own defence.  The Act provided for the creation of a five thousand man force which included seven batteries of artillery.  The batteries were to undergo twenty days of training per year, ten of which had to be consecutive.  Batteries were formed at Québec, Montréal, Ottawa, Kingston, and Hamilton.  Three of these units are perpetuated by batteries serving today as sub units of field artillery regiments: the 2nd Field Battery in Ottawa, the 7th Field Battery in Montréal and the 11th Field Battery (Hamilton-Wentworth) in Hamilton.

The period between 1855 and Confederation was one in which interest in military matters remained high because of the Crimean War, the American Civil War, and the threats, real and imagined, which the latter posed for Canada.  The Fenian raids of 1866 saw the militia being called out for service but the role of the artillery was limited.  In fact, the most notable engagement fought by the artillery was one in which the Welland Canal Field Battery, acting as infantry, defended Fort Erie against the Fenian force returning from their success at Ridgeway.  Their gallant stand was doomed from the start, the Gunners being greatly outnumbered, and they were eventually forced to surrender but not before they inflicted more casualties on the enemy than had the infantry in the Ridgeway debacle. [48]

[1] Lines from a poem by T. Campbell, Battle of the Baltic, Francis T.  Palgrave, ed. (1824–1897).  The Golden Treasury. 1875.

[2] Henry I. Sinclair, Earl of Orkney and feudal baron of Roslin (c. 1345 – c. 1400) was a Scottish nobleman.  He is best known today because of a modern legend that he took part in explorations of Greenland and North America almost 100 years before Christopher Columbus.  Internet:,_Earl_of_Orkney.

[3] Jacques Cartier (1491 – 1 Sep 1557) was a French explorer of Breton origin who claimed what is now Canada for France.

[4] Leslie W.C.S. Barnes, Canada’s Guns, An Illustrated History of Artillery, Canadian War Museum Historical Publication No. 15, (National Museums of Canada, Ottawa, 1979), p. 13.

[5] Col G.W.L. Nicholson, CD, The Gunners of Canada; the History of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, (McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, 1967-72), p. 13, photo p. 178.

[6] Information courtesy of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons Midland, Ontario.  Ministry of Tourism and Culture, 7 October 2011.

[7] Internet:

[8] The term “pounder” referred to a gun’s pound rating: theoretically, the weight of a single solid iron shot fired by that bore of cannon.  Common British sizes were 42-pounders, 32-pounders, 24-pounders, 18-pounders, 12-pounders, 9-pounders, 8-pounders, 6-pounders, and various smaller-inches.  French ships used standardized guns (measured in livres) roughly corresponding to 36-pounder, 24-pounder and 12-pounder guns, augmented by Carronades and smaller pieces of artillery.  Internet:

[9] Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac et de Palluau (May 22, 1622 – November 28, 1698) was a French soldier, courtier, and Governor General of New France from 1672 to 1682 and from 1689 to his death in 1698.  He established a number of forts on the Great Lakes and engaged in a series of battles against. The English and the Iroquois.  Internet:

[10] René Chartrand, French Fortresses in North America 1535–1763: Quebec, Montreal, Louisbourg and New Orleans (Fortress 27); Osprey Publishing, 20 March 2005.

[11] W.E. (Garry) Campbell, The Road to Canada, The Grand Communications Route from Saint John to Québec, (Goose Lane Editions and the New Brunswick Military Heritage Project, Fredericton, New Brunswick, 2005), pp. 21-23.

[12]The “Low countries” are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany.

[13] The fort was built on the neck of the Acadian peninsula, on the north bank of the Missaguash River.  After its capture by the British under Monckton in 1755 the name was changed to Fort Cumberland, since the fort is situated at the head of Cumberland Bay.  The Fort was strengthened in 1812, but was abandoned after the close of the War of 1812-15.  National Parks Canada plaque on site at Fort Beauséjour, New Brunswick; and W.  Stewart Wallace, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol.  II, (Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948), p. 366.

[14] Internet:

[15] Larry Ostola, The Siege of Louisbourg, 1758.  Internet,

[16] Sandy Balcom, Historian, Mortars in Louisbourg, The Huissier, 9 July 2009.  Internet:

[17] Internet:

[18] Leslie W.C.S. Barnes, Canada’s Guns, p. 32.

[19] Pennsylvania Gazette, 22 November 1759.

[20] David McConnell, British Smooth-Bore Artillery: A Technological Study, (Ottawa, Minister of Supply and Services Canada, 1988), p. 237.

[21] Ibid., p. 238.

[22] Ibid., p. 239-242.

[23] Internet, Canadian Military History Gateway,

[24] J. Gottfried, Arms in the Northwest, Internet:

[25] Brian Wolfe, Internet:

[26] Leslie W.C.S. Barnes, Canada’s Guns, p. 46.

[27][27] Ibid, p. 49.

[28] E-mail, Maxwell J. Toms, 15 Dec 2011.

[29] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, A Condensed History of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1793-1998, 1003, para 2.

[30] S. James Gooding, An Introduction to British Artillery in North America, (Museum Restoration Service, Bloomfield, Ontario, 1980), pp. 2-3.

[31] David McConnell, British Smooth-Bore Artillery: A Technological Study, (Ottawa, Minister of Supply and Services Canada, 1988), p. 25.

[32] S. James Gooding, An Introduction to British Artillery in North America, pp. 19-24.

[33] David Francis and Barry Porteus, The Guns of Kingston, The Kingston Gunners, 1991, p. 9.

[34] Internet:

[35] Internet:

[36] S. James Gooding, An Introduction to British Artillery in North America, p. 4.

[37] Leslie W.C.S. Barnes, Canada’s Guns, p. 54.

[38] Internet:

[39] A.J.B. Johnston, Defending Halifax: Ordnance 1825-1906, (Ottawa, Parks Canada, 1981) Rifled Ordnance, p. 113.

[40] The term Armstrong gun is primarily used to describe the unique design of the rifled breech-loading field and heavy guns designed by Sir William Armstrong and manufactured in England from 1855 by the Elswick Ordnance Company and the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich.  Wikipedia.

[41] Internet:

[42] Internet:

[43] S. James Gooding, An Introduction to British Artillery in North America, p. 10.

[44] Internet:

[45] Internet:

[46] RRCA, LCol L. Jensen, Internet:

[47] Internet:

[48] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, A Condensed History of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1793-1998, 1003.  Para 3 & 4.

The Guns of Canada’s Citadels and Fortresses

An American reporter for the New York Times newspaper wrote an article in 1861 concerning the defence network in Canada just a few years prior to the nation’s 1867 Confederation in which he stated,

“Our Québec correspondent...informs us that the military authorities of Canada...may have ordered that the fortresses of Canada shall be repaired and placed in a high state of efficiency; and everyone knows that putting a fortress in a proper state of defence has a highly belligerent sound...As far as we know there are only a couple of fortresses in the Province that are at present in a defensible condition.  One is the Cape Diamond Québec Citadel, with which every American traveler is familiar.  It is without doubt the strongest fortress in America - the strongest, possibly, in the world, after those of Gibraltar and Cronstadt.  The Citadel is built on the highest point of Cape Diamond, at an elevation of 350 feet above the level of the St. Lawrence, and on the river side the cliffs rise perpendicularly from the water.  On all other sides the Citadel is so fortified by glacis, walls, trenches, and other works of defence that a hostile approach is deemed impossible by the best British authorities on military science.  The city is also walled entirely around, and is further protected by Martello towers, of which there are four encircling Québec at equal distances from each other.  The Québec Citadel is always kept in a condition of perfect repair, but the outworks - that are the walls and works about the city -- have been allowed of late to fall into ruin.  In the event of war, the defence of the city would not be undertaken, as it would require fifteen or twenty thousand men to man the walls, and the defence of the Citadel would answer all needful purposes.  For this, a garrison of one thousand men, it is asserted, would be amply sufficient.  There is always stored in the Québec Citadel sufficient provisions to last its garrison for a siege of seven years.  It also contains an immense quantity of war materiel and to this quantity very unusual additions have been made during the present Summer.  The old guns have been changed for rifled Armstrong cannon of the largest size, and everything that prudence and forethought could do has been done to place the Québec Citadel in a thorough state of efficiency.  As an illustration of the strength of this place it may be mentioned that in 1775, the American General Montgomery, succeeded in reaching it when the garrison was almost destitute of military force, and the whole strength of the Province only numbered 600 men.  The siege was a signal failure.  In the first assault, as in those renewed during subsequent years, the Americans were driven back and their General killed, while the British are said to have lost only one officer and seventeen men in killed and wounded.  Another insurmountable obstacle to the investment of Québec is the climate.  For seven months of the year it would be impossible for a hostile army to find provisions or to encamp in the vicinity of Québec.  The thermometer falls as low as 40° below zero, and the inhabitants themselves have to lay in their provisions before the inclement season sets in.

The only other fortresses in Canada worthy of consideration, are those on Navy Point and Point Henry, which command the harbour of Kingston.  Fort Henry is the principal work of defence.  There are also several Martello towers near it, and as a military post, Kingston is the strongest place in Canada, after Québec.  These forts, it must be remembered, have always been kept in serviceable condition, and if the resolution to which the military authorities of Canada have came, merely relates to their inspection, the act is simply one which is performed with great regularity at least once a year.  It is proper to add that on St. Helen’s Island, opposite Montréal, a regiment of soldiers is usually stationed.  Large quantities of ammunition are also stored there, and the island might be used to great advantages the defence of Montréal, the principal city of the Canadas...At present, there are scarcely 10,000 regular troops throughout the whole of Canada; the artillery force has been unusually small for some years past, and there is not now a sufficient number of artillerists in Québec to man the guns of the Citadel.  An important addition to the artillery service was received last Summer in the shape of a battery of Armstrong guns; but it was sent to the upper Province.[1]

History of the Québec Citadel

La Citadelle - the French name is used both in English and French - is a military installation and official residence located atop Cap Diamant, adjoining the Plains of Abraham in Québec City, Québec.  This citadel is part of the fortifications of Québec City.  The Québec Parliament Building and many other provincial government buildings and several large hotels are also nearby, towering over this sunken or flat citadel, typical of late 18th century and early 19th century castramentation.

The first protective wall (enceinte) was built in the 17th century under Louis de Buade, sieur de Frontenac.  A plan of fortifications was developed by the French military engineer Jacques Levasseur de Néré (1662–1723) and approved by Louis XIV’s commissary general of fortifications Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban in 1701.[2]  Considerable work took place on the fortifications after the fall of Louisbourg in 1745 under the direction of military engineer Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry.

The existing star-shaped fortifications were built by the United Kingdom between 1820 and 1831 under the direction of Lieutenant Colonel Elias Walker Durnford of the Royal Engineers, and incorporated a section of the French enceinte (enclosure) of 1745.  Their purpose was to secure the strategic heights of Cap Diamant against the Americans and to serve as a refuge for the British garrison in the event of attack or Rebellion, 1885.  The preservation of much of the fortifications and defences of Québec is due to the intervention of Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, Governor General of Canada 1872–1878, who also established the Citadelle as a vice-regal residence.  (Parks Canada)

The Québec Citadel National Historic Site commemorates a military fortification built by the British from 1820-31 in Québec City.  According to a number of 19th century authors including Charles Dickens, the Citadel, which crowns a 100-m escarpment named Cap-Diamant, made the city the “Gibraltar of North America.”  It was built when Québec City was Canada’s main port, and its purpose was to protect the city from attack from the St Lawrence River below and from the Plains of Abraham to the west.  The fortress could also serve as a last refuge for the garrison if the city was captured by an enterprising enemy.

The Citadel has been an active military base since 1920.  The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada designated the uneven star-shaped Citadel as a national historic site in 1946 but its importance was recognized much earlier.  The Citadel comprises 4 bastions, or wall projections, and 3 straight curtain walls, all constructed with locally-quarried sandstone.  Within its walls are 24 buildings, including one of the 2 official residences of the Governor General (originally occupied by British garrison officers), the Royal 22e Régiment Headquarters (a former hospital), Dalhousie Gate, an officers' mess and a museum.  The buildings are constructed mostly of grey cut stone.  The fortifications of Québec were one of the reasons why Québec's Historic District was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1985. 

The Citadel replaced or incorporated defence works built during the French regime, e.g., the western rampart (still in existence opposite the National Assembly).  After the war, ca 1759-60, the British considered this rampart inadequate but were more concerned with what was happening in Europe than in Lower Canada.  With rising tensions between Britain and the United States, the British began to protect their interests in the interior of British North America by implementing a defence plan developed by Gother Mann in the 1790s.  The present ramparts, encircling the Upper Town cliff, and 4 Martello Towers on the Plains of Abraham, were completed before the outbreak of the War of 1812.  The Citadel, the principle element of Mann's plan, had not been constructed before the war because it was deemed to be too large and costly an undertaking at that time.  Its construction began after the war because the British military felt peace was tenuous and Québec City would be the primary goal of any invasion.

Designed by British engineers on a classical model, construction of the Citadel was begun in 1820 and completed in 1831, except for a few service buildings which were completed in 1850.  The garrison provided most of the labour.  Although the Citadel was designed as an arms, munitions and supplies depot as well as a barracks, only part of the 1,000-man garrison was lodged there.  Soldiers were also billeted in Artillery Park and in the Jesuit Barracks (the site of the present city hall).

After the mid-19th century, improvements in weaponry, particularly the introduction in 1856 of more precise and longer-range rifled artillery, led the British military authorities to modify their defence system substantially.  Military fortifications were then located farther from the city centre.  During the American Civil War, the threat of an American invasion encouraged the military to construct three forts between 1865 and 1871 on the heights of Pointe-Lévis across the river from Québec.  None of these structures was ever subject to assault.

The British military departed Québec in 1871.  The Citadel served as headquarters for one of the artillery schools of the Canadian Army and became the headquarters of the Royal 22e Régiment after the First World War.  Lord Dufferin was the first governor general to make the Citadel a vice-regal residence (1872).  It was Dufferin who persuaded local politicians to save the old French walls from destruction although his plan also included some modifications such as extending the Durham Terrace to the Citadel (1879) and constructing a road around the fortress.[3]

The Québec Conferences of 1943 and 1944, in which Winston Churchill, Franklin D.  Roosevelt, and William Lyon Mackenzie King discussed strategy for the Second World War, were held at the Citadelle of Québec.

The Citadelle has been the home station of the Royal 22e Régiment of the Canadian Forces since 1920.  In addition to its use as a military installation, it has been also an official residence of the Queen in Right of Canada and the Governor General of Canada since 1872, who by tradition resides there for several weeks out of the year.  The Governor General’s primary official residence is Rideau Hall in Ottawa.   (Parks Canada)

Guns of the Québec Citadel

A number of the guns mentioned in this Chapter remain on display in the present day Québec Citadel.  These include an RBL 7-inch 72-cwt Gun on an original carriage.  Another RBL 7-inch 72-cwt Gun can be viewed at Fort Lévi, Québec.[4]  The Citadel’s defences include a Woolwich RML 10-inch Gun weighing 18-tons, mounted on an iron carriage, and two Palliser RML 80-pounder Guns weighing 5-tons.  The 80-pounders are both Palliser conversions from Dundas SBML 68-pounder 112-cwt Guns, and are mounted on a 7-inch, 7-ton iron carriage and platform.  Iron carriages were introduced in the British artillery in 1810.  They were to be placed ‘in such parts of fortifications as are least exposed to the enemy’s fire’ as it was feared they would shatter if hit by enemy artillery. 

RML 7-inch 72-cwt Gun Mk I

The rifled muzzle-loading (RML) 7-inch 72 cwt Guns were various designs of medium-sized RML guns used to arm small-medium sized British warships in the late 19th century, and some were used ashore for coast defence.   The RML 7-inch 7-ton Mk I was a coast defence gun introduced in 1865 to replace the failed RBL version.

The primary projectile for 6½-ton and 7-ton guns was Palliser shot or shell for attacking armoured warships, fired with a large “battering” charge for maximum velocity.  All guns were also equipped with shrapnel shells for anti-personnel use and explosive common shells for attacking unarmoured targets.  The “double” common shell was much longer than the standard common shell, and hence contained approximately twice as much gunpowder.  It was unstable in flight and hence inaccurate beyond 2,000 yards but was considered useful for attacking wooden warships at ranges below 2,000 yards.[5]

There are five RML 7-inch 7-ton Guns mounted on the ramparts of the Quebec Citadel, five mounted on the ramparts of the Halifax Citadel, two in Point Pleasant Park and four at York Redoubt in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Woolwich RML 10-inch Mk II 18-ton Gun

The Woolwich RML 10-inch Guns Mk I and Mk II were large rifled muzzle-loading (RML) guns designed for British battleships and monitors.  The array of original early-19th century British guns on iron garrison platforms in the upper batteries overlooking Québec City is relatively rare in fortresses around the world.  Iron carriages and platforms were not ideal for use in combat, but served quite well for peacetime training.  Unlike wooden carriages, iron ones did not rot away, and thus the greater initial expense was justified over a period of decades.  The use of iron carriages in the fortifications at Québec City clearly indicates how permanent the work was intended to be.

The gun’s primary projectile was “Palliser” shot or shell, an early armour-piercing projectile for attacking armoured warships.  A large “battering charge” of 70 pounds “P” (pebble) or 60 pounds “RLG” (rifle large grain) gunpowder was used for the Palliser projectile to achieve maximum velocity and hence penetrating capability.  Common (i.e.  Ordinary explosive) shells and shrapnel shells were fired with the standard “full service charge” of 44 pounds “P” or 40 pounds R.L.G.[6]

Palliser RML 80-pounder Gun.

The introduction of rifled muzzle-loadings (RML) rendered smoothbore guns largely obsolete.  However, the SBML 68-pounder Gun and other smoothbores still existed in large numbers and various attempts were made to adapt the guns to fire new projectiles.  Eventually Captain William Palliser patented a method of boring out the gun barrel and inserting a wrought iron rifled liner.  This allowed rifled shot and shells to be fired from old smoothbore Carronade and experiments revealed that it made them even more powerful than they had been before.  Introduced in 1872, 68-pounders adapted in this way had a-inch of 6.3-inches (16.00-cm) and were known as a RML 68-pounder, or officially as the RML 80-pounder 5-ton.  With a 10 lb (4.5 kg) powder charge they could fire an 80 lb (36 kg) projectile at a muzzle velocity of 1,240 feet per second (380 m/s).  They were deployed as coast defence and garrison artillery around the British Empire and remained in service until eventually declared obsolete in 1921.  Two are mounted in the Québec Citadel on 7-inch 7-ton iron carriages and platforms.[7]  These guns have a Millar pattern breaching ring. 

Artillery in Old Québec City and La Citadelle Fortifications

The fortifications of Old Québec City and La Citadelle have a considerable complement of artillery in place on the original walls and in museum displays.  Old Québec City was first walled only in 1690, originally with a hastily-constructed wooden palisade with 11 small square stone redoubts, extending from the Château Saint-Louis to the Rivière de Saint-Charles.  An eight-gun battery was located just west of Château Saint-Louis, rebuilt in 1693, improved in the 1740’s, and had 14 guns in 1759.  A three-gun battery (1690) was located east of the château at the turn of the cliff toward the north, later rebuilt as the 42-gun Batterie Grande (1759).  Along the west-side of the palisade was a three-gun battery (1690) at the Mont-Carmel windmill.  Below the end of the palisade on the Rivière de Saint-Charles was another three-gun battery (1690). 

The city was attacked by the British (primarily New England provincial forces) in October 1690, but they were driven back by the strong defences.  A new earthen wall was constructed in 1693 to 1702, primarily along the old trace of the palisade.  Another line was constructed from 1700 to 1707 incorporating the Cap-aux-Diamant Redoubt. 

The Redoubt Royale was constructed in 1712 between the Château Saint-Louis and the Cap-aux-Diamant Redoubt (1693).  A bastioned masonry wall reveted with stone was first constructed in 1745, with the Potasse Demi-Bastion, St. Jean, Ste. Ursula, St. Louis, and Glaciere Bastions, with gates at St. Jean and St. Louis.  Still extant, it is 4.6 kilometres long.  A ditch and glacis was started in front of the St. Jean Bastion, but was never completed along the remaining length of the wall.  There were 24 guns mounted along the eastern side of the wall between the Grand Battery and the Potasse Demi-Bastion.  There were 52 guns mounted along the bastions. 

La Citadelle (1820-1871 and at present), was known as the “Gibraltar of the Americas”.  The Citadel is the second-largest fortification (37 acres) in North America still occupied by military forces (Fort Monroe in Virginia is 63 acres).  Construction was begun in 1820 and lasted until 1855.  There are 25 buildings here, including the Governor-General’s summer residence, Officers’ mess, a 1750 French powder magazine now containing the Royal 22e Régiment Museum in the Prince of Wales’ Bastion, and an 1842 military prison.  Previously on this site was the French Cap-aux-Diamant Redoubt (1693 - 1760), later incorporated into the Citadel’s King’s Bastion.  The British took control of the redoubt with the capture of the city in September 1759.  A temporary British citadel was built here between 1778 and 1783, including four blockhouses.  Three wooden blockhouses were built on Cap-aux-Diamant in 1797.

Fort No. 1, Pointe-de-Lévy, Québec.  Construction of this British fort was completed in 1872, shortly after British troops left the city in 1871.  It was one of a chain of three forts built to defend Québec City from American attack.  Of those three, this one is the only one remaining today.  Only one gun was ever mounted in each fort in 1878, an RBL 7-inch 72-cwt Gun.  Parks Canada.

RBL 7-inch 72-cwt Gun

The RBL 7-inch 72-cwt Gun, also known as the 110-pounder, was an early attempt to use William Armstrong’s new and innovative breechloading mechanism for heavy rifled guns.  The gun as first made weighed 72-cwt (8,064 lb) but the heavier 82-cwt (9,184 lb) version, incorporating a strengthening coil over the powder chamber, was the first to enter service in 1861.  It was intended to replace the SBML 68-pounder Gun, and was intended to be Britain’s first modern RBL Naval gun.  The lighter 72-cwt version eventually entered service in 1863 for land use only.[8]  One is mounted on a long traversing wooden carriage at Fort Frederick, RMC, Kingston, Ontario.

Fort Henry, Kingston, Ontario

Fort Henry (also known as Fort Henry National Historic Site) is located in Kingston, Ontario, on Point Henry, a strategic point located near the mouth of the Cataraqui River where it flows into the St. Lawrence River, at the upper end of the Thousand Islands.  The original fort was constructed during the War of 1812, when present-day Ontario was a British colony known as Upper Canada.  The fort was constructed on the high ground of Point Henry to protect the Kingston Royal Naval Dockyard (the site of the present-day Royal Military College of Canada) from a possible United States attack.  The fort also monitored maritime traffic on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario, as the loss of this vital shipping route would have cut off supplies to Kingston and the rest of Upper Canada.

The present Fort Henry was constructed between 1832 and 1837 to protect the Lake Ontario end of the Rideau Canal.  (The canal was part of an alternate route between Kingston and Montréal that bypassed the St. Lawrence River, which separates Canada and the United States.)  A system of more elaborate defensive works was planned but cost overruns in the construction of the canal limited the fortifications to four Martello towers and the fort itself.  At the time, these fortifications were the strongest defences in Canada west of Québec City.  Among the historic regiments that garrisoned the fort were the Black Watch, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the Royal Welch Fusiliers.  Neither the original nor the second Fort Henry was ever attacked.

The British Army withdrew in 1870 shortly after Canadian Confederation.  Canadian troops then garrisoned the fort until 1891.  The fort witnessed the founding of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, one of the first units in the Canadian Army, whose B battery was based at the fort.  As relations with the United States continued to improve, the need for defences along the border ceased.  During the First World War Fort Henry served as a facility for holding Ukrainian detainees.  Abandoned by the military, the fort fell into disrepair.  In the 1930s, under the leadership of Ronald L.  Way, restorations took place as part of a government work program during the Great Depression.  “Old Fort Henry” became a living museum with the introduction of the Fort Henry Guard, and was opened on 1 August 1938.  During the Second World War, the fort served as a prisoner-of-war camp for German Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine personnel.

Military interpreters dressed in the uniforms of the Fort Henry Guard staff the fort and conduct demonstrations of British military life and give tours for visitors.  There are also self-guided tours.  Throughout the day there are various activities including historical re-enactments of drills and battle tactics, the Garrison Parade, the Victorian School Room, and the Muster Parade, where young visitors are dressed in period uniforms and taught to march by a qualified member of the Guard.  There is also a Sunset Ceremony every Wednesday in July and August, where a full program of historic drill, music and artillery is presented.

Fort Henry has been designated as a National Historic Site of Canada, and in 2007 was included in the designation of the Rideau Canal as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  One can also view the grounds from Cartwright Point (the location of the Cathcart Tower).  Parks Canada.

Fortress of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia

The Fortress of Louisbourg (in French, Forteresse de Louisbourg) is a national historic site and the location of a partial reconstruction of an 18th century French fortress at Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, a reminder of imperial battles for what would become Canada.  The original fortress, constructed mainly between 1720 and 1740, was one of the most extensive (and expensive) European fortifications constructed in North America.  It was supported by two smaller garrisons on Île Royale located at present-day St. Peter’s and Englishtown.  Fortress Louisbourg suffered key weaknesses, since its design was directed solely toward sea-based assaults, leaving the land-facing defences relatively weak.  Captured by British colonists in 1745, it was a major bargaining chip in the negotiations leading to the 1748 treaty ending the War of the Austrian Succession, and was returned to French control.  It was captured again in 1758 by British forces in the Seven Years’ War, after which it was systematically destroyed by British engineers.

Louisbourg was known for its fortifications, which took the original French builders twenty-eight years to complete.  The engineer behind the project was Jean-Francois du Vergery de Verville.  Verville picked Louisbourg as his location because of its natural barriers.  The fort itself cost France thirty million livres, which prompted King Louis XV to joke that he should be able to see the peaks of the buildings from his Palace in Versailles.  The original budget for the fort was four million livres.  Two and a half miles of wall surrounded the entire fort.  On the western side of the fort, the walls were thirty feet high, and thirty-six feet across.  The city had two gates that lead into the city known as the Dauphin gate, which is currently reconstructed, and the Queen’s gate which is not.

Louisbourg was also home to six bastions, two of which are reconstructed.  Dauphin bastion, commonly referred to as a ‘demi-bastion’ for its modification, the King’s Bastion, Queen’s Bastion, Princess Bastion, Maurepas Bastion and the Brouillon Bastion.  On the eastern side of the fort, fifteen guns pointed out to the harbour.  The wall on this side was only sixteen feet high and six feet across.  Louisbourg was one of the “largest military garrisons in all of New France”, and many battles were fought and lives lost here because of it.  The fort had the embrasures to mount one hundred and forty-eight guns; however, Historians have estimated that only one hundred embrasures had cannons mounted.  Disconnected from the main fort, yet still a part of Louisbourg, a small island in the harbour was also fortified.  The walls on the island were ten feet high, and eight feet thick.  Thirty-one 24-pounder Guns were mounted facing the harbour.  The island itself was small, with room for only a few small ships to dock there.

The fortress was attacked in two major sieges: once in 1745 and the again in 1758.  The first siege involved a New England force backed by a British Royal Navy squadron.  The New England attackers succeeded when the fortress capitulated on June 16, 1745.  A major expedition by the French to recapture the fortress led by Jean-Baptiste de La Rochefoucauld de Roye, duc d’Anville the following year was destroyed by storms, disease and British Naval attacks before it ever reached the fortress. 

The New Englanders’ elation turned to disgust three years later, in 1748.  The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which ended the War of the Austrian Succession, restored Louisbourg to France in return for the British trading post at Madras in India.  The New England forces left, taking with them the famous Louisbourg Cross, which had hung in the fortress chapel.  This cross was rediscovered in the Harvard University archives only in the latter half of the 20th century; it is now on long-term loan to the Louisbourg historic site.

Having given up Louisbourg, Britain created its own fortified town in 1749 on Chebucto Bay which they named Halifax.  It soon became the largest Royal Navy base on the Atlantic Coast and hosted large numbers of British army regulars.  The 29th Regiment of Foot was stationed there; they cleared the land for the port and settlement.

Britain’s North American (American) colonies were expanding into areas claimed by France by the 1750s, and the efforts of French forces and their Indian allies to seal off the westward passes and approaches through which American colonists could move west soon led to the skirmishes that developed into the French and Indian War in 1754.  The conflict widened into the larger Seven Years’ War by 1756, which involved all of the major European powers.

A large-scale French Naval deployment in 1757 fended off an attempted assault by the British in 1757.  However, inadequate Naval support the following year allowed a large British combined operation to land for the 1758 Siege of Louisbourg which ended on 26 July 1758, with a French surrender.  The fortress was used by the British as a launching point for its 1759 Siege of Québec that culminated in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.

The fortress was systematically destroyed by British engineers in 1760 to prevent its future use by anyone.  The site was abandoned at the end of the Seven Year’s War.  The fortress and town were partially reconstructed in the 1960s, using some of the original stonework and providing jobs for unemployed coal miners in the effort.  The site is now operated by Parks Canada as a living history museum.[9]

The Fortress of Louisbourg has on display a number of reproduction cannons, which were reproduced to French measure.  These are distributed as best as possible to  the artillery lists for 1744 for the area of the fortified town that has been reconstructed.  As a result, there are six 18-livre guns in the King’s bastion, ten 24-livre guns in the Circular Battery enclosing the Dauphin demi-bastion, five 12-livre guns on the Dauphin demi-bastion and three 8-livre guns on the Quai walls.  There are also several cannon barrels depicted as being “in store” outside the hangar d’artillerie in Block One.   There are several breech-loading reproduction pedararos (swivel guns) on display in  one of the warehouses. 

The Parks Canada Museum on site has an unidentified Coehorn mortar included in an exhibit on the operation of a fortress and a reproduction iron Coehorn for use in their artillery animation program.  There is also a small period cannon on display in this exhibit.  In the visitor reception centre there is a period French 18-livre gun and a large (probably 13 pouce) mortar.  This latter mortar is a twin to one on display in the War Museum in Ottawa.[10] 

Fort George, Citadel Hill, Halifax

Citadel Hill is a glacial drumlin located on the Halifax Peninsula.  It measures approximately 80 metres above sea level and affords a commanding view of the entrance to Halifax Harbour, as well as nearby George’s Island and McNabs Island.  The British founded Halifax in 1749 to counter a growing French presence at Fortress Louisbourg several hundred kilometres northeast.  The site for the town was chosen in part because the drumlin could provide protection for the naval dockyard.  A series of four different defensive fortifications have occupied the summit of Citadel Hill since this time, with the construction and levelling resulting in the summit of the hill being dropped by ten to twelve metres.

Citadel Hill and the associated harbour defence fortifications afforded the Royal Navy the most secure and strategic base in eastern North America from its Halifax Dockyard commanding the Great Circle Route to Western Europe and gave Halifax the nickname “Warden of The North”.  The massive British military presence in Halifax focused through Citadel Hill and the Royal Navy’s dockyard is thought to be the main reason that Nova Scotia (consisting of all of the present-day Maritimes and part of Québec‘s Gaspé Peninsula), the fourteenth colony following Britain’s victory in the Seven Years’ War, remained loyal to the Crown throughout and after the American Revolutionary War.

The first fort was part of the western perimeter wall for the old city which was protected by five stockaded forts.  The others were Horseman’s Fort, Cornwallis Fort, Fort Lutrell and Grenadier Fort.  Citadel Hill hosted a three-story octagonal blockhouse from 1776–1789, covering a fourteen-gun battery.

The current star-shaped fortress, or citadel, is formally known as Fort George and was completed in 1856, following twenty-eight years of construction.  This massive masonry-construction fort was designed to repel a land-based attack by United States forces and was inspired by the designs of Louis XIV’s commissary of fortifications Sébastien Le Prestre, Seigneur de Vauban a star-shaped hillock fortress with internal courtyard and clear harbour view from armoured ramparts.  Between 1820 and 1831 the British had constructed a similar albeit larger citadel in Québec City known as the Québec Citadel.

Fort George and its predecessors was the focal point of the British, and later Canadian, military’s “Halifax Defence Complex” which included (at various years): Fort Needham, HMC Dockyard, Fort George (Citadel Hill), Fort Massey, Fort Ogilvie, Prince of Wales Tower, Connaught Battery, York Redoubt, Practice Battery, Sandwich Point, Camperdown, Fort Chebucto, (Fort Charlotte), Fort Clarence, Devil’s Battery/Hartlen Point, five forts on McNabs Island: Fort Ives, Fort Hugonin, Sherbrooke Tower, Strawberry Hill, and Fort McNab.

Fort George was constructed to defend against smoothbore weaponry; it became obsolete following the introduction of more powerful rifled guns in the 1860s.  British forces upgraded Fort George’s armaments to permit it to defend the harbour as well as land approaches, using heavier and more accurate long-range artillery.  The role of Fort George in the defence of Halifax Harbour had evolved by the turn of the 20th century to becoming a command centre for other, more distant harbour defensive works, as well as providing barrack accommodations.

Although never attacked, Citadel Hill’s various fortifications were garrisoned by the British Army until 1906 and afterward by the Canadian Army throughout the First World War and the Second World War.  Fort George was used as temporary barracks during 1939-1940 and as the coordinating point for the city’s Anti-Aircraft defences.  Following the Second World War, the hill and fortifications were designated a National Historic Site of Canada and today is under the responsibility of Parks Canada.  Fort George has been restored to the mid-Victorian period.

One of the most enduring and recognized symbols of Citadel Hill’s role in shaping Halifax is the daily ceremonial firing of the noon gun.  The artillery is also used for formal occasions such as 21-gun salutes.  Fort George has a living history program featuring animators portraying life in the fort where soldiers of the 78th Highland Regiment, the 3rd Brigade of the Royal Artillery, soldier’s wives, and civilian tradespersons re-enact life in 1869.  The Army Museum, located in the Citadel’s Cavalier Block, displays a rare collection of weapons, medals and uniforms exploring Nova Scotia’s army history.[11]

York Redoubt, Halifax

York Redoubt is a National Historic Site of Canada situated on a bluff overlooking the entrance to Halifax Harbour at Ferguson’s Cove, Nova Scotia, originally constructed in 1793.  It was a key element in the defence of Halifax Harbour in the 19th and 20th centuries, and underwent many additions to its fortifications.  It was a command centre for harbour defences in the Second World War, which included observation posts, and a new gun battery below the fort at Sleepy Cove covering the anti-submarine net which stretched across the harbour’s entrance from Fort McNab on McNabs Island.

York Redoubt remained in military use until 1956.  Buildings in the redoubt complex include what remains of the Duke of York’s Martello tower (1798) and fortifications circa. 1800, with additional expansions circa. 1900 and advanced fortifications and artillery from the Second World War.  York Redoubt has many examples of the RML Guns from the 1870s period.  An open-air collection of unmounted cannon within the fort has several pieces of artillery of various periods, including a large RBL 10-inch Gun that had been mounted at the Sandwich Point Battery, part of the York Redoubt complex.[12]  One of these guns was transferred to McNabs Island in 2011.

Forts of Canada

Many places in Canada which bear the name “Fort” were never military establishments.  Many were simply stockades, log enclosures for fur trading posts of the Hudson’s Bay Company or the North West Company.  Many in the West were also originally police outposts setup by the North West Mounted Police prior to European-Canadian settlement of the area.  From West to East the forts which remain and were part of Canada’s defences are listed here.

British Columbia

Fort Langley, Fort St. John, Fort Steele, Little FortFort Nelson was a British fort built in 1805, later used by the North West Company.  Fort St. James was a British fort built in 1806 by the explorer Simon Fraser as a fur-trading post.  Fort Kamloops was built by the British in 1842.


Fort Assiniboine (HBC), Fort Calgary (NWMP), Fort Chipewyan (NWC), Fort Edmonton (HBC), Fort Kent, Fort MacKay, Fort Macleod (NWMP), Fort McMurray (HBC), built by the British in 1870-1898, Fort Saskatchewan (NWMP), Fort Vermilion (NWC), Fort Victoria (HBC), built in 1864, Fort Whoop-Up (used by American whiskey traders), Fort Walsh (NWMP), Rocky Mountain House (HBC & NWC).  Fort des Prairies, built by the British in 1804 as a North West Company trading post on the North Saskatchewan River.


Fort Battleford, Fort Carlton, Fort de la Corne, Fort Espérance, Fort Le Jonquiere, Fort Pitt, built by the British in 1829, Fort Qu’Appelle, built in 1842, Fort Walsh, built 1875 for the NWMP.


Fort Bourbon, ‎Fort Dauphin, ‎‎Fort Douglas, Fort Ellice, Fort La Reine, Fort Maurepas, Fort Paskoya, Prince of Wales Fort, York Factory.  Fort Rouge, also known as Fort Gibraltar was a French Fort built in 1804.  After it was abandoned, the North West Company built a post on the same site.  Lower Fort Garry was built by the British ca. 1834 as a stone trading post.  From 1870 to 1871 it was garrisoned by Canadians during the 1870 Red River Rebellion.  Upper Fort Garry, was also built by the British ca. 1834 as a stone trading post.  In 1870 it was captured by the Métis.  Later garrisoned by Canadians during the Red River Rebellion.  Fort Garry was built by the British ca. 1835 initially for use by the HBC as a trading post, but later served as an army base in case of confrontations with the Americans or Métis.  Ca. 1900 it became part of Winnipeg.


Fort Amherstburg and Fort Malden, AmherstburgFort Erie, Fort Frederick, Fort Frontenac, Fort George (Big River Post), built by the British ca. 1820 to defend trade, and Fort Henry, KingstonFort Kaministiquia, Thunder BayFort MatachewanFort Rouillé (also called Fort Toronto).  Fort St. Pierre, Fort Frances.  Fort York and New Fort York, Toronto.  Fort Willow, Springwater.  Fort William, Thunder Bay, built in 1803 by the Montreal-based North West Company, used for defence until 1821, rebuilt by the British in 1848.  Fort Wellington, Prescott, was a British fort built ca. 1812 on the St Lawrence River to deter an American invasion.  It was garrisoned again in 1838 until abandoned in 1923.  Fort Mississauga, Niagara-on-the-Lake, was built by the British ca. 1814 in the form of a brick tower and star-shaped earthworks to deter an American invasion.  From 1813 to 1855 the fort was manned by a British garrison, then taken over and manned by the Canadian Army from 1870 to 1954 for use as a training facility.


Fort Chambly, Fort de l’Île Sainte-Hélène, Fort Saint-Jean in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec Citadel, Ïle-aux-Noix - Fort Lennox, Forts-de-Lévis.  Fort Coteau du Lac was a British fort built ca. 1812 on the St Lawrence River to deter an American invasion.  From 1912 to 1815 it served as a British prison camp for American Prisoners of War.  Fort Chimo (Fort Good Hope), built by the British in 1830 to protect trade.  Carillon Barracks was built by the British between 1830 and 1837 to support the construction of the first Ottawa River canal system.  From 1837 to 1838 it was occupied by British troops.  The Chaudière River Blockhouse was built ca. 1832.  Fort Ingall was built ca. 1839 to defend against an American invasion.

New Brunswick

Fort Beauséjour, Fort Gaspéreau, Fort Howe, Fort La Tour, Fort Madawaska & Petit Sault Blockhouse, Fort Monckton, Fort Nashwaak.  The British built a fort on Partridge Island, Saint John ca. 1800, with a barracks, signal tower and gun platform.  In 1813 a nine-gun battery blockhouse and magazine was added.  In 1866 the garrison was manned by the New Brunswick Regiment of Artillery due to Irish-American threats.  Another six guns were added in 1878.  From 1913 to 1919, the battery was manned by a standing garrison.  The guns were upgraded in 1919, and from 1939 to 1945, casemates and searchlights were added for garrison.  The fort was abandoned in 1947.  The Drummond Blockhouse at Saint John was built by the British ca. 1812 to protect the city.  In 1866 it was manned by Garrison Artillery in response to the Fenian threat.  The St. Andrews Blockhouse and the Carleton Martello Tower were also built ca. 1813 to protect Saint John from the threat of American invasion.

Prince Edward Island

Fort Amherst, Fort Edward.

Nova Scotia

Fort Anne, Fort Dauphin, Fort Edward, Fort Lawrence, Fortress of Louisbourg, Fort Sainte Anne, Fort Petrie, Fort Ochiltree, Scotsfort, Charlesfort, Habitation at Port-Royal, Fort Ste.  Pierre, Fort Dorchester, Fort WilliamFort Rosemar, Chedabuctou Fort, Fort William Augustus, Lawrencetown Fort, Fort Ste.  Marie De Grace, Liverpool Fort, Gunning Cove Fort, Fort McNutt, Fort Ste. Louis, Fort Mohawk, Cornwallis Fort, Falmouth Fort, Fort Ellis, Fort Belcher, Fort Grunt.  Halifax: Citadel Hill, Fort Massey, Fort Ogilvie, Fort Needham, Fort McAlpine, York Redoubt, Fort Clarence, Fort Charlotte - (George’s Island Fort), Fort McNab, Fort Hugonin, Fort Sackville, Fort Chebucto, Fort George, Fort Coote, Fort Duncan, Herring Cove Fort, Sherbrook Tower, Prince of Wales Tower, Duke of Kent Tower, York Shore Battery, Grand Battery, Point Pleasant Battery, Cambridge Battery, North West Arm Battery, Chain Rock Battery, Ives Point Battery, Greenbank Battery, Governors Battery, Narrows Battery, Connaught Battery, South Battery, Middle Battery, North Battery, Chebucto Head Battery, Devils Point Battery, Strawberry Battery, Penninsular Blockhouses.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Fort Amherst, Fort Anne, Fort Carlton, Fort Cartwright, Fort Charles, Labrador, Fort Charles, St. John’s, Fort Erie, Fort Frederick, Fort George, Fort Greville, Fort Kenamu, Fort le Vieux, Fort Louis, Fort McAndrew, Fort Meigs, Fort Michikamau, Fort Nascopie, Fort Naskapis, Fort Pepperrell, Fort Pitt, Fort Point, Fort Red Bay, Fort Rigolet, Fort Royal, Fort St. George, Fort Sheffield, Fort Smith, Fort Townsend, Fort Waldegrave, Fort Wallace, Fort William, Fort Winokapau, Fort York, Signal Hill.  Fort Trial was built by the British ca. 1841 to protect trade.

Yukon Territory

Fort Reliance.

Northwest Territories

Fort Confidence, Fort Franklin, Northwest Territories (now Deline), Fort Laird, Fort McPherson, Fort Norman, (now Tulita), Fort Providence, Fort Reliance, Fort Resolution, Fort Simpson, Fort Smith, Old Fort Providence.


Fort Conger and Fort Ross.[13]

[1] The Defences of Canada, a New York Times newspaper article published 30 November 1861.

[2] Louisbourg’s defences were conceived and built according to the general fortification principles of the era, which had been perfected in Europe by Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban (1633-1707), chief engineer of Louis XIV.

[4] Between 1865 and 1872, a line of three detached forts was built in Lévis to defend the harbour of Québec against. A possible American invasion by land.  Located on the heights of Pointe-Lévy, Fort No. 1 is the last link in a chain of three forts built between 1865 and 1872 under the supervision of British military engineers.  This line of forts completed the City of Québec’s defence system and was meant to oppose a possible American invasion by land.  The three forts are positioned in an arc, with 1800 metres between one fort and the next.  Fort No. 1 is further east. Than the others, overlooking Île d’Orléans and the port of Québec.  It was meant to assist. The Citadel of Québec in defending the river.  Parks Canada,

[5] Internet:

[6] Internet:

[7] Internet:

[8] Internet:

[9] Internet:

[10] E-mail to Author from B.A. (Sandy) Balcom, Cultural Management Co-ordinator, Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, 7 Oct 2011.

[11] Internet:

[12] Internet:

[13] Various Internet sources:

Crimean War (1853 – 1856)

Russian Trophy Guns in Canada

The Crimean War which ran from October 1853 to February 1856 was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia.  The object of the war was to gain influence over the territories of the declining Ottoman Empire.  The majority of the battles took place on the Crimean peninsula.

Although Canada did not play a direct role in the Crimean War, the country was stripped of its garrison of British troops to supply the needs of the Crimean Expeditionary Force.  This led to the establishment of a permanent Canadian militia in 1855, including provisions for volunteer troops.  While no Canadian units fought in the Crimean War, individuals did enlist and a number fought in the war. 

In 1856 Queen Victoria instituted the Victoria Cross, a new medal for gallantry at this time.  The simple crosses were originally made of Brass from the buttons on the cascabels of guns captured at Sevastopol.  The first Canadian to win the Victoria Cross, Lieutenant Alexander Dunn of the 11th Hussars, took part in the ill-fated charge of the Light brigade at Balaclava on 25 October 1854.[1]

In the defence of Sevastopol in 1854 and 1855 the Russians scuttled eight major war ships to protect the harbour.  Nearly 700 ships cannons from these warships were removed and became additional artillery located in defensive redoubts around Sevastopol. The ships were Grand Duke ConstantineCity of Paris (both with 120 guns),  BraveEmpress MariaChesmeYagondeid (84 guns), Kavarna (60 guns) and Konlephy (54 guns).[2]

In early 1855, after a protracted siege of 11 months and series of battles, the British and French forces finally overcame the Russian defenders at Sevastopol.  The outcome of this battle contributed substantially to the Russians ultimate defeat in the Crimean War.   Over 4,000 artillery pieces and 50,000 cannon projectiles were surrendered to the to the French and English armies on the fall of Sevastopol. 

The treaty ending the war on 15 November 1855, addressed the distribution of the captured artillery trophies.  In 1856 a number of the guns were returned to England where Queen Victoria viewed them at the Woolwich Arsenal.  The guns, serving as trophies showing Great Britain’s military victory were distributed throughout the British Commonwealth.  Later that same year, 20 of the guns were offered to Canada.  The guns were shipped to Montreal aboard the bark Panthea, arriving on 16 September 1857.  After being placed in Montreal’s historic parade grounds, the Champ de Mars, for public viewing, the guns were distributed to various Canadian cities in 1860.  Two of these trophies were sent to Quebec, and now sit on the Dufferin Terrace, mounted on British carriages by Chateau Frontenac.[3]  The City of Kingston received two of these guns.[4]

In 1942, a letter was sent by the Department of Munitions and Supply requesting that “every available piece of scrap metal” in Canada was to be salvaged and made available to the Department in an effort to keep war industries operating at peak production.  The letter specifically requested the donation of the German Great War trophies on display in town squares, parks and public places.  Since the letter from the Department only mentioned war trophies of the Great War vintage, only those guns and not the older ones like the Crimean War cannon were needed.[5] 

There are 18 Russian iron guns from the Crimean War presently known to be on display in Canada.  These guns have unique weights and numbers stamped on them.  The unit of weight of the gun’s design all up weight is the Russian pood, which is about 36 lbs. (To gunners, the ‘gun’ is the barrel, not the carriage).  This measurement is shown stamped on the gun as a “P”, which is actually the Cyrillic/Greek letter for ‘pi’.  The unit of weight of Russian shot is based on the English pound which stems from the era of Western influence on the Russian court, when the Czar’s army strove to get their artillery up to standard.  The P is followed by a squiggle-shaped mark which is a stylised lb symbol.

The Russian guns were cast in chronological order, with the earliest known stamp dating from 1807 found on a mortar (Serial No. 551), in Dublin, Ireland.  The Alexandrovski factory where the gun was made is abbreviated to ALXDVK in Latin or Cyrillic letters.  Alexandrovski guns may also be stamped “Závod” or ZAV or ZVD in Latin or “3aB” in Cyrillic letters.  The designer, Nachimatel, abbreviated “nach” (which appears to look like “HaY” in Cyrillic) is also shown, and for two of the guns in Kingston, Ontario, Foullon is marked on them with a Russian ? (F), similar to the Greek phi, familiar to classic scholars and mathematicians. 

The designer of the Russian guns was named Armstrong, not the British gun maker most well known to historians of Artillery, but an early Scottish gun specialist found at the Tsar’s court.  The last figure stamped on the gun is the letter “G” which stands for the Russian word “god”, meaning “year”.[6]

Russian Guns from the Crimean War on display in Canada

Brantford, Ontario

Russian SBML probable 24-pounder (TBC) Gun by Foullon with double-headed Eagle, mounted on a naval wooden wheeled carriage.  (Serial No. 22506) on trunnion, Cyrillic AKCHD ZBD (AKSND ZVD).[7]  There appears to be shot damage on the side of the gun and a chip is missing from the lip of the muzzle with additional damage on the barrel.  This gun is reported to have brought to Canada by the British 7th Fusiliers as war booty.  This unit was stationed in Brantford Ontario in 1863 and when the regiment returned to Britain after the end of the American Civil War they gifted the gun to the City.  This gun is in Alexandra Park.

Cambridge Galt, Ontario

Russian SBML probable 24-pounder (TBC) Gun by Butyenev, with double-headed Eagle, (Serial No. 29619), 24.  Captured by the British on 10 September 1855, given to Galt in 1863.  This gun stands in Queen’s Square.

Fort Erie, Ontario

Russian SBML 36-pounder Gun, by Armstrong at Alexandrovski, with double-headed Eagle.  This gun stands at the front gate of Fort Erie.

Hamilton, Ontario

Russian SBML 36-pounder Gun, by Armstrong at Alexandrovski, with double-headed Eagle.  6.75-inch gun, stamped Armstrong 1837 J68 ½, (Serial No. 25457).  Captured at Sevastopol in 1855, given to Hamilton by Queen Victoria in 1860.  The Hamilton and District Officers’ Institute mounted the gun as a centennial project in 1967.

Kingston, Ontario

Russian SBML 36-pounder Gun, probably forged by Foullon at Alexandrovski, with double-headed Eagle, 6.75 calibre, 8 feet 4-inches long, 1823.  This gun stands on the North side of the Sir John A MacDonald statue, King and West Street Park.[8]

Russian SBML 36-pounder Gun, probably by Foullon at Alexandrovski, with double-headed Eagle.  6.75 calibre, 8 feet 4-inches long, 1826.  This gun stands on the South side of the Sir John A. MacDonald statue, King and West Street Park.

London, Ontario

Russian SBML 24-pounder Gun by Armstrong at Alexandrovski, with double-headed Eagle, MA, damaged on muzzle.  This gun stands beside the Boer War Memorial in Victoria Park.

Russian SBML 24-pounder Gun by Armstrong at Alexandrovski, with double-headed Eagle, MA, damaged on the right side at the end of the breech.  This gun stands beside the Boer War Memorial in Victoria Park.  Both guns are mounted on brick stands.

Stratford, Ontario

Russian Millar pattern SBML 24-pounder Gun by Armstrong at Alexandrovski, with double-headed Eagle, stamped 1845, MA on breech, tv, ck.    The swell on the muzzle is broken.  This gun stands beside the War Memorial.

Queen’s Park Legislature, Toronto, Ontario

Russian SBML, 68-pounder, 8-inch Gun, stamped 1840, (Serial No. 27054), captured at Sebastopol.  This gun is mounted on a concrete stand marked “Presented by Queen Victoria to the Citizens of Toronto A.D. MDCCCLIX” (1859), southwest of the building entrance to the Queen’s Park Legislature.

Russian SBML 68-pounder, 8-inch Gun, stamped 1840, (Serial No. 29769), captured at Sebastopol.  This gun is also mounted on a concrete stand marked “Presented by Queen Victoria to the Citizens of Toronto A.D. MDCCCLIX” (1859), southeast of the building entrance to the Queen’s Park Legislature.

Windsor, Ontario

Russian SBML 24-pounder probable Carronade by Armstrong at Alexandrovski, with double-headed Eagle, mounted on a concrete stand marked “SEBASTOPOL” 1855.  This gun is on display in Assumption Park on the riverfront. 

Isle St Helene, Montreal

Russian SBML probable 24-pounder Gun by Foullon at Alexandrovski, with double-headed Eagle.

Place du Canada, Montréal

Russian SBML probable 24-pounder Gun by Foullon at Alexandrovski, with double-headed Eagle.  Removed from Place du Canada, possibly in storage for preservation (TBC).

Russian SBML probable 24-pounder Gun by Foullon at Alexandrovski, with double-headed Eagle.  Removed from Place du Canada, possibly in storage for preservation (TBC).

Quebec City, Quebec

Russian SBML 24-pounder probable Carronade by Gascoigne at Alexandrovski, with double-headed Eagle, and stamped trunnions.  This gun is on display on the Promenade in front of Chateau Frontenac.

Russian SBML 24-pounder probable Carronade by Gascoigne at Alexandrovski, with double-headed Eagle, and stamped trunnions.  This gun is also on display on the Promenade in front of Chateau Frontenac.

These two Russian 24-pounder SBML guns stand near the Champlain Monument, adjacent to the Chateau Frontenac.  The guns were reported to have been captured at Sevastopol, Russia, during the Crimean War. Both these guns were manufactured at a foundry in Scotland, the Carron Iron Works in 1799.  Both bear the crest of Imperial Russia.   Between 1784 and 1786, Carron shipped 527 guns to Russia, along with plans, patterns and instructions for their use.  The trunnions indicate that both were manufactured by a Scottish representative named Gascoigne. One gun’s Russian trunnion inscription reads “Russian Cannon #6431 Alexandrovsky Foundry, D. Gaskoin.”  The gun appears to have been intended for shipboard use since the trunnion is also marked “frigate.”  The second piece is marked “#7372” and also “D. Gaskoin.”  The calibre of both guns is noted on the trunnions as being guns of 24 “funt,” or basically a 24-pounder since a Russian funt is roughly the equivalent of an English pound.  The weights are also inscribed on the guns, on the trunnion of one gun and on the breech of the other.  In the case where the inscription is most legible, on the breech of the second gun, the weight is noted as 51 Russian “pood” (designated by the Greek letter “Pi”) or basically 1,840 pounds, since a “pood” is generally equal to 35 funt or just over 36 pounds.  The Gascoigne guns which eventually found their way to Quebec may have been used against the armies of Napoleon during his unsuccessful 1812 invasion of Russia. Later, the guns were placed in the immense fortifications of the deep port of Sevastopol on the Black Sea’s Crimean peninsula.  The guns were just over 50 years old when the Crimean War began.[9]

Trois-Rivières, Quebec

Russian SBML probable 24-pounder Gun by Foullon at Alexandrovski, with double-headed Eagle, dated 1828, (Serial No. N-21144).  mounted on a wooden box, Place d’Armes.  The gun mounted on a wooden box and is on display at Place d’Armes.

[1] Wesley K. Wark, Internet:

[2] Internet:

[3] Patrick McSherry, Article, Two Russian 24 Pdrs. Watch The St. Lawrence River in Quebec, The Artilleryman, Fall 2003 – Vol 24, No. 4.

[4] Ron Ridley, Curator, Fort Henry National Historic Site of Canada, St. Lawrence Parks Commission, Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Major Colin Robins, OBE, FRHistS.

[5] Internet,

[6] Major Colin Robins OBE FRHistS, Editor Emeritus, The War Correspondent, Journal of the Crimean War Research Society, e-mail to Author 8 Jan 2013.

[7] Major Colin Robins, e-mail to Author, 8 Jan 2013.

[8] Iron guns and Brass cannon captured at the great Russian Naval base of Sevastopol  in the Crimea were offered for display in towns and cities throughout the UK and the British Empire.  The City of Kingston received two of these guns.  Ron Ridley, Curator, Fort Henry National Historic Site of Canada, St. Lawrence Parks Commission, Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Major Colin Robins, OBE, FRHistS.

[9] Patrick McSherry, Article, Two Russian 24 Pdrs. Watch The St. Lawrence River in Quebec, The Artilleryman, Fall 2003 – Vol 24, No. 4.

The Fenian Raids (1866 - 1871)

Fenian Trophy Guns in Canada

Between 1866 and 1871, the Fenian raids of the Fenian Brotherhood, who were based in the United States, on British army forts, customs posts and other targets in Canada, were fought to bring pressure on Britain to withdraw from Ireland.  They divided many Catholic Irish-Canadians, many of whom were torn between loyalty to their new home and sympathy for the aims of the Fenians.  The Protestant Irish were generally loyal to Britain and fought with the Orange Order against the Fenians.  While the U.S. authorities arrested the men and confiscated their arms afterwards, there is speculation that many in the U.S. government had turned a blind eye to the preparations for the invasion, angered at actions that could be construed as British assistance to the Confederacy during the American Civil War.

There were five Fenian raids of note.  The Raid at Campobello Island, New Brunswick in April 1866, involved a 700-man Fenian force which was dispersed by a Royal Navy show of force.  The Niagara Raid which included the Battles of Ridgeway and Fort Erie in 1866.  The inexperienced Canadian militia was defeated by the experienced Fenian Civil War veterans.  The Pigeon Hill Raid on 7- 8 June 1866 ended with the surrender of a 1,000-man Fenian force.  The Mississquoi County Raid in 1870 was turned back by Canadian forces.  The Pembina Raid of 1871 failed when Fenians captured trading posts thought to be inside Manitoba, but which actually were inside US territory.

Support for the Fenian Brotherhood's invasion of Canada fell and there was no real threat of any more raids after the 1890s. The raids, however, did have many lasting effects on Canadians.  The raids caused a marked anti-American feeling in Canada and the Maritimes due to the handling of the Fenians by the American government when the Fenians were in preparation for the raids.  The Fenian Raids helped to create feeling of nationalism in British North America in the 1860s, which in turn helped confederation.[1]

The Battle of Eccles Hill was part of a raid into Canadian territory from the United States led by John O'Neill and Samuel Spiers of the Fenian Brotherhood.  The army of the Fenian Brotherhood was defeated by local militia units based in Huntingdon on 25 May 1870.

On May 25 approximately 600 Fenians, under the command of General John O'Neill, left Franklin, Vermont, and reached Eccles Hill, Quebec, just north of the Canadian border.  Their objective was to orchestrate a second invasion of the Montreal region (a similar expedition under Spiers had met with defeat near the same site at the Battle of Pigeon Hill of 1866).  Although O'Neill was arrested at the border crossing by an American police patrol, Spiers and the main body of Fenians slipped across the border intact and entered the province of Quebec. 

Partisans and government scouts spotted the invaders almost immediately.  The 60th Canadian Battalion and approximately 75 farmers in the area, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Brown Chamberlin, were waiting for them and were soon joined by some 400 volunteer militiamen under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel William Osborne Smith.[2]  This militia force included Queen Victoria's son and a future Governor General of Canada, Prince Arthur.

Lieutenant-Colonel Smith led his battalion of volunteer cavalry against the Fenian positions.  The Fenians had a cannon, but when the Canadian volunteers charged them they took flight and left it in the field along with other equipment (the gun is preserved at the site).  No Canadians were hurt, whereas there were five Fenians killed and 18 wounded.  The Canadians sustained no casualties during the engagement because of information supplied by Thomas Billis Beach, a double agent working against the Fenians from within their own organization.  The site of the battle was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1923.[3]

Following the Fenian Raid of 1866 a well-to-do farmer named Asa Westover, called a meeting of his immediate neighbours and they agreed to form a Home Guard Unit (The Red Sashes).  Asa Westover and James G. Pell , both excellent marksmen, were authorized to purchase arms for the Home Guard, and traveled to Massachusetts to visit various arms makers.  They ended up purchasing 40 Ballard Rifles (very accurate with a long range for the time), which were used against a force of 400 Fenians on at the Battle of Eccles Hill.[4]  The Red Sashes appear in a photo taken close to the time of the event with the unidentified breechloading field gun they captured that was likely used in the American Civil War.

[1] Internet:

[2] Internet: Internet:

[4] Internet:

Canadian Artillery, Post 1867 Confederation

After Confederation in 1867, the Dominion Parliament moved quickly to improve Canada’s organization for defence.  A Militia Bill, passed in 1868, authorized an Active Militia strength of 40,000 men.  Essentially, the terms of the bill extended the militia system then in effect in Ontario and Québec to the two new provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.  By 1870 there were 10 field batteries and some 30 batteries of garrison artillery.  In Britain, the pressure to make self-governing colonies responsible for their own defence was particularly high, and, in 1871, all the British troops in Canada, with the exception of the Halifax and Esquimalt garrisons, were withdrawn.[1]

The permanent element of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery originated on 20 October 1871 with the formation of A and B Batteries of Garrison Artillery in Kingston and Québec City respectively.  These two batteries represent the creation of Canada’s Permanent (Regular Force) Army.  These batteries also functioned in the early years as Schools of Gunnery.  The schools soon provided the Militia artillery with a leaven of well-trained NCOs and gunners. [2]

The North West Rebellion

Canadian Gunners made a name for themselves from their very beginning.  The first action by the Permanent Force batteries was during the North West Rebellion of 1885.  In addition to A and B Batteries, many Militia artillery units participated in this action.  The Winnipeg Field Battery, later designated the 13th Winnipeg Field Battery, supplied two RML 9-pounder 8-cwt Guns, and 49 officers and men.  Four hundred members of the Montréal Brigade of Garrison Artillery took up positions in Regina, and representatives of the Ottawa Field and the Québec and Maritime Garrison units were actively employed.

 On 27 March 1885, A and B Batteries received orders to proceed west on active service.  Under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel C.E.  Montizambert, the two batteries left Renfrew, Ontario by rail for Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan.  On reaching Qu’Appelle, the two batteries split.  A Battery, with two 9-pounder RML Field Guns and a Gatling machine-gun, under the command of Capt C.W.  Drury, went north to join Sir Frederick Middleton‘s column.  B Battery, with two NWMP SBML 7-pounder Gun and a Gatling machine-gun, under the command of Major C.J.  Short, went west to Swift Current to join Lieutenant-Colonel William D.  Otter‘s force.  B Battery would soon regret having traded in their 9-pounder RMLs for the 7-pounders.  They had done so believing that the lighter 7-pounders would be easier to transport.  Unfortunately, the light gun carriages tended to collapse when the guns were fired.

  Battery was the first to see action at Fish Creek on 24 April, firing over the heads of the infantry, while elements of the battery fought with distinction in an infantry role.  The battery suffered casualties of 3 killed and 12 wounded in its first action.  A Battery would go on to fight in the battle at Batoche.  B Battery fought its first battle at Cut Knife Hill on 2 May.  Successfully beating off determined attacks against its gun positions, the battery had casualties of 4 wounded.  During the encounter, one of the 7-pounders was out of action with a collapsed trail after its first shot.  Brevet-Captain (later Major-General) Rutherford rigged the second carriage with rope and a prayer in an effort to prevent this, but the cannon had to be lifted back onto its frail carriage after each firing.  The Battle of Cut Knife Hill marked the first use of the machine-gun by Canadian soldiers and the last time in Canadian history that bows and arrows, with which some of the younger braves were armed, were employed in battle. [3]

RML 9-pounder 8-cwt Gun

The Rifled Muzzle Loaded (RML) 9-pounder 8-cwt Gun was developed by a British officer, William Palliser.  With a range of 3,300 metres, this Gun threw a shell fitted with studs that held and slid along the grooves in the gun’s bore.

The 9-pounder was the first Gun used by the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery in action.  “A” Battery employed six of this type of gun at the battles of Fish Creek and Batoche during the Riel Rebellion, 1885 in the North West Campaign.  The 9-pounder arrived in 1873 and within the decade, it was being used extensively throughout the Regiment.

In the autumn of 1873, Lieutenant-Colonel (later Major-General Sir) George A.  French, the first Commandant of A Battery Garrison Artillery, was appointed as the first Commissioner of the North West Mounted Police.  Together with 32 Gunners of A and B Batteries, he formed the nucleus of the new police force.

In February 1874, North West Mounted Police Commissioner George French travelled from Lower Fort Garry to Ontario to meet with the Governor General, Lord Dufferin.  Responding immediately to French’s concerns about the possible outbreak of armed conflict at Fort Whoop-Up, Lord Dufferin cabled England for two 16 pound mortars and two 9-pounder 8-cwt Guns.  These guns would be manned by members of the North West Mounted Police.  (RCAM)

In 1879, there were sixteen artillery batteries in Canada.  Up to 1871, with one exception, these batteries had been armed with SBML Brass field pieces including three guns and one howitzer to each battery.  From that time forward, all batteries were armed with the RML 9-pounder 8-cwt Gun with “modern wrought iron carriages with Madras Wheels from the Woolwich Royal Gun and carriage factories.”  At this time there were 60 RML 9-pounder 8-cwt Guns in service with the Canadian Militia.[4]

RML 9-pounder 8-cwt Guns were used by Canadian gunners for over 25 years.  There are at least 35 RML 9-pounder 8-cwt Guns on display in Canada.  One is on display in a Museum at North Battleford, Saskatchewan; another with its Limber is on display in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Museum, Regina, Saskatchewan.  The Royal Canadian Artillery Museum, CFB Shilo, Manitoba has two, and 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, also at CFB Shilo has one.  One is on display at Fort Henry, Kingston, Ontario, and one that was preserved at the Turner Residence in Kingston is now with the Canadian War Museum, bringing its collection to three.  One is preserved in the town of Omemee, Ontario.  The 30th Field Artillery Museum in Ottawa presents its RML 9-pounder 8-cwt Gun for salutes and Fortissimo ceremonies.

One RML 9-pounder 8-cwt Gun is located in the foyer of the Regimental Headquarters, 2nd Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, CFB Petawawa, Ontario, with a plaque that reads, “Carriage Field, RML 9 pdr Mk II, rebuilt at 209 Workshop, RCEME Camp Petawawa, 1955, Armament Section, S/Sgt J.P.  Farmer, Cpl D.R.  White, L/Cpl W.H.  Martin, CFN E.T.  Howard, CFN J.D.  Allen, Mr W.F.  Kuehl; Carpenter Shop, Mr A.L.E.  Behnke, Mr R.  Gerundin, Mr A.G.  Hampel; Machine Shop, Mr J.  Higgins, Mr J.  Bell, Mr G.C.  Mathias, CFN R.P.  Doran, CFN F.R.  Granger, CFN M.C.  Lewis; Blacksmith Shop, Mr E.C.  Pitzner, Mr C.A.  Stencell; Wheel Wright, Mr B.  Risto, Golden Lake, Ontario.

One RML 9-pounder 8-cwt Gun is on display outdoors on the waterfront at Fort Hughes, Sir Douglas Hazen Park, Oromocto, New Brunswick, with a plaque that states, “9-pounder Rifled muzzle-loading issued to A & B Batteries Garrison Artillery, Kingston, Ontario, January 1873.  Service in (the) North West Rebellion, March – July 1885, Detachment Sgt No 1, Cpl No. 2 Firer, L/Cpl No. 3 Loader, Pte No. 4 Gunner & Range Setter, Pte No. 5 Horse Holder, 3 Teams of 2 Horses, presented to the City of Oromocto by B Battery, 2 RCHA, CFB Gagetown, 15 Aug 1970.” A fourth gun is on display inside the New Brunswick Military History Museum, CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick.

One RML 9-pounder 8-cwt Gun is preserved with the Royal Kennebecasis Yacht Club, New Brunswick, two are on display at the Fort Anne National Historic Site, Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.

RML 9-pounder 6-cwt Gun

In 1874 a new RML 9-pounder of 6-cwt “was designed and adopted for the sake of mobility in the Royal Horse Artillery.”  The chief difference from the 8-cwt version was in the gun’s weight and dimensions.  Both guns fit the same carriage, had the same venting and the same rifling and took the same ammunition.  The 6-cwt gun was longer than the 8-cwt and with the same charge gave a slightly higher muzzle velocity.  The weight reduction amounted to a cut of one-fourth of the weight of the 8-cwt without any loss of power.  The method of sighting was the same in both guns, but the tangent sights were not interchangeable, as there is a difference in the radius to which the sight bars were graduated.[5]  One RML 9-pounder 6-cwt Gun is on display in the Royal Artillery Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Gatling Gun

The Gatling gun is one of the best known early rapid-fire weapons and a forerunner of the modern machine-gun.  It is well known for its use by the Union forces during the American Civil War in the 1860s, which was the first time it was employed in combat.  The Gatling gun was designed by the American inventor Dr.  Richard J.  Gatling in 1861 and patented in 1862.  Gatling wrote that he created it to reduce the size of armies and so reduce the number of deaths by combat and disease, and to show how futile war is.

The Gatling gun’s operation centered on a cyclic multi-barrel design which facilitated cooling and synchronized the firing/reloading sequence.  Each barrel fired a single shot when it reached a certain point in the cycle, after which it ejected the spent cartridge, loaded a new round, and in the process, cooled down somewhat.  This configuration allowed higher rates of fire to be achieved without the barrel overheating.[6]

Although the first Gatling gun was capable of firing continuously, it required a person to crank it; therefore it was not a true automatic weapon.  The 7.92-mm Maxim Machine-gun, invented in 1884, was the first true fully automatic weapon, making use of the fired projectile’s recoil force to reload the weapon.  Nonetheless, the Gatling gun represented a huge leap in firearm technology.  Prior to the Gatling gun, the only rapid-fire firearms available to militaries were mass-firing volley weapons as the French Reffye mitrailleuse in 1870–1871 or grapeshot as fired from field cannons, similarly to a very large shotgun.  The latter were widely used during and after the Napoleonic Wars.[7]

One Gatling Gun is on display at Fort Battleford National Historic Site, North Battleford.  One is on display in the Canadian War Museum and another is on display in the Army Museum, Fort George, Halifax Citadel.

An 1883 model Gatling gun was mounted on the Bayfield II, a government survey ship transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy for East Coast patrol duties during the First World War.  The Canadian War Museum gun was found in 1933 at the government Naval yard in Sorel, Québec, equipped with a wooden magazine used for training.  It is one of three purchased in the aftermath of the 1885 Rebellion and later transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy.[8]

Nordenfelt Gun

The Nordenfelt Gun was a multiple barrel machine-gun that had a row of up to twelve barrels.  It was fired by pulling a lever back and forth.  It was produced in a number of different-inches from rifle up to 25-mm (1-inch).  Larger-inches were also used, but for these-inches the design simply permitted rapid manual loading rather than true automatic fire.[9]

The weapon was designed by a Swedish engineer, Helge Palmcrantz.  He created a mechanism to load and fire a multiple barreled gun by simply moving a single lever backwards and forwards.  It was patented in 1873.  Production of the weapon was funded by a Swedish steel producer and banker (later weapons maker) named Thorsten Nordenfelt, who was working in London.  The name of the weapon was changed to the Nordenfelt gun.  A plant producing the weapon was set up in England, with sales offices in London, and long demonstrations were conducted at several exhibitions.  The weapon was adopted by the British Royal Navy, as an addition to their Gatling and Gardner guns.

With the development of the Maxim gun the weapon was eventually outclassed.  Nordenfelt merged in 1888 with the Maxim Gun Company to become Maxim Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Company Limited.[10]  A Nordenfelt Gun is on display in the Army Museum, Fort George, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Maxim Gun

The Maxim gun was the first self-powered machine-gun, invented by the American-born British inventor Sir Hiram Maxim in 1884.  It has been called “the weapon most associated with British imperial conquest”.  The mechanism of the Maxim gun used the energy from the recoil to eject each spent cartridge and insert the next one.   This made it vastly more efficient and less labour intensive than previous rapid-firing guns, such as the Gatling, Gardner, or Nordenfelt guns, which relied on actual mechanical cranking.[11]

Trials demonstrated the Maxim could fire 600 rounds per minute, equivalent to the firepower of about 30 contemporary breech-loading bolt-action rifles.  Compared to modern machine-guns, the Maxim was heavy, bulky, and awkward.  Although a lone soldier could fire the weapon, it was usually operated by a team of men.  Apart from the gunner other crewmen were needed to speed reloading, spot targets, and carry and ready ammunition and water.  Several men were needed to move the weapon.

A larger-inch version of the Maxim, firing a one-pound shell, was built by Maxim-Nordenfelt.  By the time of the First World War, many armies had moved on to improved machine-guns.  The British Vickers machine-gun was an improved and redesigned Maxim, introduced into the British Army in 1912 and remaining in service until 1968.[12]

The Fort Henry Museum, Kingston, has two versions, one is a QF 1¼-pounder pom-pom Mk. 1, V.S.M. (Vickers, Sons & Maxim LL) Automatic Gun mounted on a field carriage, the second is a QF 1-pounder V.S.M. 1904 Automatic Gun on a Naval deck mount.  One mounted on a wheeled carriage is on display in the Québec Citadel.

1-pounder pom-pom

The QF 1-pounder pom-pom Mk. 1, V.S.M. (Vickers, Sons & Maxim LL) Automatic Gun, universally known as the pom-pom, was an early 37-mm British autocannon.  It was used by several countries initially as an infantry gun and later as a light AA Gun.  The name comes from the sound it makes when firing.

Hiram Maxim originally designed the pom-pom in the late 1880s as an enlarged version of the Maxim machine-gun.  Its longer range necessitated exploding projectiles to judge range, which in turn dictated a shell weight of at least 400 grams (0.88 lb), as that was the lightest exploding shell allowed under the St. Petersburg Declaration of 1868 and reaffirmed in the Hague Convention of 1899.

Early versions were sold under the Maxim-Nordenfelt label, whereas versions in British service (i.e.  From 1900) were labelled Vickers, Sons and Maxim (VSM) as Vickers had bought out Maxim-Nordenfelt in 1897.  They are all effectively the same gun.

In the First World War, it was used as an early Anti-Aircraft gun in the home defence of Britain.  It was adapted as the Mk I and Mk II on high-angle pedestal mountings and deployed along London docks and on rooftops on key buildings in London, others on mobile motor lorries at key towns in the East and Southeast of England.[13]

One QF 1-pounder is on display at the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum, CFB Shilo, Manitoba, an 1890 QF 1-pounder pom-pom Mk. III, V.S.M. (Vickers, Sons & Maxim LL) Automatic Gun, CGS version is on display in the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa.

2-pounder pom-pom

The QF 2-pounder pom-pom Mk. 1, V.S.M. (Vickers, Sons & Maxim LL) Automatic Gun, officially designated the QF 2-pounder  (QF denoting “quick firing”) and universally known as the pom-pom, was a 1.575 inch (40-mm) British autocannon, used famously as an Anti-Aircraft gun by the Royal Navy.  The name came from the sound that the original models make when firing.  Although these were 2-pounder Guns, in that they fired a projectile with a weight of 2 pounds, they were not the same gun as that used by the British Army as an anti-tank weapon or to equip British tanks and certain armoured cars.[14]

One of these guns is on display in the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa.

Artillery Innovations

During the 19th century the artillery piece underwent developments comparable to those of the rifle.  At the beginning of the century, the classic Brass, SBML Gun fired bullets or round shells at a distance varying from 450 to 750 metres, depending on the-inch.  At that time,-inch was expressed by projectile weight, and the most common guns were the 3, 4, 6, 9, 19, 24, 32, and 42-pounders.  Their accuracy left much to be desired, since each shot would send the gun recoiling back a metre or two and sometimes more, depending on ground conditions, which meant the gunners had to put it back in position and re-aim.  This operation negatively affected the rate of fire, as did the necessity of cleaning the powder and priming fuze residues in the barrel with a brush after each shot.

Just as with the rifle, the development of the rifled breech-loading gun in the 1850s marked the start of a series of technological innovations.  The Brass gun gave way to the iron one, and the bullet yielded to the cylindro-ogival shell; new chemical products made it possible for the explosive charge to ignite after percussion; the invention of cartridge ammunition - a single piece containing the shell, thruster, cartridge and primer - increased the firing rate; the invention of cordite produced a greatly improved range; and the appearance of the hydraulic and then the hydropneumatic brake appreciably reduced the recoil effect.  The same period saw significant improvement in ammunition: a considerable increase in shell weight, which enhanced the destructive effect, and the introduction of new types of projectiles like the segment shell, the common or explosive shell, the canister shell and the armour piercing shell.

Until the end of the 19th century, however, Field Guns were still fired “by sight.” They therefore had to be deployed on cleared ground, usually in front of the infantry.  Yet the more powerful rifles now made Field Guns and gunners increasingly vulnerable.  In the Boer War it was noted that sight firing had become almost suicidal, and this resulted in the development of indirect or concealed fire.  To hit a concealed target, the gunner aimed his gun according to instructions provided by an observer located far away but with a clear view of the target.[15]

Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1883

On 10 August 1883, with the authorization of C Battery, the Regiment of Canadian Artillery came into being.  The battery was manned in Victoria in 1887.  The men of C Battery are believed to be the first troops to complete the trans-Canada crossing on the Canadian Pacific Railway.  On 24 May 1893, the regiment was granted the distinction “Royal” and a few months later was reorganized into two batteries of Royal Canadian Field Artillery and two companies of Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery.  With this change, C Battery became temporarily dormant, its personnel forming the nucleus of one of the garrison artillery companies.  The Non-Permanent Active Militia (NPAM) component of the Royal Regiment was granted the prefix “Royal” in 1935.[16]

The Yukon Field Force 1898 – 1899

The discovery of gold in the Yukon in 1896 had generated a rush of miners and speculators.  In 1898, in order to support the NWMP in maintaining law and order, an Order-in-Council authorized the formation of the Yukon Field Force.  The 203-man force was mainly constituted of 133 soldiers from The Royal Regiment of Canadian Infantry and 46 Gunners of the Royal Canadian Artillery (14 from Kingston and 32 from Québec).  After tremendous difficulties, the Force finally reached their two main destinations, Fort Selkirk and Dawson City, in September and October respectively.  The Force, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel T.D.B.  Evans, carried out garrison duties and other tasks normally done by police and customs officers.[17]

Second Boer War, 1899-1902, Royal Canadian Field Artillery

The Second Boer War, also known as the South African War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic (Transvaal Republic) and the Orange Free State.  It ended with a British victory and the annexation of both republics by the British Empire.  Both would eventually be incorporated into the Union of South Africa, a dominion of the British Empire, in 1910.  The conflict is also known as the Anglo-Boer War (the word for farmer in Afrikaans is “boer”, hence the name of the war). 

On the outbreak of the war, Britain called on all of the Empire’s dominions which included Canada, to send troops to support the mission. Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier authorised a 1,000-man battalion of volunteers comprised of eight companies of 125 men each to be deployed to South Africa.  The unit was designated the 2nd Special Service Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Otter.  The first Canadian contingent departed Quebec City on 30 October 1899 and arrived at Cape Town on 29 November.  A second Canadian contingent designated the Lord Strathcona’s Horse, left Halifax on 17 March 1900 and arrived in South Africa in mid April.  Eventually more than 7,368 Canadian volunteers and 12 nursing sisters served in South Africa, marking the first official dispatch of formed Canadian troops to an overseas war.  Of the Canadians who served in the war, 267 were killed.

The Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry (RCRI) soldiers were armed with the Lee-Enfield .303 Mark I rifle.  Officers were armed with the Colt .455 New Service Model Revolver carried in a Canadian-made leather holster suspended from an Oliver pattern equipment waist belt.  The RCRI took two .303 calibre Maxim guns to South Africa.  These guns were equipped with an armour shield to protect the gunners and were mounted on lightweight Dundonald Galloping Carriages with a steel frame and trail and large wheels.  The guns were pulled by four horses and were attached to an ammunition limber.  These guns were supplemented or replaced by the Colt Model 1895 machine-gun which was considerably lighter and could be moved with one horse.  The 12-pounder breech-loading Field Gun was the main Canadian field gun of the war, with a range of 4.5-km.

Canada sent three artillery batteries to South Africa, designated C, D, and E (A and B batteries remained in Canada).   C and D Batteries’ militia gunners came from units in Ontario, and also from Winnipeg; E Battery’s gunners came from units in Québec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.  With a total of 78 guns on the battlefield, the Royal Canadian Artillery fired 36,161 shells during the war.[18] 

The three batteries saw a great deal of action during the war, and one section of D Battery particularly distinguished itself at the Battle of Leliefontein.[19]  D Battery joined Lord Roberts’ main army in operations on the east Transvaal.  It was at Leliefontein that a historic and successful rear-guard action was fought by a handful of Royal Canadian Dragoons and the left section of D Battery (the Gunners under the command of Lieutenant (later Major-General) E.W.B.  Morrison of the 2nd Ottawa Field Battery).  They defended against an attack by some 200 Boers who had charged to within 70 metres of their position.  Three of the Dragoons were awarded the Victoria Cross for this action.  Lieutenant Morrison was awarded the DSO.  The 12-pounder (Serial No. 5) gun used by D Battery, RCFA at Leliefontein is on display in the Canadian War Museum.[20]

Boer War Trophies

The Boer Commandos were extensively equipped with the Mauser rifle, which was developed in 1888 and refined in 1898, the Martini-Henry rifle and the Danish Krag-Jorgenson rifle, along with a variety of personal hunting rifles and shotguns.  Many Boers also used captured British weapons.  The Mauser used slightly heavier 7.92-mm bullets and fast-moving (777 m/s compared to 607 m/s) than the .303 Lee-Metford and Lee-Enfield rifles used by Commonwealth soldiers, with a subsequent increase in the potential severity of wounds inflicted.   Additionally, the Mauser had more slightly elaborate sights; graded out to 2000 metres compared to the 1829 metres of the Lee-Metford, this meant that the Mauser was more likely to perform better at long-range shooting than the Lee-Metford.  The German Mauser Model 1896 self-indexing automatic pistol, also known as the “Broomhandle” was used extensively by combatants on both sides during the war.[21]

The Boers used the QF 1-pounder pom-pom Mk. 1, V.S.M. (Vickers, Sons & Maxim LL) Automatic Gun as light artillery which could keep up a continuous rate of fire with devastating effect.  Boer artillery primarily consisted of guns imported from the arms factories of Krupp and Creusot including 75-mm field guns which outranged British Armstrong guns by a significant margin.  The Boers were also equipped with several 115-mm Creusot field guns which fired 88-pound high explosive shells.  The guns were nicknamed “Long Toms” and had an effective range of over eleven kilometres. [22]

Five trophy guns from the Boer War were allotted to Canada in 1904.

75-mm Krupp BL, (Serial No. 3) mounted on a carriage with limber, issued to the Minister of Militia and Defence, Ottawa, on 17 Sep 1904.  This Boer War Trophy is marked 1888, stamped 1892, and is on display in the Canadian War Museum.

65-mm Krupp BL, (Serial No. 3), mounted on a carriage, issued to the Minister of Militia and Defence, Ottawa, on 17 Sep 1904.  This gun may be the probable 65-mm Broadwell Rifled Breech Loading Mountain Gun, Model 1873, mounted on an 1890 Nordenfelt 3-pounder Carriage on display at Fort Frontenac, Kingston, Ontario.

37-mm Single Load QF (Krupp or Gruson) Gun, (Serial No. 41001), mounted on a carriage, issued to the Minister of Militia and Defence, Ottawa, on 17 Sep 1904.  The location of this gun is unknown.

RML 9-pounder Armstrong Gun, (Serial No. 2540), mounted on a carriage, issued to the Minister of Militia and Defence, Ottawa, on 17 Sep 1904.  The 9-pounder barrel is missing; the gun carriage is in the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa.

28-pound Maxim Gun (Extra Light), mounted on a carriage, issued to the Minister of Militia and Defence, Ottawa, on 17 Sep 1904. 

This gun that is on display in Fort Frontenac, Kingston, Ontario has been difficult to identify with absolute certainty, but it may have been a war trophy allocated to Canada after the Boer War ended.  It is a 65-mm Broadwell Rifled Breech Loading Mountain Gun, Model 1873, mounted on an 1890 Nordenfelt 3-pounder Carriage.  This artillery piece was known locally as “the Kirby Gun” because it was presented to Brigadier-General “Kip” C de L Kirby in 1979 when he was the Commandant of the Canadian Land Forces Command and Staff College at Fort Frontenac, Kingston (1977-1979).[23]

Post Boer War

Ordnance RBL 12-pounder 6-cwt Field Gun

From 1897 the 9-pounder Gun began to be supplanted by a new artillery piece, the Ordnance BL 12-pounder 6-cwt Field Gun, which was a lighter version of the British 12-pounder 7-cwt gun, used by the Royal Horse Artillery.  The “6-cwt” referred to the weight of the gun and barrel to differentiate it from other 12-pounder Guns.  One hundredweight (cwt) is 112 pounds (51 kg), so the total weight was 672 pounds (305 kg).  Using cordite, this new gun could throw a forged steel shell a distance of 5,120 metres.  At the same time a new dual purpose fuze (air and ground burst) made it possible to explode a shell at a predetermined time or on ground impact.

During the Boer War, Canada sent three batteries to South Africa, each equipped with six of these new guns.  The gun was used by the Royal Horse Artillery, and together with the BL 15-pounder Gun, it provided the main British firepower.  Eighteen guns were also used by the Royal Canadian Artillery in this war.  A total of 78 guns fired 36,161 shells.[24]

One Ordnance BL 12-pounder 6-cwt Field Gun is on display in the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum, CFB Shilo, Manitoba.  Another BL 12-pounder 6-cwt Gun, weight 5-3-20 (664 lbs), (Serial No. 278), IV, King Edward VII cypher, mounted on a wheeled carriage, RCD 1907 is on display in front of  Stethem Hall, HQ CFB Kingston.  A third BL 12-pounder 6-cwt Field Gun is in the RCD lines, CFB Petawawa, Ontario.  A fourth is on display in Royal Artillery Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia and a fifth gun is in the New Brunswick Military History Museum, CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick.  The most famous, of course, is the Leliefontein Gun, one of two on display in the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa.

Ordnance QF 12-pounder 8-cwt Naval Landing Gun

The Ordnance QF 12 pounder 8-cwt was a Royal Navy “landing gun” intended for navy use ashore.  “8 cwt” refers to the weight of the gun and breech, approximately 8-cwt = 8 x 112 lb (51 kg) = 896 lb.  This was how the British often differentiated between guns of the same calibre or weight of shell.  This gun had a short barrel and was of relatively low power compared to the 12 pounders of 12 and 18-cwt, although it fired the same shells.[25]

At least seven of these guns survive in Canada, and may be found at HMCS Malahat, Victoria, British Columbia, 5 (BC) Field Artillery Regiment Museum, Victoria, BC, HMCS Tecumseh, Calgary, Alberta, HMCS Unicorn, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, HMCS Chippewa, Winnipeg, Manitoba, HMCS Star Hamilton, Ontario, and one is with the 62nd Field Artillery Regiment, Shawinigan, Quebec.

RML 13-pounder Field Gun

The manufacture of the 13-pounder Rifled Muzzle Loading Gun began in 1879, and the first guns were completed as breech-loaders.  Trials demonstrated that the power and accuracy of the gun was good, but breech-loading was not approved, and the remainder of the guns were completed as rifled muzzleloaders.  The gun used essentially the same basic construction as the 9-pounder, although with a significantly longer barrel, and had a steel barrel and wrought-iron jacket.  The powder chamber was larger than the bore, with a choke in the barrel just before the chamber to prevent the projectile from being rammed too far into the barrel.  The gun was center-sighted, with a dispart sight at the muzzle.  It was the last British rifled muzzleloader to enter service.

In 1883, the Inspector of Artillery, LCol Strange, recommended that 13-pounders be procured for the Canadian artillery, but apparently no action was ever taken on this.  With the completion of the British naval dockyard at Esquimalt, British Columbia, in 1893, a contingent of British Royal Marine Artillery arrived to defend the port, bringing six 13-pounders with them.  Later, when responsibility for the protection of Esquimalt naval base was turned over to Canada, the Marines departed, leaving their guns behind, and for a short time they were operated by the Regiment.[26]

The RML 13-pounder had a maximum range of 4000 yards (3.6 km).  The gun on display at Fort Rodd Hill, Colwood, BC, and another on display in Victoria with the 5 (British Columbia) Field Artillery Regiment Museum are two of only six sent to North America, all to the Victoria-Esquimalt garrison, to provide a mobile defence against enemy landing parties.  The garrison used these guns between about 1895 and 1910.

Before the First World War

1906 ended a long chapter in Canadian and British military history.  In addition to A and B Batteries, there were now five companies of Garrison Artillery in the Canadian Permanent Force.  These were formed in 1905 and 1906 to take the place of the departing British forces in the garrisons at Halifax and Esquimalt.  Many of the Gunners of the withdrawing British batteries took their leave from the Imperial Army to serve with the new Canadian units.  In 1905 there was a re-organization of the militia artillery grouping the batteries into ten brigades.

Among the most significant developments prior to the First World War from the Royal Regiment’s point of view was the acquisition of the large new training area at Petawawa.  The familiar peacetime routine of summer practice camps for the militia artillery, presided over by the regular gunners, once again became a feature of Canadian artillery training.  Petawawa gave these practices a scope never before possible.  There would soon be new QF 13 and 18-pounder Field Guns with their modern recoil and sighting systems.  Indirect fire became a regular feature of practice.[27]

Ordnance QF 13-pounder Field Gun

This quick firing (QF)[28] Field Gun was developed as a response to combat experience gained by the British in the Boer War and entered service in the UK in 1904, replacing the Ehrhard QF 15-pounder and BL 12-pounder 6-cwt Field Guns.  The 13-pounder was intended as a rapid-firing and highly-mobile yet reasonably powerful Field Gun for Royal Horse Artillery batteries attached to Cavalry divisions, which were expected to be engaged in mobile open warfare.  These guns began to enter service in Canada in 1906.

The original Mk I barrel was wire wound.  Later Mk II barrels had a tapered inner A tube which was pressed into the outer tube.  From late 1914, when the Western Front settled into trench warfare the 13-pounder was found to be too light to be truly effective against prepared defensive positions.  As a result, it was increasingly supplanted by the QF 18-pounder Field Gun.[29]

Ordnance QF 13-pounder 6-cwt AA Gun

As the First World War progressed, the increasing air activity created a requirement for a medium AA Gun.  Redundant 13-pounders were slightly modified to become “Ordnance QF 13-pounder Mk III” and mounted on high-angle mounts to produce what became known as the 13-pounder 6-cwt Anti-Aircraft Gun.  In 1940, some 13-pounders were brought out of store for use as emergency Anti-Tank Guns, mounted in pill boxes for the home defence of Britain against possible German invasion.  One QF 13-pounder 6-cwt AA gun is on display in the Canadian War Museum.[30]

Ordnance QF 18-pounder Field Gun

British artificers developed a new 18 pound gun with a maximum range of 5,670 metres and a firing rate that could reach 20 rounds a minute with the use of cartridge ammunition.  This gun also included an aiming device that permitted indirect fire.  The Ordnance QF 18-pounder Field Gun, or simply 18-pounder Field Gun, was the standard British Army Field Gun of the First World War era.  It formed the backbone of the Royal Field Artillery during the war, and was produced in large numbers.  It was also used by British and Commonwealth Forces in all the main theatres, and by British troops in Russia in 1919.  Its-inch (84-mm) and hence shell weight were greater than those of the equivalent Field Guns in French (75-mm) and German (7.7-cm) service.  It was generally horse drawn until mechanization in the 1930s.

The first versions were introduced in 1904 and later versions remained in service with British forces until early 1942.  During the interwar period the 18-pounder Field Gun formed the basis of early versions of the equally famous Ordnance QF 25-pounder Gun, which would form the basis of the British artillery forces during and after Second World War, in much the same fashion as the Ordnance QF 18-pounder Field Gun had during First World War.  The first 18 pound guns reached Canada in 1906, and during the 1914-18 war they spearheaded the Canadian field artillery.  They would not be withdrawn from service until 1941, though by then they had seen a number of improvements.

Initially during the First World War, British Regular Army and Canadian infantry divisions were equipped with three field artillery brigades each with three batteries of six 18-pounder Field Guns (for a total of 54 per division), and a brigade of 4.5-inch Howitzers.  After the Armistice in 1918, some British and Canadian 18-pounder Field Guns, including a battery transported portee, were in the British Army of the Rhine in the Rhineland.  It also served with British and Canadian forces in North Russia in 1918-9 and with the Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force.

QF stands for “Quick Firing”, a British term for Ordnance that fire ammunition with a metal (usually Brass) cartridge case containing the propellant charge.  The cartridge case also provides obturation, or sealing the chamber.  This Howitzer was the largest-inch of British QF field artillery Ordnance.

“On 11 November 1918, the Order of Battle of the Canadian Artillery included 35 batteries of Field Artillery equipped with 18-pounder Field Guns; there were only three batteries of “Horse guns”, including one in the Anti-Aircraft role.”[31]

While their numbers were small, the training of Canadian gunners in the years preceding the war was essentially good.  The equipment was up-to-date; indeed, the 18-pounder would remain in service until early in the Second World War.  Tactically, the size of the Petawawa ranges allowed scope for manoeuvre, and the indirect fire procedure, with its requirements for meteorology and other technical considerations such as communications and range-finding became familiar to Canadians.  With the redesignation of the Royal Canadian Artillery Field Brigade to the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (RCHA) Brigade in 1905, a British practice was adopted.  It was decided that in future, horse artillery batteries would gallop with the cavalry while field batteries would support the more slowly moving infantry. [32]

One QF 18-pounder Field Gun is on display in Royal Artillery Park, Halifax; another is in the Canadian War Museum.  An 18-pounder presentation piece used by the Royal Artillery and presented to the Canadian Army in 1945 was mounted at CFB Wainwright in August 1981 by One Troop, 9 Para Squadron during Exercise Pond Jump West III.  Two are in the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum, CFB Shilo, Manitoba, one is mounted on a carriage with pneumatic tires, another with spoked carriage wheels.  Two are on display in the Canadian War Museum.

U.S. 75-mm Field Gun, Model 1917 (British 75)

The U.S. 75-mm M1917 (British 75-mm) Gun was an interim measure, based on the British QF 18-pounder Field Gun, produced by the United States in the First World War after it had decided to switch from 3-inch (76-mm) to 75-mm-inch for its Field Guns.  By 1917 US firms had produced 851 QF 18-pounders for export to Britain.  Hence production of a 75-mm version offered a simple interim solution, being basically a copy of the British QF 18-pounder rechambered for French 75-mm ammunition, utilizing existing production capacity.  It remains very similar to the 18-pounder, the main visible difference being a shorter barrel with straight muzzle.  The gun was developed too late to see action in the First World War.[33]  One is on display in the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum, CFB Shilo, Manitoba, and another is preserved in the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School, CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick.

U.S. Model 1905 3-inch field gun

The U.S. Model 1905 3-inch field gun based on the M1902 was the U.S. Army’s first steel, rifled, breech loading, quick-firing field gun.

The features of rifling, breech loading and springs to absorb the gun's recoil and quickly return it to the firing position combined to improve the range, accuracy, and rate of fire of the gun, allowing it to be used more effectively in operations with infantry. These new capabilities allowed the gun to provide accurate indirect fire on targets not in a direct line of sight, which provided crucial firepower for infantry attacks. It was also one of the first artillery guns to have an armored shield to protect the crew from small arms fire.

The M1902/5 was used from 1905-1917.  During the First World War, the Army used the French 75-mm gun instead of the M1902s, which were mostly kept in the United States for training.  Very few of the M1902s were used in combat in Europe.  They were phased out of active service in the 1920s. The gun fired 3-inch (76-mm) Shrapnel or Explosive Shells that weighed 15 pounds.  It had a muzzle velocity of 1,700 ft/s (520 m/s) with an effective range of 6,500 yards (5,900 m), and a maximum range of 8,500 yards (7,800 m).  The maximum rate of fire was 15 rounds per minute.[34] 

One is preserved in the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School, CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick.

[1] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, A Condensed History of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1793-1998, 1004, para 1.

[2] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, 1003, para 5.

[3] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, A Condensed History of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1793-1998, 1007, paras 1, 2& 4.

[4] Sessionial Papers (No. 5), A. 1879, Appendix No. 8.   Return showing the Number of Guns in possession of the Militia and in Dominion Stores at the various places enumberated, exclusive, however, of Guns mounted upon the Fortifications at Halifax, the Reserves maintained by the Imperial Government at that Station and at Esquimalt, and Guns owned by the Hudson Bay Company and by private individuals.  Thomas Wily, Director of Stores and Keeper of Militia Properties, and Colonel W. Powell, Adjutant-General of Militia, Ottawa, 27 Dec 1878, p. 280.

[5] Treatise on the Manufacture of Guns and Text-Book of Service Ordnance, Third Edition, Printed by Order of the Secretary of State for War, (Harrison and Sons, St. Martin’s Lane, London, 1886), p. 182.

[6] Roger Ford, The World’s Great Military Guns, from 1860 to the Present Day, (Brown Books, London, 1999), p. 7.

[7] Internet:

[8] Internet:

[9] Roger Ford, The World’s Great Military Guns, from 1860 to the Present Day, (Brown Books, London, 1999), p. 16.

[10] Internet:

[11] Roger Ford, The World’s Great Military Guns, from 1860 to the Present Day, p. 22.

[12] Internet:

[13] Internet:

[14] Internet:

[15] Internet:

[16] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, A Condensed History of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1793-1998, 1008, para 1.

[17] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, 1004, para 2.

[18] Internet,

[19] Internet,

[20] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, 1009, para 5.

[21] Dylan Craig, The Weapons and Battles of the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902).


[22] Dylan Craig, The Weapons and Battles of the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902).

[23] BGen C de L Kirby, PPCLI, born 16 Oct 1924, died on 17 Mar 2011 in Kingston.  Internet:

[24] Internet:

[25] Internet: Internet:

[26] Doug Knight.

[27] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, 1010, para 2.

[28] When a charge is loaded in a Brass or steel cartridge case, which subsequently serves to seal the breech mechanism from the rearward flow of gas, the gun is usually referred to as a being a quick-firing type.  Leslie W.C.S. Barnes, Canada’s Guns, p. 57.

[29] Internet:

[30] Internet:

[31] Leslie W.C.S. Barnes, Canada’s Guns, p. 70.

[32] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, 1010, para 4.

[33] Internet:

[34] Internet:

Canadian Artillery in the First World War (1914 – 1918)

For those who are interested in the history of the Royal Canadian Regiment of Artillery (RRCA) in the First World War and the Second World War, there are many magnificent books available covering the story in extensive detail.  The author highly recommends Colonel G.W.L.  Nicholson’s The Gunners of Canada; the History of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, (McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, 1967-72), which has been used as the primary source for the RRCA’s Standing Orders - Chapter 10, A Condensed History of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1793-1998Additional reference works of interest to the serious artillery enthusiast are listed in the bibliography.

The main armaments used by Canadian Gunners during the war were: the 13-pounder with the RCHA; the 15-pounder Gun, the 18-pounder Field Gun and 4.5-inch Howitzer in the RCFA; the 13-pounder mounted on a truck in the Anti-Aircraft artillery; and 60-pounder Gun, 6-inch, 8-inch and 9.2-inch heavy guns in garrison, heavy and siege artillery companies.  There were also two heavy Trench Mortar batteries using 9.45-inch mortars and four light Trench Mortar batteries with 6-inch Newton mortars.[1]

 Towards the end of the war, overall command of the artillery in operations was vested in the General Officer Commanding Royal Artillery (GOC RA), Canadian Corps, Brigadier E.W.B.  Morrison.  Total heavy artillery at the Corps level numbered one hundred and four 6-inch Howitzers, thirty-six BL 8-inch Howitzers, thirty-six 9.2-inch Howitzers, four 12-inch Howitzers, three 15-inch Howitzers, fifty-four 60-pounder Guns and eight 6-inch guns.

The Commanders Royal Artillery (CRAs) of the four Canadian divisions, in addition to their own guns, had under their command a number of British artillery formations for the operation.  These included four more divisional artilleries, seven army field artillery brigades (i.e.  Regiments) and a brigade of the RHA.  The total amount of field artillery available to the four divisions numbered four hundred and eighty 18-pounder Field Guns, twenty 13-pounders (A & B Batteries RCHA with C and K Batteries RHA), one hundred and thirty-eight 4.5-inch Howitzers and twenty-four 9.45-inch trench mortars.[2]

Canadian Arms production had been incredibly impressive.  “At the end of the war, Canada had shipped more than 25 million shells, 41 million complete rounds, 48 million cartridge cases and 148 million pounds of high explosives and propellants.”[3]

LCol A.G.L.  McNaughton

General Andrew George Latta McNaughton, CH, CB, CMG, DSO, CD, PC (25 February 1887 – 11 July 1966), Canadian scientist, army officer, cabinet minister, and diplomat.

Although Canadians did not design the guns used by their troops during the First World War, they were often “responsible for major advances in understanding their operation – and hence in how to use them more effectively in the field.”  Indirect fire was a new concept, and surprise was difficult to achieve when firing ranging rounds over open sights.  Barrage fire over advancing infantry had to be accurate and timely, posing considerable challenges to the planners.  Counter Battery Staff Officer, Canadian Corps, LCol A.G.L.  McNaughton took note of bombardments being carried out “without the benefit of correction” by observers and “had analysed the many factors that could cause the mean point of impact of a series of rounds to be other than on target.” 

Poor and outdated maps were one source of the errors, and he initiated more accurate surveys to solve the problem.  He examined statistics on the guns and their ammunition and found “lack of training and care in calculating and applying Initial Corrections (for the effect of abnormal meteorological conditions, gun wear, etc.) to Storage of (propellant) Charges under unsatisfactory conditions, to lack of sorting charges by Lots and Shell by Type and Driving band, and to incorrect adjustment of Sights.”  The gunners in the field couldn’t solve all these problems and McNaughton called for more attention by the Department of Munitions “to the standardization of Shells, Driving Bands and Propellants.”[4]

LCol McNaughton had trained as an electrical engineer.  Prior to important engagements, he arranged to have many of his “key guns individually calibrated” with the cooperation of the pilots of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC).  The pilots “observed and recorded data on thousands of rounds fired by McNaughton ‘s guns, enabling him to make surprising discoveries and to reverse many established beliefs.”  He found the 60-pounder was more accurate than any of the heavy Howitzers because the flight time of a given shell was shorter than that of the lower velocity Howitzers.  Poor weather reports caused firing calculations to be off with the chance of errors in targeting being greater.   McNaughton was able to protect the advance of Canadian troops during the advance on Cambrai in the final months of the war using highly accurate and heavily concentrated artillery fire based on his scientific calculations.[5]

Canada and the First World War

On Sunday, 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo, Bosnia, a Serbian named Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne.  Few Canadians would be aware that the European continent which had divided into two armed camps with Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy on one side and France and Russia on the other, were about to go to war.  Although Britain had no formal alliance with either side, no one in Canada knew that she did have informal military understandings with France which were to prove almost equally binding.

On 23 July 1914, Austria, supported by Germany, served a harsh ultimatum on Serbia, and on the 28th declared war.  Two days later, Russia, the self-proclaimed protector of the Slav nations, mobilized.  On 1 August, Germany declared war on Russia and two days later on France.  Italy, claiming that she was committed to support Germany and Austria only in a defensive war, remained neutral until May 1915, and then entered the war on the Allied side.

As Europe rushed to arms, Britain mobilized its fleet.  Germany invaded Belgium, whose neutrality had been guaranteed by Britain as well as Germany, and on 4 August 1914, Britain declared war on Germany.  In 1914, when Britain was at war, Canada was also at war; there was no distinction, although Canadians believed at the time that Britain’s cause (in defence of Belgium) was just. Most, however, genuinely believed that the war would be over before they could take part in it.[6]

Not all thought the war would be over so soon.  British statesman Sir Edward Grey is believed to have put it this way, “The lamps are going out all over Europe.  We shall not see them lit again in our time.”  Historian Ludwig Reiners asserted, “the mistakes that have been committed in foreign policy are not, as a rule, apparent to the public until a generation afterwards.”[7]

“By the time First World War had drawn to a close, the Canadian Corps had achieved a reputation unsurpassed in the Allied armies.  After the Somme, its record had been one of unbroken victory.  It emerged successfully from every test, no matter how severe, and its professional ability had proved to be second to none.  Canada had begun the war with little military experience and with practically nothing in the way of a standing army.  She ended it with a superb fighting machine, “the greatest national achievement of the Canadian people since the Dominion came into being.”  A total of 619,636 men and women served in the Canadian Army in the First World War, and of these 59,544 gave their lives and another 172,950 were wounded.  That such a war record would carry Canada to full autonomy had been foreseen by Sir Robert Borden, and so it proved.  A separate Canadian signature on the Peace Treaty signified that the status of nationhood had been achieved.”[8]

Of approximately 44,000 Canadians who enlisted as Gunners during the First World War, some 38,000 served overseas.  The remainder served in depots, coastal batteries and as instructors at the Gunnery schools.  By the end of the war in 1918, Canada had produced for service five divisional artilleries, an army field brigade, an Anti-Aircraft battery and three brigades of garrison artillery (including two heavy batteries).  The RCHA Brigade, first under Lieutenant-Colonel Panet and later under Lieutenant-Colonel W.H.P.  Elkins, was part of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade.  This brigade served in the Canadian Corps and also in the Indian and British Cavalry Corps.  Two Canadian field batteries served in North Russia and one in Siberia, fighting the Bolsheviks into 1919.  A Canadian Coast Defence company garrisoned the Island of St Lucia in the British West Indies.

Ordnance BL 15-pounder 7-cwt Gun

The Ordnance BL 15-pounder, otherwise known as the 15-pounder 7-cwt, was the British Army’s primary Field Gun used in the Second Boer War and some remained in limited use in minor theatres of the First World War.  The gun was a modified version of the previous BL 12-pounder 7-cwt gun of 1883.  When the modern smokeless propellant cordite replaced gunpowder in 1892 it was decided that the 12-pounder was capable of firing a heavier shell up to 15 lb (6.8 kg).  A 14 pound shell was adopted and the gun was renamed a 15-pounder.[9]

One BL 15-pounder 7-cwt gun which was used to carry Queen Victoria’s funeral coffin in 1901, was presented as a gift to Canada by the British.  This gun is on display at the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum, CFB Shilo, Manitoba.

Ordnance BLC 15-pounder Gun

The Ordnance Breech Loading Converted (BLC) 15-pounder Gun was a modernised version of the obsolete BL 15-pounder 7-cwt gun, incorporating a recoil and recuperator mechanism above the barrel and modified quicker-opening breech.  It was developed to provide Territorial Force artillery brigades with a reasonably modern Field Gun without incurring the expense of equipping them with the modern 18-pounder Field Gun.  It is the gun which writers usually mean by “15-pounder Gun” in the First World War, but can be confused with the earlier Ordnance QF 15-pounder which fired the same shell.

Ordnance BL 60-pounder Howitzer

The British Ordnance BL 60-pounder was a 5-inch (127-mm) heavy Field Gun designed in 1903-05 to provide a new capability that had been partially met by the interim QF 4.7-inch 72 cwt Gun.  This highly accurate heavy artillery gun threw shrapnel and explosive shells approximately 9,150 metres, a range that was later extend by munitions development.  This was the Canadian army’s main heavy gun throughout the First World War.  It was designed for both horse draft and mechanical traction and served throughout the main theatres of the First World War.  The BL 60-pounder remained in service with British and Commonwealth forces in the inter-war period and in frontline service with British and South African batteries until 1942 being superseded by the BL 4.5-inch Medium Gun.  Two Canadian BL 60-pounder Howitzer batteries were still active on the Western Front at the end of the war.[10]

Vimy Ridge, April 1917

 For the Battle of Vimy Ridge, overall command of the artillery in the operation was vested in the General Officer Commanding Royal Artillery (GOC RA), Canadian Corps, Brigadier E.W.B.  Morrison.  Total heavy artillery at the Corps level numbered one hundred and four 6-inch Howitzers, thirty-six BL 8-inch Howitzers, thirty-six 9.2-inch Howitzers, four 12-inch Howitzers, three 15-inch Howitzers, fifty-four 60-pounder Guns and eight 6-inch guns.

The Commanders Royal Artillery (CRAs) of the four Canadian divisions, in addition to their own guns, had under their command a number of British artillery formations for the operation.  These included four more divisional artilleries, seven army field artillery brigades (i.e.  Regiments) and a brigade of the RHA.  The total amount of field artillery available to the four divisions numbered four hundred and eighty 18-pounder Field Guns, twenty 13-pounders (A & B Batteries RCHA with C and K Batteries RHA), one hundred and thirty-eight 4.5-inch Howitzers and twenty-four 9.45-inch trench mortars.

During the thirteen days of the preliminary bombardment, over 85,000 rounds of heavy and 190,600 rounds of field ammunition were fired.  During Phase II (2-8 April), a period called by the enemy “the week of suffering”, an unceasing flow of shells of all-inches poured over the heads of the Canadians in the forward trenches.  By the morning of the assault (9 April), more than a million rounds, with a total weight of 50,000-tons had battered the German positions into a cratered wilderness.  The counter battery fire - 125,900 rounds in the week before 9 April - attended to 83% of an estimated 212 German guns. 

During the assault itself, Canadian Gunners put into action nine captured enemy artillery pieces, in addition to their own guns.  The Vimy operation remains a classic example of the deliberate break-in against strong prepared positions, and the ability of the assaulting forces to consolidate and hold what they had gained.[11]

Ordnance QF 4.5-inch Howitzer

The QF 4.5-inch Howitzer was the standard British Empire field (or ‘light’) Howitzer of the First World War era.  It replaced the BL 5-inch Howitzer and equipped some 25% of the field artillery.  It entered service in 1910 and remained in service through the interwar period and was last used in the field by British forces in early 1942.  It was generally horse drawn until mechanisation in the 1930s.  It was used by British and Commonwealth Forces in most theatres, by Russia and by British troops in Russia in 1919.  Its-inch (114-mm) and hence shell weight were greater than those of the equivalent German field Howitzer (10.5-cm), France did not have an equivalent.[12]

The 4.5-inch Howitzer was used on most fronts during the First World War.  On the Western Front its normal scale was 1 battery to every 3 batteries of 18-pounder Field Gun.  Initially 4.5-inch Howitzers equipped a Howitzer Brigade RFA in each infantry division.  In the original British Expeditionary Force in 1914 this brigade had 3 batteries each with 6 Howitzers.  Subsequent batteries had only 4 Howitzers.  In 1916 all batteries on the Western Front started being increased to 6 Howitzers and later that year the Howitzer Brigades were disbanded and a Howitzer battery added to each Field Brigade RFA as the fourth battery.  This organisation continued between the wars.  “By the end of the war, each Canadian field artillery brigade included a 4.5-inch Howitzer battery together with three 18-pounder Field Gun batteries.”[13]

Ordnance BL 6-inch 26-cwt Howitzer

The Ordnance BL 6-inch 26-cwt Howitzer was used during both the First World War and the Second World War.  The qualifier “26-cwt” refers to the weight of the barrel and breech together which weighed 26 long hundredweights (1.3 t).

It was developed to replace the obsolescent 6-inch 25-cwt and 6-inch 30-cwt Howitzers which were outclassed by German artillery such as the 15-cm Schwere Feldhaubitze 13.  The Howitzer entered service in late 1915.  Its combination of firepower, range and mobility (for its day) made it one of the British Empire’s most important weapons in the First World War.

It was originally towed by horses but from 1916 onwards was commonly towed by the “FWD”4 wheel drive 3-ton lorry as heavy field artillery.  The wooden spoked wheels could be fitted with “girdles” for work in mud or sand to prevent them sinking.  Towards the end of the war solid rubber tyres were fitted over the iron tyres on the wheel rims, giving the rims a heavier appearance.  It fired 22.4 million rounds on the Western Front.  “By 1918, eight Canadian siege batteries were equipped with the 6-inch 26-cwt Howitzer, which continued its useful service into the Second World War.”[14]

BL 8-inch Howitzer Mk IV

The BL 8-inch Howitzer in various Marks were a series of British artillery siege Howitzers on mobile carriages of a new design introduced in the First World War.  They were designed by Vickers in Britain and produced by all four British artillery manufacturers, but mainly by, and one American company.  They were the equivalents of the German 21-cm Mörser and in British service were used similarly to the BL 9.2-inch Howitzer, but were quicker to manufacture, and more mobile.  They delivered a 200 lb shell to 12,300 yards.  Canada had two 6-gun batteries equipped with this Howitzer at the end of the First World War.

BL 7.2-inch Howitzer Mk I

The BL 7.2-inch Howitzer Mk I and subsequent marks were a series of heavy artillery pieces designed by the United Kingdom at the start of the Second World War.  The 7.2-inch (183-mm) was not a new design, but instead a re-lined version of the 8-inch (203-mm) Howitzers dating from First World War.  The carriage was a modernized version of that used on both the BL 8-inch Howitzer and First World War 6-inch gun.  The weapons were a stop-gap measure to meet the urgent need for heavy artillery faced by the Allies early in the Second World War.  However, they managed to perform relatively well, and were kept in service by the British until the end of the war, in their AGRA Units as parts of “Heavy” regiments to provide heavy fire support for British and Commonwealth troops.  In action, each gun would be served by a crew of ten men except for the Mark 6 versions, which required twelve.

George Blackburn wrote about the use of such Heavy and Superheavy guns in support of Canadian troops during the Battle of the Scheldt in October and November 1944,

“Field Gunners seldom pass a 7.2-inch gun position and until now Superheavies have entered your consciousness only as distant deep-throated booms.  Here at last light, the 7.2-inch guns and the 155-mm Long Toms, along with their Superbrethern of 8-inch and 240-mm-inchs, are visible silhouettes on the horizon at the rear.  There are, you are told, 314 Superheavies (3rd Canadian and 9th AGRAs) capable of reaching the big [German] guns at Westkapelle and delivering a weight of shell to do them damage, there are 240 Ordnance QF 25-pounder Guns, 112 Ordnance BL 5.5-inch medium guns, and 48 Ordnance QF 3.7-inch Anti-Aircraft guns to engage the area of Flushing, only three miles from this shore and about six miles from the field and medium guns.”[15]

The BL 7.2-inch Howitzer Mk I was used by two Newfoundland artillery regiments; the 59th (Newfoundland) Heavy Regiment and the 57th (later 166th) (Newfoundland) Field Artillery Regiment.  One is on display in the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum, CFB Shilo, Manitoba.

Ordnance BL 9.2-inch Howitzer

The Ordnance BL 9.2-inch Howitzer was the principal counter-battery equipment of British forces in France in the First World War.  It remained in service until about the middle of the Second World War.  Batteries increased in size from 4 guns to 6 during 1916-17.  Initially batteries were in Heavy Artillery Groups, usually a single battery of 9.2-inch, the other four batteries being differently equipped.  Mid-war Groups were renamed Brigades RGA, and there were different types but the Pattern of a single 9.2-inch battery in a brigade was retained.  Some went to France early in the Second World War but their main use was as British anti-invasion defences.[16]

“Eventually 12 of these pieces were manned by the gunners of two Canadian siege batteries.”  Although the British would eventually use 15-inch Howitzers on German fortifications, “the 9.2-inch Howitzer was the largest piece of Ordnance in the Canadian Corps.”[17]

Ordnance BL 12-inch Howitzer

The Ordnance BL 12-inch Howitzer was a scaled-up version of the successful 9.2-inch siege Howitzer.  Following the success of their BL 9.2-inch Howitzer, Vickers designed an almost identical version scaled up to a-inch of 12-inch, the Mk II entering service on the Western Front in August 1916.  It was similar but unrelated to the 12-inch railway Howitzers Mk I, III and V produced by the Elswick Ordnance Company at the same time.  The Mk IV was a more powerful version with longer barrel produced from 1917.  Later models were used for British home defence in the Second World War.[18]

Ordnance BL 15-inch Howitzer

The Ordnance BL 15-inch Howitzer was developed by the Coventry Ordnance Works late in 1914 in response to the success of its design of the 9.2-inch siege Howitzer.  It operated successfully where it was needed to destroy deep fortifications on the Western Front, but was limited by its relatively short range compared to other modern siege Howitzers.  The size and weight made it difficult to move and emplace.  No further development occurred after the first batch of 12, and instead Britain continued to develop and produce the 12-inch Howitzer and 12-inch Railway Howitzer.[19]

Newton 6-inch Mortar

The Newton 6-inch Mortar was the standard British medium mortar in the First World War from early 1917 onwards.  The Newton 6-inch replaced the 2-inch Medium Mortar beginning in February 1917.  It was a simple smooth bore muzzle-loading (SBML) mortar consisting of a 57-inch (1,448-mm) one-piece steel tube barrel, with a “striker stud” inside the centre of the closed base of the tube.  The rounded external base of the tube sat in a socket in the flat cast steel base, which in turn sat on a wooden platform.  An “elevating guy” (cable) connected to a loop in the upper side of the barrel and the rear end of the bed.  Traversing guys (cables) connected to loops on each side of the barrel and eyebolts on the upper sides of the bed.  Hence aiming of the barrel was done by adjusting the length of the guys via adjusting screws.  A socket in the barrel base allowed for emergency firing via a “misfire plug” in the case of misfires (i.e.  If the bomb remained in the barrel due to failure of the propellant to ignite).

The mortar was operated from concealed pits close to the front line during trench warfare, and was used in the open during the final “mobile warfare” phase of the First World War, as demonstrated in the photograph, depending on available transport.  The disassembled weapon was usually transported on horse drawn carts but the Canadian Automobile Machine-gun Brigade (the Canadian Independent Force or “Brutinel’s Brigade“) is known to have successfully used the mortar both mounted on motor trucks and dismounted in the closing months of the war.[20] 

ML 9.45-inch Heavy Trench Mortar

The ML 9.45-inch Heavy Trench Mortar, nicknamed the Flying Pig, was a large-inch mortar of the First World War and the standard British heavy mortar from Autumn 1916 onwards.  The British ML 9.45-inch (240-mm) mortar was a design based on the French 240-mm mortar in 1915 and introduced in 1916.  The British version differed from the French weapon in that the propellant charge was loaded through the muzzle whereas the French 240-mm had the charge loaded through the breech in a Brass cartridge case.

The Mark I with 51-inch (1,300-mm) barrel was introduced from June 1916.  In 1917, the Mark II and Mark III followed with 69-inch (1,800-mm) barrel, and small numbers of Mk IV.  They were used in the “siege warfare” on the Western Front to destroy enemy strongpoints, bunkers and similar “hard” targets which were invulnerable to lighter mortars and Field Guns.[21]

Post War

The price of victory during the First World War was high.  Canada suffered 232,494 battle casualties, including 10,097 Gunners.  Of the 59,544 fatalities, 2,031 were Gunners.  The addition of 534 artillerymen that died of disease, injury or accident brought the total Canadian artillery fatalities to 2,565.  The record of decorations won by Canadian Gunners during the conflict included 93 awards of the Distinguished Service Order, 308 Military Crosses, 195 Distinguished Conduct Medals and 1,170 Military Medals.  An additional 658 Canadian Gunners were mentioned in dispatches and a number were awarded foreign decorations.[22]

Restrictions and reductions were the order of the day following the end of the war.  The Defence Department made the 18-pounder Field Gun the uniform post-war arm for both horse and field artillery in Canada.  Between the two World Wars, the Permanent Force artillery was small and consisted of the RCHA Brigade, a medium battery, coastal elements and two Schools of Artillery.  The RCHA Brigade with A and B Batteries was located at Kingston together with the 3rd Medium Battery and the 4th Anti-Aircraft Battery.  C Battery, RCHA Brigade was located at Winnipeg.  Although units were small, training Camps were conducted by the RCHA and the Schools of Artillery, and were held at Petawawa, Shilo and Sarcee.  In 1924 the Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery dropped the word “Garrison” from its name.  At the same time, companies were renamed batteries of the RCA.  Various Militia units underwent nomenclature changes, and the terms CFA and CGA disappeared from Militia lists.

In 1929, artillery units began to be mechanized, with the 3rd Medium Battery, RCA being the first unit to become mechanized.  It was issued four 6-wheeled Leyland tractors in 1929 to tow its 60-pounders.  A and B Batteries RCHA Brigade were mechanized in 1930.  It wasn’t until 1937 that C Battery parted with its last horses.  In 1931, seven field artillery brigades, one medium brigade and one medium battery were placed on the mechanized establishment, but it would be some years before these units would see their equipment.

In keeping with advancements made in air warfare, the first Permanent Force Anti-Aircraft component of the RCA was raised in 1937 at Kingston.  Designated the 4th Anti-Aircraft Battery, it was equipped with four ordnance QF 3-inch 20-cwt AA Guns and first conducted firing practice at Point Petre on Lake Ontario in the fall of 1938.  In the following year it proceeded overseas.[23]

Ordnance QF 3-inch 20-cwt AA Gun

The QF 3-inch 20-cwt AA gun became the standard Anti-Aircraft gun used in the home defence of the United Kingdom against German airships and bombers and on the Western Front in the First World War.  It was also common on British warships in the First World War and submarines in the Second World War.  20-cwt referred to the weight of the barrel and breech, to differentiate it from other”3-inch” guns (1-cwt = 1 hundredweight = 112 lb, hence the barrel and breech together weighed 2250 lb).  The 3-inch 20-cwt gun was superseded by the Ordnance QF 3.7-inch AA Gun from 1938 onwards but numbers of various Marks remained in service throughout Second World War.[24]

[1] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, 1011, para 1.

[2] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, 1010, para 1.

[3] Leslie W.C.S. Barnes, Canada’s Guns, p. 77.

[4] Leslie W.C.S. Barnes, Canada’s Guns, p. 82.

[5] Ibid, p. 83.

    [6] LCol D.J. Goodspeed, The Armed Forces of Canada 1867-1967, Directorate of History, Canadian Forces Headquarters, Ottawa, 1967, p. 29.

[7] Internet:

    [8] LCol D.J. Goodspeed, The Armed Forces of Canada 1867-1967, p. 29-67.

[9] Internet:

[10] Internet:

[11] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, A Condensed History of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1793-1998, 1011, paras 6-9.

[12] Internet:

[13] Leslie W.C.S. Barnes, Canada’s Guns, p. 74.

[14] Ibid, p. 78.

[15] George G. Blackburn, The Guns of Victory, p. 150.

[16] Internet:

[17] Leslie W.C.S. Barnes, Canada’s Guns, p. 80.

[18] Internet:

[19] Internet:

[20] Internet:

[21] Internet:

[22] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, A Condensed History of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1793-1998, 1011, para 11.

[23] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, 1012, para 5 & 6.

[24] Internet:

German Great War Trophy Guns brought to Canada

Canadian Expeditionary Force War Trophies brought to Canada

Lieutenant Colonel William A.  Smy, OMM, CD, UE

Following the Armistice in November 1918, individual Canadian soldiers and Canadian units began planning to send some type of war trophy back to Canada.  In most cases the “trophy” being considered was a weapon captured on the battlefield.  Lieutenant Graham Thomson Lyall, for example, wrote the Commanding Officer of the 19th “Lincoln” Regiment, his old Canadian Militia regiment that he had, “great pleasure in sending this gun to my initial regiment, where I first learnt the rudiments of soldiering”.  The gun was one of the guns captured in September 1918 during the deed which won him the Victoria Cross.

This type of “ad hoc” initiative was quickly put to a stop.  The government of Canada established a “Commission on War Records and Trophies” with B.E. Walker as Chairman and A.D. Doughty and E.A. Cruickshank as Members.  One mandate of the Commission was to recommend “the proper policy to be pursued for the distribution of such trophies” and it submitted its report on 18 May 1920.[1]

The Commissioners noted that:

a. Only trophies which were of a durable nature should be distributed to municipalities, public institutions, and military units;

b. Before any distribution, special provision should be made for a National War Museum and for Provincial War Museums; and that,

c. War trophies were the exclusive property of the Crown, and the receiving institution was responsible for keeping them in good repair and had no authority to dispose of them.

At the time of the report there were 516 captured German guns and Howitzers, 304 trench mortars, 2500 heavy and light machine-guns and 3000 rifles available for distribution.[2]  From these totals it was proposed that rare specimens such as two 37-mm and 75-mm mountain guns, 77-mm and 80-mm Anti-Aircraft Guns, three 88-mm Field Guns, a 90-mm Field Gun, a 99-mm Howitzer, a 120-mm Gun, a 126-mm Gun, four 150-mm Naval Guns, a 150-mm Russian Howitzer and four specimens of the other calibres, four specimens of each calibre of trench mortars, 100 machine-guns and 1,000 rifles be reserved for National and Provincial War Museums.

It was recommended that a significant number of guns of each calibre available, four trench mortars, twelve machine-guns and 100 rifles, should be allocated to each Provincial capital city.  In addition eleven guns awarded by competition in raising the Victory Loan of 1919 were to be distributed to each province with Ontario receiving two.

It was then proposed that the remaining trophies available were to be distributed by province based on wartime enlistments in the CEF, and the Department of Militia and Defence provided the following breakdown:  


PROVINCE                   TOTAL       PER CENT

Ontario                 245,677      41.6 nearly
Québec                   82,793      14.0
Manitoba                66,319      12.2
British Columbia   61,438      10.4
Alberta                   45,145        7.6
Saskatchewan                  37,666        6.4 nearly
Nova Scotia and PEI     33,342           5.6
New Brunswick      25,864        4.4 nearly
Yukon                                2,327          .4 nearly

Using the figures of enlistment provided by the Department of Militia and Defence, the general distribution was to be in accord with an appropriate share of trophies to each province.

Province     Guns and Howitzers   Trench Mortars          Machine-guns 

Ontario                 166                      101                       941
Québec                   56                         34                       321
Manitoba                45                         27                       259
British Columbia   35                         22                       203
Alberta                   30                         19                       174
Saskatchewan        26                         15                       146
Nova Scotia & PEI 22                        14                       126
New Brunswick     17                         11                       100
Yukon                      1                           1                           8
Totals                   398                       244                    2,280

The provincial share according to enlistment was then broken down to municipalities, organizations and institutions, and military units.

The Public Archives of Canada was assigned the responsibility of distributing the war trophies, and it kept detailed records of its work: for example, the City of St. Catharines received a 7.7-cm gun captured by the 4th Battalion on 27 September 1918, on the Arras-Cambrai Road, south-east of Marquion.  Schools like Ridley College, Bishops College School and Upper Canada College received a share of the trophies, as did organizations like the Great War Veterans’ Association and the 91st Highlanders of Hamilton.  The distribution even went to unlikely recipients like the College of Agriculture in Truro, Nova Scotia, the Bank of Commerce in Montréal, the Anglican Missionary School in Elkhorn Saskatchewan, and the Public Library in Kitchener, Ontario.

In most of the listings, guns and mortars are only described by their muzzle size, i.e. 7.7-cm or 15-cm, but there are some instances where there are reasons significant enough to warrant a further description.  Both the 18th and 4th Battalions captured 7.7-cm guns which had their listings annotated “Naval”; the 49th Battalion captured a “Russian” 161-mm gun; and there were a few “Austrian” guns captured.

One of the more interesting of the trophies was a machine-gun “brought down in enemy aeroplane in the 1st Battalion area near Mont St Eloy.  Handed over with plane to 5th Squadron RAF.  Not claimed by 1st Bn” on 9 April 1918.  The gun was allocated to the Great War Veterans’ Association, Lambton Branch, West Toronto.[3]

Another machine-gun has its entry annotated that it had been captured on 8 August 1918 by Lance Corporal Harry Garnet Bedford Miner, VC, of the 58th Battalion who died later that day.  The citation for the award of the Victoria Cross states that he singled-handed rushed an enemy machine-gun post, killed all the crew and then turned the gun on the enemy.  The gun went to Arthur, Ontario.

Some of the captured guns were turned on their previous owners.  A gun captured by the 60th battalion on 13 April 1917 near Petit Vimy was described as “Gas Shell-Gun used against enemy”, and another captured the next day by the same battalion on Vimy Ridge and one captured nearby by the 43rd Battalion again were “used against enemy.”

Two 7.7-cm guns and a trench Mortar were sent to the British Embassy in Paris.  The records also record the weapons destroyed in Europe.

Unfortunately over the last eighty years or so, many of these war trophies which once had been sources of great pride have disappeared and their whereabouts long forgotten.  Even some, like the gun sent to Queenston which once stood proudly in front of the village war memorial, are lost to future generations. 

Some of the war trophies sent to Canadian communities and organizations have survived.  They are in various stages of physical condition: some have been excellently maintained; others are in a despicable state of disrepair.  Some of the war trophies have a well documented history, others do not.  Record Group 37 in the National Archives contains the details of the allocations.

The government agency responsible for the distribution of Great War trophies was the Public Archives, and there is a ledger book in their records listing the trophies by serial number and the community or organization to which the trophy was allocated. 

According to the records, the trophies were to remain the property of the Crown, and the recipients were to be responsible for their maintenance and safe keeping.  Parks Canada is involved because it is the Crown agency responsible for the gun as it sits on Parks Canada property, and because they have expertise in restorations of this type.

Lost War Trophies

The loss of so many of Canada’s Great War Trophy guns may not have been entirely by community choice.  As an example, in 1942, the Galt City Council in Ontario received a letter from the Department of Munitions and Supply requesting that “every available piece of scrap metal” was to be salvaged and made available to the Department in an effort to keep war industries operating at peak production.  The letter specifically requested the donation of the German Great War 10.5-cm gun, which had been positioned on the front lawn of the Galt Soldiers Memorial Home since the end of the war.  Also requested were any “war trophies you may have stationed in your parks, square or public places”.  In response, the City Council dutifully sent out a letter requiring “all war relics owned by the City of Galt, be turned over to the Department of Munitions and Supply”. 

Local sentiment for retention of the guns would have been up against the call for an “All Out” war effort that had resulted in the rationing of gasoline and sugar and in the regular salvage collections which were gathering copper wire, piping and tubing, roofing, boiler bottoms, Brass valves, aluminum wire and cables and even type writer ribbon spools and the metal ends on light bulbs for the war effort.  At a time when housewives who hoarded sugar were thought unpatriotic, it cannot be doubted that similar condemnation would fall upon a Council that refuzed to transfer an old cannon merely for sentimental reasons.  Since the letter from the Department of Munitions and Supply mentioned war trophies of the Great War vintage, only those trophies and not the older ones like the Crimean War cannon were needed.[4] 

The City of Saint John, New Brunswick, provided every gun it could find, including many of the 18th and 19th century guns mounted in various locations throughout the historic Bay of Fundy port.  Very few of the Great War Trophies “escaped the scrap pile” making the handful of survivors very rare indeed.  Of the 532 guns and Howitzers listed in the original records as distributed throughout Canada in 1919-1920, roughly 84 have been accounted for in this guidebook.  Of the 304 Trench Mortars sent out, less than 40 appear to have survived.

Many of the War trophies allocated to Canadian communities have rusted away or were deemed not worthy of preservation when they deteriorated beyond economical repair.  Author Jon Vance wrote, “In 1939, the era of deterioration came to an abrupt end and the war trophies again began to serve a vital national purpose.  That purpose, though, was very different from the didacticism of the 1920s.  In the legendary scrap drives to collect surplus metal for the war effort, attention inevitably turned to the trophies of the previous war.  Indeed, there was a certain amount of poetic justice in using a Field Gun captured from the Kaiser’s army to forge an artillery shell to use against Hitler’s troops.  As a result, many trophies met an ignominious but patriotic end.”

“Most of Saskatchewan’s collection, including the big guns on the grounds of the Legislature, was melted down for the war effort.  A total of $278.21 was raised through the sale of the scrap.  The guns in West Lome and Guelph met a similar fate; in all, roughly 20 per cent of the trophies were designated as salvage and scrapped during the Second World War...  The greatest obstacle to their survival can be well-intentioned but misplaced local sentiment.  In this regard, it is wise to recall Doughty’s original instructions to the recipients of the trophies, that they belonged to the people of Canada and that the communities that received them were only acting as custodians.”[5]

Surviving German Great War Trophy Guns currently accounted for on display in Canada include 38 X FK 96 n.A., 3 X FH 98/09, 8 X sFH 02, 14 X FK 16, 2 X K 14, 1 X K 16, 5 X K 17, 4 X leFH 16, 4 X sFH 13, 1 X Mrs 10, 2 X Mrs 16, 1 X L/40 and 1 X L/45.  This is a total of 84 (including guns in Newfoundland that were not on the original list of guns sent to Canada) of the 532 recorded.  One record shows 305 guns were destroyed in 1942, leaving 227 that should be on display.  This leaves 135 unaccounted for.

Surviving German Great War trench mortar war trophies currently accounted for on display in Canada include 1 X Lantz, 2 X Iko, 19 X leMW, 9 X mMW and 3 X sMW.  This is a total of 34 out of 289 on the original list.  111 were destroyed in 1942, leaving 178 that should be on display.  This leaves 144 unaccounted for.

Further information leading to the confirmation of survivors would be appreciated by the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery and the author.  All war trophy guns known by the author are listed on separate webpages on this website.

[1] Ledger RG 37, “Report of the Award of War Trophies, 1920.”  Internet,

[2] The combined figures for Guns and Howitzers add up to 820.  Strome Galloway reported the figures for guns distributed in Canada as: “By December 1920 Canada had secured 532 Field Guns, 2,822 machine-guns and 289 mortars (total of 821).  Howitzers, huge guns found in the bigger cities, were apparently included under the title of Field Guns...But by December 1942 the Public Archives recorded that 305 Field Guns, 111 trench mortars, 217 machine-guns as well as 85 19th-Century cannons had been returned for scrap.”  Internet,

[3] This was most likely a lightened air-cooled version of the MG 08/15 machine-gun, the 7.92-mm LMG 08/18.

[4] Internet,

[5] Jonathan F.  Vance, Tangible Demonstrations of a Great Victory: War Trophies in Canada, Material History Review 42 (Fall 1995).

Canadian Artillery in the Second World War (1939-1945)

 Then comes the inevitable enemy counter-attack.  At  7:35 a.m., over all earphones in the Regiment comes the urgent call: DF (SOS) 1029 – Scale 2 – enemy infantry concentrating for attack.  Then from a FOO: “Mike target – Mike target –Mike target...Enemy attacking in force with tanks.”  And for the rest of the day, the guns thump away, consuming 5,000 shells in response to calls for fire – the demand rising and falling with the intensity of the attacks.[1]

The outbreak of war found Canadian Gunners still training on the weapons that their fathers had used in 1918.  The forces that were mobilized with commendable speed and efficiency when hostilities commenced would have to wait many months before they could be fully re-armed with modern equipment.

On 25 August 1939, in view of the growing tension in Europe, volunteers from the Non-Permanent Active Militia were called out to man the Coast Defences, and the 4th AA Battery was ordered from Kingston to Halifax.  On 10 September, Canada declared war.  Within two days, each of the Permanent Force batteries had dispatched 25 of its personnel to cities and towns across the country to act as assistant Gunnery instructors for the Militia artillery units.  Where they were available, First World War-era 18-pounder Field Guns and Ordnance QF 4.5-inch Howitzers were used for gun drill.  Other units had to improvise with barrack room furniture and a chalked outline of a gun on the floor.  By 3 December, the 1st Divisional Artillery began to assemble in Halifax, and by 10 December, the first convoy left for England.  Training in England was initially hampered by the lack of equipment which soon started to appear.

The field regiments (the term “Brigade of Field Artillery” was dropped at the beginning of the war) progressed from the 18-pounder Field Gun to the 18/25-pounder Field Gun and finally to the new 25-pounder Gun and the Sexton 25-pounder SP Gun.  The medium regiments received the BL 4.5-inch and the Ordnance BL 5.5-inch Medium Guns.  Anti-Tank regiments (an innovation in this war) were equipped first with the ineffectual QF 2-pounder Gun, then the more effective QF 6-pounder 7-cwt Anti-Tank Gun, followed by the towed QF 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun and the American M10 Achilles 17-pounder SP Anti-Tank Gun.

Light Anti-Aircraft batteries were equipped with the dependable QF 40-mm Bofors AA Gun for engagement of low-level aircraft, while the Heavy Anti-Aircraft batteries guarded against higher altitude aircraft with the QF 3.7-inch AA Gun.  Later in the war, once the Allies had established air superiority, Anti-Aircraft guns were often employed with devastating effect in the ground role in support of infantry units.

The 3rd Divisional Artillery were specially equipped with American M7B2 Priest 105-mm SP Guns for the initial landings at Normandy, and returned to their Sexton 25-pounder SP Guns afterwards.  In late 1944 the 1st Rocket Battery was formed and was equipped with 12 Land Mattress Multiple Rocket Launchers, each projector firing 32 high explosive rockets.  Artillery officers also took to the air with the formation of three Air Observation Post (OP) Squadrons.  These Air OP pilots directed artillery fire from their Auster Mk VI AOP aircraft while flying over the forward defended localities.

George Blackburn observed an Auster pilot flying over Woensdrecht in the Netherlands in October 1944, “scudding back and forth behind the guns, low to the ground so as to not present a target for the Jerry 88s – only rising up a couple of hundred feet to observe the fall of his shot” to help “direct 4th Field Guns on “enemy guns now firing” and “enemy infantry.”[2]

The 1st Field Regiment RCHA (re-named from “the RCHA Brigade” at the beginning of the war) was the first of the gun regiments to “visit” the continent in the abortive attempt to stem the German invasion of France in June of 1940.  Their stay lasted a mere four days, and they nearly had to leave their guns behind when the British headquarters ordered all guns and transport destroyed in order to ensure enough room for the evacuation of personnel.  The determination and stubbornness of the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel J.H.  Roberts prevailed, and the regiment was the only one to return its Field Guns to England.

The First Canadian Army (in Europe), which was commanded initially by General A.G.L.  McNaughton, then by General H.D.G.  Crerar[3] (both Gunner officers), would have two artillery Army Groups (AGRAs), five divisional artilleries and two corps artilleries as its primary fire support.  The RCA would eventually go on to play a major part in the campaigns in Sicily, Italy and Northwest Europe.

During the two and a half year period of training in England, equipment (particularly radio transmitters) improved remarkably and modifications to the fire control systems of Field Guns placed incredible firepower for dealing with “targets of opportunity” in the hands of British Commonwealth forward observation officers (FOOs), usually Captains and subalterns substituting for them.  The new firepower was of a speed and mass not available even to the field marshalls and five-star generals of other nations, allowing concentrations of shells of unbearable intensity to be brought down on targets from the 24 guns of a regiment within three or four minutes of their being called for a by a FOO and very little longer when the combined fire of all 72 guns of the division, or the 216 guns of the corps, was required.[4]

Elements of the 2nd Divisional Artillery - prepared to man any captured German guns - landed at Dieppe in 1942.  In 1943, the guns of the 1st Division supported Canadian tanks and infantry through Sicily.  Next, on the Italian mainland, the 1st Divisional Artillery, augmented later by 5th Divisional and 1st Corps Artillery, assisted in smashing a way through the crack German Paratroop Division before Ortona, on through the Gustav, Hitler and Gothic Lines and onto the Plains of Lombardy.

On 6 June 1944, the Gunners of 3rd Division accompanied the first wave of assaulting infantry on the “run in” to the Normandy beaches, firing their M7B2 Priest 105-mm SP Guns from the decks of their landing craft.[5]  This would be followed by the breakout, the battles in the Falaise Gap, the rush up the Channel Coast, the drive through Belgium to the Scheldt, the southeast punch through the Hochwald and the Battle of the Rhine.  Numerous barrages, concentrations and ceaseless bombardments were fired in support of the First Canadian Army in its bitter engagements with the Germans.

A total of 89,050 officers and men served in the Royal Canadian Artillery during the Second World War.  Of these, 57,170 served in Europe (including Canadian Gunners manning Anti-Aircraft defences that protected cities in the United Kingdom), Newfoundland, the Aleutians and the Caribbean.  The remainder served in Canada in Field Artillery home defence, Anti-Aircraft and Coast Defence units as well as schools and depots.  There were three divisional artilleries in Canada formed as part of the 6th, 7th and 8th Divisions for Home Defence.  A Pacific Division, with its divisional artillery, formed in 1945, made up of volunteers for the Far East, was training in Canada and the USA when the war with Japan ended.  At the war’s end in 1945, a divisional artillery unit was formed as part of the Canadian Occupational Forces in Germany.

Total artillery firepower available to the First Canadian Army in Europe by the end of the war included: 15 field artillery regiments (264 towed QF 25-pounder Guns, 48 Sexton 25-pounder SP Guns, 48 M7B2 Priest 105-mm SP Guns); 6 medium regiments (48 BL4.5-inch Gun s, 48 Ordnance BL 5.5-inch Medium Guns); 7 Anti-Tank Regiments (150 towed Ordnance QF 17-pounder Anti-Tank Guns, 150 M10 Achilles and Archer 17-pounder SP Anti-Tank Guns); 1 Heavy Anti-Aircraft regiment (24 QF 3.7-inch AA Guns); 7 LAA regiments (60 towed QF 40-mm Bofors AA Guns, 108 Crusader III 40-mm Bofors AA Tank Mk I, 84 quad-mounted 20-mm); 32 OP vehicles (75-mm AFVs in Field Regiments with 4th and 5th Canadian Armoured Divisions); and 1 rocket battery (36 Land Mattress rocket projectors).[6]

Ordnance QF 2-pounder Gun

The Ordnance QF (quick firing) 2-pounder Gun (or simply “2-pounder Gun“) was a 40-mm (1.575-inch) British anti-tank and vehicle-mounted gun, employed in the Second World War.  It was actively used in the Battle of France, and during the campaign in North Africa.  As tanks became sufficiently armoured to stand up to its shots, it was gradually replaced by the 6-pounder 7-cwt Anti-Tank Gun, starting in 1942, though some remained in service until the end of the war.  In its vehicle-mounted variant, the 2-pounder Gun was also a common main gun on British tanks early in the Second World War, and was a typical main armament of armoured cars such as the Daimler throughout the war.

The gun had good stability and a traverse of 360 degrees, allowing it to quickly engage moving vehicles from any approach.  With the Vickers carriage, the gun could also be fired from its wheels, at the expense of limited traverse.  The 40-mm 2-pounder Gun could outperform a typical 37-mm piece such as the German 3.7-cm PaK 36 or the Bofors 37-mm Anti-Tank Gun, and hugely outclassed smaller 25-mm and 20-mm weapons used by some forces.  On the negative side, the QF 2-pounder Gun was nearly twice as heavy as PaK 36, and had a higher profile.

One interesting late-war project was the David High Velocity Gun, a Canadian development that allowed 2-pounder Gun ammunition to be fired from the larger-calibre 6-pounder 7-cwt Anti-Tank Gun.  The intent of this modification was to improve the muzzle velocity of the shot.  The system was still being developed when the war ended, the program ending along with it.

The 1st Army Field Brigade, RCA, renamed the 1st Anti-Tank Regiment, RCA on 1 Oct 1939, became Canada’s first Anti-Tank Regiment.  In early November, they received four 2-pounder Guns, which were the only Anti-Tank Guns in Canada at that time.  As each Canadian anti-tank regiment arrived in Britain, they were slowly equipped with 2-pounder Guns from British production, as on 36 of their 48 guns had been issued by February 1942.  On 9 June 1942, CMHQ issued the infantry anti-tank platoons with 6-pounder 7-cwt Anti-Tank Guns and the 2-pounder Guns were withdrawn from service. 

Apart from the Churchill tanks used at Dieppe, some armoured cars, and the Little John taper-bore anti-tank guns issued to Canadian units for river crossings and mountain fighting in Italy, the Canadian Army Overseas did not use the 2-pounder Gun in combat.[7]

Ordnance QF 6-pounder 7-cwt Anti-Tank Gun

The Ordnance Quick-Firing 6-pounder 7-cwt Anti-Tank Gun 7-cwt Field Gun was a British 57-mm gun, and their primary Anti-Tank Gun during the middle of the Second World War, as well as the main armament for a number of armoured fighting vehicles.  It was first used in North Africa in April 1942, and quickly replaced the 2-pounder Gun in the anti-tank role.

The 6-pounder 7-cwt Anti-Tank Gun was followed into production and service by the next generation British Ordnance QF 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun  which came into use from February 1943.  As a smaller and more manoeuvrable gun, the 6-pounder 7-cwt Anti-Tank Gun continued to be used by the British Army not only for the rest of the Second World War, but also for some 20 years after the war.   In addition to the UK, the gun was produced in Canada.

The standard 6-pounder 7-cwt Anti-Tank Gun shot was effective frontally at short ranges, but proved ineffective at extended ranges.  It was the 6-pounder 7-cwt Anti-Tank Gun that accounted for the first Tiger destroyed in North Africa when mounted in the Churchill Infantry Tank (which was the first western tank to knock out the Tiger I in tank vs. Tank combat). 

The situation was somewhat improved by the development of more sophisticated ammunition, in form of the Armour-Piercing, Composite Rigid (APCR) shot, and the Armour-Piercing, Discarding Sabot (APDS) shot, which was available from 1944.

The 6-pounder 7-cwt Anti-Tank Gun was towed by the T16 Universal Carrier in reconnaissance regiments, motor battalions, and infantry battalions in North West Europe.  In anti-tank regiments the gun was towed by the field artillery  tractor.  In operations, the gun was found to be particularly effective against buildings.[8]

There are at least thirteen QF 6-pounder 7-cwt Anti-Tank Guns on display in Canada, including one in the Garden of Legion Housing, Vancouver, BC; two with the Military Museums in Calgary, Alberta, with one indoors and one on display outdoors alongside a QF 17-pounder.  Two are preserved in the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum, CFB Shilo, Manitoba, with one of them outside the PPCLI HQ.  One is on display in the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa.  One is outdoors with the Royal Canadian Ordnance Museum at Longue Point, CFB Montréal, Québec.  One at CFB Valcartier, Québec.  One is on display at the Marysville cenotaph and two more can be found in front of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch No. 4 in Fredericton, New Brunswick.  One is in a Miramichi town park in New Brunswick; one is displayed at the Rothesay Memorial Park, Rothesay, New Brunswick; one is in Cheticamp, Nova Scotia; and one is on display in the Royal Artillery Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Universal Carrier Mk II & T16 Windsor Carrier

The Universal Carrier, also known as the Bren Gun Carrier describes a family of light armoured tracked vehicles built by Vickers-Armstrong.  Produced between 1934 and 1960, the vehicle was used widely by Allied forces during the Second World War.  Universal Carriers were usually used for transporting personnel and equipment, mostly support weapons, or as machine-gun platforms.  The Mk II was equipped with a towing hitch, most often for the 6-pounder 7-cwt Anti-Tank Gun.  With some 113,000 built in the UK, Canada and overseas, it was the most numerous armoured fighting vehicle in history.[9]

28,992 were built in Canada, along with 5,000 Windsor Carriers.[10]  A small number (at least 24) Tank Hunting Universal Carriers were equipped with 2-pounder Anti-Tank Guns in 1942.  At least one unit was shipped to England in May 1942.  The remainder provided emergency airfield defence on the Canadian northwest coast[11]

The Carrier, Universal, T16, Mark I was a significantly improved vehicle based upon those built by Ford of Canada.  It was chiefly used by Canadian Army during the Second World War as an artillery tractor.  It was longer than the Universal with an extra road wheel on the rear bogie, while the engine was a Ford Mercury delivering the same power.  Instead of the steering wheel controlling the combination brake/warp mechanism, the T-16 had track brake steering operated by levers (2 for each side).[12]

Ordnance QF 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun

The Ordnance Quick-Firing 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun (or just 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun) was a 76.2-mm (3-inch) gun developed by the United Kingdom during the Second World War.  It was used as an Anti-Tank Gun on its own carriage, as well as equipping a number of British tanks.  It was the most effective Allied Anti-Tank Gun of the war.  Used with the APDS shot it was capable of defeating all but the thickest armour on German tanks.  It was used to ‘up-gun’ some foreign-built vehicles in British service, notably the Sherman 17-pounder Firefly, giving British tank units the ability to hold their own with their German counterparts.  In the anti-tank role it was replaced by the 120-mm BAT recoilless  Gun after the war.  As a tank gun it was succeeded by the 20-pounder.

The 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun outperformed all other Allied armour-piercing guns, and was quickly adapted for use on various tank chassis.  However, few tanks were capable of carrying such a large gun due to the limitation of the size of their turret ring.  The British devised a conversion for their US-supplied M4 Sherman tanks to take the 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun and it was rushed into service in time for D-Day as the Sherman 17-pounder Firefly.  The gun had to be rotated through 90 degrees to fit into the turret of the Sherman, i.e. it lay on its side, and an additional box was welded to the back of the turret to allow for the recoil.  More Shermans were converted until about 50% of Shermans in British service were Fireflies.

The British also converted some of their US-produced M10 Wolverine 76-mm Tank Destroyers, replacing the 3-inch (76-mm) cannon with the 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun; the resulting vehicles were called M10 Achilles 17-pounder SP Anti-Tank Gun.

The 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun was a much bulkier and heavier weapon than its predecessor.  As a result it had to be towed by a gun tractor such as the Crusader as it could not effectively be moved by its crew alone, especially on poor ground.  As a result, it was issued to anti-tank units of the Royal Artillery only, not to infantry anti-tank platoons.[13]

George G.  Blackburn wrote, “Only the few “Fireflies” (Shermans converted by the British to take their superior 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun, alloted to Canadian tank units on the basis of one per troop of regular Shermans) are capable of knocking the heavier German tanks.  With a muzzle-velocity comparable to the high-velocioty long-barrelled 8.8-cm, the 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun, when armed with special tungsten-carbide Sabot ammunition, has superior striking power.” [14]

In an orchard in the Norman town of St. Martin-de-Fontenay Canadians came “under horrendous shell and mortar bombardment from masses of enemy weapons, many of them deployed west of the River Orne and hidden by Hill 112.”  A number of long-barrelled Panther tanks formed up in a hollow beyond the range of the 6-pounder 7-cwt Anti-Tank Guns under the command of LCol H.E. Murray’s 2nd Anti-Tank troop.  LCol Murray brought up a 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun to snipe at the enemy from a high point on the road north of the village.  L/Sergeant I.L. Johnson of the 20th Battery and his detachment manhandled the gun forward.  The gun was then set up alongside a knocked out Sherman, which the Germans judged to be the source of the rounds being fired on them.  Their retaliatory shots quickly set the Sherman ablaze.  Despite the enemy fire, the Canadian crew kept their weapon in action until a direct hit on the gun’s breech silenced it.  Three of the gunners were casualties including L/Sgt Johnson, but they succeeded in putting three of the Panthers out of commission...Bombardier G.A.  Crassick of the 6-pounder 7-cwt Anti-Tank Gun troop lost his own gun to enemy fire but crawled to the damaged 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun, and chipped away at the semi-automatic gear with an axe and put the gun back into action.  Then firing it himself, he destroyed another Panther, bringing to four the number of enenmy tanks knocked out by one 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun.  LCol Murray was subsequently awarded a DSO for his part in this effective action.  Sergeants Johnson and Ford were awarded Military Medals and Bombardier Grassick was Mentioned in Despatches.”[15]

There are at least thirteen QF 17-pounders on display in Canada, including one in the Cloverdale Cemetery, Surry, BC; Barrhead, Alberta; The Military Museums, Calgary, Alberta; the LCol D.V.  Currie VC Armoury, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; the RCA Museum, CFB Shilo, Manitoba; the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Ontario; one with a private owner, St. Catherines, Ontario;  one serving as a memorial in the York Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario; one at the cenotaph in Chapleau, Ontario, one was with a private owner at Carleton Place, Ontario; it is now part of the 30th Field Regiment Museum in Ottawa; one at the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch No. 185, Deux Montagnes, Québec; one with the Brome County Museum, Knolwton, Québec; and one with the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch No. 216, Laval, Québec.  There are none in the Maritime provinces.

M10 Achilles 17-pounder Self-Propelled Anti-Tank Gun

The M10 tank destroyer, formally the 3-inch Gun Motor Carriage, M10 was a United States tank destroyer of the Second World War based on the chassis of the M4 Sherman tank.  It was numerically the most important US tank destroyer of the Second World War and combined a reasonably potent anti-tank weapon with a turreted platform (unlike the previous M3 GMC, whose gun was capable of only limited traverse).  Despite the introduction of more-powerful types as replacements, it remained in service until the end of the war.  Some of those replacements were in fact modified and/or rebuilt from the M10 itself.

It was christened the Wolverine by the British, although unlike other vehicle names such as the M4 Sherman, the name was not adopted by American soldiers, who called it TD (a nickname for any tank destroyer in general) beyond its formal designation.[16]

The British bought over 1,600 of these vehicles and modified 1,000 of them to accept 17-pounder Anti-Tank Guns.  These self-propelled anti-tan guns were issued to the Canadian Army as an interim measure pending the availability of self-propelled 17-pounder Anti-Tank Guns.  They were issued to two batteries per regiment in armoured divisions and corps troops.  In addition, one troop per battery of the 3rd Canadian Anti-Tank Regiment of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division received them for the Normandy assault landings in June 1944.   The great value of these weapon systems was their ability to get forward quickly to give close support to the Infantry.[17]

Another source states, “the 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun, Self Propelled, Achilles was a British variant of the American M10 Tank destroyer armed with the powerful British Ordnance QF 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun in place of the standard 3-inch (76.2-mm) Gun M7.  With a total of 1,100 M10s converted, the 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun SP Achilles was the second most numerous armoured fighting vehicle to see service armed with the 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun, behind the Sherman 17-pounder Firefly.”

The name “Achilles “ was officially a designation applied to both the 3-inch gun and 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun versions (as Achilles I/II and Achilles Ic/IIc respectively) but was little used during the Second World War; at the time, the vehicle was called 17-pounder M10, or 17-pounder SP M10, or even occasionally, “Firefly”.  It has since become identified almost exclusively with the 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun version.[18]

Archer 17-pounder SP Anti-Tank Gun

The SP 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun, Valentine, Mk I, Archer was based on the British Valentine Infantry Tank chassis fitted with an Ordnance QF 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun.  The gun was mounted in a Valentine tank chassis facing backwards, and space was so limited that the driver had to get out of his seat before firing to prevent being decapitated by the recoil.  The Archer was small, mobile and easily concealed and was very successful in operations. [19]

The Valentine had a relatively small hull and it was not possible to use a turret.  Instead the gun was mounted in a simple low open-topped armoured box with gun barrel to the rear, very much like the early German Panzerjäger self-propelled guns in general appearance.  This kept the overall length of the Archer short.  However, this meant that on firing the gun breech recoiled into the driver’s space.  The driver stayed in position though in case the vehicle needed to move quickly.

The rear mounting at first seemed like a liability, but it was soon made into an advantage.  Combined with its low silhouette, the Archer made an excellent ambush weapon, allowing its crew to fire off a few shots, and then drive away without wasting time turning around.  Production started in mid 1943 and the Archer began to be issued in October 1944, and saw combat in the Western Front and the Italian Campaign.  By the end of the war, 655 of them had been produced.[20]

Ordnance QF 25-pounder Gun

The Ordnance QF 25-pounder Gun was the major British and Commonwealth forces Field Gun/Howitzer of the Second World War.  It was considered by many to be the best field artillery piece of the war, combining high rates of fire with a reasonably lethal shell in a highly mobile piece.  Many Commonwealth of Nations countries including Canada used theirs in active or reserve service until about the 1970s.

The design was the result of extended studies looking to replace the 18-pounder Field Gun and the 4.5-inch Howitzer (114.3-mm bore), which had been the main field artillery equipments during the First World War.  The basic idea was to build one weapon with the direct-fire capability of the 18-pounder Field Gun and the high-angle fire of the Howitzer, firing a shell about half way between the two in size.  The result was a 3.45 in (87-mm) weapon firing a 25 pound (11 kg) HE shell.  It was mounted on late model 18-pounder Field Gun carriages.  One of these used a firing platform and this was adopted for the new guns.  The firing platform was lowered and the gun pulled onto it, providing a flat surface that allowed the gunners to quickly turn the weapon in any direction.[21]

“Deploying a 25-pounder ready to fire is easier than for any field piece in the world, for there is no need to level off a gun platform.  It carries under the trail its own level platform, resembling a large steel-spoked wheel, hubbed at the centre and connected to the sides of the box trail by two arms that lock in position when it is dropped from its carrying position and the gun’s wheels are hauled onto it by the towing quad.  The claws on the bottom of the platform, pressed into the ground (even on a roadway) by the gun’s 4,032 pounds, obviates the need for the trail’s spade to dig in, which allows one man to swing the gun in a complete circle of 360 degrees traverse, something no other Field Gun in the world can do, and which, in fluid warfare, can be extremely useful.”[22]

An important part of the gun was the ammunition limber (“Trailer, Artillery, No 27”).  The gun was hitched to it and the trailer hitched to the tractor when in tow.  The gun did not need a limber and could be hooked directly to a tractor.  The trailer carried ammunition; thirty-two rounds in trays (two rounds per tray) in the trailer protected by two doors.  Ammunition was also carried in the gun tractor with the detachment and various gun stores.  Some stores, such as sights, were carried cased on the gun.  Each section (two guns) had a third tractor that carried ammunition and towed two ammunition trailers.

The gun detachment comprised the following: No 1 - detachment commander (a sergeant), No 2 - operated the breech and rammed the shell, No 3 - layer, No 4 - loader, No 5 - ammunition, No 6 - ammunition, normally the ‘coverer’ - second in command and responsible for ammunition preparation and operating the fuze indicator.  The official ‘reduced detachment’ was 4 men.

 In Canada, Sorel Industries built complete guns and provided the Ordnance for fitting them to the Sexton 25-pounder SP Gun.  Over 13,000 were made World Wide.

The 25-pounder Gun’s main ammunition was the High Explosive (HE) streamlined shell with a 5/10 CRH ogive and boat tail.  It was also provided with base ejection smoke (white and coloured), star shells, and chemical shells.  Incendiary and coloured flare shells were developed but not introduced into service, and smoke shells were sometimes reloaded with propaganda leaflets or metal foil “window”.[23]

For anti-tank use, the 25-pounder Gun was also supplied with a limited amount of 20 pound (9 kg) solid armour-piercing (AP) shot, later replaced with a more potent version with a ballistic cap (APBC).  The AP shot was fired with maximum charge, Charge No. 3, Super, or Super with Super Increment depending on the Ordnance mark, as muzzle velocity was critical in direct fire for penetration and a flat trajectory.  A shaped charge anti-tank shell was under development in Canada, but the introduction of the Ordnance QF 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun in 1944 ended its development. 

The 25-pounder Gun was the main field artillery gun used by Canadian infantry and armoured divisions during the Second World War.  Throughout the war each British-Pattern infantry division was established with seventy-two 25-pounder Guns.  Before mid 1940 each regiment had two batteries of 12 guns.  After mid 1940 each of the division’s three field Regiments being issued with 24 guns organised into three 8 gun batteries.

In George Blackburn’s book “The Guns of Normandy”, he records, “the enemy fire is so sustained, and from such close quarters, that LCol Jack Anderson” decided to “pull the leading companies back 400 yards to allow the (24) guns of 4th Field Regiment to “stonk” [24] the German positions and cool down their withering fire).  Armoured divisions had two regiments, from 1944 one of these was equipped with the Sexton 25-pounder SP Gun.  In the late 1950s UK reverted to batteries of 6 guns, field regiments had 2 batteries of 25-pounder Guns and one of Ordnance BL 5.5-inch.

Throughout most of the Second World War the 25-pounder Gun was normally towed, with its limber, behind a 4x4 Field Artillery Tractor called a “Quad”.  These were manufactured by Morris, Guy and Karrier in England, and, in greater numbers, by Ford and Chevrolet in Canada.

In 1941, the British Army produced an improvised a self-propelled gun by mounting a 25-pounder on the chassis of the Valentine tank, designated the Bishop 25-pounder SP Gun.  This mount was unsatisfactory, and was replaced in 1942 by the American M7B2 Priest 105-mm SP Gun.  However, this complicated the supply of ammunition in the field, and in 1944 the Priest was replaced by the Sexton 25-pounder SP Gun, which was designed and manufactured in Canada and mounted the 25-pounder Gun on a Ram tank chassis.

By Second World War standards, the 25-pounder Gun was at the smaller-end of the scale although it had longer range than most other field equipments.  It was designed for the British practice of suppressive (neutralising) fire, not destructive fire that had proved illusory in the early years of the First World War.  The 25-pounder Gun was considered by all to be one of the best artillery pieces in use.  The devastation caused by the gun (and the speed at which the British artillery control system could respond) in Normandy and the rest of North West Europe made many German soldiers believe that the British had secretly deployed an automatic 25-pounder Gun. [25]

The last shot from a Canadian gun during the Second World War was fired from a 25-pounder Gun in the Netherlands on the afternoon of 2 May 1945, when a German mortar was engaged.  They would not fire in anger again until the Korean War.[26]

There are at least 63 QF 25-pounder Guns on display in Canada, with detailed locations listed in Chapter I.  There are three in British Columbia, four in Alberta, one in Saskatchewan, seven in Manitoba, 29 in Ontario, eleven in Québec, five in New Brunswick, two in Nova Scotia and two in Newfoundland & Labrador.

CMP Field Artillery Tractor

The 2-pounder Gun was towed by a Canadian Military Pattern (CMP) Field Artillery Tractor (FAT), officially the Ford or Chevrolet 8440/CGT Tractor, 4x4, Field Artillery, was an artillery tractor of the British and Commonwealth forces during the Second World War.  CMP was applied to a number of trucks, artillery tractors and utility vehicles built in Canada that combined British design requirements with North American automotive engineering.  As with other FATs, the CMP was usually used to tow either the 25-pounder Gun-Howitzer or the 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun.  A power winch was located above the rear axle for manoeuvring the gun or unbogging the vehicle.[27]

White M3A1 Scout Car

The M3 Scout Car was an armoured car in Canadian service during the Second World War.  It was also known as the White Scout Car, after its manufacturer, the White Motor Company.  It was used in various roles including patrol, scouting, command vehicle, ambulance and gun tractor.  These vehicles were issued Canadian Battery and Troop Commanders.  They provided vital radio communications and being heavy with armour plate up to 12-mm thick, protected the occupants from shell and mortar splinters during bombardment of gun positions.  They were capable of four-wheel drive and could still attain 80 to 100 km/h on the highway.[28]

M3 Half-track Armoured Personnel Carrier

The Carrier, Personnel Half-track M3 was an armoured vehicle used by the United States, the British Empire and the other Allies during the Second World War and the Cold War.  Nearly 43,000 were produced, and supplied to the US Army and Marines, as well as British Commonwealth and Russian Red Army forces, serving on all fronts throughout the war.[29]

 M3 Half-tracks are on display with the Reserve Armoury in Calgary, Alberta, with the CFB Borden Military Museum, Ontario, with the NBMHM, CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick and with the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

Sexton 25-pounder SP Gun

The 25-pounder Gun SP, tracked, Sexton was a Second World War self-propelled artillery vehicle based on an American tank hull design, built by Canada for the British Army, and associated Commonwealth forces and other Allies.  It was developed to give the British Army a mobile artillery gun using their Ordnance QF 25-pounder Gun gun-Howitzer.  From 1943 it replaced the US built M7B2 Priest (US 105-mm guns on a M3 Lee tank chassis); these had replaced the British Bishop (25-pounder Gun on a Valentine Infantry Tank chassis) which had been a temporary solution in 1942.

The British government ordered 300 Sextons in the summer of 1943; however, these Sextons were to be built on Grizzly tank hulls (Canadian-built M4A1 Sherman tanks) instead of Ram tank hulls.  The Ram-based Sexton was designated as the Sexton Mark I and the Grizzly-based Sexton was designated the Sexton Mark II.  British orders for the Sexton II eventually totalled 2,026 vehicles.[30]

Between 1943 and 1945, the Montréal Locomotive Works manufactured a total of 2,150 Sexton 25-pounder SP Guns for the use of both Canadian and British forces.  The vehicle entered service in September 1943.  The vehicles were first used in combat in Italy by the 8th Army.  Latter Sextons took an active part in the invasion of France and subsequent Battle of Normandy and the campaign in North Western Europe.  During the D-day landings a number of Sextons were ordered to fire from their landing craft as they approached the beaches although the fire did not prove to be very accurate.  In spite of its confuzed origins, the Sexton was a combination of proven parts and proved to be a successful design and remained in British service until 1956.

Unlike the Germans, which often used their self-propelled guns in a front line direct fire role, Britain and Canada only used the Sexton for indirect supporting fire.  They kept the Sextons well back from the front line and used forward observers to direct overwhelming fire on a target.

A Canadian 24-gun Sexton artillery regiment was commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel and organized into three batteries of eight guns.  Each battery was divided into two troops of four guns each, which could be further divided into two 2-gun sections.  Battery commanders were normally mounted in a tank and accompanied the commanders of the armoured regiment they were supporting.  Troop commanders used an OP tank and acted as forward observers.

The Canadian Army Overseas had three SP field artillery regiments: 8th Field, 19th Field and 23rd Field.  One was assigned to each Canadian armoured division, and the third was part of the Army Group Royal Artillery (AGRA) under command of Corps Headquarters.[31]

Variants included the Sexton I, the first 125 vehicles manufactured, based on the Ram tank hull; the Sexton II, which had boxes added to the rear deck to carry batteries and an auxiliary generator to charge them.  The Sexton II was based on the Grizzly (M4A1 Sherman) hull.  A dozen Sextons were built as command vehicles and designated the Sexton GPO (Gun Position Officer), with the 2-pounder Gun  removed and a No. 19 radio added along with a map table.[32]  The GPO vehicle was used to control battery fire.

Bishop 25-pounder Gun Self Propelled Gun

The Bishop was a British self-propelled 25-pounder Gun utilising the Valentine Infantry Tank chassis.  It was replaced in service by the M7B2 Priest 105-mm SP Gun (105-mm) and the Sexton 25-pounder SP Gun SG Gun (2-pounder Gun) when those became available in sufficient numbers, and surviving Bishops were diverted for artillery use.

The 8th Field Regiment (SP), RCA, used the Priest in Italy until the division moved to France in February 1945, where they were re-equipped with Sexton 25-pounder SP Guns.  The 19th Field Regiment was attached to the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division for the invasion of Europe.  Together with the three divisional field artillery regiments, they were equipped with the American M7B2 Priest 105-mm SP Gun self-propelled guns for the beach assault.  All British and Canadian artillery regiments in the assault wave used the Priest.  After the initial phase, the 3rd Division regiments reverted to towed 25-pounder Guns, and in late August 1944, 19th Field were re-equipped with Sexton 25-pounder SP Guns.[33]

M7B2 Priest 105-mm SP Gun

The 105-mm Howitzer Motor Carriage M7 was an American self-propelled artillery vehicle produced during the Second World War.  It was given the official service name 105-mm Self Propelled Gun, Priest by the British Army, due to the pulpit-like machine-gun ring, and following on from the Bishop and the contemporary Deacon self-propelled guns.  After the Sexton appeared, most British M7s were converted into “Kangaroo“ armoured personnel carriers.[34] 

Priests were used in the June assault on the Normandy beaches as they could fire from the landing craft while on the way in to shore and still be easily moved when they landed muzzle first.  At the end of August 1944 they were replaced by 2-pounder Gun Sextons.  The Priest was popular with Canadians in Italy.[35]

Variants included modifications which came about as one part of the Allied effort to capture Caen and breakout from the Normandy beaches.  For this operation, several M7s had their main gun removed in the field for use as armoured personnel carriers and were used in Operation Goodwood.  These field modified vehicles were referred to as Defrocked Priests. 

The Kangaroo Priest was a Canadian armoured personnel carrier (APC) conversion of the M7 for use by British and Commonwealth units in northern Europe.  The Kangaroo could carry 20 infantry plus a crew of two.  A total of 102 were converted between October 1944 and April 1945.  The name “Kangaroo” became generic for all APC conversions of armoured fighting vehicles no longer suitable for combat, including Ram conversions. [36]

M3 75-mm Motor Gun Carriage

The 75-mm GMC M3 was an M3 Halftrack with an M1897A4 75-mm gun mounted in the rear of the halftrack.  The gun had an indirect fire range of 9,200 yards (8,400 metres), and fired the AP M72 (Armour Piercing) shell that could penetrate 3.2-inches of armour at 500 yards, the APC M61 (Armour Piercing Capped) shell that could penetrate 2.8-inches of armour at 500 yards, and the HE M48 (High Explosive) shell for use against infantry and other non-armoured targets.  The GMC M3 carried 59 rounds of 75-mm ammunition onboard.  The crewmen were equipped with a rifle and four carbines for self defence.  It was the most numerous tank destroyer in American Army service, during critical battles in North Africa and the Philippines, and continued to be used in more limited numbers in Sicily, before being declared obsolete in early 1944.[37]

This gun system was used by the Heavy Troop in each of the four fighting squadrons of the 1st Armoured Car Regiment (Royal Canadian Dragoons) while in the Italian theatre of operations.[38]

Centaur Mk IV 95-mm SP Gun

The Centaur was a variant of the Tank, Cruiser, Mk VIII, Cromwell (A27M), which combined high speed from a powerful and reliable Meteor engine, and reasonable armour.  The Centaur was chiefly used for training; only those in specialist roles saw action.  The Close Support version of the Centaur with a 95-mm Howitzer replacing the 75-mm saw service in small numbers as part of the Royal Marine Armoured Support Group on D-Day.[39]

A Royal Canadian Artillery Battery  was briefly issued the Centaur 95-mm SP Gun.  The 1st Canadian Centaur Battery was formed on 6 August 1944 and disbanded on 30 August 1944.  The unit was manned by Canadian reinforcements and British Royal Artillery personnel and included three troops and a Headquarters.  The establishment for each troop was a Sherman OP (Observation Post Tank) and three Centaur Mk 4.  The battery saw action in mid-August and was disbanded at the end of the same month.[40]

Ordnance QF 95-mm Howitzer

The Ordnance QF 95-mm Howitzer was a British Howitzer built in two versions during the Second World War.  The Tank Howitzer version was accepted for service use, but an Infantry Howitzer version was not accepted for service use.  The Ordnance QF 95-mm Tank Howitzer was designed to be fitted to British tanks so they could fire a HE or HESH shell against hardened concrete targets like pillboxes in the “close support” of infantry.  The Tank Howitzer was used to arm the Churchill Mark V and VIII, the Cromwell VI & VIII and the Centaur IV tanks.[41]  One QF 95-mm Howitzer is on display in the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum, CFB Shilo, Manitoba.

Ordnance BL 4.5-inch Medium Gun

The BL (Breach Loading) 4.5-inch Medium Gun was designed as a replacement for the 60-pounder.  It was a long range medium gun designed for counter-bombardment and used throughout the Second World War this role.  It equipped a significant proportion of medium regiments, including half the Canadian ones.

The Mk I Ordnance was designed to be mounted on the 60-pounder carriage.  The Mk 2 was on a new carriage that was also used with the Ordnance BL 5.5-inch Medium Gun that replaced the Ordnance BL 6-inch 26-cwt Howitzer.  There were slight differences in the Mk I and Mk 2 Ordnance but maximum range was almost identical.[42]

Ordnance BL 5.5-inch Medium Gun

The Ordnance BL 5.5-inch Medium Gun was introduced during the middle of the Second World War to equip medium batteries.  The gun was developed to replace the Ordnance BL 6-inch 26-cwt Howitzers in use with most medium batteries.  The first units were equipped in UK in the summer of 1941 and in North Africa a year later, 20 guns equipped British and Free French batteries at El Alamein.  Subsequently it also equipped Canadian, Australian, South African, Polish and Indian regiments, and after the war, it was also used by New Zealand.  In the Second World War the normal organisation was a regiment of 16 guns organised into two batteries.[43]

One Ordnance BL 5.5-inch Medium Gun is on display in Artillery Park, CFB Petawawa, Ontario, another is on display in Jarvis Bay Park, Saint John, New Brunswick, and two in the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum, CFB Shilo, Manitoba.

In his book The Guns of Normandy, George G.  Blackburn wrote of the artillery preparations for “Operation Spring” an Allied battle plan to “break-out from the bridgehead” established in Normandy the summer of 1944.

“Throughout July, most of the fresh German units arriving in Normandy have been directed to the British-Canadian front.  Six of eight infantry divisions and all four new Panzer divisions, including two additional battalions of Tiger tanks, have appeared in the Caen sector...In the opening phase, an extensive artillery fire plan will be carried out on German positions and gun lines by nine Canadian and British field artillery regiments, and three Army Group Royal Artillery (AGRA)s, with 2nd Canadian, 2nd British, and 8th British Army Groups Royal Artillery, containing nine medium regiments of Ordnance BL 5.5-inch Medium Guns and two heavy regiments of 7.2-inch guns, as well as one heavy Ack-Ack, four anti-tank, and five light Ack-Ack regiments.”[44]

“In eleven days, ending 26 July 1944, the Field Guns of 21st Army Group fire 1,158,490 shells – 105,317 rounds on average a day.”[45]

Ordnance BL 9.2-inch Railway Gun

The Ordnance BL 9.2-inch Gun on truck, railway mounted a variety of surplus 9.2 inch Naval guns, together with the custom-designed Mk XIII railway gun, on various railway platforms to provide mobile long-range heavy artillery on the Western Front in the First World War.  Early in 1915 a variety of surplus Mk III and Mk VI 9.2-inch Naval and coast-defence guns were adapted by the Elswick Ordnance Company for mounting on railway trucks for use in France and Belgium.  They were mounted on Vavasseur slides, which travelled backwards and upwards to absorb the recoil, on “well-based” trucks, where the base was level with the axles.  These early mountings allowed 10° of traverse left and right, and moved forward and backwards along curved sections of track for further traversing.  They limited elevation to 28° and hence limited maximum range.  In March 1916 a modification increased elevation to 35°.

In June 1916 Elswick produced a more sophisticated turntable mounting with a loading platform, on a “straight-back” truck which mounted the gun much higher.  This was lowered to the ground for firing, had outriggers for stability, allowed 360° traverse and elevation to 30°.  The more modern Mk X gun was mounted on this design, together with 2 Mk X variants intended for Australian coast defence (Mk XT), 4 Vickers 45-calibre guns (Mk XIV) which were originally intended for a foreign order, and a specially developed 35-calibres railway gun (Mk XIII).  On a new Mk IV mounting, Mk XIII guns could be elevated to 40° and attain a range of 22,600 yards.  These remained in service until 1945, serving in the home defence of Britain in the Second World War.[46]

Following the evacuation from France in 1940, a few Canadian gunners in England were armed “with effective weapons, but too large (21-tons) to be trundled about...manning four 9.2-inch guns of the Super-Heavy Railway Group RA composed of some 20 railway guns (9.2-inch guns and 12-inch Howitzers) just hauled out of storage depots and obscure corners of railway rolling-stock yards, and an 18-inch monster “lurking in a tunnel near Canterbury” to meet the expected invasion.”  The problem with activating the super-heavy batteries, dormant since 1918 was to find “enough men with training on medium, heavy or coastal equipment” to operate them.  In the first week of September 1940, Canadian artillery holding or reinforcement units were canvassed and enough gunners were found to “man X and Y Superheavy Battery RCA of two guns each.”  Canadians manned these guns until February 1941, when they were turned over to British gunners.[47]

Cross Channel Guns

During the Second World War, cross-Channel guns were long-range coastal artillery pieces placed on the English Channel coasts of Kent, England and the Pas-de-Calais, France, at the point at which England was closest to continental Europe, with which to bombard enemy shipping in the Channel and towns and military installations.

The first such guns to be put in place were Wehrmacht guns on the French coast, which began to be installed around the end of 1940.  First came the Siegfried Battery to the south of Cap-Gris-Nez, with its 38-cm gun, shortly followed by: three 30.5-cm guns at Friedrich August Battery, to the north of  Boulogne-sur-Mer; four 28-cm guns at Grosser Kurfürst Battery at Cap-Gris-Nez; two 21-cm guns at Prinz Heinrich Battery just outside Calais; two 21-cm guns at Oldenburg Battery in Calais; three 40.6-cm guns (from among the so-called Adolf Guns) at Lindemann Battery between Calais and Cap-Blanc-Nez.  The battery was named after the fallen commander of the battleship Bismarck, Kapitän zur See Ernst Lindemann.  Four 38-cm guns at Battery Todt at Wissant outside Cap-Gris-Nez.  All these could shell across the Channel, but not target Channel shipping, which was later rectified by the addition of three K5 rail-mounted guns, which could fire accurately on British shipping.

Having just survived the Dunkirk evacuation and Battle of Britain, the British did not have an immediate answer to this threat, but the high ground to either side of the Port of Dover was fortified on the personal order of the Prime Minister (who had visited to see the situation in person), and large-inch guns dug in there.  The only British cross-Channel guns already in place were Winnie (named after Prime Minister Winston Churchill) and - later in 1940 -Pooh (named after fictional bear Winnie the Pooh).  These were two 14-inch (35.6-cm) guns positioned behind St Margaret’s.  They were spares taken from the stock of guns of the battleship King George V.  One used a mounting from HMS Furious and the other a mounting from a test range; neither was turret-mounted.  They were operated from a separate firing-control room, and manned by 25 men of the Royal Marine Siege Regiment.  Although these guns boosted morale - Winnie fired Britain’s first shell onto continental Europe in August 1940 – they were slow and ineffectual compared to the German guns.  They attacked the German guns (though they were too inaccurate and slow to fire on ships), and were protected from German aerial attack by Anti-Aircraft emplacements.  Their separate and well-camouflaged cordite and shell magazines were buried under deep layers of earth and connected to the guns by railway lines.

Enraged by these guns’ lack of success in targeting shipping, Churchill ordered three new heavy gun batteries to be built in Dover and manned by the Royal Artillery for that purpose: three 6 in guns (15.2-cm) with a range of 24,000 yards (23,000 m), at Fan Bay Battery; four 9.2 inch (23.4-cm) guns with a range of 31,000 yards (28,000 m) at South Foreland Battery; two 15-inch (38.1cm) guns with a range of 42,000 yards (38,000 m) at Wanstone Battery, known as Clem (after Clementine Churchill) and Jane (after the pin-up girl).

These were later joined by Lydden Spout Battery.  Also, three BL 13.5-inch (342.9-mm) Mk V Naval guns from the First World War (named Gladiator, Sceneshifter and Peacemaker) were brought out of retirement in 1939 and mounted on railway chassis.  The resulting railway guns were operated by the Marines but moved by a team of Royal Engineers and, when not in use, hidden in Guston railway tunnel, Eythorne railway station on the East Kent Light Railway, and other places.

During September 1944 the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division was tasked with capturing Calais and silencing the nearby German heavy batteries.  This they did with accurate and effective assistance from “Winnie” and “Pooh”; the British guns put one of the German batteries out of action.[48]

During the opening day of the assault to clear the port of Boulogne on 16 September 1944, the German defences were engaged by air and artillery strikes of massive proportions.  Hawker Typhoon fighter-bombers carried out rocket attacks, while 8,541 bombs were dropped by 752 Lancaster and Halifax heavy bombers and 40 Mosquitoes on five target areas.  While the bombs were still falling, 328 Canadian guns opened up on a series of time concentrations on strongpoints.  The BGen Stanley Todd, CRA of 3rd Canadian Infantry Division had under his control five field regiments, five medium regiments, three heavy regiments and one heavy AA regiment.  The scale of ammunition allotted included 38,400 rounds for ninety-six 25-pounders, 14,000 20-pound shells for forty-eight heavy AA guns, 12,000 100-pound shells for eighty medium guns and 800 200-pound shells for eight 7.2-inch guns.

In addition to all this firepower, it was necessary “to keep the big German coastal artillery guns of Boulogne preoccupied during the assault.  Brigade Royal Artillery (BRA) BGen H.O.N.  Brownfield, the highest ranking gunner officer of First Canadian Army, arranged for cross-Channel fire from two 14-inch Dover guns,” nicknamed “Winnie” and “Pooh”, and “two 15-inch monster guns with the 540th Coast Regiment at Wanton on St. Margaret’s Bay directed on targets by an Air OP officer, the CO of 660 Squadron flying an Auster AOP aircraft above the Channel, augmented by observations by ground observers brought over from Dover.”

The Wanston guns scored a direct hit on a 16-inch enemy gun at Sangatte before their 1,920-pound shells began to fall short due to worn barrels.  “Winnie” and “Pooh” fired again on 19 and 20 September 1944, damaging three of the four 28-cm guns in the German Coastal battery in the Cap Gris Nez area.  Boulogne finally fell on 22 September 1944.[49]

Oerlikon 20-mm AA Gun

The Oerlikon 20-mm cannon is a series of autocannons, based on an original design by Reinhold Becker of Germany, very early in the First World War, and widely produced by Oerlikon Contraves and others.  Various models of Oerlikon cannon were used during the Second World War, and they are still in use today.

Different nations and services operated a number of mounting types for the same basic gun.  In a typical single-barrel Naval version, it is free-swinging on a fixed pedestal mounting with a flat armoured shield affording some protection for the crew.  The cannon is aimed and fired by a gunner using, in its simplest form, a ring-and-bead sight.  The gunner is attached to the weapon by a waist-belt and shoulder supports.  For this reason, some mountings existed with a height-adjustment feature to compensate for different sized gunners.  A “piece chief” designates targets and the feeder changes exhausted magazines.  During the Second World War, twin and quadruple Oerlikon mounts were developed, both for army and for navy use.[50]

Polsten 20-mm Quad AA Gun

The Polsten 20-mm Quad AA Gun was a low cost Polish development of the 20-mm Oerlikon gun.  The Polsten was designed to be simpler and much cheaper to build than the Oerlikon without reducing effectiveness.  When Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939, the Polish design team escaped to England and resumed work together with Czech and British designers.  The need for the Polsten was apparently mooted in June 1941.  It went into service in March 1944 alongside the Oerlikon.  Both the Oerlikon and the Polsten used similar 60 round drum magazines; however, the Polsten could use a simpler box magazine with 30 rounds.  It remained in service into the 1950s.[51]

M-55A 20-mm Triple AA Gun

The M-55A is a Yugoslavian version of the Hispano-Suiza HSS-804 20-mm AA Gun automatic AA Gun.  The M-55A gun has three 20-mm HS-804 cannons mounted on a towed carriage.  Each of the three cannons is fed by a 60 round drum magazine and fires 700 rounds per minute with a maximum horizontal range of 5500 m.[52]

Ordnance QF 40-mm Bofors AA Gun

The Bofors 40-mm AA gun is an Anti-Aircraft autocannon designed by the Swedish defence firm of Bofors.  It was one of the most popular medium-weight Anti-Aircraft systems during the Second World War, used by most of the western Allies as well as various other forces.  The cannon remains in service as of 2011, making it one of the longest-serving artillery pieces of all time.  It is often referred to simply as the Bofors gun.  The Canadian Artillery’s first kill was scored by the 3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment on the night of 6 August 1941 on England’s Essex coast when a Bofors troop from the 16th Battery shot down a German dive-bomber that had been bracketed by search lights.[53]

The Canadian Forces used Bofors on their surface fleet, but removed the guns in the late 1980s when they were considered to be outdated.  The L/60 Bofors continue to be the main armament of the HMCS Kingston-class Coast Defence vessel, although the navy is in the midst of a search for a suitable replacement.[54]

At the time of the First Gulf War, all Ordnance QF 40-mm Bofors AA Guns belonged to the Army which had been using them in with the Air defence units protecting the airfields at CFB Lahr and CFB Baden-Söllingen in Germany.  Although the guns had been withdrawn from active service they were still officially ‘in service’ waiting for disposal.  At the time Op Friction was initiated the Navy decided that each ship would be fitted with two of the QF 40-mm Bofors AA Guns. Six of these guns from around the country including three that were at the Air Defence Artillery School in Chatham, NB were sourced for the operation. These three had been designated for transfer to various museums, however at the time they were still in-service equipment.  Although there were others in Germany, time pressure demanded that the Navy use the guns most readily available.  The six guns did need substantial maintenance, mainly in their hydraulic traverse and elevation systems. The weapons themselves, however, were in quite good condition.[55]        

There are at least twenty-five Ordnance QF 40-mm Bofors AA Guns on display in Canada.  These include one at Fort Rodd Hill, British Columbia; Crown Surplus, Calgary, Alberta; one in front of the Vimy Ridge Armoury, Lethbridge, Alberta; two with the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum, CFB Shilo, and one in a Naval gun mount in front of the Officer’s Mess at CFB Shilo; one in a Naval deck gun mount in the Naval Museum of Manitoba, Winnipeg; one is mounted on its wheeled carriage at the North Gate of CFB Borden, Ontario; one is in the Brockville Armoury, Ontario; one is at the J.A.  McIntosh Armoury, Cambridge Galt, Ontario; HMCS Haida is armed with a Quadruple 40-mm/56 Bofors. 

One is mounted on its wheeled carriage in front of the Royal Canadian Legion in Iroquois, Ontario.  There are two mounted on wheeled carriages with the Swords and Ploughshares Museum including one in working order, Kars, Ontario; the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa has a Bofors L/60 Gun in a Mk VC Boffin mounting and Twin Bofors Mk XI guns in an RP 50 Mk IV mounting.  One is in a park in Tillsonburg, Ontario; one is in the York Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario, one is on display at Victoria Harbour, Ontario and another is preserved at Waterdown, Ontario.  Two are on display at the cenotaph in Elm Park, Miramichi, New Brunswick, and two can be viewed at CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick, at the NBMHM and with 4 Air Defence Regiment, and one is well kept in the St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Saint John, New Brunswick.

Crusader III Ordnance QF 40-mm Bofors AA Tank Mk I

Canadians used two types of Crusader Anti-Aircraft tank in service with the First Canadian Army.  These mounted either a 40-mm Bofors Gun Mk I, or twin 20-mm Oerlikon Gun Mk II.  Due to Allied air superiority none of the AA versions saw much action.[56]  In November 1944, the tanks of the South Alberta Regiment were supported by up to seven Crusader II AA Mk II.[57]

QF 3.7-inch AA Gun

 The 3.7-inch QF AA gun was Britain’s primary heavy Anti-Aircraft Gun during the Second World War.  It was the equivalent of the German 8.8-cm FlaK AA Gun, but was larger, with a slightly larger-inch of 94-mm and superior performance.  It had two forms, a mobile mounting used with the field army and a static mounting.    It was used throughout Second World War all theatres except the Eastern Front.  The gun was produced in six major variants and in considerable numbers.  It remained in use after the war until AA guns were replaced by guided missiles in the late 1950s.

Being a high velocity gun, with a single charge and firing substantial quantities of ammunition, meant that barrel life could be short.  By the end of 1940 the barrel situation was becoming critical.  This meant that substantial numbers of spare barrels were required.  Some of these were produced in Canada. And three Canadian AA Regiments were armed with the QF 3.7-inch 72 cwt Gun.[58]

The first two 3.7-inch 72 cwt Guns were issued to the 1st Battery of the 1st Canadian Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment in the UK.  In mid-January 1942, this regiment moved to Essex to assume an operational role, manning anti-aircraft guns including six 3.7-inch 72 cwt Guns (in addition to 4.5-inch Guns) on the north side of the Thames.  The Canadians also sent gun detachments outside the city to practice using the gun in an ground role, becoming introduced to a newly-developed percussion fuze.  The regiment was the only Canadian heavy anti-aircraft regiment to deploy overseas during the war, and served in North West Europe as part of First Canadian Army, usually using its guns in a ground-support role.[59]

90-mm M1/M2/M3 AA Gun

The American 90-mm AA Gun family of guns served as primary heavy Anti-Aircraft and Anti-Tank Guns, playing a role similar to the renowned Second World War German 8.8-cm FlaK 37 AA Gun.  In AA use the guns were normally operated in groups of four, directed by the M7 or M9 Director or Kerrison Predictors.  Radar direction was common, starting with the SCR-268 in 1941, which was not accurate enough to directly lay the guns, but provided accurate ranging throughout the engagement. 

For night-time use, a searchlight was slaved to the radar with a beam width set so that the target would be somewhere in the beam when it was turned on, at which point the engagement continued as in the day.  In 1944 the system was dramatically upgraded with the addition of the SCR-584 microwave radar, which was accurate to about 0.06 degrees (1 mil) and provided automatic tracking as well.  With the SCR-584, direction and range information was sent directly to the Bell Labs M3 Gun Data Computer, and M9 Director, which could direct and lay the guns automatically.  All the operators had to do was load the guns.  With the SCR-584 the 90-mm became arguably the best Anti-Aircraft weapon of the war.[60]

At least twenty 90-mm M1A1 AA Guns are on display in Canada, including one at Fort Rodd Hill, British Columbia; one at Sangudo, Alberta; one with a private collector in Lembourg, Alberta; one with the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum, CFB Shilo, Manitoba; two at CFB Borden, Ontario; one in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa; and two outside the 49th Field Artillery regiment Armoury, Sault Ste.  Marie, Ontario.  One is preserved oustide the Arundel Legion Hall in Québec; another is at Bryson, Québec; and one is on display in a city park at Longueuil, Québec.  One is on display in a city park at Grand-Anse, New Brunswick; three are on display at CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick, one is within the grounds of the Moncton Armoury, New Brunswick, and another sits in Connell Park, Woodstock, New Brunswick.  One overlooks the sea at Whycocomagh, Nova Scotia.  Further details can be found in Chapter I.

Artillery Developments

Canadian Gunners played an important role in a number of artillery developments.  One was the development of the discarding sabot anti-tank round, which allowed existing guns to fire a much higher velocity round capable of defeating heavily-armoured tanks.  The Germans had produced a tapered gun with its arrow round, which provided higher velocity at the expense of heavy barrel wear and rounds which were inaccurate due to instabilities caused by the deformation of the projectile as it was squeezed through the decreasing taper of the barrel.

General A.G.L. McNaughton solved the problem by developing a small shell that could be fired by a larger-inch gun.  The difference in-inch was taken up by a light metal or plastic pot in which the round sat, and which acted as a driving band to give the projectile its stabilizing spin.  The fore part of the projectile was held in place by a serrated band of three petals.  When the round was fired, the high force of gravity broke the serrations, and when the round left the barrel, the spin and air pressure caused the petals to fly to the sides, while a combination of pressure and drag caused the pot to fall away.  By such means, a small projectile, such as a 2-pounder Gun shell, fired from a 2-pounder Gun would receive a much greater thrust, resulting in significantly increased muzzle velocity and thus greater armour penetration.

Tests with the Super Velocity Discarding Sabot (SVDS) were carried out in France in September 1944 by the 3rd Anti-Tank Regiment RCA, and the Sabot projectile was subsequently used against enemy armour with excellent results for the remainder of the war.  This type of ammunition, with subsequent improvements, forms the main anti-tank ammunition used in modern tanks.  The main difference is in the size and shape of the sub-calibre projectile and the material used in its construction.  Materials used today include Tungsten Carbide and Depleted Uranium.

Canadians also took part in the most important artillery development of the war - the ability of an allied commander to quickly bring down the fire of a massive concentration of guns (from division, corps or even army artillery) onto a single target in a short space of time.  This required the development of reliable wireless (radio) and other communications equipment, more effective, speedy and accurate methods of gun survey and improved methods of fire control, voice procedure and fire planning.  Putting this system into practice required a high level of proficiency in every troop in every battery.  Most concentrations fired during the war were carried out at the divisional level, where a CRA had at his disposal the fire of three field regiments and occasionally the fire of flank or higher formations.  Major battles, controlled at the Corps or Army level, involved the concentrated fire of 1000 guns or more.[61]

Developments in artillery played a large role in the Allied victory during the Second World War.  While there were no revolutionary changes to artillery weapons from the First World War, there were significant evolutionary improvements in range, ammunition efficiency, maintenance and mobility of guns.  These included the successful combining of the characteristics of a gun (high velocity) and Howitzer (high trajectory) in the 2-pounder Gun and the development of self-propelled artillery.  New types of artillery that appeared in the Second World War were the anti-tank gun and the barrage

Land Mattress Multiple Rocket Launcher 

The Canadian Land Mattress was a ground-based weapon named after its Naval equivalent.  Based on the Z Gun Anti-Aircraft rockets, it was tested in the summer of 1944 and saw some action with British and Canadian troops, with mixed results.  The Land Mattress was based on the 3-inch-diameter (76-mm) tube of the RP-3 or”60lb” rocket used as an air-to-ground weapon with Naval 5-inch shells as warheads, and consisted of a 16- or 30-tube launching system mounted on a towed carriage.  The land version had an operational range of 8,000 yards (7.3km).  Rounds were fired at a rate of 4 per second.[63]

The Allies developed and deployed these weapons late in the war.  Nevertheless, they did see useful service as artillery support, as “the first few dozen of these rockets were fired by the Canadians in November 1944” during the crossings of the Rhine and the Scheldt rivers.  At the crossing of the Scheldt over a thousand rockets were fired in 6 hours.  “In Operation Veritable, during the Reichswald Battle, the First Rocket Battery Royal Canadian Artillery fired nearly 6,000 rounds.”[64]

Ram OP/Command AFV

A Canadian made armoured vehicle based on the Tank Cruiser, Ram Mk II designed to function as a mobile observation posts for the Forward Observation Officers (FOO) of Sexton self-propelled gun units, based on Ram II.  The gun was replaced by a dummy, and two Wireless sets were fitted.  The vehicle was operated by a six-man crew.  84 were built in 1943. 

Variants included the Ram GPO, which was like the OP but with special equipment for gun position officers of SP artillery regiments.  The GPO vehicle had Tannoy loudspeakers mounted.  The Wallaby was an armoured ammunition supply vehicle that carried 25-pounder Gun ammunition for the Sexton.  The Ram Gun Tower was an armoured artillery tractor for use with the Ordnance QF 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun.[65]

M3A3 Stuart Mk V Command Tank

The M3A3 Stuart Mk V was a turretless tank based on the M3 Stuart light tank.  The turret was replaced with a small superstructure with a .50-inch machine-gun.  They were used by the B and C troop commanders of the 16th Anti-Tank Battery, 4th Anti-Tank regiment, 5th Canadian Armoured Division.[66]

Skink 20-mm Quad AATank

The Tank AA, 20-mm Quad, Skink was a Canadian self-propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun system.  It was also designated as “Project 47” by the Canadian Army.  When Canadian Ram tank production ceased in 1943, the lines at the Montréal Locomotive Works were turned over to Grizzly Is.  It was rapidly realized this was unnecessary, as US factories were more than able to meet the demand, and only 188 Grizzlys were built, most retained for training.

As the invasion of Europe was impending, and it was felt a self-propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun able to keep up with armoured formations might be required, the Canadian Ministry of Defence (MOD) arranged with Waterloo Manufacturing Company for the design of a cast turret with four Hispano-Suiza 20-mm cannon (later changed to the simpler British Polsten, a derivative of the Oerlikon) capable of firing about thirty rounds per second combined.  They were aimed by periscope or roof-mounted reflector sight via electro hydraulic joystick control.[67]

Early in 1944, the first test models were ready.  Plans to build these, as well as conversion kits for existing Grizzly and Sherman tanks, were quickly superseded by the realization that Allied air forces had achieved air supremacy over Normandy.  Since the Skink was now redundant, the project was cancelled in April 1944 after only three vehicles and eight conversion kits were completed.  The original program had planned for the production of 135 Skinks for the Canadian Army and 130 Skink turrets for the British forces.

Reportedly the sole Skink sent to Britain for evaluation actually saw action.  After being transhipped to Antwerp on 24 January 1945, it reached the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade a few miles south of Nijmegen, Holland, on 4 February, and entered combat in support of the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment north of Nijmegen Bridge, later with 22nd Canadian Armoured Regiment at the Battle of Hochwald Forest.  The name Skink was also applied to a flamethrower tank based on the Sherman.[68]

Three stripped and shot-up Skink turrets are known to exist, with one in Edmonton, Alberta, one in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa and another at CFB Shilo, Manitoba.  Others are being searched for.  The Skink was a very advanced design for its time.  Its nearest equivalent was the German FlakPanzer IV Wirbelwind, a 20-mm Quad AA Gun in an open topped powered turret on a Panzer IV chassis, some 100 of which were built and saw service with the German Army during the Second World War.[69]  One Skink turret is with the RCA Museum, CFB Shilo, Manitoba, another is with the Canadian War Museum.

M4 Sherman Medium Tank

The M4 Sherman, formally Medium Tank, M4, was the primary tank used by the Allies during the Second World War, including the American, Canadian and other British Commonwealth nations and Russian armies, via lend-lease.  In the United Kingdom, the M4 was named after Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, following the British practice of naming their American-built tanks after famous American Civil War generals.  Subsequently the British name found its way into common use in the American Shermans which were used by the Canadian Army extensively and remained in service into the 1960s in reserve units.  The variant used after the war was the M4A2E8 76-mm (W) “Easy Eight” Sherman Medium Tank, (diesel engined) called the Sherman IIIAY in Canadian service.[70]

In his book “The Guns of Victory”, Captain George G.  Blackburn recorded that a Forward Observation Officer (FOO) would be “invited to use a tank in an attack that is closely supported or led by tanks”.  This he did in April 1945 with a troop of the Fort Garry Horse during operations against German forces near Oldenburg, Germany.[71]

There are 65 M4A2E8 Sherman medium tanks on display in Canada, plus one cutaway tank, three Super Sherman tanks, one M4A2 Sherman Crab Mk II Mine Flail tank, one M4A2 Sherman IIIAY, two M4A2 and two Mk V Shermans.  One Sherman 17-pounder Firefly tank is preserved as a monument at Trois Rivières, Québec, for a total of 75 Shermans of all versions preserved.  Their locations are listed in Chapter I.  Details on all armoured fighting vehicles in use or preserved in Canada can be found in the companion volume to this collection, “Ironsides”, Canadian Armoured Fighting Vehicle Museums and Monuments.

Firepower, 1945

Canadians took part in the most important artillery development of the war - the ability of an allied commander to quickly bring down the fire of a massive concentration of guns (from division, corps or even army artillery) onto a single target in a short space of time.  This required the development of reliable wireless (radio) and other communications equipment, more effective, speedy and accurate methods of gun survey and improved methods of fire control, voice procedure and fire planning.  Putting this system into practice required a high level of proficiency in every troop in every battery.  Most concentrations fired during the war were carried out at the divisional level, where a CRA had at his disposal the fire of three field regiments and occasionally the fire of flank or higher formations.  Major battles, controlled at the Corps or Army level, involved the concentrated fire of 1000 guns or more.

One of many examples of the effectiveness of Canadian and British artillery providing massed, accurate fire occurred in early February 1945 during Operation Veritable - the First Canadian Army’s attack from Nijmegen southeast to the Rhineland.  General Crerar had to make a frontal attack against three successful fortified zones, each firmly anchored on the Rhine River.  The defences included two and three lines of trench works linking strongpoints and reinforced by anti-tank ditches.  Small towns and villages between the second and third zones had been extensively fortified.  General Crerar‘s final objective lay 40 miles from his front lines.  Due to this depth, Operation Veritable was planned in three stages, with enough time between each to regroup infantry and armour and to bring supporting artillery to within range of their new targets.  General Crerar had 30th British Corps under command, while 1st British Corps would provide a secure anchor and deception to the South.  Due to the narrow distance between the Rhine (to the north) and the Maas River (to the south), the initial assault would be made by the five divisions of 30th Corps (including 2nd Canadian Division), and as the distance widened, II Canadian Corps would join in on the left flank.

The artillery support for the operation was intended as a major battle-winning factor.  The 30th Corps Fire Plan was designed to take advantage of a 14:1 advantage in Allied versus German artillery to use massive gunfire to blast a way for the infantry into the enemy’s defences.  The Fire Plan called for: preliminary bombardment to prevent the enemy from interfering with the initial assault; complete saturation of enemy defences; destruction of known concrete positions; immediate supporting fire for the attack; and maximum fire of the medium regiments on the Materborn feature 12,000 yards from the start line, without their having to move forward.

The fire of seven divisional artilleries would be augmented by five AGRA’s and two Anti-Aircraft brigades together with units of Corps and Army level artillery, for a total of 1034 guns (in addition to the 17-pounder Anti-Tank Guns and 40-mm Bofors which would be used with tanks, mortars and machine-guns to “Pepperpot” selected targets).  All known enemy localities, headquarters and communications sites were targeted.  An estimated six-tons of shell would fall on each target.  The concrete defences of the Materborn would be subjected to the fire of the 8-inch Gun M-1 and 240-mm Howitzer M1s of the 3rd Super Heavy Regiment RA located in the 1st British Corps area to the South.

8-inch Gun M-1

The 8-inch Gun M-1 was a 203-mm towed heavy gun developed in the United States and used by both the US Army and the British Army in the Second World War.

240-mm Howitzer M1

The 240-mm Howitzer M1, popularly nicknamed the “Black Dragon”, was a towed Howitzer used by the United States Army.  The 240-mm M1 was designed to replace the First World War era 240-mm Howitzer M1918 which was based on a 1911 French design and was outdated by Second World War.  The project to replace the M1918 began in 1941.  The 240-mm Howitzer was the most powerful weapon deployed by American field artillery units during the Second World War, able to fire a 360 lb (160 kg) high explosive projectile 25,225 yards (23 km).

This Howitzer addressed the requirement for super heavy field artillery capable of attacking heavily reinforced targets like those likely to be found along the West Wall.  It was designed together with the longer ranged 8-inch Gun M1 and they both shared a related carriage.  The 240-mm Howitzer M1 proved very valuable against difficult targets such as heavy concrete fortifications.  Along with its super heavy artillery 8-inch gun design-mate this Howitzer saw considerable action during the Second World War in Europe.[72]

Operation Veritable

The Fire Plan for Operation Veritable was to open with the preparatory fire from 5:00 to 9:45 A.M.  On D Day (8 February 1945).  It would be followed by a Block Barrage planned to support the three central divisions in their advance.  This barrage would last for seventy minutes on the initial positions and was 500 yards deep.  At H Hour the barrage would lift 300 yards, repeating this every twelve minutes to allow for the advancing speed of the infantry and armour over the difficult terrain.

A novel feature was introduced into the schedule for the preliminary bombardment.  Between 7:30 and 7:40 a smoke screen would be fired across the front, followed by 10 minutes of complete silence.  It was hoped that the enemy, assuming that the screen heralded the main assault, would engage with his artillery, thereby exposing his gun positions.  Flash spotters, sound rangers and pen recorders of the locating batteries would attempt to pinpoint the enemy battery positions, allowing counter battery fire to neutralize the exposed enemy guns before H Hour.

A massive ammunition dumping program was carried out by the II Canadian Corps prior to the assault.  More than half a million rounds, weighing more than 10,000-tons were dumped - 700 rounds per gun on Field Gun positions and 400 rounds per gun on medium positions.  In addition 120 truck loads per division of 40-mm, 17-pounder Anti-Tank Gun, 75-mm and 12.7-mm ammunition was dumped for the “Pepperpot” requirement.  More than 10,000 three-inch rockets for the Land Mattress Battery were brought in.

Stunned by the ferocity of the preliminary bombardment of over 500,000 rounds of various natures of ammunition, and pinned down by the tremendous barrage which had expended more than 160,000 shells, the badly disorganized enemy troops offered little resistance to the assaulting infantry and armour.  The effectiveness of the counter battery and counter mortar programs was seen in the almost complete lack of German shelling and mortaring.  Most of the Allied casualties, which were relatively light, came from mines rather than artillery or small arms fire.  Interrogators were told that the bombardment had a devastating effect upon morale, producing a feeling of complete helplessness and isolation, with no prospect of any possible reinforcement.  The artillery fire had also succeeded in seriously disrupting the German lines of communication and resupply.

The day’s success owed much to the contributing factors of well-prepared gun programs, carefully sorted ammunition, much improved meteorological data and recently-calibrated guns.  The massive preparations had been successful in providing effective artillery support to the operation.  It didn’t end there, however.  The artillery would provide continuous support with barrages, screens, direct support and counter battery fire until the enemy was finally beaten three months later.[73]

Newfoundland Gunners in the Second World War

When the Second World War began, as a Dominion governed directly from the UK, Newfoundland declared war a day after the United Kingdom, on 4 September 1939.  However no Newfoundland infantry units were sent overseas.  Instead, it raised two artillery regiments; the 59th (Newfoundland) Heavy Regiment and the 57th (later 166th) (Newfoundland) Field Artillery Regiment.  Britain’s Royal Artillery (RA) recruited and trained some 2,343 volunteers from Newfoundland and Labrador at its own expense.  The 57th fought in North Africa and Italy, while the 59th defended the coasts of Britain before taking part in the battles in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.[74]

The 57th was initially equipped with six 9.2-inch Howitzers and later two 6-inch guns for training purposes in Sussex and Norfolk in England.  As the war progressed the need for Coast Defence became less critical and the 57th was converted to an offensive role and became the 166th (Newfoundland) Field Regiment.  The Newfoundland gunners were shipped to Tunisia in support of the British forces in February 1943.  24 Newfoundlanders were killed in action during the battles in North Africa.  The 166th moved to Italy in October 1943 where it remained in action until the summer of 1945, fighting alongside Allied forces up through the Italian boot.[75]

The 59th was formed shortly after the departure of the 57th and trained until July 1944 when the fighting Newfoundlanders were shipped to France where they took part in the Battle of Normandy.  The 59th gunners were equipped with 7.2-inch Howitzers and 155-mm guns.  From August 1944, the Regiment fought through Belgium and the Netherlands and then Eastward, ending the war in Hamburg, Germany in May 1942.  Many men returned home injured, while 87 died in service.  The 59th (Newfoundland) Heavy Regiment officially disbanded in August 1945, and the 166th followed in October.

In 1949, after a pair of referenda, Newfoundland joined Canada as the latter’s 10th province.  The Royal Newfoundland Regiment became the primary militia unit for the province.  The regiment is ranked last in the Canadian Forces order of precedence due to Newfoundland’s entry into Canada in 1949, long after other Canadian regiments were recognized in the order of precedence.  The designation `Royal`, however, would historically place it first.

Since 1992, soldiers and sub-units of the regiment have served to augment Regular Force units in Cyprus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan on peacekeeping and combat missions.

On Monday 30 August 2010, Corporal Brian Pinkson died of his wounds eight days after being injured by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, making him the regiment’s first combat fatality since the First World War

M59 155-mm Long Tom

The 155-mm Gun M1 and M2 (later M59), widely known as Long Tom, were 155 millimetre-inch Field Guns used by the United States armed forces during the Second World War and Korean War.  The Long Tom replaced the Canon de 155-mm GPF in United States service.  Before entering First World War, the United States was poorly equipped with heavy artillery.  To address this problem a number of foreign heavy artillery guns were adopted, including the Canon de 155-mm GPF.  After the end of the war development work began in the United States on a design to improve upon the existing models of heavy gun and carriage.  A number of prototypes were produced in the 1920s and 1930s, but the projects were put on hold due to lack of funds.  In 1938 the 155-mm Gun T4 on Carriage T2 was finally adopted as 155-mm gun M1 on Carriage M1.

The new design used a barrel broadly similar to the earlier 155-mm GPF, but with an Asbury breech.  The new split-trail carriage featured four road wheels, each mounting two tires.  The wheels could be lifted, allowing the gun to rest on a firing platform.  This made the gun very stable and thus accurate.  The gun was developed into M1A1 and M2 variants.  After Second World War, the United States Army re-organized, and the gun was redesignated as the M59.

The Long Tom saw combat for the first time in North African Campaign on 24 December 1942, with “A” Battery of the 36th Field Artillery Battalion.  Eventually it equipped about 49 battalions, including 40 in the European Theatre and 7 in the Pacific.  The preferable prime mover was initially the Mack NO 6x6 7½-ton truck; from 1943 on it was replaced by the tracked M4 High Speed Tractor.  A small number of Long Tom guns were supplied via lend-lease channels, to the United Kingdom (184) and France (25).[76]

[1]Defensive Fire (DF) targets are areas designated as vulnerable to enemy attack, with lines and ranges worked out by battery command posts in advance, which allows the guns to respond instantly without ranging in the event of a serious enemy attack.  DF plans call for three minutes “intense” (five rounds per gun per minute for three minutes) for 25-pounder Field Guns; three minutes “rapid fire” (one and a half rounds per minute) for Ordnance BL 5.5-inch medium guns; and three minutes “rapid” (one round a minute) for heavy guns when available.  George G. Blackburn, The Guns of Victory, pp. 101-102.

[2] George G. Blackburn, The Guns of Victory, p. 101

[3] Henry Duncan Graham “Harry” Crerar CH, CB, DSO, KStJ, CD, PC (April 28, 1888 - April 1, 1965) was a Canadian General and the country’s “leading field commander” in the Second World War.

[4] George G. Blackburn, The Guns of Normandy, pp.  Xxi-xxii.

[5] The Landing Craft Tank (Self-Propelled) (LCT (SP)) carried self-propelled guns for fire support; in American vessels these were 155-mm, while the British used M7 105-mm self-propelled guns and called them Landing Craft Tank (High Explosive) (LCT (HE)).  Related, was the British Landing Craft Tank (Concrete Buster) (LCT (CB)) which carried three British Sherman 17-pounder Firefly tanks fitted with the 17-pounder high velocity gun, specifically deployed to attack fortifications at Normandy.  Wikipedia.

[6] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, A Condensed History of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1793-1998, 1013, paras 1-12.

[7] Doug Knight, The 2-pounder Anti-Tank Gun in Canadian Service, (Ottawa, Service Publications, 2008), p. 23.

[8] Doug Knight, Tools of the Trade, Equipping the Canadian Army, (Service Pub., Ottawa, 2005), p. 50.

[9] Wikipedia.

[10] W.A. Gregg, Ed., Canada’s Fighting Vehicles, Europe 1943-45, Canadian Military Vehicle Series, Vol. 1, (Rockwood, Ontario, The Canadian Military Historical Society Inc., 1980), p.  V.

[11] W.A. Gregg, Blueprint for Victory, p. 51.

[12] Wikipedia.

[13] Internet:

[14] George G. Blackburn, The Guns of Normandy.  A Soldier’s Eye View, France 1944.  (McClelland & Stewart Inc., Toronto, Ontario, 1995), pp. 212-213.

[15] George G. Blackburn, The Guns of Normandy, p. 198-199.

[16] Internet:

[17] Doug Knight, Tools of the Trade, p. 52.

[18] Internet:

[19] Doug Knight, Tools of the Trade, p. 53.

[20] Internet:

[21] Internet:

[22] George G. Blackburn, Where the Hell are the Guns? Appendix D, p. 408.

[23] In August 1944, 2nd Canadian Division‘s artillery units fired “a barrage of propaganda leaflets expelled from gently popping 25-pounder smoke shells that had their smoke canisters removed.  A veritable flood of Germans, with hands high in the air, presented themselves to the astonished forward companies, induced to surrender by the promise contained in the “Guarantee of Safe Conduct Certificates,” fluttering down on woods and gullies by the thousands.  Every Jerry coming forward to surrender clutches a certificate in one of his upraised hands.”  George G. Blackburn, The Guns of Normandy, pp. 374-375.

[24] A “stonk” involves the guns being laid in such a way as to ensure their shells land in a straight line along a selected map grid-bearing representing an elongated target such as the outer fringe of an orchard or hedgerow.  The 24 guns of one field regiment could effectively stonk a target 840 yards long.  George G. Blackburn, The Guns of Normandy, p. 384.

[25] Internet:

[26] Leslie W.C.S. Barnes, Canada’s Guns, p. 108.

[27] Internet:

[28] George G. Blackburn, The Guns of Normandy, A Soldier’s Eye View, France 1944,  (McClelland & Stewart Inc., Toronto, Ontario, 1995), p. 136.

[29] Internet:

[30] Internet:

[31] Doug Knight, The Sexton SP Gun in Canadian Service, (Ottawa, Service Publications, 2006), p. 17.

[32] Armoured units and Commonwealth Gun crews “relied on the No. 19 Wireless mounted in their tanks.  Manufactured in Canada by Northern Electric, Canadian Marconi and RCA Victor, it was a massive affair with three parts: a High frequency A Set for long-range communications up to a range of 10 miles, a VHF Set supposedly good for 1,000 yards but more likely 300 yards, and an Intercom for internal communication by the crew.”  Donald E.  Graves, South Albertas, A Canadian Regiment at War, (Robin Brass Studios, Toronto, 1998), p. 164.

[33] Doug Knight, The Sexton SP Gun in Canadian Service, (Ottawa, Service Publications, 2006), p. 17.

[34] Internet:

[35] Doug Knight, Tools of the Trade, pp. 55-56.

[36] Internet:

[37] Internet:

[38] Doug Knight, Tools of the Trade, p. 109.

[39] Internet:

[40] Doug Knight, Tools of the Trade, p. 56.

[41] Internet:

[42] Internet:

[43] Internet:

[44] George G. Blackburn, The Guns of Normandy, pp. 245-246.

[45] George G. Blackburn, The Guns of Normandy, p. 277.

[46] Internet:

[47] George G. Blackburn, Where the Hell are the Guns?, p. 97.

[48] Internet:

[49] George G. Blackburn, Where the Hell are the Guns? pp. 35-36.

[50] Internet:

[51] Internet:

[52] Internet:

[53] Leslie W.C. Barnes, Canada’s Guns, p. 99.

[54] Internet:

[55] E-mail, LCol Terry Honour, 18 Dec 2012.

[56] Doug Knight, Tools of the Trade, p. 96.

[57] Donald E. Graves, South Albertas, inside cover pages.

[58] Internet:

[59] Internet, Canada at War Forum, Spaniard,

[60] Internet:

[61] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, A Condensed History of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1793-1998, 1013, paras 14-15.

[62] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, 1013, paras 13.

[63] Internet:

[64] Leslie W.C.S. Barnes, Canada’s Guns, p. 101.

[65] Internet:

[66] Doug Knight, Tools of the Trade, p. 52.

[68] Clive Law, Making Tracks - Tank Production in Canada, (Service Publications, Ottawa, Canada 2001) p. 8..

[69] Roger V. Lucy, The Skink in Canadian Service, (Ottawa, Service Publications, 2005), p. 24.

[70] Internet:

[71] George G. Blackburn, Where the Hell are the Guns? p. 454.

[72] Internet:

[73] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, A Condensed History of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1793-1998, 1013, paras 14-23.

[75] Internet;

[76] Internet:

Canada’s Coast Defences

Coastal artillery is the branch of armed forces concerned with operating anti-ship artillery or fixed gun batteries in coastal fortifications.  It has been held as a general rule of thumb, that one shore-based gun equalled three Naval guns of the same-inch, due to the steadiness of the coastal gun which allowed for significantly higher accuracy than their sea-mounted counterparts.  Land-based guns also benefited in most cases from the protection of walls or earth mounds which gave the guns an added measure of protection.

Most of the artillery employed in the Coast Defence of Canada was much the same for both the First World War and the Second World War.

“The defence of Canada’s ports and harbours rested mainly on two types of guns, the BL 6-inch Gun Mk VII and the BL 9.2-inch Naval Gun Mk X ,” both of which had been developed early in the century.  Guns for home defence were in short supply, particularly in the early years of both wars, necessitating the employment of Field Guns ranging from the earliest-model 18-pounder Field Guns to American versions of the French 75-mm.  In a few cases, 6-pounder Guns of the Boer War era were engaged in halting shipping for “examination.”  The main defences of the port of Saint John, New Brunswick, for example included three very old BL 7.5-inch Naval Gun Mk VIs at Mispec Battery.[1]

Atlantic Command

Atlantic Command was a formation of the Canadian Army created during the Second World War to strengthen and administer home defence facilities on Canada’s Atlantic Coast  A second major function was to train reinforcements to be sent to the Canadian divisions in Europe.  Most of those soldiers received and trained with their personal weapons in Camp Debert before being transported by train to Halifax where they embarked on troop ships that took them to Britain. 

Atlantic Command combined the pre-war Military District No. 6 (Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia) with Military District No. 5 (New Brunswick) and Military District No. 7 (the eastern part of the Province of Québec bordering the Gulf of Saint Lawrence).  Extending the existing military cooperation among Canada, the Dominion of Newfoundland and the United Kingdom, Atlantic Command also controlled Canadian personnel stationed in Newfoundland.  The Command included the following forces:

Halifax Fortress Defences were comprised of the 1st (Halifax) Coast Regiment, RCA; 21st Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RCA; The Lanark and Renfrew Scottish Regiment; 2nd Battalion, The Black Watch (R.H.R.) of Canada (attached from 7th Canadian Infantry Division).

Saint John Defences, consisting of the 3rd (New Brunswick) Coast Regiment, RCA; 22nd Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RCA; Le Régiment de Chateauguay (Militia); The Prince Edward Island Highlanders.

Sydney and Canso Defences consisted of the 16th Coast Regiment, RCA; 23rd Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RCA; Les Fusiliers du St. Laurent (less two companies); 2nd/10th Dragoons C.I.C (attached from 7th Canadian Infantry Division).

Shelburne Defences included the 104th Coast Battery, RCA; and one company of Les Fusiliers du St. Laurent.

Gaspé Defences combined the 105th Coast Battery, RCA; and one company of Les Fusiliers du St. Laurent.

Goose Bay Defences were provided by the 108th Coast Battery, RCA; and the New Brunswick Rangers.

Newfoundland (based in St. John’s) was defended by the 25th Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RCA; 26th Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RCA; 103rd Coast Battery, RCA; 106th Coast Battery, RCA; Le Régiment de Joliette; The Pictou Highlanders; The Lincoln and Welland Regiment (until May 1943); Le Régiment de St. Hyacinthe (from May 1943); and 7th Canadian Infantry Division (March 1942 - October 1943).

Divisional troops based at Camp Debert, Nova Scotia included the 15th Infantry Brigade (based at Camp Debert); 17th Infantry Brigade (based at Camp Sussex, New Brunswick); and 20th Infantry Brigade (based at Camp Debert).[2]

Coast Defence Artillery

QF 4-inch Gun 

The QF 4-inch Guns Mk I, II, III were early British QF (quick-firing) Naval guns originating in 1895.  They all had barrels of 40-inchs length.  From 1906 a number of Mk III guns were transferred from the Royal Navy for use as coast defence guns around the United Kingdom, and remained until 1939.[3]  Many were installed in Newfoundland and Canada’s Maritime Coast Defence positions.

QF 4.7-inch 72 cwt Gun Mk IV

The QF 4.7-inch 72 cwt Gun Marks I, II, III, and IV were a family of United-Kingdom 120-mm Naval and coast defence guns of 1888 and 1890s which served with the navies of various countries.  They were also mounted on various wheeled carriages to provide the British Army with a long range gun.  They all had a bore of 40-inchs length.  The gun was originally designed to replace the older BL 5-inch (127-mm) Naval guns.  It was optimised for the modern smokeless propellants such as Cordite and could be loaded and fired far more rapidly than the BL 5-inch gun while firing a shell only slightly lighter.  In 1940, some of these weapons were emplaced in Coast Defence batteries.[4]

BL 6-inch Gun Mk VII

The BL 6-inch Gun Mark VII (and the related Mk VIII) was a British Naval gun dating from 1899.  The gun was mounted on a heavy traveling carriage in 1915 for British Army service to become one of the main heavy Field Guns in the First World War.  It also served as one of the main coast defence guns throughout the British Empire until the 1950s.

The gun superseded the QF 6-inch gun of the 1890s, a period during which the Royal Navy had evaluated QF technology (i.e.  Loading propellant charges in Brass cartridge cases) for all classes of guns up to 6-inch to increase rates of fire.  BL Mk VII returned to loading charges in silk bags after it was determined that with new single-action breech mechanisms a 6-inch BL gun could be loaded, vent tube inserted and fired as quickly as a QF 6-inch gun.  Cordite charges in silk bags stored for a BL gun were also considered to represent a considerable saving in weight and magazine space compared to the bulky Brass QF cartridge cases.

The BL 6-inch Gun Mk VII, together with the BL 9.2-inch Naval Gun Mk X, provided the main coast defence throughout the British Empire, from the early 1900s until the abolition of Coast Artillery in the 1950s.  Many guns were specially built for army coast defence use, and following the decommissioning of many obsolete cruisers and battleships after First World War, their 6-inch Mk VII guns were also recycled for coast defence.

103 of these guns were in service in the First World War in Coast Defences around the UK.  Some of these, together with others at ports around the wider British Empire, played an important defence role in the Second World War and remained in service until the 1950s.  One can be viewed at Fort Ogilvie, Point Pleasant Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia.[5]

BL 9.2-inch Naval Gun

The BL 9.2-inch Gun Mk IX and Mk X were British 46.7-inchs Naval and coast defence guns in service from 1899 to the 1950s.  They had possibly the longest, most varied and successful service history of any British heavy Ordnance.   These guns succeeded the 9.2-inch Mk VIII and increased the bore length from 40 to 46.7-inchs, increasing the muzzle velocity from 2,347 feet per second (715 m/s) to 2,643 feet per second (806 m/s).  The Mk IX was designed as a coast defence gun, but only 14 were built.  The Mk X was introduced in 1900.  These guns were ‘counter-bombardment’ guns designed to defeat ships up to heavy cruisers armed with 8-inch guns.  They were deployed in the fixed defences of major defended ports throughout the British Empire until the 1950s.

Their role was to defeat enemy ships attacking the ships in a port, including warships, alongside or at anchor in the port.  However, where guns covered narrows, such as the Dover Straits or Straits of Gibraltar, they also had a wider role of engaging enemy ships passing through the straits.  Normally deployed in batteries of two or three guns, a few major ports had several batteries positioned miles apart.

The Mk X was the final Mark of 9.2-inch guns in British Commonwealth service.  Three saw service in Halifax and two in Vancouver during the Second World War.  In the 1950s these Canadian guns were transferred, under NATO auspices, to Portugal (Azores) and Turkey.[6]  A mock-up 9.2-inch gun is on display at Fort Rodd Hill, British Columbia.

BL 10-inch Gun Mk I

The BLR 10-inch guns Mks I, II, III, IV were British 32-calibre Naval and coast defence guns which went into service in 1885 firing a 500-pound projectile.  The Mk I was an Elswick Ordnance design used only for Coast Defence.  The Marks II, III and IV were interchangeable Woolwich Arsenal designs used on warships but also for Coast Defence around the British Empire.  After the Mk IV of 1889 the Royal Navy discontinued the 10-inch gun in favour of 9.2-inch and 12-inch guns.[7]

One of these guns is mounted on the ramparts of a coast defence position on McNab’s Island, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

RML 9-inch 12-ton Gun

The RML 9-inch guns Mark I - Mark VI were large rifled muzzle-loading guns used as primary armament on smaller British ironclad battleships and secondary armament on larger battleships, and also ashore for coast defence.  The rifling was the “Woolwich” Pattern of a relatively small number of broad, rounded shallow grooves: there were 6 grooves, increasing from 0 to 1 turn in 45-inchs (i.e. 405-inches).[8]

There are five RML 9-inch 12-ton Guns and one RML 10-inch 18-ton Gun mounted and well preserved on the ramparts of the coast defence battery at York Redoubt National Historic Site near Halifax.  The 9-inch guns fired a projectile of 246 pounds (116 kg.) at an effective range of 2,000 yards (1829 m.).  Great guns such as these were installed in major Canadian forts from the 1860s.  During the 1880s, the eight forts defending Halifax were equipped with thirty-eight 9-inch (22.8-cm.) guns as well as fifteen 10-inch (25.4-cm.), fifteen 7-inch (17.7-cm.) and nine RML 64-pounder Guns set in place to defend the city against enemy warships.  The mountings and the concrete ‘Moncrieff’ emplacement pit, named after its designer, were a refinement of the 1890s which allowed the gunners to fire the gun over a high parapet while being well protected from enemy fire. (Parks Canada)

RML 10-inch 18-ton Gun

The RML 10-inch guns Mark I - Mark II were large rifled muzzle-loading guns designed for British battleships and monitors.  In Canada they were used ashore for coast defence.  The 10-inch gun was a standard “Woolwich” design characterised by having a steel A tube with relatively few broad, rounded and shallow rifling grooves), developed in 1868.  This gun was based on the successful RML 9-inch 12 ton Gun Mk III.  The gun was rifled with seven grooves, increasing 1 turn in 100 calibres to 1 in 40.  It went into service in 1868.  The gun’s primary projectile was “Palliser” shot or shell, an early armour-piercing projectile for striking armoured warships.[9]

One of these guns is mounted in the Citadel at Quebec City, another stands on the ramparts of York Redoubt, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and many others may be found in the Halifax defence works remaining from the 19th century.

French Hispano-Suiza HS.404 20-mm AA Gun

The Hispano-Suiza HS.404 AA Gun was an autocannon widely used as both an aircraft and land weapon in the 20th century by British, American, French, and numerous other military services.  The cannon is also referred to as Birkigt type 404, after its designer.  Firing a 20-mm-inch projectile, it delivered a useful load of explosive from a relatively light weapon.  This made it an ideal Anti-Aircraft weapon for mounting on light vehicles, as well as a fighter aircraft gun replacing the multiple 7.62-mm (.30-inch) and 7.7-cm (.303-inch) machine-guns commonly used in military aircraft in the 1930s.[10]

Danish Madsen 20 mm AA Machine Cannon M/38

The Madsen was produced by the Danish company Dansk Industri Syndikat (Danish Industry Syndicate) - DISA - in Herlev near Copenhagen and was used by the military of Denmark in different types of mounting.  This gun was originally constructed by Colonel V. H.O. Madsen and was therefore widely known as the 20 mm Madsen Cannon.  A version with a necked-out 23 mm round was also produced, generally known as the 23 mm Madsen.

The mountings were also produced by DISA in the following types: Field Mount, AA Defence Mount, Sidecar mounting with the Danish motorcycle Nimbus, and Maritime mount.  This gun was exported by DISA to several countries.[11]

One is on display in the NBMHM, CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick.

QF 4-inch Gun Mk XVI

The QF 4-inch Gun Mk XVI was the standard British Commonwealth Naval Anti-Aircraft and dual-purpose gun of the Second World War.  The Mk XVI superseded the earlier QF 4-inch Mk V Naval gun on many Royal Naval ships during the late 1930s and early 1940s.  These guns were usually mounted on HA/LA Mark XIX twin mountings, although several Australian frigates and corvettes had single-gun Mk XX mountings.[12]

One QF 4-inch/45 Gun Mk XVI is on display in the Naval Museum of Alberta.  One is mounted onboard HMCS Haida, Hamilton harbour, Ontario.  HMCS Sackville Halifax harbour, Nova Scotia is armed with one QF 4-inch/45 Gun Mk IX.  CFB Halifax has a QF 4-inch/45 Gun Mk XXI mounted at MARCOM HQ in the Halifax Dockyard.

During the Second World War HMCS Haida sank more enemy surface-tonnage than any other Canadian warship.  She is also the only surviving Tribal-class destroyer out of 27 vessels that were constructed between 1937-1945 for the Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy and the RCN.  She now serves as a museum ship on the waterfront of Hamilton, Ontario, and was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1984.  HMCS Haida, was armed with two Ordnance QF 4-inch/45 Twin Gun Mk XVI Guns, mounted in deck gun turrets; one Ordnance QF 3-inch/50 Twin Gun Mk 33 turret, one Ordnance QF 40-mm/56 Bofors Quadruple AA Gun turret, and Oerlikon 20-mm/70 Twin AA Guns.

HMCS Sackville was a Royal Canadian Navy Flower-class corvette as a convoy escort ship on the North Atlantic runs during the Second World War.  She later served as a civilian research vessel.  She is now a museum ship located in Halifax, Nova Scotia and the last surviving Flower-class corvette.  HMCS Sackville, was armed with one QF 4-inch/45 Gun Mk IX, mounted in a deck gun turret; one QF 40-mm/39 2-pounder Gun Mk VIII on Anti-Aircraft mount; one 20-mm/70 Oerlikon Twin Anti-Aircraft Gun turret and Hedgehog anti-submarine depth-charges. 

HMS Niobe was a ship of the Diadem-class of protected cruiser in the Royal Navy.  She served in the Boer War and was then given to Canada as the first ship of the then newly-created Royal Canadian Navy as HMCS Niobe.  After patrol duties at the beginning of the First World War, she became a depot ship in Halifax.  Classes at the Royal Naval College of Canada were held on HMCS Niobe, a ship used to train the cadets.  Damaged in the 1917 Halifax Explosion, she was scrapped in the 1920s.  As the first large ship in the Royal Canadian Navy, Niobe′s name has considerable symbolic importance in the Royal Canadian Navy.[13]

Two of HMCS Niobe’s guns were later used as part of New Brunswick’s coastal defences, one is on display at the entrance to HMCS Brunswicker, Saint John, New Brunswick, and the second is on display at the 3rd Field Regiment Armoury, also in Saint John, New Brunswick.

QF 6-inch/40 Naval Gun

The QF 6 inch 40-inch naval gun was used by many United Kingdom-built warships around the end of the 19th century and start of the 20th century.  In UK service it was known as the QF 6 inch Mk I, II, III guns.  The Mk III version was mounted on HMCS Niobe, and HMS Calypso, used by the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve.  One of HMS Calypso’s QF 6-inch Mk III Naval Guns is on display at the Royal Armouries, Fort Nelson, Portsmouth, in the United Kingdom.  It was built in 1893 by the Elswick Ordnance Company.[14]

HMS Calypso was a corvette (redesignated as a third-class cruiser from 1888) of the Royal Navy and the name ship of her class.  Built for distant cruising in the heyday of the British Empire, she served as a warship and training vessel until 1922, when she was sold.  As originally classified as a screw corvette, Calypso was one of the Royal Navy’s last sailing corvettes.  She supplemented her extensive sail rig with powerful engines.  Among the first of the smaller cruisers to be given all-metal hulls, she nevertheless was cased with timber and coppered below the water line, as were wooden ships.

Unlike her more famous sister Calliope, Calypso had a quiet career, consisting mainly of training cruises in the Atlantic Ocean.  In 1902 she was sent to the colony of Newfoundland, where she served as a training vessel for the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve before and during the First World War.  Prior to the outbreak of war candidates had to be fishermen or sailors, and the RVNR maintained a reserve strength of 500–600 men.  By 1914, over 1,400 seamen had been trained, and more than 400 answered the call to arms on the outbreak of the First World War.  The Reserve provided crew for ships of the Royal Navy, including over 100 seamen taken aboard HMCS Niobe a month after the start of the war, the first group of Newfoundlanders to go to war.  It also provided home defence, including manning artillery at the entrance to the St. Johns harbour, and the protection of Newfoundland’s shore and shipping. Calypso and a small, slow armed patrol vessel were the colony’s only warships.

In 1916, Calypso was renamed HMS Briton, and surrendered her former name to a new light cruiser laid down in that year, which entered service in 1917.  HMS Briton was sold in 1922, and was used in St. John’s for the storage of salt.  In 1952 she was towed to Lewisporte harbour.  Some thought was given to preservation, but in 1968 she was towed to a coastal bay near Embree, and burned to the waterline.  Her hull still is there, awash in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  Her anchor sits outside a local inn, and other artefacts are in museums, including two of her 2 ½ pounder Brass Guns on iron carriages in Admiralty House.[15]

FMC 3-inch/50 Twin Gun Mk 33

The 3-inch/50-inch gun in Naval gun terminology indicates the gun fired a projectile 3-inches (7.62-cm) in diameter, and the barrel was 50-inchs long (barrel length is 3” x 50 = 150” or 3.81 metres).[16]  Different guns (identified by Mark numbers) of this-inch were used by the RCN on a number of warship classes, including the aircraft carrier HMCS Bonaventure, Tribal Class Destroyer Escorts (batch 1 and Batch 2), HMCS St Laurent, HMCS Restigouche (non-IRE), HMCS MacKenzie, and HMCS Annapolis; and on ASW Frigates HMCS Algonquin and HMCS Crescent as well as the HMCS Protector class AORs.

The twin guns had a range of 13.4 km at an elevation of 45 degrees and 9.3 km at 90 degrees.  The guns could fire at a rate of 50 rounds per barrel per minute.  Designed in the USA in 1945, these guns saw service with the RCN and Canadian Forces Sea Element from 1950 to 1998.[17] 

Examples can be seen on the grounds of Toronto Staff College and on the grounds of RMC, Kingston, Ontario.  CFB Kingston has one placed near 1st Division Headquarters.

RML 64-pounder 58-cwt Gun

The SBML 32-pounder Gun was designed and used by the British Armed Forces in the mid-19th century.  The guns were capable of firing a projectile of 32 lb (15 kg).  Introduced in 1847 and they were used by the Royal Artillery on land and the Royal Navy at sea.  The introduction of rifled muzzle-loading (RML) guns rendered smoothbore guns obsolete. 

Smoothbore guns still existed in large numbers and various attempts were made to adapt the guns to fire new projectiles.  Eventually Captain William Palliser patented a method of boring out the gun barrel and inserting a wrought iron rifled liner.  This allowed rifled shot to be fired from old smoothbore Carronade and experiments revealed that it made them even more powerful than they had been before.  The 32-pounders converted in this way were classed as 32-pounder RML 58-cwt or 64-pounder RML 58-cwt.  They had a-inch of 6.3-inches (16-cm) and a muzzle velocity of 1,245 ft/s (379 m/s).   Introduced in 1870, they remained in service until they were declared obsolete in 1908.[18]

Dundas Millar SBML 68-pounder Gun

The British SBML 68-pounder Gun was designed and used in the mid-19th century.  The gun was manufactured in several weights, the most common being 95 long-cwt (4,800 kg), and fired projectiles of 68 lb (31 kg).  Colonel William Dundas designed the 112-cwt version in 1841 and it was cast the following year.  The most common variant, weighing 95-cwt, dates from 1846.  It entered service with the Royal Artillery and the Royal Navy and saw active service with both arms during the Crimean War.  Over 2,000 were made and it gained a reputation as the finest smoothbore Carronade ever made

Because the 68-pounder and other smoothbores still existed in large numbers, various attempts were made to adapt the guns to fire new projectiles.  Eventually Captain William Palliser patented a method of boring out the gun barrel and inserting a wrought iron rifled liner.  This allowed rifled shot and shells to be fired from old smoothbore Carronades and experiments revealed that it made them even more powerful than they had been before.  Introduced in 1872, 68-pounders adapted in this way had a-inch of 6.3-inches (16.00-cm) and were known as a RML 68-pounder Gun, or officially as the RML 80-pounder 5-ton.  With a 10 lb (4.5 kg) powder charge they could fire an 80 lb (36 kg) projectile at a muzzle velocity of 1,240 feet per second (380 m/s).  They were deployed as coast defence and garrison artillery around the British Empire and remained in service until eventually declared obsolete in 1921.[19]

BL 7.5-inch Mk VI Naval Gun

The BL 7.5-inch gun Mk VI Naval Gun was a 45-inch “built-up” gun with two tubes, full-length wire winding, a jacket, and Welin breech block with hand operated Asbury mechanism.  They used two cloth bags each containing 14 kg (31 pounds) of cordite to fire a 200-pound (91-kg) projectile up to 19 kilometres at their maximum elevation of 30 degrees.  Useful life expectancy was 650 effective full charges (EFC) per barrel.  Two made for Canada before the First World War were known as the Mk C, and differed slightly in rifling from the Mk V.  Three guns were installed as Coast Artillery in Canada during the Second World War.[20]

BL 6-inch Sea Coast Gun M1903A2

The BL 6-inch gun is a manually loaded rapid fire gun and has a maximum range of 27,500 yards.  It fires separately loaded ammunition and is directed by the data transmission system.  An electric-hydraulic power unit, manually controlled, is used to elevate and depress the gun.  The gun is mounted on an M1903A2 barbette carriage M1.  A heavy metal shield over the top, front and sides of the gun provides protection for the gun crew and gun from against enemy fire and bomb fragments.[21]

Newfoundland was a British crown colony/dominion until 1949.  However, Canada assumed responsibility for all local defences after 1941.  The American Government gave Great Britain 50 warships to gain use of bases in Newfoundland and other areas during the Second World War (the Lend-Lease Act), therefore much of the remains of the Coast Defences consist of American guns.

BL 10-inch M1888 Gun on M1894M1 disappearing carriage

A disappearing gun (often called a disappearing carriage) is a type of heavy (mainly coastal) artillery for which the gun carriage enabled the gun to rotate backwards and down into a pit protected by a wall (the parapet) or a bunker after it was fired.  This retraction lowered the gun from view by the enemy while it was being reloaded.

It also made reloading easier, since it lowered the breech to a level just above the loading platform, and shells could be rolled right up to the open breech for loading and ramming.  Although it had these advantages, the disappearing carriage was also a complicated mechanism.  In the US, disappearing carriages were mostly withdrawn from active service by the early 1920s.

Though effective against ships, the guns turned out to be vulnerable to aerial attack.  After the First World War batteries of disappearing guns were usually casemated for protection or covered with camouflage for concealment.  By 1912, the guns were declared obsolete in the British Army, with only some other countries, particularly the United States, still producing them up to First World War and keeping them active through to the end of the Second World War. 

Because of its proximity to convoy routes during the Second World War, a gun battery was installed at Cape Spear to defend the entrance to St. John’s harbour.  Barracks and underground passages leading to the bunkers were built for the use of troops stationed there.   One gun is still in place at Cape Spear, Newfoundland.

Pacific Command

Pacific Command was a formation of the Canadian Army created during the Second World War to strengthen and administer home defence facilities on Canada’s Pacific Coast Against possible Japanese attack.  A second major function was to train reinforcements to be sent to the Canadian divisions in Europe.  Pacific Command combined the pre-war Military District No. 11 (British Columbia and the Yukon Territory) with Military District No. 13 (Alberta and the District of Mackenzie of the Northwest Territories).  The command headquarters was initially housed in Esquimalt Fortress near Victoria, but on 30 November 1942 it was moved to the Old Vancouver Hotel in downtown Vancouver.

After the United States entered the war in December 1941, Canada and the Americans coordinated their defence of the West Coast of North America.  Thus Pacific Command operated in close cooperation with Western Defense Command to the south and with Alaska Defense Command to the north.

The troops of Pacific Command were concentrated in the three strategic coastal centres: Victoria-Esquimalt, the capital of British Columbia and the location of Canada’s Pacific Naval base and headquarters; Vancouver, the largest city in British Columbia, Canada’s largest port on the Pacific, and the Pacific terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway; and Prince Rupert, the second Pacific terminus of the Canadian National Railway (in addition to Vancouver).

In August 1943 troops of Pacific Command participated in Operation Cottage, in the final stages of the Aleutian Islands campaign.  However, that campaign ended without a shot being fired when it was discovered that the Japanese occupiers of Kiska had already evacuated the island.

Apart from one incident when a Japanese submarine shelled the lighthouse at Estevan Point on 20 June 1942, and the arrival of ineffectual fire balloons launched from Japan between November 1944 and April 1945, the feared military threat from Japan never materialized.  The two home defence infantry divisions attached to Pacific Command were thus broken up and their personnel were redistributed to other formations.[22]

The Pacific Command formations included Victoria and Esquimalt Fortresses defended by the 31st (Alberta) Reconnaissance Regiment, CAC; 5th (B.C.) Coast Regiment, RCA; 27th Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RCA; 21st Field Regiment, RCA; 3rd Battalion, The Regina Rifle Regiment; Le Régiment de Hull.

Vancouver Defences included the 15th (Vancouver) Coast Regiment, RCA; 28th Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RCA; The Royal Rifles of Canada; and The Canadian Fusiliers (City of London Regiment).

Prince Rupert Defences consisted of the 17th (North British Columbia) Coast Regiment, RCA; 29th Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RCA; 34th Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RCA (at Annette Island, Alaska); one battery of the 22nd Field Regiment, RCA; The Midland Regiment (Northumberland and Durham); The Winnipeg Grenadiers; two companies of the King’s Own Rifles of Canada; 30th Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RCA (Vancouver Island); Pacific Coast Militia Rangers; Pacific Command Water Transport Company, RCASC; and the 19th Infantry Brigade, Command Reserve (Vernon).

Additional coast defence was provided by the 6th Canadian Infantry Division defending Vancouver Island, (March 1942 - December 1944); Divisional troops based in Esquimalt; 13th Infantry Brigade (Port Alberni); 18th Infantry Brigade (Nanaimo).  The 8th Canadian Infantry Division defended Northern British Columbia, (March 1942 - October 1943), with Divisional troops based in Prince George; 14th Infantry Brigade (Terrace); and 16th Infantry Brigade (Prince George). [23]

Ordnance QF 3-pounder Vickers Maxim Gun

The Ordnance QF 3-pounder Vickers was a British artillery piece first tested in Britain in 1910.  It was used on Royal Navy warships.  It was more powerful than, and unrelated to, the older QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss, with a propellant charge approximately twice as large, but it initially fired the same Lyddite and Steel shells as the Hotchkiss.

Starting in 1914, the Royal Navy bought over 150 of these for use as anti-torpedo boat weapons on capital ships and to arm light craft.  British production of these guns started in 1910 at Vickers and by the time production stopped in 1936 a total of 600 weapons had been made.  By 1911 about 193 guns of this type were in service, and they became standard equipment in the Royal Navy until 1915.  In that year, service during the First World War proved these weapons to be ineffective and they were quickly removed from most of the larger ships.  During the interwar years they were widely used to arm light ships and river craft.[24]

Two are on display with 4 Air Defence Regiment, CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick.  One is a Mk VI; the second is a Mk VII.

There were approximately 10 armed forts and gun positions established along the Pacific West Coast  The ones in the Strait of Juan de Fuca were integrated with the American Coast Defences.  As the war progressed and the threat of attack diminished, the forts were gradually drawn down and demobilised.  The last Coast Defences along the West Coast of Canada at Fort Rodd Hill were disbanded in 1958.[25]

QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss Gun

The QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss Gun was a light 47-mm Naval gun introduced in 1886 to defend against new small fast vessels such as torpedo boats, and later submarines.  It was also used ashore as a coast defence gun and later occasionally as an AA Gun.  In 1886 this gun was the first of the modern QF artillery to be adopted by the Royal Navy as Ordnance QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss, built under licence by Elswick Ordnance Company.

By the onset of the First World War the Hotchkiss gun was obsolete, and was gradually replaced in its class by the more powerful Ordnance QF 3-pounder Vickers gun.  In spite of their age, many were brought back into service on merchant vessels used for auxiliary duties in the Second World War, or as subcalibre guns for gunnery practice until the 1950s.  Early in the Second World War a number of these guns were pressed into service in ports around the British Empire to defend against possible incursions by motor torpedo boats, until the modern QF 6-pounder Hotchkiss Gun became available in numbers for that purpose.[26]  One is on display on Signal Hill, St. John’s, Newfoundland.

QF 6-pounder Hotchkiss Gun

The QF 6-pounder Hotchkiss was a light 57-mm Naval gun and coast defence gun of the late 19th century used by many countries, and was adapted for use in the early British tanks in the First World War.   These guns were used as examination guns[27] at coastal forts in the Second World War, including Barrett Point battery near Prince Rupert, British Columbia.[28]

US 8-inch Gun Mk VI, mod 3A2, on railway mount M1A1

The 8-inch Mk VI, mod 3A2, on railway mount M1A1 was a Second World War version of the earlier M1888 gun, and was used to support Coast Artillery fortifications.  The Mk VI railway gun was quickly put together at the start of the Second World War, to supplement and replace the older First World War M1888 railway gun.  These guns had a very short life, rolling out in February of 1941, and being cut up for scrap immediately after the war.  The gun was based on the US Navy’s 8-inch (200-mm) Mk VI, and may have been built at Watervliet Arsenal.  It was mounted in Barbette as well as on the M1A1 railway carriage.[29]

Fort Rodd Hill

Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site is a 19th-century Coast Artillery fort on the Colwood, British Columbia side of Esquimalt Harbour, (Greater Victoria/Victoria BC Metropolitan Area).  The site is adjacent to Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site, the first lighthouse on the West Coast of Canada.  In 1878, when a crisis in British-Russian affairs in the Balkans made war appear imminent, the first Coast Artillery batteries were positioned to protect Victoria and Esquimalt harbours.  These coast defences stayed in existence for nearly 80 years until they were outmoded by new technology.  In 1956, they were declared obsolete and the guns removed.

The type and-inch of the guns at Fort Rodd Hill evolved over time.  Between February 1894 and October 1897, two separate forts were constructed: one at Macaulay Point (site of earlier earthwork batteries), and an entirely new location at Rodd Hill, a bluff of rock overlooking the western side of the narrow entrance to Esquimalt harbour.  Both forts would each mount three 6-inch disappearing guns (Mk VI barrels on a Mk IV mounting).  Because of limitations of space in Rodd Hill, two of these guns were mounted with a common magazine in the “Lower Battery,” while the third required a separate battery (along with an underground magazine, loopholed wall, water supply, guardhouse, etc.) on another, higher hill some 200 metres away, named, logically, “Upper Battery.”

BL 6-inch Gun

The BL 6-inch disappearing Guns at Fort Rodd Hill were sighted in concrete emplacements ten feet thick, which were in turn protected by the rock massif of the hillside into which they were sunk.  The barrels were normally kept down in the loading position, within the protection of the concrete emplacement (which also had an overhead metal shield).  Using a central Observation Post and remote electric dial system to pass target information, the guns would be loaded and aimed while in the “down” position.  Only when actually about to fire, would the large hydro-pneumatic system raise the 5-tonne barrel up over the parapet.

In addition to these medium guns (intended to fend off an attack by up to six enemy light cruisers), smaller quick-firing guns were sited, in order to deal with the potential threat of fast, unarmoured torpedo boats.  At Fort Rodd, a separate emplacement, called the Belmont Battery was constructed to house two Quick-Firing 12-pounder Guns, which were assisted by two sets of “Defence Electric Lights” (searchlights), which were powered by diesel engines and generators concealed in an engine room built into the landward side of a hill.

For heavy, “counter-bombardment” defence, a battery of BL 9.2-inch Mk X Naval Guns was built at Signal Hill, on the east side of Esquimalt harbour.  These guns did not become active until 1912, and even then were rarely fired, as the concussion caused much damage to windows in Esquimalt village, directly below the battery.[30]

QF 6-pounder 10-cwt Gun

The British QF 6-pounder 10-cwt Gun was a 57-mm twin-mount light coast defence and Naval gun from the 1930s to 1950s.  Following the emergence of small fast attack craft during First World War, it was decided that the British Royal Navy Dockyards were vulnerable to attack by Motor torpedo boats which had the speed to evade the heavy coast defence guns which defended them.  In 1925, a design was adopted for a twin barrelled weapon capable of sustained semi-automatic fire.  Both barrels of the weapon could be fired singly or they could be combined.  The pedestal mounting accommodated the gun crew who were protected from the front, sides and overhead by a large shield.[31]  One QF 6-pounder 10-cwt Twin Gun turret defended the British Columbia Coast At Fort Rodd Hill and is still in place.

QF 12-pounder 12-cwt Gun

The QF 12-pounder 12-cwt Gun was a common 3-inch (76-mm)-inch Naval gun introduced in 1894 and used until the middle of the 20th century.  It was produced by Armstrong Whitworth, Elswick and used on Royal Navy warships.  In British service, the term “12-pounder Gun” was a rounded reference to the projectile weight and “12-cwt” referred to the weight of the barrel and breech: 12 hundredweight = 12 x 112 pounds = 1344 pounds, to differentiate it from other 12-pounder Guns.

The Gun was traversed manually by the gunlayer as he stood on the left side with his arm hooked over a shoulder piece as he aimed, while he operated the elevating handwheel with his left hand and grasped the pistol grip with trigger in his right hand.[32]

[1] Leslie W.C.S. Barnes, Canada’s Guns, p. 100.

[2] Internet:

[3] Internet:

[4] Internet:

[5] Internet:

[6] Internet:

[7] Internet:

[8] Internet:

[9] Internet:

[10] Internet:

[11] Internet:

[12] Internet:

[13] Internet:

[14] Internet:

[15] Internet:

[16] Internet:

[17] Internet,

[18] Internet:

[19] Internet:

[20] Internet:

[21] US Army Technical Manual TM 9-428, p. 2-4.

[22] Internet:

[23] Internet:

[24] Internet, Ordnance QF 3-pounder Vickers Maxim Gun.

[25] Internet:

[26] Internet:

[27] Examination Guns like the Hotchkiss 6 Pounder were was used to fire a 6 pound solid-shot across the bows of ships which had failed to respond to signal lamps.  It is recorded that several shots were occasionally required to alert some ship’s masters to the presence of the gun battery.  A shot across the bows was to remind them that they needed to respond to signals in order to prevent the Examination Gun’s ‘big brothers’ from joining in.  Internet:

[28] Internet:

[29] Internet:

[30] Internet:

[31] Internet:

[32] Internet:

Canadians at War in North West Europe

On 6 June 1944, the 3rd Canadian Division landed on Juno Beach in the Battle of Normandy and sustained 50% casualties in their first hour of attack.  By the end of D-Day, the Canadians had penetrated deeper into France than either the British or the American troops at their landing sites, overcoming stronger resistance than any of the other beachheads except Omaha Beach.  In the first month of the Normandy campaign, Canadian, British and Polish troops were opposed by some of the strongest and best trained German troops in the theatre, including the 1st SS Division, the 12th SS Division and the Panzer-Lehr-Division.  Several costly operations were mounted by the Canadians to fight a path to the pivotal city of Caen and then south towards Falaise, part of the Allied attempt to liberate Paris.  Canadian troops played a heavy role in the liberation of Paris. 

Canadian fought in casualty intensive battles to close the Falaise Gap, but by the time the First Canadian Army linked up with American forces, the destruction of the German Army in Normandy was nearly complete.  Three Victoria Crosses were earned by Canadians in Northwest Europe; Major David Currie of the South Alberta Regiment won the Victoria Cross for his actions at Saint-Lambert, Captain Frederick Tilston of the Essex Scottish and Sergeant Aubrey Cosens of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada were rewarded for their service in the Rhineland fighting in 1945, the latter posthumously.

One of the most important Canadian contributions was the Battle of the Scheldt, involving the II Canadian Corps under the Canadian 1st Army.  The Corps included the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division.  Although nominally a Canadian formation, II Canadian Corps contained the Polish 1st Armoured Division, with the 1st Belgian Infantry Brigade, and the Royal Netherlands Motorized Infantry Brigade.  The British 51st (Highland) Infantry Division was attached to the Corps.

The British had liberated Antwerp, but that city’s port could not be used until the Germans were driven from the heavily fortified Scheldt estuary.  In several weeks of heavy fighting in the fall of 1944, the Canadians succeeded in defeating the Germans in this region.  The Canadians then turned east and played a central role in the liberation of the Netherlands.[1]

Canadian Intelligence Collection Teams

in the Second World War

Captain Farley McGill Mowat, OC

Farley McGill Mowat, OC, born 12 May 1921 in Belleville, Ontario, is a conservationist and one of Canada’s most widely-read authors.[2]  His works have been translated into 52 languages and he has sold more than 14 million books.  He achieved fame with the publication of his books on the Canadian North, such as People of the Deer (1952) and Never Cry Wolf (1963).  The latter, an account of his experiences with wolves in the Arctic, was made into a film, released in 1983.

Farley grew up in Richmond Hill, Ontario where he attended Richmond Hill High School.  Farley began writing informally while his family lived in Windsor from 1930–1933, later moving to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

During the Second World War, Mowat was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the Second Battalion, Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, also known as the Hasty Ps.  He went overseas as a reinforcement officer for that regiment, joining the Canadian Army in the United Kingdom.  On 10 July 1943, he was a subaltern in command of a rifle platoon and participated in the initial landings of Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily.

Mowat served throughout the campaign as a platoon commander and moved to Italy in September 1943, seeing further combat until December 1943.  He took part in the Moro River Campaign and fought at Ortona, Italy.  He was assigned as an Intelligence Officer at Battalion Headquarters, later moving to Brigade Headquarters.  He stayed in Italy in the 1st Canadian Infantry Division for most of the war, eventually being promoted to the rank of Captain. 

He moved with the 1st Division to Northwest Europe in early 1945.  There, he worked as an intelligence agent in the Netherlands and went through enemy lines to start unofficial negotiations about food drops with General Blaskowitz.  The food drops, under the codename Operation Manna, saved thousands of Dutch lives.  He also formed the 1st Canadian Army Museum Collection Team, according to his book My Father’s Son, and arranged for the transport to Canada of (more than 700) tons of German military equipment, including a V-2 rocket and several armoured vehicles. Some of these vehicles are on display today at Canadian Forces Base Borden and in the Canadian War Museum.

Captain Mowat was discharged at the conclusion of the Second World War in 1945 and was considered for promotion to Major, though he turned down the offer.  Returning to Canada after the war, Mowat studied biology at the University of Toronto.  Following a field trip to Northern Canada, Mowat published his first novel, People of the Deer (1952).  This book made Mowat a literary celebrity and contributed to the shift in the Canadian government’s Inuit policy.  This work was followed by a Governor General’s Award-winning children’s book, Lost in the Barrens (1956).  Mowat followed up these works with a series of personal memoirs. The Regiment (1955) is a skillful and highly readable account of the regiment he had served in during the Second World War. The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be (1957) and Owls in the Family (1961) are humorous memoirs about his childhood.

During this period, Mowat also wrote two non-fiction accounts of the exploits of salvage tugs belonging to Foundation Maritime.  The first, The Grey Seas Under (1958), chronicles the career of the tug Foundation Franklin, and the second, The Serpent’s Coil (1961), chronicles the rescue of the British freighter Leicester in the face of two hurricanes by the tugs Foundation Josephine and Foundation Lillian.  In 1963, Mowat wrote Never Cry Wolf, followed by West-Viking (1965), and The Curse of the Viking Grave (1968).  Mowat then moved to Burgeo, Newfoundland, where he lived for 8 years. He published three books describing his evolving view of his Newfoundland neighbours: The Rock Within the Sea (1968), The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float (1969) and A Whale for the Killing (1972).  He was also co-author for the 1981 film version with Peter Strauss and Richard Widmark.  Mowat published Sea of Slaughter in 1984. In 1985, My Discovery of America.  Mowat published two books about Dian Fossey: Virunga: The Passion of Dian Fossey (1987) and Woman in the Mists (1987) - an allusion to Fossey’s book Gorillas in the Mist (1983).

In the 1990s and 2000s, he returned to the subject of his Second World War military service in My Father’s Son (1992), and to his childhood in Born Naked (1993). He wrote High Latitudes: An Arctic Journey (2002), No Man’s River (2004), Rescue the Earth: Conversations (1990), and The Farfarers (2000).   In Bay of Spirits: A Love Story (2006) he returned to stories from his travels to St. Pierre and the southwest coast of Newfoundland in the early 1960s.

Mowat and his wife, Claire, currently live in Port Hope, Ontario.  They spend their summers on a farm in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  Farley Mowat was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1981.  The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship RV Farley Mowat was named in honour of him and he frequently visits it to assist its mission, and has also provided financial support to the group.  On 8 June 2010, it was announced that he would receive a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.  In 2005 Mowat received the first and only “Life-time Achievement Award” from the National Outdoor Book Award.

Mowat was a strong supporter of the Green Party of Canada and a close friend of leader Elizabeth May.  The party sent a direct mail fundraising appeal in his name in June 2007.   In 2007, Mowat became a Patron of the Nova Scotia Nature Trust by donating over 200 acres (0.81 km2) of his land in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to the Nature Trust.  In 2012, independent Canadian publisher Douglas & McIntyre announced that they had created the Farley Mowat Library series and will be re-releasing many of his most popular titles with new designs and introductions.  All titles will be available in print and e-book format.  In 2012, Douglas & McIntyre will publish And No Birds Sang, Whale for the Killing, Sea of Slaughter and People of the Deer.[3]

While researching the locations of surviving war trophies brought to Canada in 1945, the author spoke with retired Captain Farley M. Mowat about his post war task of collecting German weapons and equipment that was of interest to Canada.  He was very detailed in his response.

When the war ended in Europe in May 1945, Captain Mowat was serving with the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment in the Netherlands.  He was assigned to Intelligence duties, and eventually succeeded in locating, identifying and collecting over 700 tons of German equipment, documents and material which he then shipped from Antwerp back to Montreal.[4]

Captain Mowat ‘s five-man team gathered up major examples of German armour, artillery, support weapons and equipment from a variety of locations in Western Europe and he arranged for their transport back to Canada on an American Liberty ship, the SS Blommersdyke.  The majority of this shipment was sent to the Canadian Armament Research and Development Establishment (CARDE) based at Valcartier, Québec.  After examination, some of the kit was moved Camp Borden, Ontario, where a few of the larger armour and artillery pieces remain on display, while a number of other pieces were dispersed around the country.

The team collected a significant number of large scale weapons that made it back to Canada which have since disappeared, including Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks.  A Sturmgeschütz III they recovered was used (briefly) as a target on the ranges at CFB Petawawa, but was later salvaged and is now on display in the Canadian War Museum (CWM) in its heavily damaged state.  The Wirbelwind self-propelled four-barrelled Anti-Aircraft (SP AAA) gun system mounted on a Panzer IV chassis currently displayed at the Base Borden Military Museum was included in his list, but the Panther that was on display at CFB Borden (now restored in the CWM) was not.  The Panzer V came up from the USA in time to be placed on display on Parliament hill on Victory in Europe (VE) Day.

Other German equipment brought back by Captain Mowat’s Intelligence Collection Team included one 8.8-cm FlaK 37 AA Gun, now on display in the Canadian War Museum (CWM) in Ottawa, and one 8.8-cm PaK 43 AT Gun, which is now on display on the grounds of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario.  Other Canadian units managed to bring back significant items as well, likely including an 8.8-cm PaK 43/41 AT Gun on display at Lisle, Ontario, and a second 8.8-cm FlaK 37 now on display on the grounds of the Royal Military College and a third on display at CFB Petawawa.

A good number of German artillery pieces captured or collected by Canadian military units overseas can be found on display at CFB Borden, Ontario, CFB Shilo, Manitoba and the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.  A few pieces may also be found at CFB Petawawa, Ontario, CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick, and CFB Valcartier, Québec.

One of two Sturmgeschütz III tracked self-propelled tank hunters that were on display at Shilo has recently been relocated to England, while another went back to Germany.  One of the most interesting items from Captain Mowat’s SS Blommersdyke shipment that is presently being restored in the CWM is a very rare Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg IV piloted version of the V-1 cruise missile.  In 1945 Captain Mowat visited a firing range near Meppen, Germany, which had been used by the Krupp arms manufacturer as an experimental gun establishment to test new guns, shells and projectiles.  “At least a hundred huge steel tubes were on the firing line, many mounted on railroad carriages.  One...was a 60-cm siege howitzer...estimated to have weighed a hundred tons.”  The Intelligence Collection Team “took samples of everything”, including a 12-cm tank gun meant to arm the gigantic 90-ton German tank nick-named the “Maus” (Mouse).  The gun was brought back towed on a flatbed trailer by a 60-cwt truck.[5]

The 1944 Molch (Newt) one-man submarine as well as two Enigma encryption machines has also survived intact from the SS Blommersdyke shipment.  Not all of the Serial Numbers of the equipment found on Captain Mowat’s list match items with a similar description found in the CWM, so there are likely a number of other sources of origin for some of the items listed here.

Captain Mowat knew he was not responsible for all of the German equipment brought to Canada.  He had apparently arranged for a “14 tanks and self-propelled guns” including a “Royal” Tiger II a Panzer V Panther and a range of Panzer tanks from the Mk II upwards most in running condition.  In his list of items intended for transport, he had “23 special purpose vehicles ranging from an amphibious Volkswagen to a 15-ton armoured half-track personnel carrier.”  Artillery in the collection included 40 types of artillery pieces ranging in size from 2-cm to 21-cm, and embracing an airborne recoilless gun, a “squeeze barrel” anti-tank gun, infantry guns, anti-tank guns from 8.8-cm up to 12.8-cm, field guns, medium guns and heavy guns, all of which were in firing condition.  In his Progress Report to LCol Harrison, OC 1 Canadian Historical Section, HQ First Canadian Army on 10 July 1945, he noted that “Railroad guns up to 32-cm” were available but would “demand some time to move”.[6]

By 22 July 1945, the team had added a 63-ton Jagdtiger tank in operating condition to the collection as well as four 2-ton acoustic sea mines, four 24-inch acoustic torpedoes, a 45-foot long 12-ton V-2 rocket and 18 truckloads of various Wehrmacht equipment. [7]

The King (Royal) Tiger and Panther tanks were to be loaded on tank transporters and brought to the dock for loading on the SS Blommersdyke, but the American flatbed crews brought them to another site and they were subsequently transported to the USA.  One of the significant items he did manage to bring back was a V-2 rocket with a particularly interesting story attached to it.

Captain Mowat had spoken with the leader of the Dutch resistance in his area, Colonel Tyc Michaels, who informed him of the location of the Rheintochter Anti-Aircraft missile factory, which had been bombed out.  During the investigation of the contents of the factory, his team collected some documentation and a few missile parts that made it back to Canada.  He also learned of a trainload of ten V-2 rockets which were sitting on railway cars in a railway siding hidden in Germany.  “The missile was located off the right of way on the north south line running along the Weser River west of Nienburg, Germany.  It was the only one of about ten that had not been shot up or burnt by air attack.  As the V-2 at the time of ‘procurement’ was forbidden by 21 Army Group to Canadians this piece had an interesting several months hiding in woods and being disguised as everything from a privy to a submarine, to keep it from the prying eyes of the British High Command.”[8]

Just before the order forbidding the acquisition of any rocket material was sent down, Capt Mowat had dispatched Lieutenant R. Mike Donovan, a Canadian Intelligence Corps Officer, to see if he could acquire one of these V-2s from the British who occupied the sector.[9]  Lieutenant Donovan set out from the team’s home base at Meppen in the Netherlands and over a three day period drove to a railway siding “somewhere near Hamburg” where ran into a British detachment guarding a number of railway flatcars each carrying a V-2 rocket.  The British were not keen on parting with such important war material to “colonials” and wouldn’t let him get near the site.  After an initial recce of the scene, he noted through his binoculars that “an access roadway ran alongside the rail spur and that the last V-2 in the train was partly concealed in a pine woods through which the trail meandered to join a secondary road not far beyond.”  Lieutenant Donovan drove back to Ouderkerk and joined by Lieutenant Jim Hood set off again with a 12-ton 16-wheel Mack breakdown lorry with a tow-hook, made a brief detour to Bremerhaven where they liberated a German one-man mini-submarine trailer and then drove to a forest within two miles of the V-2 rail-car site, where Lieutenant Hood hid with the rig and himself.  They were also bearing a “30-litre demijohn of DeKuyper’s gin.”

Lieutenant Donovan drove on in a jeep and presented himself again at the guard post.  He offered to share his gin, and while pretending to get loaded himself, proceeded to get the British Infantry guard group drunk.  Just before dusk, he told his drinking partners he had to relieve himself, and went back to his jeep where he used a small Number 38 radio set to tell Lieutenant Hood the coast was clear.  Lieutenant Hood and his work crew quietly as possible eased the Mack and its trailer up close to the railcar with the chosen rocket.  There in the dark, the Canadian soldiers stealthily managed to break the chains and “rolled it off the flatcar and down a bunch of timber skids on the trailer”.[10]  (This could not have been an easy task in the dark, as the rocket is the size of a modern day SCUD missile similar to those the author examined near Policharki, in Afghanistan).

While Lieutenant Hood was crawling cautiously away with the black-painted V-2 rocket prize, Lieutenant Donovan was leading the British guards in a singing session.  When he felt the coast was clear, Mike disengaged himself, but left the still well-filled demijohn with his British choir.  He caught up with his crew on the highway and sped ahead of them, stopping at each checkpoint along the way to warn the barrier guards that a bomb disposal crew was coming through with unexploded ordnance, and as a result  and he and his crew barrelled back the way they came and delivered the rocket to Ouderkerk in Holland.”

On discovering the V-2 outside his window the next morning Captain Mowat had the rocket moved into a large storage hangar.  In order to keep the collected war prize concealed, Captain Mowat had carpenters build a small wooden conning tower, which they installed on top of the rocket, boarded over the fins and installed a wooden propeller.  Once the mock tower and propeller were in place, the team proceeded to paint the complete V-2 rocket in navy blue.  Curious inquirers were told that the device was an experimental submarine.  In this form, the V-2 was kept hidden until it could be loaded on the Liberty Transport Ship SS Blommersdyke which eventually left port carrying over 700 tons of collected German war prizes and steamed across the Atlantic to Montreal.[11]

On arrival, Captain Mowat spoke with the Chief of General Staff (GGS), Major-General Howard Graham, an officer he had served with in the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, to explain in detail what they had imported.  Shortly afterwards, a Lieutenant-Colonel arrived from the Canadian Armament Research and Development Establishment (CARDE) based at Valcartier, Québec, along with a work crew which hauled the V-2, trailer and all, back to Valcartier.  There, the V-2 was dismantled.  As the science team was examining the rocket they made the interesting, if somewhat disconcerting discovery that the warhead was still filled with its high explosive material.  The liquid explosive compound inside the rocket’s warhead had hardened and had to be removed by the scientists by carefully drilling a hole in the nose cone and inserting a hose to wash it out.

The V-2 was blueprinted and then disappeared from the story for a few years.  In 1950 it was placed on display on the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.  After this, it seems to have disappeared again.  It may have gone to the USA (there is one on display in Aberdeen, New Jersey, another in the National Museum of the USAF, and one in the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C., for example).  It is possible that it was buried on the grounds of what is present day Canadian Forces Base Downsview, Toronto, Ontario or, it may have been scrapped.  None of these possibilities has been confirmed.[12]  (The author would be very interested in hearing from any reader who may have information that could lead to the discovery of where this V-2 is presently located).

Following his return to Canada, Captain Mowat was posted to Ottawa, and assigned along with Lieutenant Donovan to catalogue and mark all information and provenance of the war prize material that had been brought back from Germany.  The catalogue that was compiled consisted of 130 pages of legal paper, mimeographed in 50 copies.  Research into the final disposition of these artefacts brought back continues, but what can be accounted for is presented here.  The details have been extracted from the Catalogue of Canadian War Museum Equipment Collection, Collected by 1 Canadian Field Historical Section in North West Europe, May to October 1945, Annotated to Include Historical and Technical Data.   The cover page in the copy held with the Library and Archives Canada collection lists the contents as the Historical Collection of German Equipment, dated 10 September 1946.

The foreword that introduced the original document stated:

With the cessation of hostilities in Europe, the general inactivity and realization of the necessity and opportunity for the collection of a representative group of German arms for the edification of the Canadian people prompted Captain Farley M. Mowat to undertake the organization of a unit devoted entirely to this purpose.  With the cooperation of Major (now Colonel) Michels of the Dutch Underground Forces, an ammunition dump at Ouderkerk near Amsterdam was prepared to receive the articles.  Some officers of the Canadian Intelligence Corps (C Int C) were enlisted in the venture and drivers and vehicles from the 1 Corps Transport Company, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (RCASC) were lent for transport.  A period of hectic activity followed as the small group covered the Eclipse Dumps and battlefields of Holland and even Far Western Germany, to procure precious pieces before they could be dispersed or destroyed.  In this period a not inconsiderable pile of weapons and curiosities was amassed.

The responsibility for the collection of a museum now fell to the lot of the 1st Canadian Field Historical Section under Lieutenant-Colonel Harrison.  Thence forward, armed for a change, with some authority and with the full cooperation of the Historical Section, the unit made more rapid progress and travelled deep into occupied Germany to turn up many items of historic and research value.

The possibility of obtaining shipping facilities in Holland appeared to be negligible and so in July 1945 the entire unit, which had grown to some 30 members including guards, moved en masse with some 200 tons or more of German equipment to Belgium.  Mr A. Gespers, acting Town Major of Oosmalle near Antwerp, provided an excellent location for storage and packing of the material and the unit took up quarters there, from then on.

The activity at Oosmalle was twofold.  One group spent their time reconnoitering and collecting items from all parts of British and some parts of British and some parts of American occupied territory.  The other group was kept on full time employment packaging, repairing and conditioning the equipment as it was brought in.

In mid-October shipping space was at last procured just in time to halt preparations for one last, big “scrounge”.  In early November the majority of the collection, accompanied by Captain Mowat and Lance-Corporal Weatherdon, sailed from Antwerp to Montreal.  The remaining members of the group returned at the same time and the unit endeavoured to set up its preconceived idea of a Museum on return to Canada.

Unfortunately there were no facilities for organizing such an enterprise and so the fruits of a great deal of labour were scattered far and wide.  It is, however, encouraging to the collectors to realize that several of the items were used by research and museum agencies and that the remainder of the collection is available for the time when a proper museum can be effected.

It is felt that it would be unfair not to mention a few of the individuals who partook of or assisted in the work and for this reason a list is appended of the main “characters” in the effort.

LCol Harrison (D Hist)                     Cpl E. Mutz (D Hist)

Capt F.M. Mowat (C Int C)               L/Cpl R. Weatherdon (RCE)

Lt D.G. Schoone (C Int C)                Pte A. Roote (RCASC)

Lt J.A. Hood (C Int C)                      Pte R. Lintott (RCASC)

Lt R.M. Donovan (C Int C)               Cpl MacBride (D Hist)

Pte McConnel (C Int C)                    Pte S. Hawes (D Hist)

Pte B. Bruce (RCASC)                     Col A. Michels (Dutch Army)

L/Cpl W. Stoner (RCASC)                Mr A. Gespers (Belgian Town Major)

Pte R. Isner (RCASC)                       Queen`s Own Cameron Highlanders (2 Div)

Pte F. Fulton (RCASC)                     14 Canadian Field Coy (RCE), (1 Corps)

Gnr P. Flintoff (RCA)                       1 Canadian Corps Transport Coy (RCASC)

“The saga (were it ever written) of the Canadian War Museum, with the tale of procurement by every means from trade to piracy, would be a very interesting one.  The spirit behind the work, namely, to ensure that the Canadian people have some visible evidence of what its soldiers faced in the destruction of Nazism, must not be allowed to die.  It is sincerely hoped by all those who made the collection possible, that those who have the power and ability to do so in the near future will see to it that it is made available to the majority of Canadians.”[13]

The remainder of the document included a “history that was planned and started, at the request of Colonel C.P. Stacey (Director of History)[14], by Captain F.M. Mowat and completed by Lieutenant R.M. Donovan and Lance-Corporal R. Weatherdon (RCE).”

[1] Internet:

[2] Internet:

[3] Internet:

[4] Author conversation with Captain (Retired) Farley Mowat, 29 June 2006.

[5] Farley M. Mowat, My Father’s Son: Memories of War and Peace, (Houghton Mifflin, the University of Michigan, 1992), p. 296.

[6] Farley M. Mowat, My Father’s Son: Memories of War and Peace, (Houghton Mifflin, the University of Michigan, 1992), p. 297.

[7] As an aside, Captain Mowat mentioned that claims for damages from a number of Dutch towns were “probably perfectly valid” due to the “results of putting an Infantry Captain behind the steering bars of a Royal Tiger.”  Farley M. Mowat, My Father’s Son, p. 299.

[8] Catalogue of Canadian War Museum Equipment Collection, p. 121.

[9] Lt R.M. Donovan and Capt F.M.. Mowat are mentioned by Major S.R. Elliot in Scarlet to Green, A History of Intelligence in the Canadian Army, 1903-1963 (Canadian Intelligence and Security Association, Hunter Rose Company, Toronto, 1981), p. 341.

[10] Ibid, p. 301.

[11] Ibid, p. 302.

[12] The author spoke with Dr Charles Rhéaume, PhD, DHH 2-7, who found evidence that the V-2 was displayed at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto in 1950.  The date of display was documented through Audrey Borges from the CNE Archives.  The V-2 was made available through the auspices of the Department of National Defence for the 1950 display.

[13] Catalogue of Canadian War Museum Equipment Collection, Collected by 1 Canadian Field Historical Section in North West Europe, May to October 1945, Annotated to Include Historical and Technical Data, stamped 10 September 1946, pp. 3-5.

[14] Colonel Charles Perry Stacey, O.C., O.B.E., C.D., B.A., A.M., Ph.D., LL.D, D.Litt., D.Sc. Mil, F.R.S.C., 1906-1989.

Canada at War with Japan

Canada responded to the outbreak of war with Japan by significantly strengthening its Pacific coastal defences, ultimately stationing more than 30,000 troops, 14 air force squadrons, and over 20 warships in British Columbia.  Canadian forces also co-operated with the United States in clearing the Japanese from the Aleutian islands off Alaska.  Before Japan surrendered in August 1945, a Canadian cruiser, HMCS Uganda, participated in Pacific naval operations, two RCAF transport squadrons flew supplies in India and Burma, and communications specialists served in Australia.

Canadians at Hong Kong in December 1941

The Battle of Hong Kong began on 8 December 1941 and ended on 25 December 1941 ending with the surrender of the Crown colony to the Empire of Japan.

Britain had first thought of Japan as a threat with the ending of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in the early 1920s, a threat which increased with the expansion of the Sino-Japanese War.  On 21 October 1938 the Japanese occupied Canton (Guangzhou) and Hong Kong was effectively surrounded.  Various British Defence studies had already concluded that Hong Kong would be extremely hard to defend in the event of a Japanese attack, but in the mid-1930s, work had begun on new defences, including the Gin Drinkers’ Line.  By 1940, the British had determined to reduce the Hong Kong Garrison to only a symbolic size.  Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham, the Commander-in-Chief of the British Far East Command argued that limited reinforcements could allow the garrison to delay a Japanese attack, gaining time elsewhere.

Winston Churchill and his army chiefs designated Hong Kong an outpost, and initially decided against sending more troops to the colony.  In September 1941, however, they reversed their decision and argued that additional reinforcements would provide a military deterrent against the Japanese, and reassure Chinese leader Chiang Kai Shek that Britain was genuinely interested in defending the colony.

In Autumn 1941, the British government accepted an offer by the Canadian Government to send two infantry battalions and a brigade headquarters (1,975 personnel) to reinforce the Hong Kong garrison.  C Force, as it was known, arrived on 16 November on board the troopship TSS Awatea and the armed merchant cruiser HMCS Prince Robert.  It did not have all of its equipment as a ship carrying its vehicles was diverted to Manila at the outbreak of war.

The Canadian battalions were the Royal Rifles of Canada from Québec and Winnipeg Grenadiers from Manitoba.  The Royal Rifles had served only in Newfoundland and Saint John, New Brunswick prior to their duty in Hong Kong, and the Winnipeg Grenadiers had been posted to Jamaica.  As a result, many of the Canadian soldiers did not have much field experience before arriving in Hong Kong. 

The Japanese attack began shortly after 08:00 on 8 December 1941 less than eight hours after the Attack on Pearl Harbor (because of the day shift that occurs on the international date line between Hawaii and Asia, the Pearl Harbor event is recorded to have occurred on 7 December).  British, Canadian and Indian forces, commanded by Major-General Christopher Maltby supported by the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps resisted the Japanese invasion by the Japanese 21st, 23rd and the 38th Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant General Takashi Sakai, but were outnumbered nearly four to one (Japanese, 52,000; Allied, 14,000) and lacked their opponents’ recent combat experience.

The colony had no significant air defence.  The RAF Station at Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Airport had only five aeroplanes: two Supermarine Walrus amphibians and three Vickers Vildebeest torpedo-reconnaissance bombers, flown and serviced by seven officers and 108 airmen.  An earlier request for a fighter squadron had been rejected, and the nearest fully operational RAF base was in Kota Bharu, Malaya, nearly 2,250 kilometres away.  Hong Kong also lacked adequate naval defence. Three destroyers were to withdraw to Singapore.

The Japanese bombed Kai Tak Airport on 8 December.  Two of the three Vildebeest and the two Walrus were destroyed by 12 Japanese bombers.  The attack also destroyed several civil aircraft including all but two of the aircraft used by the Air Unit of the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corp.  The RAF and Air Unit personnel from then on fought as ground troops.  Two of the Royal Navy’s three remaining destroyers were ordered to leave Hong Kong for Singapore.  Only one destroyer, HMS Thracian, several gunboats and a flotilla of motor torpedo boats remained.

The Commonwealth forces decided against holding the Sham Chun River and instead established three battalions in the Gin Drinkers’ Line across the hills.  The Japanese 38th Infantry under the command of Major General Takaishi Sakai quickly forded the Sham Chun River by using temporary bridges.  Early on 10 December 1941 the 228th Infantry Regiment, commanded by Colonel Teihichi, of the 38th Division attacked the Commonwealth defences at the Shing Mun Redoubt defended by 2nd Battalion Royal Scots, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel S. White.  The line was breached in five hours and later that day the Royal Scots also withdrew from Golden Hill.  D company of the Royal Scots counter-attacked and captured Golden Hill.  By 10:00am the hill was again taken by the Japanese.  This made the situation on the New Territories and Kowloon untenable and the evacuation from started on 11 December 1941 under aerial bombardment and artillery barrage.  As much as possible, military and harbour facilities were demolished before the withdrawal.  By 13 December, the 5/7 Rajputs of the British Indian Army commanded by Lieutenant Colonel R. Cadogan-Rawlinson, the last Commonwealth troops on the mainland, had retreated to Hong Kong Island.

Maltby organised the defence of the island, splitting it between an East Brigade and a West Brigade.  On 15 December, the Japanese began systematic bombardment of the island’s North Shore.  Two demands for surrender were made on 13 December and 17 December.  When these were rejected, Japanese forces crossed the harbour on the evening of 18 December and landed on the island’s North-East.  They suffered only light casualties, although no effective command could be maintained until the dawn came.  That night, approximately 20 gunners were massacred at the Sai Wan Battery after they had surrendered.  There was a further massacre of prisoners, this time of medical staff, in the Salesian Mission on Chai Wan Road.  In both cases, a few men survived to tell the story.

On the morning of 19 December fierce fighting continued on Hong Kong Island but the Japanese annihilated the headquarters of West Brigade, causing the death of Brigadier John K. Lawson, the commander of the West Brigade.  A British counter-attack could not force them from the Wong Nai Chung Gap that secured the passage between the north coast at Causeway Bay and the secluded southern parts of the island.  From 20 December, the island became split in two with the British Commonwealth forces still holding out around the Stanley peninsula and in the West of the island.  At the same time, water supplies started to run short as the Japanese captured the island’s reservoirs.

On the morning of 25 December, Japanese soldiers entered the British field hospital at St. Stephen’s College, and tortured and killed a large number of injured soldiers, along with the medical staff.  By the afternoon of 25 December 1941, it was clear that further resistance would be futile and British colonial officials headed by the Governor of Hong Kong, Sir Mark Aitchison Young, surrendered in person at the Japanese headquarters on the third floor of the Peninsula Hong Kong hotel.  This was the first occasion on which a British Crown Colony had surrendered to an invading force.  The garrison had held out for 17 days.

The Allied dead from the campaign, including British, Canadian and Indian soldiers, were eventually interred at the Sai Wan Military Cemetery and Stanley Military Cemetery.  A total of 1,528 soldiers, mainly Commonwealth, are buried there.  At the end of February 1942, The Japanese government stated that numbers of prisoners of war in Hong Kong were: British 5,072, Canadian 1,689, Indian 3,829, others 357, a total of 10,947.   Of the Canadians captured during the battle, 267 subsequently perished in Japanese prisoner of war camps. 

Following the battle, John Robert Osborn (January 2, 1899 – December 19, 1941) was awarded the Victoria Cross.  After seeing a Japanese grenade roll in through the doorway of the building Osborn and his fellow Canadian Winnipeg Grenadiers had been garrisoning, he took off his helmet and threw himself on the grenade, saving the lives of over 10 other Canadian soldiers. He was born in Norfolk, England.[1]

Japanese equipment is not well represented in Canadian collections to date.  The circumstances of Canadian losses at Hong Kong and the small number of items found at Kiska, Alaska, prevented the collection of significant numbers of equipment that could be brought to Canada.  The brief list is presented here.

[1] Internet:

Canadian Artillery after the Second World War

In May 1945, The RCA contributed three field regiments, an anti-tank regiment and a LAA regiment to the Canadian Division serving as occupation forces in the British Zone of Occupation.  They would remain there until the summer of 1946.  Most of the remaining units of the Army, which had been activated during the war, were now deactivated or transferred to the Militia.  In 1947, the Canadian Army Active Force was established with an authorized strength of 25,000, supplemented by a Reserve Force of 50,000.  In 1946, 1st Field Regiment RCHA, was renamed the 71st Regiment RCHA, and was moved to Shilo, Manitoba, when the latter was chosen as the permanent site for the Royal Canadian School of Artillery (RCSA) (Field, Medium and Anti-Tank).

The Active Force artillery consisted of the 71st Regiment RCHA, the 68th Medium Battery, and the 127th Anti-Tank Battery at Shilo, the 128th HAA and 129th LAA Batteries at Picton, Ontario, and E Section Signals (71st Regiment RCHA), Royal Canadian Corps of Signals.  In addition to the school in Shilo, two others were formed: RCSA (AA) at Picton, and RCSA (Coast and Anti-Aircraft) at Halifax.  In 1948, the 129th LAA Battery was re-designated HAA and moved to Esquimalt, British Columbia, together with a Coast Artillery Training Section - RCSA West Coast.  The School at Halifax was re-designated RCSA East Coast that same year.

By the end of 1950, the post-war organization of the Active Force artillery had undergone several changes.  In 1949, 71st Regiment RCHA reverted back to its wartime designation of 1st Field Regiment RCHA.  In 1950, it had under command the 1st Light Battery (Paratroop), which later became Z Battery, and was armed with 75-mm pack Howitzers and 4.2-inch mortars.  A growing emphasis on air defence resulted in the formation of four composite Anti-Aircraft batteries through the conversion of the 127th Anti-Tank Battery and the 128th HAA and 129th LAA Batteries together with the authorization of the 119th Composite AA Battery.  In addition, the RCSA East Coast was re-designated the 49th Coast Battery.  This left the three schools of artillery in Shilo, Picton and Esquimalt.[1]

M116 75-mm Pack Howitzer M1

The 75-mm Pack Howitzer M1 (also known by its post-war designation M116) was designed in the United States in 1920s to meet a need for an artillery piece that could be moved across difficult terrain.  The gun and carriage was designed so that it could be broken down into several pieces to be carried by pack animals.  The gun saw combat in the Second World War with the US Army (primarily used by airborne units), with the US Marine Corps, and was also supplied to Canada and foreign forces.  In addition to the pack/air portable configuration, the gun was mounted on a non-dismantling carriage to serve as a field artillery piece.  (Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School).

M2 4.2-inch Mortar

The M2 4.2-inch Mortar was an American 4.2-inch (107-mm) rifled mortar used during the Second World War and the Korean War.  It entered service in 1943.  The first 4.2-inch mortar in American service was introduced in 1928 and was designated the M1.  Development began in 1924 from the British 4-inch (102-mm) Mk I smooth-bore mortar.  The addition of rifling increased the-inch to 4.2-inch.  The M1 fired chemical shells to a range of 2,195 metres.  (Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School).

The Korean War 1950-1953

The 2nd Field Regiment RCHA was raised at Shilo in 1950 as part of the Canadian Army Special Force destined to support UN operations in Korea (the term “field” was dropped from the RCHA unit titles in 1951).  Volunteers came from 1 RCHA, the Schools and selected Militia artillery units.  2 RCHA arrived with its twenty-four 25-pounder Guns in Korea on 4 May 1951, and saw its first action two weeks later.  By May 1952, fighting in support of the 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group, and later with the 1st Commonwealth Division, 2 RCHA had expended over 300,000 rounds of ammunition, and it was considered to be one of the most efficient units in the Commonwealth Divisional Artillery.  This reputation upheld by 1 RCHA after it replaced the 2nd Regiment that May.

The 79th and 81st Field Regiments RCA had been formed in 1951 and 1952 respectively, by mobilizing six Militia batteries for service in Europe as part of the Canadian Brigade with NATO.  1 RCHA handed over to the 81st Field Regiment RCA in April 1953.  The 81st Field Regiment served in Korea until nine months after the armistice in July 1953.  In November 1953 its designation was changed to 4 RCHA as part of a reorganization of the Canadian Army which saw the formation of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division as part of Canada’s commitment to NATO.  In conjunction with this, the 79th Field Regiment RCA was redesignated as 3 RCHA.  After serving in Germany for two years, 3 RCHA replaced 4 RCHA in Korea in the spring of 1954.  3 RCHA remained in Korea for 29 weeks.  Of the 1,543 battle casualties suffered by the Canadian Army in Korea, the artillery lost one officer and 8 men killed, 2 officers and 25 men wounded, and one officer and one man taken prisoner.[2]


The Reserve Force (which had replaced the earlier Non-Permanent Active Militia) was also reorganized after the war, and the artillery component was authorized at six divisions and corps troops.  This provided for six divisional headquarters, RCA, eight medium regiments, 20 field regiments, eight anti-tank regiments, nine HAA Regiments, 18 LAA Regiments, five coast regiments, two survey regiments and nine AA gun operations rooms.

This would last until 1954 when a second reorganization resulted in the substantial reduction of the establishment of the artillery.  In the aftermath, both Coast Artillery and anti-tank artillery ceased to exist, and the Militia artillery now consisted of 21 field regiments, six medium regiments, three independent medium batteries, nine HAA regiments, two harbour defence batteries, a locating regiment and an Anti-Aircraft fire control battery.  It would be another 10 years or so before any other major changes were made to Militia artillery establishments.  In 1959 the word “Artillery” was authorized to be incorporated into the title of each artillery Militia unit - e.g. 20th Field Artillery Regiment RCA.

1st Locating Regiment RCA (M)

The 1st Artillery Locating Regiment officially perpetuates the 2nd Canadian Survey Regiment.  This Regiment was formed on 14 October 1943 at Headley, Surrey, England following Operation “Exercise Split”.  The Regiment at that time consisted of a Regimental Headquarters with a survey troop; two composite batteries, each having a survey troop, sound ranging troop and flash spotting troop; a meteorological section; and an attached Light Aid Detachment RCEME.  It became part of II Canadian Corps as Corps troops.  This unit had the unique distinction of having been established abroad, and also inherits and enjoys the proud traditions of the Royal Canadian Artillery.

Although less than seven months of age at the time of D-Day, the Regiment’s brief training life had been so well conducted that the Regiment landed in Normandy early in July 1944 with the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division.  The first deployment was made north of Caen on 11 July 1944, and from then until VE Day the unit was never out of action.  The Regiment saw action at Caen, Falaise, Boulogne, Calais, Dunkirk, the Scheldt Estuary, Nijmegen, and the Reichswald.  During these operations, survey, sound ranging and flash spotting troops carried out their special functions, being joined later by mortar locating sections.

The Regiment performed a number of unusual tasks including the surveying required for the directional wireless beams and the search lights which guided the tanks and armoured personnel carriers in the breakthrough down the Caen-Falaise road.  Early in November 1944, the Regiment was the first to put troops over the border into Germany.  During all these operations the Regiment served with all five Canadian Divisions and a number of British Divisions (including the 51st Highland and the Guards Armoured Division), as well as with American and Polish formations.  Following the cessation of hostilities, the unit, having no territorial affiliations and being formed of men from every province in Canada, was disbanded.

In 1946, the unit was re-established as 69th Survey Regiment in Sudbury, Ontario.  It was subsequently transferred to Toronto in October 1946.  To conform to the military commitments of Canada in NATO, the name was changed from 69th Survey Regiment to 69th Observation Regiment in March 1947.  The Regiment carried out training in survey, sound ranging and flash spotting, and a radar battery was added for mortar locating.  Following the re-organization of the Canadian Militia in October 1954, the Regiment was renamed the 1st Locating Regiment RCA.[3]

Artillery Service with the NATO Brigade, 1951-1992

In 1951, 79th Field Regiment RCA joined the newly formed 27th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group (CIBG) in Northern Germany under command of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR).  Instead of the 25-pounder Gun, the standard field artillery weapon in Canada, the regiment was initially issued the American 105-mm towed Howitzer - the standard NATO gun at that time.  Eventually, the regiment reverted to the 25-pounder Gun in order to solve problems with supply and a lack of uniformity with its sister British units.  The regiment was first quartered at Hohne, and then later at Prince of Wales Fort, was just outside of Deilinghofen , closer to Iserlohn than Soest, which was a minimum 30 minute drive away from the RCHA (and 1 SSM Bty) lines) in the Upper Ruhr Valley.[4]  Re-named the 3rd Regiment RCHA in 1953, the regiment was replaced in November 1953 by 2 RCHA during the changeover of 27 CIBG with 1 CIBG.  Over the next thirteen years, 1, 2, 3 and 4 RCHA would rotate to Germany.  In 1967 1 RCHA became the permanent artillery regiment in Germany as part of 4 CIBG (later - 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (4 CMBG) as the Army replaced its wheeled troop transport with tracked armoured personnel carriers).  The Regiment moved south to the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) with the rest of the brigade group in 1970, to become Central Army Group’s reserve force, and was based in Lahr, Germany.  It would remain there until 1992, when the brigade group began pulling out of Europe.

By the end of 1954, besides the four RCHA Regiments, the move to a divisional artillery organization included the formation of a Divisional HQ RCA, the 1st LAA Regiment, the 1st Locating Battery and the No.1 Air OP Flight.  Anti-Tank Gunnery had been taken over by another corps.  In the Anti-Aircraft field, the missile systems then under development and the increasing speed of aircraft seemed to imply that the usefulness of the gun as an Anti-Aircraft weapon was diminishing.

In the early fifties, each of the four Regular Force regiments was provided with a fourth battery armed with 4.2-inch mortars.  In the mid-fifties the RCHA regiments turned in their 25-pounder Guns for the US 105-mm M1A1 towed Howitzer (the C1 in its Canadian form), and in 1958 replaced the 4.2-inch mortar in the light batteries with 155-mm Howitzer M1A1 Cdn on Carriage M1A2 Cdn (manufactured by Sorel Industries Limited, Quebec), aka M114 Cdn, in service.  The Militia regiments would eventually replace their 25-pounder Guns with the new 105-mm Howitzers as they became available.  In 1968, 1 RCHA replaced its towed guns with self-propelled M109A1 155-mm Howitzers.

C1/C2/C3/M2A2 105-mm Howitzer

The 105-mm Howitzer (M2A1/2 and M101A1 in Allied service) was the standard light field Howitzer for the United States in the Second World War, seeing action in both European and Pacific theatres.  Entering production in 1941, it quickly entered the war against the Imperial Japanese Army in the Pacific, where it gained a reputation for its accuracy and powerful punch.  The M101 fired 105-mm High explosive (HE) semi-fixed ammunition and had a range of 11,200 metres (12,200 yd), making it suitable for supporting infantry.  (Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School).

The Canadian Forces continued to use the M2A1 as the C1 Howitzer until 1997 when a modification was made to extend its service life.  It is now designated the C3.  Those improvements include a longer barrel, a muzzle brake, reinforced trails and the removal of shield flaps.  It remains the standard light Howitzer of Canadian Forces Reserve units.  The C3 is used by Reserve units in Glacier National Park in British Columbia as a means of avalanche control.

155-mm M114 Howitzer M1A2 Cdn

The 155-mm M114 Howitzer M1A2 is a towed Howitzer first produced in 1942 as a medium artillery piece under the designation of 155-mm Howitzer M1.  The Equipment and Ammunition Handbook for the weapon titled it 155-mm Howitzer, M1A1, Canadian on Carriage M1A2, Canadian.[5]  It saw service during the Second World War and the Korean War and was used by the armed forces of many nations, including Canada.

More than thirty M114 155-mm M1A2 Howitzers are on display in Canada.  These include one outside the Kamloops Armoury, British Columbia; one with the Red Deer Royal Canadian Legion, Branch No. 35, Alberta; one in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; one in the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum, CFB Shilo, Manitoba; two with 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, CFB Shilo; one in the War Memorial Park on the waterfront in Barrie, Ontario; one at Beamsville, Ontario; and one in the Guelph Armoury, Ontario.  One is on display in the Swords and Ploughshares Museum, Kars, Ontario; one is preserved in front of 1st Canadian Division HQ and another at the West Gate of CFB Kingston, Ontario; one is on display outside the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch No. 12, Lincoln, Ontario; another is with the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch No. 80, Midland, Ontario. 

The Ontario Regiment Museum holds one and another is on display at the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch No. 43 in Oshawa, Ontario.  The Canadian War Museum has two indoors; two more stand guard at the National Military Cemetery, Beechwood, Ottawa.  One marks the highway entrance from Pembroke to the village of Petawawa, Ontario; one is preserved at the Connaught ranges, Shirley’s Bay, Ontario; and another is in front of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch No. 99 at Cowansville, Ontario.  One is outdoors at the Longue Pointe Museum, Montréal, Québec; another is preserved in Shawinigan, Québec.  One is on display at the cenotaph in Kedgwick, New Brunswick, one is well preserved at the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch No. 12, Minto, New Brunswick; and one is on display at the Main Gate of CFB Gagetown.

M109A4B 155-mm Self-Propelled Howitzer

The M109 is an American-made self-propelled 155-mm Howitzer, first introduced in the early 1960s.  76 A4B+ were in use by the Canadian Forces from 1967 until they were phased ou in 2005.  In the 1980s of of these SP Howitzers were modernized to the M109A4B+ SPH standard.  24 of the M109s served with 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (4 CMBG) in Germany, with the remainder disptributed to units in Canada, including CFB Shilo where more extensive and varied live fire exercises could be carried out than those conducted by 1 RCHA at Grafenwoehr and Musnter in Germany. [6] The M109 family is the most common Western indirect-fire support weapon of manoeuvre brigades of armoured and mechanized infantry divisions.

The M109 has a crew of six: the section chief, the driver, the gunner, the assistant gunner and two ammunition handlers.  The gunner aims the cannon left or right (deflection) and the assistant gunner aims the cannon up and down (quadrant).  The cannon is an M185 155-mm Howitzer.  It has a secondary armament of a .50-inch (12.7-mm) M2 machine-gun, Mk I9 Mod 3 40-mm Automatic Grenade Launcher, or 7.62-mm M60 or M240 machine-gun.  (Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School).

106-mm M40 Recoilless Rifle

The M40 recoilless rifle was a lightweight, portable, crew-served 105-mm weapon intended primarily as an anti-tank weapon made in the United States.   It could also be employed in an antipersonnel role with the use of the antipersonnel-tracer flechette round.  It can be fired primarily from a wheeled ground mount.  The air-cooled, breech-loaded, single-shot rifle fired fixed ammunition.  It was designed for direct firing only, and sighting equipment for this purpose was furnished with each weapon.

The whole M40 mounting can be placed on an M151 Jeep for mobile use, which is how they were employed in the Canadian Army.  112 were in service with the Canadian Army Regular Force from the mid-1950s until they were transferred to the Reserves in 1976 with the introduction of the TOW System.  The M40 was in use with the Reserves until they were replaced by the M2CG Carl Gustav 84-mm man-portable reusable multi-role recoilless rifle.  (Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School).

T21 75-mm Recoilless Rifle

The T21 75-mm recoilless rifle was designed as an antitank and antipersonnel weapon with a range and fire power comparable to a Howitzer, the accuracy of small arms, and yet light enough to accompany infantry.  The T21 operates on the same principles as the 57-mm recoilless rifle and fires, at a normal velocity of 1,000 f/s, a standard 75-mm HEAT projectile with a pre-engraved rotating band and other slight modifications.  Similarly modified standard HE and WP projectiles are also fired at the same velocity.

Weighing 105 pounds this recoilless rifle could be carried short distances by 2 to 4 men.  It was quickly and easily mounted on the .30-inch M1917A1 Tripod Mount.  At short ranges it was also used for supporting artillery fire.  The T21 had a maximum range of approximately 6,800 metres.  Although the T21 was primarily a direct fire weapon, an elevation quadrant, and levelling jacks to bring the pintle into a level plane, were provided.  Paracrates to allow the rifle to be dropped from airplanes were developed and it was intended to be a useful addition to the equipment of airborne troops.[7]

Air Defence and Rocket Units

The 1st Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment RCA was formed in October 1953.  It consisted of a HQ and the 2nd and 3rd LAA Batteries, and it was located with the RCSA (Anti-Aircraft) at Picton, Ontario.  The remaining battery, the 4th LAA Battery was at Esquimalt, British Columbia.  The Regiment was originally equipped with Ordnance QF 40-mm Bofors AA Gun, but converted to 90-mm guns and M33C fire-control equipment in 1955.  The 4th LAA Battery in Esquimalt was reduced to nil strength in 1957.  The remainder of the regiment continued to function for three more years during which it helped to train Anti-Aircraft Gunners of the Militia.

Changes in defence policy resulted in the 1st LAA Regiment being disbanded in September 1960.  The majority of its personnel went on to form two new units - the 1st  and 2nd Surface-to- Surface Missile (SSM) Batteries RCA - at Hemer, Germany (with 4 CIBG) and Shilo respectively.  In 1962, each battery was equipped with four M50  or MGR-1B 762-mm Honest John Rockets mounted on M386 launchers.[8]  The Honest John was a nuclear tactical weapon capable of carrying a 1-Kiloton nuclear warhead to a range of 40 km.  Thus was born the nuclear role of The RCA.  The SSM Batteries would remain in service until 1970, when the Canadian NATO Brigade Group’s role was reduced in scope, and the Brigade Group was repositioned to CENTAG.[9]

M50 762-mm Honest John Rocket

The Honest John was a large but simple fin-stabilized, unguided artillery rocket weighing 5820 pounds in its initial M-31 nuclear-armed version.  Mounted on the back of a truck, HJ was aimed in much the same way as a cannon and then fired up an elevated ramp, igniting four small spin rockets as it cleared the end of the ramp.  The 762-mm Honest John Rocket was the first nuclear-capable surface-to-surface rocket in the US arsenal.

Canadians initially trained on the M-31 at Fort Sill in 1961 but converted to the M-50 for their training sessions in Germany.  The M-31 had a range of 15.4 miles with a 20 kiloton nuclear warhead but was also capable of carrying a 1500 pound conventional warhead.  An improved version, the MGR-1B (M-50), had smaller fins and more “rifling”, with a maximum range of 30+ miles with a scatter on target of only 250 yards, demonstrating an accuracy approaching that of tube artillery.  (Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School).

Production of the MGR-1 variants finished in 1965 with a total production run of more than 7,000 rockets.  There are three M31/M50 762-mm Honest John Rocket survivors in Canada.  One is on display mounted on its truck launcher with the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum, CFB Shilo, Manitoba.  One is mounted on a transport trailer with the CFB Petawawa Military Museum, Ontario, and one is hanging from the ceiling in the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa.

AEC 4X4 Armoured Command Post Vehicle

During the Second World War the United Kingdom developed and widely employed purpose-built armoured command vehicles.  Those were essentially armoured buses based on truck chassis.  The most common ACV of the British Army was the AEC 4x4 ACV.  Based on the AEC Matador chassis, this vehicle entered production in 1941.  A total of about 415 units were built.  The vehicle was used for the first time in the North African Campaign and remained in service until the end of the war.  Big and comfortable, it was nicknamed Dorchester by the troops, after the luxury hotel in London.  Three ACVs of this type were captured by the German Afrika Korps.  Two of them, named “Max” and “Moritz”, were employed by Rommel and his staff throughout the campaign.

In 1944 a larger AEC 6x6 ACV was developed.  The vehicle was based on AEC 0857 lorry chassis and was powered by the AEC 198 150 hp engine.  The hull was welded from 9-mm thick rolled steel.  The weight of the vehicle reached 17-tons.  One hundred and fifty one units were built.  Both vehicles were built in two configurations, called LP (Low Power) and HP (High Power), with different radio equipment.[10]

M577 Command Post

The M577 Command Post vehicle is a variant of the M113 APC.  The roof over the rear troop compartment is higher.  The vehicle also carries additional radios and a generator.  One is on display at the Military and Electronics Museum, Kingston, Ontario, another is with the New Brunswick Military History Museum, CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick.

Combat Arms School

With the closure of the 1st LAA Regiment and The RCAS (AA) in Picton in 1960, the only remaining school of artillery was at Shilo.  The school would remain in Shilo until 1970, when it was moved to Gagetown together with the Infantry and Armour schools (the title “Royal” was dropped from the various Army schools when the services integrated in 1968).  They formed the Combat Arms School, part of the Combat Training Centre in CFB Gagetown.[11]

Changes in the ORBAT

Formation of the 1st Divisional Locating Battery in 1954 at Shilo marked the reappearance of a locating unit in the Order of Battle of the Regular Force after an absence of nine years.  After a short, but fruitful existence, during which it played an active role in numerous exercises, the battery fell victim to a general reorganization of close support artillery.  Among other changes, locating units were decentralized to the Brigade Group level, and each RCHA regiment in Canada was given a Regimental Locating Battery as part of a new “5-battery organization.”  The 1st Divisional Locating Battery was reduced to nil strength on 30 April 1958.  It was revived briefly in 1965, and its Radar Troop equipped with the new AN/MQC/501 Counter Mortar Radar.  At the same time the RCHA and Militia locating batteries disappeared.  The revived battery was located at Winnipeg, where it conducted drone and sound ranging trials with the National Research Council.  Once the trials ended in 1968, the battery was once again reduced to nil strength.

Air OP Flight

During the Second World War Artillery units were supported by Air Observation Aircraft for spotting.  No. 118 (Coast Artillery Co-operation) Squadron used Armstrong Whitworth Atlas biplanes which were later replaced by Westland Lysanders.[12] 

Canada’s first peacetime Air OP Flight, No. 1 Air OP Flight was formed at Petawawa in 1953, followed by No.2 Air OP Flight in Shilo in 1954.  The flights were initially equipped with the British wartime Auster Mk VI aircraft, and in late 1954 were re-equipped with the US-built Cessna L-19 Bird Dog AOP aircraft.  A number of field artillery officers underwent basic pilot training at the Brandon Flying Club.  They then progressed to the Light Aircraft School at Rivers, Manitoba for advanced training.  Their role was to provide aerial artillery observation, air photography, liaison and reconnaissance.  

In 1960, Air Observation Troops were added to the four RCHA regiments (Gagetown, Petawawa, Shilo and Prince of Wales Fort, Germany), flying Hiller CH-112 Nomad helicopters, and the two original Flights were reduced to nil strength.  The new Air OP Troops operated under regimental control until 1970-71, when they converted to Bell CH-136 Kiowa helicopters and were subsequently absorbed into Air Command helicopter squadrons.

Air Observation Aircraft

Armstrong Whitworth Atlas Mk I (5) Serial Nos. 16 (later 401), 17 (later 402), 18, (later 403), 19 (later 404), 111, Mk I dual (1) Serial No. 112, (later 405), Mk I AC (10) Serial Nos. 406-415, for a total of 16 aircraft in Canadian service.

The Atlas was a single-engine two-seat biplane Army Co-operation aircraft powered by an Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar IVB.  The Atlas had a range of 400 miles/644 km, a service ceiling of 16,800 ft (5,120 m), and a rate of endurance of 3 hrs and 25 min.  It was armed with one forward firing .303 in Vickers machine-gun and one .303 in Lewis machine-gun mounted on a Scarff ring the in the rear cockpit.  It could carry up to four 112 lb (50 kg) bombs under its wings.[13]

The Mk I, Mk I dual and Mk I AC were acquired by the RCAF in 1927, and 13 were still in service in 1939.  They were used to carry out Reconnaissance/Patrols over the Bay of Fundy until the end of October that year, at which point they were turned over to No. 118 (Coast Artillery Co-operation) Squadron.  The Atlas was replaced by the Westland Lysanders.[14]

Westland Lysander Mk II (76) Serial Nos. 416-490, 700, Mk IIIA (150) Serial Nos. 2305-2454, Mk IIIT (103) Serial Nos. 1536-1592, V9281, V9290, V9301, V9312, V9315, V9318, V9320, V9323, V9324, V9347, V9351, V9365, V9370, V9371, V9378, V9383, V9386, V9407, V9409, V9413, V9417, V9423, V9442, V9443, V9449, V9486, V9502, V9504, V9508, V9519, V9520, V9526, V9553, V9556, V9570, V9577, V9589, V9607, V9642, V9651, V9676, V9678, V9712, V9716, V9733, V9739, for a total of 329 aircraft.

The Westland Lysander was a British army co-operation and liaison aircraft was used during the Second World War.  The aircraft’s exceptional short-field performance made possible clandestine missions using small, unprepared airstrips behind enemy lines that placed or recovered agents, particularly in occupied France.  Like other British army air co-operation aircraft it was given the name of a mythical or legendary leader, in this case Spartan general Lysander.   The first Lysanders entered service in June 1938, equipping squadrons for army co-operation and were initially used for message-dropping and artillery spotting.

104 British-built Lysanders were delivered to Canada supplementing 225 that were built under license at Malton, Ontario (near Toronto) with production starting in October 1938 and the first aircraft flying in August 1939.  The RCAF primarily operated them in the Army Co-operation role, where they represented a major improvement over the antiquated Westland Wapiti which could trace its origins back to 1916.

Initial training was conducted at Rockcliffe, Ontario (now a part of Ottawa, Ontario) with 123 Squadron running an Army Cooperation school there.  Units that operated the Lysander for training in this role in Canada include 2 Squadron, 110 Squadron (which became 400 Squadron overseas) and 112 Squadron. 

414 Squadron RCAF was formed overseas with Lysanders, joining 2 Squadron RCAF, 110 squadron RCAF and 112 Squadron RCAF and all four were ready to begin operations when the high losses suffered by RAF Lysanders put plans on hold but they continued training with the Lysanders until replacements were available.

118 Squadron and 122 Squadron would be the only units to use their Lysanders for active duty operations - 118 in Saint John, New Brunswick, and 122 at various locations on Vancouver Island where they performed anti-submarine patrols and conducted search and rescue operations.  During the same period, 121 Squadron used the Lysander for Target Towing duties, with a high visibility yellow and black striped paint job but by late 1944 all Lysanders had been withdrawn from flying duties.  (RCAF).

There are approximately 20 surviving Lysanders today, all but one having served with the RCAF. 

Auster Mk VI AOP aircraft (36) Serial Nos. 16651-16686, T7 (6) Serial Nos. 16687-16692, for a total of 42 aircraft in Canadian service.

The Auster is a three-seat light liaison and observation monoplane powered by a De Havilland Gipsy VII engine.  Over 400 were built.  The dual control T7 trainer variant was powered by a De Havilland Gipsy X engine.  Canadian Austers included Auster AOP.6 (36) Serial Nos. 16651-16686, Auster T7 (6) Serial Nos. 16687-16692, for a total of 42 aircraft.

Three Canadian Army Air Observation Post (AOP) Squadrons operated the Taylorcraft Auster, No. 664 Squadron and No. 665 Squadron in Northwest Europe during the Second World War and No. 666 Squadron in the post-war Canadian Army Occupation Force until they were disbanded in May 1946.  Improved model Austers also rendered AOP service for the Canadian Army during the Korean War.  The Austers flown by the Canadian Army in Korea were owned by UN Allies.[15]

 George G.  Blackburn wrote, “a circling Air OP Auster aircraft, which as every gunner has come to know only too well, makes a whispering sound uncannily like an incoming mortar bomb whenever it glides in low over the gun position with its motor shut down.”[16]

During Operation Tractable in Normandy in August 1944, the guns of 23rd Field marked targets with red smoke shells for Allied bombers attacking German gun and mortar positions.  Some of the bombers dropped their bombs short on Allied units.  The Canadian gunners watched the pilot of an “Auster aircraft, the kind used by artillery air OP officers, flying right up towards the bellies and the open bomb bays of the huge bombers, firing off red Very lights at them” to warn them off.  Eversley Belfield “flies his tiny, fragile craft round and about, right up underneath the open bomb bays, waggling his wings and looping smoky red baubles from his Very pistol across the flight path of the great roaring bombers.  Seldom, if ever, have so many been witness to such a splendid display of courage by an individual.”[17]

Hawker Typhoon Mk IB

The Typhoon was a British single-seat fighter-bomber, produced by Hawker Aircraft starting in 1941.  Initially armed with twelve .303 Brownings on the Typhoon Ia, these were superseded by four Hispano 20-mm cannon on the Typhoon IB.  Although it was intended to be a replacement for the Hawker Hurricane in the interceptor role, the Typhoon underwent a long gestation period, eventually evolving into one of the Second World War’s most successful ground-attack aircraft.  In RAF slang, the Typhoon was nicknamed the “Tiffy”.[18]

One RCAF wing in the 2nd Tactical Air Force (TAF) was equipped with Typhoons in the low-level fighter-bomber role.  They were particularly effective against German armour and troop concentrations before and after the Normandy invasion.

The Typhoon’s powerful engine allowed the plane to carry a massive load of (eventually) up to two 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs, equal to the light bombers of only a few years earlier.  Armed with four”60 lb” RP-3 rockets under each wing, the Typhoon would however become much more famous - the so-called “Rocketphoons.”  In October 1943, No. 181 Squadron made the first Typhoon rocket strikes.  Although the rocket projectiles were inaccurate and took some considerable skill to aim properly and allow for the drop after firing, “the sheer firepower of just one Typhoon was equivalent to a destroyer’s broadside.”  The top speed of the Typhoon was reduced by some 15 mph by the non-jettisonable rocket rails.  By the end of 1943, 18 rocket-equipped Typhoon squadrons formed the basis of the RAF’s Second Tactical Air Force ground attack arm in Europe.

By D-Day, in June 1944, the RAF had 26 operational squadrons of Typhoon IBs.  The aircraft proved itself to be the most effective RAF tactical strike aircraft, both on interdiction raids against communications and transport targets deep in North Western Europe prior to the invasion, and in direct support of the Allied ground forces after D-Day.  A system of close liaison with the ground troops was set up by the RAF and army: RAF radio operators in vehicles equipped with VHF R/T travelled with the troops, often close to the front line.  In situations where air support was needed they were able to call up Typhoons operating in a “Cab Rank”, which then continuously attacked the targets marked for them (usually with smoke shells fired by mortar or artillery) until they were destroyed.

Only one complete Hawker Typhoon still survives, Serial No.  MN235, and it is on display at the RAF Museum in Hendon, North London.  There is a Hawker Typhoon replica at the Memorial de la Paix, Caen, France, which has been reconstructed from some original components.[19]

George G.  Blackburn wrote the effectiveness and support provided by Typhoons in his book The Guns of Normandy:

“All day long the guns rumble, and the “Tiffies” dive down through the frantic black puffs of FlaK, releasing their swooshing rockets on targets south of Verriéres and St. Martin-de-Fontenay.  Sometimes your guns are required to fire red smoke shells to mark a target identified by one of the FOOs or the counter-battery people.  Targets can be anything, but most often they are tanks, and it’s against these that the four Canadian squadrons of Hawker Typhoons are proving terribly effective, judging from the terse reports coming back from the FOOs.”

“The planes come in at full throttle without warning, four hundred miles an hour, and sometimes you miss seeing the first one dive.  But the moment he releases his rockets, everybody across the entire front is aware that the Tiffies are operating.  It must make the German’s blood run cold, for even back here at the guns, three miles from the targets being attacked, the monstrous swoosh of the rockets ripping the air on their way down to the ground from the strafing, diving planes can cause anxiety.  Even after days of hearing them, the skin on the back of your neck tenses up whenever you hear the awesome scu-roo-ching of the rockets descending.  You never fail to watch, for each pilot puts on a truly magnificent display of courage that is silently applauded by thousands of other watching Allied soldiers.”[20]

Cessna L-19 Bird Dog AOP aircraft, RCAF L-19A (16) Serial Nos. 16701-16716, and L-19E (9) Serial Nos. 16717-16725, for a total of 25 aircraft in Canadian service.

The Bird Dog began to replace the Auster in the Canadian Army late in 1954.  It was powered by a single Continental 0-470-11 engine.  The L-19E was also powered by a single Continental 0-470-11 engine.  The L-19 was bought in the mid-50s to give the Army an Aircraft suitable for artillery spotting and light utility duties.  The nickname “Bird Dog” was given to the Cessna L-19 by the Canadian Army.  They utilized this Aircraft as an observation platform to guide the shells of the artillery’s guns and self-propelled Howitzers.  In 1972/73 all of the surviving Aircraft were transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Cadet League for use in the glider training program.[21] 

Canadian L-19s included Cessna 305 Bird Dog, RCAF L-19A (16) Serial Nos. 16701-16716, and L-19E (9) Serial Nos. 16717-16725, for a total of 25 aircraft.  The Royal Canadian Artillery Museum, CFB Shilo, Manitoba, has one Cessna L-19A Bird Dog, Serial No. 745B, (119706) on display.

Cessna L-182D AOP aircraft, (4) Serial Nos. 16726-16729, L-182E (4) Serial Nos. 16732-16735, L-182F (2) Serial No. 16730-16731, for a total of 10 aircraft in Canadian service.

The Canadian Army flew the single-engine light Cessna L-182 (models D, E, and F) in the sixties and early seventies as a successor to the L-19 Bird Dog air observation post (AOP) artillery spotter.  A Training and Liaison Flight operating from Rockcliffe flew the L-182 in a courier role. 

Canadian military Cessna 182 versions included RCAF L-182D (4) Serial Nos. 16726-16729, L-182E (4) Serial Nos. 16732-16735, L-182F (2) Serial No. 16730-16731, for a total of 10 aircraft.  All three RCAF variants of the Cessna 182 were powered by a single Continental 0-470-L engine.  In later years the 182 were used as glider tow-planes.[22]

Hiller CH-112 Nomad Helicopter, 27 in Canadian service.

The Nomad was a three-seat light reconnaissance helicopter powered by an Avco Lycoming VO-540-A1B flat-six piston engine.  Nomads replaced the Bell-47 models at the CJATC, in Rivers, Manitoba.  A total of 27 were acquired.  Some were operated by 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (4CMBG) in Germany until they were replaced by Bell CH-136 Kiowas. 

The Hiller CH-112 light reconnaissance helicopter replaced the Bell 47-D at the Canadian Joint Air Training Centre, Rivers, Manitoba.  It was a three-place helicopter with a single main rotor and an anti-torque tail rotor.  Designed for operations in confined areas of the combat zone it could carry two passengers, two litter patients, or 400 pounds of cargo.  Designated the OH-23D by the American Army, the CH-112 was used by the Canadian Army for training helicopter pilots and for operational exercises during Brigade concentrations in the summer months.  Some of these helicopters provided reconnaissance and liaison facilities for No. 4 Canadian Infantry Brigade Group in Germany.

It was intended that in the event of a national emergency, CH-112s would be employed in: air movement of small urgently needed stores; aeromedical evacuation; radio relay and transmission; Air Despatch Letter Service; messenger and courier service; line-laying; traffic control; radiological survey; danger warning - use of loudspeakers or sirens for warning of radiological fallout, chemical or bacteriological attack; propaganda - loudspeakers, leaflets; and air delivery of small patrols for tasks such as damage assessment, radiological or bacteriological survey.[23]

One has been preserved in the WCAM, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Hiller CH-112 Nomad Helicopter, (265).

Bell CH-136 Kiowa Helicopter, 74 in Canadian service.

The Kiowa helicopter is a small, single-engine, single-rotor (two-bladed) aircraft acquired to support Canada’s Army in the observation, reconnaissance, command and liaison, target acquisition, and adjustment of fire roles.  The CH-136 was retired in March 1995 and has been replaced by the Bell CH-146.  The civilian variant of this helicopter is the Bell Jet Ranger.  The Kiowa is powered by one Allison 250-C20B turboshaft.  There were 2,200 Kiowa helicopters produced, including the 74 for Canada, Serial Nos. 136201-136274.[24]

L5 105-mm Pack Howitzer

The OTO-Melara Mod 56 is an Italian 105-mm pack Howitzer designed by OTO-Melara.  It fires the standard US type M1 ammunition.  The OTO Melara 105-mm Mod 56 began life in the 1950s to meet the requirement for a modern light-weight Howitzer that could be used by Italian Alpini Brigades.  The fact that it remained in service with those same units a full half century after the Howitzer’s introduction is testament to the gun’s quality.

 The Mod 56 has a number of unique characteristics for a weapon of its-inch, including the ability for its crew to manhandle the gun (due to its light weight), and the capability of being able to be used in the direct fire role.  Being a pack Howitzer, it is designed to be broken down into 12 parts, each of which can be easily transported.  The capability of this weapon to be “knocked-down” allows the sections to be transported a number of ways although the original design was for mule-pack using special pack saddles.  More usually it is towed by a light vehicle such as a jeep or Land Rover, and with the shield removed it can be carried inside a M113 APC.  However, its particular attraction to Western Armies in the 1960s was its light weight meant it could be lifted in one piece by helicopter.  This made the gun popular with light artillery units in many countries as well as the more specialised Mountain and Airborne troops.

The gun also became the standard equipment of the Allied Command Europe Mobile Force (AMF) artillery, equipping the batteries provided by Canada, Belgium, German, Italy and UK (until 1975).  (Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School).


The latter part of the 1960s and the early 1970s saw many changes that would affect the Regular component of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery.  With the formation of the Canadian Airborne Regiment on 8 April 1968, the 1st Airborne Battery RCA was created.  It remained in Edmonton as an independent battery until 1977 when the Airborne Regiment was re-organized and moved to CFB Petawawa.  At that time the 1st Airborne Battery was disbanded and E Battery, 2 RCHA was re-designated E Battery (Para).

On 6 May 1968, a Regular Force artillery unit returned to Québec City after an absence of nearly half a century.  Le 5e Régiment d’artillerie légère du Canada (5 RALC), the first Regular Force French-speaking regiment, was formed around a nucleus of Gunners from X Battery, 3 RCHA.  Initially equipped with towed 105-mm Howitzers, it took on its new colours, 105-mm L5 pack Howitzers, in 1969.  Over the next few years, the L5 would also see service in the airborne role and with ACE Mobile Force Batteries in 2 and 3 RCHA.  3 RCHA now found itself in Shilo, and on 15 July 1970, 4 RCHA in Petawawa was reduced to nil strength.  The majority of its equipment and personnel were transferred directly to 2 RCHA, which was moved from Gagetown to Petawawa.  A second buy of M109s in 1977 went to equip 3 RCHA.  These up-gunned versions of the M109 featured a longer-calibre barrel as well as other improvements.  The guns have been modernized twice since then.

On 1 February 1968, Canada’s three services ceased to exist as separate entities.  Integration brought about the amalgamation of these services to form what was called the Canadian Armed Forces until August 2011.  That change was followed by a severe reduction in the establishments of the Militia.  The Reserve Force artillery units were either converted to field artillery regiments and independent batteries, struck off the order of battle or converted to other arms.  Today in the Reserve Force artillery there are 15 field artillery regiments, two air defence artillery regiments and two independent field artillery batteries.  An additional air defence battery (58 AD Battery) forms part of the 6e Régiment d’artillerie de campagne RCA (6 RAC).  The field regiments operated the C3 105-mm towed Howitzer, a longer-range version of the C1.  The air defence regiments and 58 AD Battery operated the shoulder-launched Javelin S-15 (Starburst) Air Defence Missile System.  (Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School).

Javelin Surface to Air Missile

Javelin is a British, man-portable surface-to-air missile, formerly used by the British Army and Canadian Army.  It can be fired from the shoulder, or from a dedicated launcher known as Javelin LML - Lightweight Multiple Launcher.  Capable of being vehicle mounted, the LML carries three rounds.  It was replaced in front line British service by the Javelin S-15, sold commercially as the Starburst surface-to-air missile in 1993 (radio frequency guided Javelin was retained for some time thereafter for training purposes), and later by the Starstreak starting around 1997. 

The missile was developed as a replacement for the Blowpipe missile.  Similar in overall appearance to the Manual Command Line of Sight (MCLOS), radio frequency guided Blowpipe, Javelin is slightly more compact, uses Semiautomatic Command Line of Sight (SACLOS) radio frequency guidance and is fitted with Semi and improved warhead.  The operator is equipped with a 6x magnification sight and a long range TV camera to locate targets.  Although the Javelin’s accuracy is somewhat susceptible to smoke, fog or clouds, it is claimed to be virtually impossible to decoy it away from a target with flares.  The Canadian Forces have retired it without replacement.  (Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School).

Germany, 1975-1992

In 1975, two airfield air defence batteries were re-activated in Germany, 128 Airfield Defence Battery at Baden-Söellingen, and 129 Airfield Defence Battery at Lahr.  Both were equipped with 40-mm Boffin guns and Blowpipe Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) missiles.  The Boffin was a hydraulically driven Naval version of the standard Second World War 40-mm Bofors.  They had been retrieved from decommissioned minesweepers and the aircraft carrier Bonaventure.  In 1976, 1 RCHA and 2 RCHA each received a troop of Blowpipe.  The Germany-based units were augmented in 1976 by the formation of two fly-over batteries - H Battery in 3 RCHA, and V Battery in 5 RALC.

Gunners Dave Archer and Paul Van Helvert, both with the Canadian 129th Anti-Aircraft Defence Battery, stand by at a Blowpipe Anti-Aircraft guided missile system position on the edge of the base during Exercise Cornet Phaser, a NATO rapid deployment exercise conducted under simulated wartime conditions.  The men are wearing nuclear, chemical and biological warfare (NBCW) protective gear.

Blowpipe Surface to Air Missile

The Shorts Blowpipe is a man-portable surface-to-air missile (MANPADS) which was in use with the British Army and Royal Marines from 1975.  It was superseded by an interim design, Javelin, and later the greatly improved Starstreak missile.

The missile is shipped as a single round in a storage cylinder/firing tube.  The aiming unit is clipped to the launch tube and fired from the operator’s shoulder.  To reduce the overall size of the container, the rear fins of the missile are stored in the larger diameter cylinder at the front of the tube (this also contains the Yagi antenna for transmitting guidance signals); during firing the fins slip onto the rear of the missile as it flies through and are held there by heat-activated adhesive tapes.  This gives the launch container a unique shape, seemingly oversized at the front and extremely thin at the rear.  The missile is powered by a short duration solid rocket for launch, and then by a main sustainer rocket once it is well clear of the launch tube.

Guidance of the Blowpipe is initially semi-automatic with the missile gathered to the centre of the sight’s crosshairs by the infrared optic atop the aiming unit.  Two to three seconds after launch, missile guidance is switched to fully MCLOS mode, and the operator regains full control of the missile.  The operator has to steer the missile all the way to its target manually via a small thumb Joystick.  The operator can opt not to use autogathering when engaging low flying targets such as helicopters, but then has to super-elevate the launcher to ensure the missile does not hit the ground.  Four flares in the tail of the missile make it visible in flight, first to the infrared optic, then to the operator.  Detonation is either by proximity or contact fuze.  In emergencies, the operator can end an engagement by the operator shutting off the power to the transmitter with the system switch, after which the missile will immediately self-destruct.  The aiming unit can then be removed from the empty missile container and fitted to a new round.  (Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School).

Modern Air Defence Systems

In the mid 1980s, The Low Level Air Defence (LLAD) Project, which would be the most expensive single project to date for the Army ($1 Billion), resulted in the procurement of what is considered to be one of the most effective Short Range Air Defence (SHORAD) systems in the world.  1985 saw the air defence troop of 2 RCHA dismantled with the reactivation of 119 Air Defence Battery and the formation of the Air Defence Artillery School at CFB Chatham.  1987, 4 Air Defence Regiment RCA, incorporating 127, 128 and 129 AD Batteries, was formed and headquartered in Lahr, Germany. 

The two airfield defence batteries were each equipped with four Skyguard sections (a Skyguard fire control radar and two twin 35-mm Oerlikon GDF-005 gun systems each), and a troop of four ADATS SHORAD missile systems.  127 AD Battery, tasked with AD protection of 4 CMBG, was equipped with 12 ADATS.  119 AD Battery was also re-equipped with ADATS.  During this period three Militia units were re-equipped as air defence artillery:  18th Air Defence Regiment in Lethbridge, 1 Air Defence Regiment in Pembroke and 58e Batterie d’artillerie antiaérienne, 6 RAC in Levis, Québec.  Each unit received Javelin S-15, the replacement for Blowpipe.

In 1992 as part of the reduction of forces and the return of units from Germany, 4th Air Defence Regiment RCA was reduced to nil strength.  It was raised again with a smaller establishment on 21 July 1996 as a Total Force unit, with a high ratio of reservists.  The HQ and 128 Airfield Defence Battery were located in Moncton, with 119 AD Battery and 210 AD Workshop located in Gagetown.  A third battery’s worth of equipment was positioned at Cold Lake, Alberta with a small caretaker staff. [25]

Air Defense Anti-Tank System

The Air Defense Anti-Tank System (ADATS) is a dual-purpose short range surface-to-air and anti-tank missile system based on the M113A2 vehicle.  It is manufactured by the Swiss company Oerlikon-Contraves, a member of the Rheinmetall Defence Group of Germany.  It has a speed of Mach 3+, a range of 10 km, a ceiling of 7,000 metres, and three types of warheads 12.5 kg high explosive (HE) fragmentation/ shaped charge, impact and proximity fuze.  It can penetrate 900-mm of rolled homogeneous armour (RHA), and is guided by digitally coded laser beam-riding.

It is currently in service with the Canadian Army as a mobile, M113 based system, and in Thailand as a fixed, ground shelter defence system.  The ADATS missile is a laser-guided supersonic missile with a range of 10 kilometres, with an electro-optical sensor with TV and Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR).  The carrying vehicle also has a conventional two-dimensional radar with an effective range of over 25 kilometres.

In September 2005, the Canadian Government and the Canadian Forces announced a modernization program, transforming the ADATS and associated command, control and communications systems into a Multi-Mission Effects Vehicle (MMEV).  The MMEV was to retain and enhance ADATS capability (85% or better engagement success rate) to meet new threats, and would be mounted on a LAV III wheeled armoured vehicle.  It was to be fitted with a 3D radar, non-line-of-sight (NLOS) missile (using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to gather required intelligence and target location at a range of 8 km or more) and low-cost precision kill (LCPK) missile (fireable on direct shot at an 8 km+ range), based on a 2.75-inch rocket and advanced Battle Management Command and Control Communication Computer and Information (BMC41), including LinK 11/16, to provide the third dimension to the ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance) infrastructure of the Army.

The flexible ground-based multi-mission system would have provided military commanders with a homeland defence and expeditionary air, land, and maritime forces capability for ground-based air defence/airspace coordination and long-range direct fire/NLOS support for ground engagement to defend against asymmetric and conventional threats.  However, Canadian Forces Land Staff recommended in July 2006 for the Multi-Mission Effects Vehicle Project to be cancelled, along with the Mobile Gun System.  (Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School).

Oerlikon 35-mm Twin Gun

The Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannon is a pair of towed anti-aircraft guns made by Oerlikon Contraves (renamed as Rheinmetall Air Defence AG following the merger with Rheinmetall in 2009).  The system was originally designated as 2 ZLA/353 ML but this was later changed to GDF-001.  It was developed in the late 1950s and is used by around 30 countries including Canada.  The system uses 35 mm auto cannons, which were originally designated 353 MK and are now designated as the KD series. The system could be paired with the off-gun Skyguard fire control radar system.[26]  Canada had 20 GDF-005 units and 10 Skyguard FC radars which have been phased out.[27]

Bison, Air Space Coordination Cell

The Bison is an armoured personnel carrier based on the 8x8 MOWAG Piranha II platform, and was produced by General Motors Diesel Division (now General Dynamics Land Systems Canada) in London, Ontario.  They are primarily operated by the Canadian Forces Primary Reserve, but have been adopted by the regular force of the Canadian Army as well. 

This extremely versatile vehicle has been modified slightly to incorporate all the necessary components that an Airspace Coordination Cell (ASCC) will need to be to complete their task.  The ASCC is the facility into which the various airspace users provide inputs concerning their requirements, where conflicts between users are resolved, and requirements are consolidated and forwarded HIGHER for approval.  In essence, the ASCC determines how the commander’s airspace requirements can best be satisfied by maximizing the effective safe use of the airspace with minimum restrictions.  This allows the flexibility of airspace use in an efficient, integrated and flexible manner, and provides a commander with the operational flexibility to effectively employ forces in times of conflict.[28]


The LAV III armoured vehicle (AV) is the latest in the Generation III Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) series built by General Dynamics Land Systems, entering service in 1999.  It is based on the Swiss MOWAG Piranha IIIH 8x8.  It was developed in Canada and is the primary mechanized infantry vehicle of the Canadian Army. 

Variants include the Observation Post (OPV), which is a Standard LAV III equipped for use by a Forward Observation Officer (FOO), and the Command Post (CPV), which is a standard LAV III equipped for command post duties.

LG1 Mk II 105-mm Howitzer

The LG1 is a modern 105-mm/30-calibre towed Howitzer designed and produced by GIAT Industries (now the Nexter Group) of France.  The LG1 features both low weight and a high level of accuracy over long distances.  Its lightweight construction gives the barrel a relatively short lifespan.  The equivalent full charge (EFC) count is suggested to be approximately 7,500; however, during fire and practice, has yielded only around 1,500 EFCs.  The gun was specifically designed for use by rapid deployment forces with attributes such as ruggedness, ease of operation and reduced weight.  It can fire all NATO standard 105-mm ammunition up to a range of 18.5 and 19.5 kilometres (11.5 and 12.1 mi) using HE-ER G2 and US M913 rounds.

The current service version with Canadian artillery is the LG1 Mark II, of which 28 were purchased for the RCHA (Royal Canadian Horse Artillery).  GIAT supplied the first Howitzers in 1996 and fielding was complete by November 1997  with the Howitzers being delivered directly to units in Bosnia.

On August 2005, DEPRO (GVB) Incorporated - a Canadian defence firm, was selected by the Canadian Forces to improve their LG-1 guns with improvements ranging from new & better muzzle brake, new-designed spades for better stability during firing and larger tires to replace the small Pirelli tires (which were found to be inadequate for proper ground clearance while on the move).  It is expected that this new set of improvements will give the LG-1 Howitzers a greater lifespan, reliability and increase the safety margin for the crew.  (Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School).

Training Bases

19 September 1981 saw the formation of the RCA Battle School at CFB Shilo, Manitoba.  This much-needed school gave The Royal Regiment a steady supply of trained soldiers and more time to train for individual unit tasks.  It would remain active until June 1997, when it was disbanded and replaced by a much smaller artillery detachment of the Western Area Training Center.  In 1995, the Air Defence Artillery School and 119 AD Battery were moved to CFB Gagetown, and in 1996 the Field and Air Defence Artillery Schools were amalgamated to form the Royal Canadian School of Artillery (RCSA). 

As a result of the downsizing of the Canadian Forces in 1992, 3 RCHA was reduced to nil strength.  1 RCHA moved from Germany, on the disbandment of 4 CMBG, to replace 3 RCHA in Shilo.  At the same time, the weapon resources of the three remaining Regular Force Field Units were re-distributed, giving each Regiment a mix of M109s and 105-mm C1 Howitzers.  In 1997, the C1 Howitzers in the Regular Force units were replaced by a new, longer range, light 105-mm gun, the French LG1. [29]

Operations other than War

Members and units of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery have served in virtually every peacekeeping mission that Canada has been involved in since the early 1950’s.  Individual soldier commitments to the United Nations over the last two decades have been numerous.  Gunners have served in the Congo, Egypt, Golan Heights, Hanoi, Saigon, Laos, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Namibia, South Africa, Central America, Mozambique, Croatia and Bosnia to name a few.   In addition, The RCA has been involved in over twenty years of sending batteries and regiments in rotation with other Army units to Cyprus.  It has also provided both individual and sub-unit deployments to Bosnia and Haiti for the NATO peace enforcement missions of recent years.

In the summer of 1991, 5 RALC was deployed to Montréal in aide of the civil power as part their parent brigade’s involvement in the Oka Crisis.  Elements of the 4th AD Regiment also participated.  In the Spring of 1997, all artillery regiments were involved in the flood fighting in Manitoba, and in January 1998 provided aid in the aftermath of the Century’s worst ice storm in Ontario and Québec.

Since 1962, RCHA Gunners from Shilo have been involved in avalanche control duties at Roger’s Pass, British Columbia.  Under an agreement with the Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources, the regiment based in Shilo provides a 105-mm C1 Howitzer detachment from 1 December to 1 April each year.  High explosive rounds are fired at critical trigger points along 27 miles of highway in Glacier National Park in order to bring down snow build-up before it can trigger a major avalanche. 

Three C1A1 105-mm M2A2 Howitzers will placed on display in Roger’s Pass as monuments for the RCA.

In the spring of 2000, 1 RCHA became the first Canadian field artillery unit to deploy its guns into an operational theatre since the Korean War.  With C Battery deployed as an infantry company as part of the 2 PPCLI Battle Group on OP PALLADIUM in Bosnia, A Battery followed shortly afterwards with six LG1 105-mm Howitzers, replacing a British light gun battery.  A Battery would in fact operate as both a gun battery, and provide infantry patrols as required.  A Battery was replaced in October 2000 by B battery, which in turn will be replaced in March 2001 by a battery from 2 RCHA.

The Gulf War, 1991

 On 9 August 1990 the 119th Air Defence Battery RCA deployed a 36-member Troop of Javelin VSHORAD missile systems to provide extra air defence protection for the three Canadian Naval ships as part of Canada’s commitment to UN forces during the Gulf War.  Javelin had been procured in a very short span of time for this operation in order to replace the obsolete Blowpipe missile.  Due to the two weapons’ general similarities, detachments were trained in a matter of two weeks while they were in transit to the Gulf.  The Royal School of Artillery, Larkhill, UK provided an Instructor-in-Gunnery (IG) team, which conducted weapon training while crossing the Atlantic.  A successful live fire practice was held when the ships reached the Azores in early September.

Each ship was provided a section of Javelin, with HMCS Athabaskan and HMCS Protecteur each receiving four detachments while HMCS Terra Nova received three.  The ships arrived in the Central Persian Gulf on 23 September 1990, and commenced UN Patrol duties, including the halting and boarding of ships in day and night as part of the embargo placed on Iraq.  In January 1991 the ships were placed in charge of organizing re-supply for the Multi-National force.  HMCS Protecteur was the only supply ship to remain in theatre for the entire operation.

During their tour, the Javelin troop did not have to fire a shot in anger, as the allies quickly grounded the Iraqi Air Force.  The operation did allow the Troop to hone their aircraft recognition skills and practice command and control procedures in a highly charged operational setting unlike they had ever been previously trained for.  They returned to Canada with the ships on 13 March 1991.

Three Canadian Gunner officers saw active service as exchange officers with the British Army in the Gulf War.  Major Dave Marshall commanded 127 (Dragon) Field Battery RA, an eight-gun M109 battery that was part of the composite 2 Field Regiment RA. 2 Field Regiment supported the 4th Armoured Brigade, 1st British Armoured Division.  During the four days of fighting, Major Marshall’s battery fired over 2500 rounds of 155-mm ammunition at Iraqi second echelon armoured divisions.  Major Marshall is the only Canadian to have fired a Fire Mission Division in anger since Korea.  Captain Brian Travis was employed in the Divisional Artillery Headquarters as a liaison officer to the 7th US Corps Artillery, and Captain Jeff Willis served as a staff officer in the Divisional Artillery Headquarters. [30]

Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery Casualties in Afghanistan

The combat role of Canada’s gunners in Afghanistan has been outstanding, but with considerable cost.  The Canadian Army has ceased being engaged in the Afghan theatre of operations.  As of this writing, the following Artillery personnel have been lost:

22 April 2006 – Bombardier Myles Mansell, Victoria, British Columbia, age 25, 5th (British Columbia) Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, and Lieutenant William Turner of Toronto, Ontario, age 45, Land Force Western Area, Edmonton, Alberta, and two other soldiers, all stationed at CFB Wainwright, Alberta, were all killed when their G-Wagon patrol vehicle was destroyed by a roadside bomb near Gumbad, north of Kandahar.  Lieutenant Turner was a former member of 11th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery.

17 May 2006 - Capt Nichola Goddard, Calgary, Alberta, age 26, an artillery officer with 1 Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, CFB Shilo, Manitoba, was killed in a Taliban ambush during a battle in the Panjwai region 24 km West of Kandahar.  She was the first Canadian woman to be killed in action while serving in a combat role.

04 July 2007 – Six Canadian soldiers and their Afghan interpreter died when their RG-31 Nyala armoured vehicle struck an IED 18 km SW of Kandahar, 8 KM SE of Forward Operating Base Masum Ghar.  The soldiers had completed a patrol as part of Op LUGER and were returning to base.  The vehicle was split by the force of the explosion caused by a TM and 152-mm shell combination, command detonated after the lead tank and other vehicles had passed by.  The dead included Captain Jefferson Clifford Francis, Halifax, Nova Scotia, age 37, 1 RCHA.

06 January 2008 – Gunner Jonathan Dion, Val d’Or, Québec, age 27, of the 5e Régiment d’artillerie légère du Canada from Val-d’Or, Québec, died early Sunday after his TLAV armoured vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.  Dion, a gunner at a remote, no-frills forward operating base (FOB) in the volatile Zhari district of southern Afghanistan was killed and four other soldiers injured when their TLAV - an older model light-armoured vehicle that has since been refurbished and rearmoured - struck a roadside bomb shortly after 9 a.m.  Local time about 20 kilometres west of Kandahar city.

11 March 2008 - Bombardier Jérémie Ouellet, Matane, Québec, age 22, was found dead in his sleeping quarters at the Kandahar Air Field.  Ouellet was with the 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, based in Shilo, Manitoba.  A statement released by the Department of National Defence said enemy action had been ruled out.  Ouellet had only recently arrived in Afghanistan as part of the newest rotation of soldiers taking over Canada’s military efforts in Kandahar.

30 Dec 2009 –Sergeant Kirk Taylor, age 28, serving with the 84th Independent Field Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery; three other soldiers and a civilian Canadian Journalist were all killed and four other passengers were injured when the vehicle they were riding in was struck by an IED in Kandahar.  The soldiers’ vehicle was travelling on an unpaved road near the farming village of Qassam Pol, just south of Kandahar city, when it hit the explosive device.

M777 155-mm Howitzer

The M777 Howitzer is a towed artillery piece manufactured by BAE Systems’ Global Combat Systems division.  Prime contract management is based in Barrow-in-Furness in the UK as well as manufacture and assembly of the titanium structures and associated recoil components.  Final integration and testing of the weapon is undertaken at BAE’s facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  The M777 has replaced the M198 Howitzer 155-mm towed Howitzers in the United States Marine Corps and United States Army, although the M198 is in still use with the Reserves and National Guard.  Canada has 37 M777 Howitzers and they have been used in action since February 2006 in Afghanistan along with the associated GPS-guided Excalibur ammunition.  The M777 will replace all M109s (removed from service in 2005) and and become the standard artillery weapon for all Regular Force artillery units.  Use may be limited due to the cost of ammunition.[31]

 In December 2005, 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, conducted an inaugural firing of its first 155-mm M777 towed Howitzers, for of a total of six guns.  The six guns delivered were supplied by the United States Marine Corps under a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract between the US and Canada.  The guns were deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Archer, and were put into service in the Canadian theatre of operations around Kandahar in early 2006.[32]  In the summer they made a significant contribution during the Battle of Panjwaii when a small number of rounds were used to huge effect on Taliban elements retreating from the battle area.  Many of the 72 reported killed during the heaviest period of fighting were due to artillery fire from only two of these guns.

In late fall of 2006, the Canadian M777 Howitzers were equipped with the Digital Gun Management System (DGMS), which greatly improved accuracy and led to these guns being used for Short Range Close Support of Canadian and US ground forces.  However, until early 2007, ammunition supplies were constrained and led to reduced firing.  They proved so successful that an order for an additional six guns was placed with BAE with the present total standing at 37.  (Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School).

[1] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, A Condensed History of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1793-1998, 1015, paras 1-4.

[2] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, A Condensed History of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1793-1998, 1018, paras 1-4.

[3] Internet:

[4] E-mail to Author from LCol (Ret’d) John Davidson, 31 Dec 2011.

[5] E-mail to Author from LCol (Ret’d) John Davidson, 31 Dec 2011.

[6] E-mail to Author from LCol (Ret’d) John Davidson, 31 Dec 2011.

[7] Internet:

[8] E-mail to Author from LCol (Ret’d) John Davidson, 31 Dec 2011.

[9] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, A Condensed History of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1793-1998, 1015, paras 1-4.

[10] Internet:

[11] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, A Condensed History of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1793-1998, 1015, para 6.

[12] Internet:

[13] Internet:

[14] Internet:

[15] Internet:

[16] George G. Blackburn, The Guns of Normandy, p. 226.

[17] George G. Blackburn, The Guns of Normandy, p. 410.

[18] Internet:

[20] George G. Blackburn, The Guns of Normandy, pp. 227-228.

[21] Internet:

[22] Internet:

[23] Internet:

[24] Internet:

[25] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, A Condensed History of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1793-1998, 1018, paras 7-14.

[26] Internet:

[27] Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School.

[28] Internet:

[29] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, A Condensed History of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1793-1998, 1018, paras 14-16.

[30] Standing Orders - Chapter 10, A Condensed History of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, 1793-1998, 1019, paras 1-5.

[31] E-mail to Author from LCol (Ret’d) John Davidson, 31 Dec 2011.

[32] On 20 Feb 2006, the Canadian Forces fired their M777s for the first. Time in combat near Gumbad, 60 kilometres northeast of the city of Kandahar, Afghanistan.  Illumination rounds are used to turn the tables on a night attack with Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs).  Chris Wattie, National Post.

The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery


Many of the units and batteries of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery are older than Canada itself.  The first company in Canada was formed in the province of Québec in 1750.  Volunteer Canadian artillery batteries existed before 1855 but their history is mostly unknown.  Seven independent batteries of artillery were formed after the passage of the Militia Act of 1855 which allowed Canada to retain a paid military force of 5,000 men.  Three of the original seven batteries are perpetuated by Reserve Force batteries today.  Prior to 1855, volunteer Canadian artillery batteries existed but the continuity of some of these batteries is difficult to trace.   One of the pre-1855 volunteer batteries formed in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1793 was called the “Loyal Company of Artillery“ and exists today as the 3rd Field Regiment, RCA.

Post Confederation

Artillery was the first element of the regular component of the fledgling nation of Canada’s military.  On 20 October 1871, the first regular Canadian army units were created, in the form of two batteries of garrison artillery[1]; thus, that date is considered the regiment’s birthday.  A Battery in Kingston, Ontario and B Battery in Québec City were to become gunnery schools and perform garrison duties in their respective towns.  They are still active today as part of the 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery.

The Royal Canadian Artillery has participated in every major conflict in Canada’s history, including the Riel Rebellion, 1885, the Boer War, the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean Conflict and on operations at home and abroad including Afghanistan.  The Canadian Artillery and the Garrison Artillery were the designations of the Non-Permanent Active Militia as of 1 January 1914.  The Canadian Artillery and the Garrison Artillery were collectively redesignated the Royal Canadian Artillery on 3 June 1935.[2]

Canadian Army Corps Artillery ORBAT, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-18

Royal Canadian Horse Artillery Brigade

8th Army Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery

24th, 30th, 32nd Field Batteries, 42nd Howitzer Battery

“E” Anti-Aircraft Battery

Corps Heavy Artillery

          1st Brigade, Canadian Garrison Artillery

1st, 3rd, 7th, 9th Siege Batteries

2nd Brigade, Canadian Garrison Artillery

                   1st, 2nd Heavy Batteries, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th Siege Batteries

3rd Brigade, Canadian Garrison Artillery

                   8th, 10th, 11th, 12th Siege Batteries

5th Divisional Artillery

          13th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery

                   52nd, 53rd, 55th Field Batteries, 51st Howitzer Battery

14th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery

                   60th, 61st, 66th Field Batteries, 58th Howitzer Battery

Divisional Troops

1st Canadian Division

                   1st Infantry Brigade, 1st Trench Mortar Battery

                   2nd Infantry Brigade, 2nd Trench Mortar Battery

                   3rd Infantry Brigade, 3rd Trench Mortar Battery

1st Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery

                   1st, 3rd, 4th Field Batteries, 2nd Howitzer Battery

2nd Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery

                   5th, 6th, 7th Field Batteries, 48th Howitzer Battery

2nd Canadian Division

                   4th Infantry Brigade, 4th Trench Mortar Battery

                   5th Infantry Brigade, 5th Trench Mortar Battery

                   6th Infantry Brigade, 6th Trench Mortar Battery

5th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery

                   17th, 18th, 20th Field Batteries, 23rd Howitzer Battery

6th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery

                   15th, 16th, 25th Field Batteries, 22nd Howitzer Battery

3rd Canadian Division

                   7th Infantry Brigade, 7th Trench Mortar Battery

                   8th Infantry Brigade

                   9th Infantry Brigade, 9th Trench Mortar Battery

9th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery

                   31st, 33rd, 45th Field Batteries, 36th Howitzer Battery

10th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery

                   38th, 39th, 40th Field Batteries, 35th Howitzer battery

4th Canadian Division

10th Infantry Brigade, 10th Trench Mortar Battery

11th Infantry Brigade, 11th Trench Mortar Battery

12th Infantry Brigade, 12th Trench Mortar Battery

3rd Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery

                   10th, 11th, 12th Field Batteries, 9th Howitzer Battery

4th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery

                   13th, 19th, 27th Field Batteries, 21st Howitzer Battery.

First Canadian Army Artillery ORBAT in the Second World War

1st Canadian Infantry Division

1st Field Regiment, RCHA, 2nd Field Regiment, 3rd Field Regiment, 1st Anti-Tank Regiment, 2nd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment.

2nd Canadian Infantry Division

4th Field Regiment, 5th Field Regiment, 6th Field Regiment, 2nd Anti-Tank Regiment

3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment.

3rd Canadian Infantry Division

12th Field Regiment, 13th Field Regiment, 14th Field Regiment, 3rd Anti-Tank Regiment, 4th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment.

4th Canadian Armoured Division

15th Field Regiment, 23rd Field Regiment (Self-Propelled), 5th Anti-Tank Regiment, 8th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment.

5th Canadian Armoured Division

17th Field Regiment, 8th Field Regiment (Self-Propelled), 4th Anti-Tank Regiment, 5th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment.

I Canadian Corps Troops

7th Anti-Tank Regiment, 1st Survey Regiment.

II Canadian Corps Troops

6th Anti-Tank Regiment, 2nd Survey Regiment, 6th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment.

First Canadian Army Troops

No. 1 Army Group Royal Canadian Artillery

11th Army Field Regiment, 1st Medium Regiment, 2nd Medium Regiment, 5th Medium Regiment.

No. 2 Army Group Royal Canadian Artillery

19th Army Field Regiment, 3rd Medium Regiment, 4th Medium Regiment, 7th Medium Regiment.

Coast Defences 

During the Second World War the RCA was also responsible for the defence of Canada on both the West and East Coasts.

Present Day Units of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery

The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery is composed of both regular and reserve (militia) forces.  The regular force component is composed of five units, four of which are front line operation units; of these, three are field artillery regiments while the fourth is a low level air defence unit.  The fifth regular unit is the Royal Canadian Artillery School.  Although the three field artillery regiments are on the Royal Canadian Artillery’s Order of Battle, they are cap-badged as Royal Canadian Horse Artillery.

Regular Force

1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery

A Battery, B Battery, C Battery, Z Battery, Headquarters and Services Battery

2nd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery

D Battery, E Battery, F Battery, Y Battery, Headquarters and Services Battery

4 Air Defence Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery

119th Battery, 128th Battery (Presently under review with a possible tasking amendment to the 4th General Support Regiment of the RRCA)

5e Régiment d’artillerie légère du Canada

Batterie X, Batterie Q, Batterie R, Batterie V, Batterie de Commandement et Services

The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School

45 Depot Battery, 67 Depot Battery, Maintenance Training Battery, Headquarters Battery, “W” Battery, (formerly of the 4th Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery)

Reserve Regiments

1st Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (Halifax-Dartmouth)

51st Battery, 87th Battery

2nd Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (Montreal)

7th Battery, 50th Battery, 66th Battery

3rd Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (Saint John)

89th Battery (Woodstock), 115th Battery (Moncton)

5th (British Columbia) Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (Victoria)

55th Battery, 56th Battery

6e Régiment d’artillerie de campagne, RCA (Lévis)

57e Batterie, 58e Batterie d’artillerie antiaérienne, 59e Batterie

7th Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (Toronto)

9th Field Battery, 15th Field Battery, 130th Battery

10th Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery

18th Battery (Regina, 64th Field Battery (Yorkton)

11th Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (Guelph)

11th Battery (Hamilton-Wentworth), 16th Battery, 29th Battery

15th Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (Vancouver)

31st Battery, 68th Battery

20th Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery

61st Battery (Edmonton), 78th Battery (Red Deer)

26th Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery

13th Battery (Portage la Prairie) , 71st Battery (Brandon)

30th Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (Ottawa)

1st Battery, 2nd Battery

1st Air Defence/42nd Field Artillery Regiment, (Lanark and Renfrew Scottish) Royal Canadian Artillery (Pembroke)

89th Battery, 109th Battery

49th Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (Sault Ste Marie)

30th Battery, 148th Battery

56th Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (Brantford)

10th Battery, 54th Battery, 69th Battery

62nd Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (Shawinigan)

81e Batterie, 185e Batterie, 186e Batterie

Independent batteries

20th Independent Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery (Lethbridge)

84th Independent Field Battery (Yarmouth)

116th Independent Field Battery (Kenora)

Since the spring of 2005, 10th Field Regiment, 26th Field Regiment and 116th Independent Field Battery have been grouped together as 38 Canadian Brigade Group’s Artillery Tactical Group.

Other units 

The Royal Canadian Artillery Band

Artillery Precedence over other Units

The Royal Canadian Artillery does not carry colours.  Its guns are its colours and are saluted on parade.  The honour of “The Right of the Line” (precedence over other units), on an army parade, is held by the units of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery when on parade with their guns.  On dismounted parades, RCHA units take precedence over all other land force units except formed bodies of Officer Cadets of the Royal Military College of Canada representing their college.  RCA units parade to the left of units of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps.[3]

[1] Garrison Artillery was designed for the defence of permanent fortifications.  Siege Artillery was similar, but once it had been moved to its firing position it rarely moved during the siege.  Field Artillery was designed for mobility, and was usually mounted on a wheeled carriage with a limber to carry ammunition and supplies.  Guns in sea service (on ships) were made with a breeching loop (i.e. Blomefield and Millar pattern guns) in order to fix the gun in place with ropes.  Many of these guns were used in garrison as well.  If the carriage is of iron, it was generally used on land, and if of wood, it was used at sea.  S. James Gooding, An Introduction to British Artillery in North America, (Museum Restoration Service, Bloomfield, Ontario, 1980), pp. 27-30.

[2] Internet:

[3] Internet:

Project HARP 

Project HARP, short for High Altitude Research Project, was a joint project of the United States Department of Defense and Canada’s Department of National Defence created with the goal of studying ballistics of re-entry vehicles at low cost; whereas most such projects used expensive (and failure-prone) rockets, HARP used a non-rocket space launch method based on a very large gun to fire the models to high altitudes and speeds.

Started in 1961, HARP was created largely due to lobbying from Gerald Bull, a controversial but highly successful ballistics engineer who went on to head the project.  Bull had developed the high-speed gun technique while working on anti-ballistic missile (ABM) and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) research at CARDE in the 1950s, shooting models of high-speed interceptor missiles from guns as opposed to building supersonic wind tunnels, which would be much more expensive.  The ABM project eventually ended without delivering a working system, but Bull was convinced the rocket systems he had developed had potential and started looking for other ways to use the technology.

HARP was such a development.  The Americans were in the process of testing newer ICBM systems and required repeated tests of newer re-entry vehicles.  Bull suggested that the program could be run for considerably less money if the test vehicles were lofted from a large gun, as opposed to using rockets.  This would also allow the test program’s schedule to be greatly accelerated, as repeated firing was easy to arrange, compared to rockets.  The key concept was the use of an oversized gun firing an undersized vehicle mounted in a sabot, allowing it to be fired with relatively high acceleration.  Test electronics were potted in a mix of sand and epoxy, proving more than capable of withstanding the rigors of launch.  Bull initially set up his guns at Highwater, on the Québec-Vermont border, but because he was working in a populated area, the scope of his experiments was confined, leading to a move to the Caribbean.

The HARP project was based on a flight range of the Seawell Airport in Barbados, from which shells were fired eastward toward the Atlantic Ocean.  Using an old American Navy 16 inch (406-mm) 50-inch gun (20 m), later extended to 100-inch (40 m), the team was able to fire a 180 kilogram slug at 3,600 metres per second (13,000 km/h 8,000 mph), reaching an altitude of 180 kilometres (591,000 ft).  The program was cancelled shortly after this.  The politics of the Vietnam War (then in its fifth year) and soured Canadian/American relations played their role in the project’s cancellation.  The project received just over 10 million dollars during its lifetime.

During this time, many houses and buildings within a radius of 5-10+ miles developed cracks in their concrete reinforced walls, other damage such as cracked toilets, sinks, and household infrastructure were invariably damaged when the HARP gun was fired.  In fact the vibrations could easily be felt miles away and may well have felt like a minor earthquake.  After the project was cancelled the gun remained for years and rusted parts may still be on the site abandoned.  A couple of used barrels and what appeared to be an unused barrel were also left there.

Bull’s ultimate goal was to fire a payload into space from a gun, and many have suggested that the ballistics study was offered simply to gain funding.  While the speed was not nearly enough to reach orbit (less than half of the 9 km/s delta-v required to reach Low Earth Orbit), it was a major achievement at much lower cost than most ballistic missile programs.

Bull never gave up on the idea of building a gun-fired satellite, but was forced to turn to other work.  Through the 1970s and 80s he developed a new artillery piece that dramatically outperformed all others.  His design, the GC 45, attracted wide attention.  Looking for customers, Bull sold the gun to South Africa (then under the Apartheid system) and then to Iraq.  He was arrested and jailed in the United States of America for the sales to South Africa, and left Canada after his release to reside in Brussels.

Bull then resumed work with Iraq, convincing them to build a new satellite launcher gun, Project Babylon.  Saddam Hussein agreed to fund the project, but only if Bull helped with their efforts to re-design the re-entry vehicle of the SCUD missiles in order to improve range.  Bull agreed, making him an enemy of Iran and Israel, the intended target of the longer-range missiles.  The March 1990 assassination of Bull (allegedly at the hands of the Israeli Mossad or the Iranian VEVAK intelligence agency) in his Brussels apartment, and the 1991 Gulf War ended the project mid-term.[1]

Three 155-mm Howitzer M1A1 Cdn on Carriage M1A2 Cdn (manufactured by Sorel Industries Limited, Quebec), aka M114 Cdn, were provided by the Canadian Forces to support Gerald Bull in the initial work on his proposed extended range ammunition by adapting this weapon with a new “reverse rifled” design.  The lands of conventional rifling were replaced by grooves cut into the barrel to make a slightly larger gun also capable of firing existing ammunition.[2]

[1] Internet:

[2] E-mail to Author from LCol (Ret’d) James Davidson, 31 Dec 2011.


I have found that the older I grow, the more I like to listen to people who don’t talk much.  Quite often they have learned things the hard way that we can all benefit from.  I learned from Walter and Frederick that many of their companions and colleagues did not come back from the war, and those that did often didn’t want to say much about what happened to them.  When they did, there was a great deal of gold to be gleaned from the conversation.  I think the story that grandfather Walter told me about carrying corrugated metal on his first trip up to the front lines struck closest to home. 

In his diary entry for 13 January 1917, he spoke of how there was a loud “POP!’ up front, and all the experienced hands around him suddenly froze.  Not realizing the ominous consequences of the sound, being a “new guy” (and we have all been there), he kept plodding along and ran into the man frozen like a statue in front of him.  Of course the crash of the metal and the banging sounds drew a terrible response.  Everyone had stopped as the flare lit the sky.  Someone asked, “What fool did not know enough to stop when he heard a flare pistol?”  A machine-gun then sprayed all of them with deadly fire for about a minute.[1]  No one answered the question, but as Walter pointed out, “he had learned his first lesson.” 

Sometimes one is permitted the opportunity to make a mistake or two.  The trick to surviving is to do one’s best not to make the same mistake twice.  Those of us who have survived the learning process in the school of hard knocks need to pass this knowledge on, so that our children and those who come after us don’t have to learn it over again the hard way.  In the process, we may be able to help make the world a safer place. 


Major (Retired) Harold A. Skaarup

Former Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel for 3 Intelligence Company

[1] Most likely a German 7.92-mm Maxim Spandau MG 08/15 Machine-gun.


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