The Windsor Regiment
The Windsor Regiment (RCAC) is a Land Force Reserve reconnaissance regiment.
Commanding Officer: Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Trottier, CD
Location: Major F.A. Tilston, VC Armoury, 4007 Sandwich Street, Windsor, ON, N9C 1C3
The birth of the Regiment occurred on the 15th of December 1936 with General Order 188/36. There was reorganization of the Non-Permanent Active Militia and with that six tank battalions and a Tank School were created. Of the six new tank units, 5 had been infantry and the only new unit was raised in Windsor, Ontario and given the title The Essex Regiment (Tank). The Commanding Officer of the new Regiment was George Yule Masson ED, a 41 year old architect who had served in the First World War. Our first Regimental Sergeant-Major was Reginald William Gates, also a veteran of the Great War.
The black beret, which is now the headdress of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps, was first worn by the Essex Regiment (Tank). When six regiments were designated as tank regiments in 1936, all were ordered to wear their former headdress that they had worn while serving as infantry. The Essex Regiment (Tank), however, was a new unit and as such, picked that headdress that was worn by the Royal Tank Corps of the British Army.
The regimental motto, Semper Paratus, which means Always Prepared, is the same as the Essex and Kent Scottish. This is because many of the original members of the Essex Regiment (Tank) came from the Essex Scottish, the predecessor of the E&K Scots of today.
The regiment's first alliance with the British Army occurred in 1938 when we formally allied with the Royal Tank Corps (whose name was changed to the Royal Tank Regiment in 1939).
In 1938 members of the Regiment attended the first course run by the newly created Canadian Armoured Vehicles School where they received instruction on the Carden-Lloyd tracked carrier.
War was declared in September of 1939 and the Essex Regiment (Tank) waited for mobilization. The call finally came on 27 May 1940 and the regiment provided a company of soldiers for local protection in the Windsor, Ontario area. This task was stood down in September of the same year with a large number of soldiers who had volunteered to serve in the active company going on to serve with then Brigadier F.F. Worthington (who later became a Major General and is considered the "Father of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps").
Lieutenant Colonel Masson, the first CO of the Regiment, took command of the Ontario Regiment in 1941. He also brought 9 officers and 2 sergeants from the Essex Regiment (Tank) with him. The Essex Tanks continued to raise men for duty and a large group went to the Canadian Armoured Corps Training Centre in late 1940. Many of these Essex Tank men from the Windsor, Ontario area also joined Lt-Col Masson in the Ontario Regiment and went on to earn Battle Honours fighting in Sicily, Italy and Northwest Europe.
The war in the Far East was not going well. The Japanese invasion of Hong Kong and the Aleutian Islands prompted the government to raise the 6th, 7th and 8th divisions. On January 27, 1942 the Regiment changed roles within the Armoured Corps. On that date we became a reconnaissance regiment and the "active" unit of the Essex Regiment (Tank) became the divisional recce regiment for the 7th Division. The Regiment was sent to Dundurn, Saskatchewan in October, 1942. Camp Dundurn was the home of A27 Canadian Armoured Corps Reconnaissance Training Centre. Instead of heading west, the 7th Division went to Debert, Nova Scotia where it was disbanded in 1944.
On December 2, 1942 Lt Col Warnica, now commanding the Regiment, was informed that the Regiment was going to an unspecified task with the 2nd Canadian Division. Six months later, the Regiment still in Dundurn, word was received that they were off the United Kingdom. The first leg of the trip was to Camp Borden, Ontario, arriving in June, 1943. July 9th was the day the Regiment headed for St. John, New Brunswick and then to Aldershot, Nova Scotia, arriving on the 12th. In Halifax on the 18th of July, the Regiment boarded His Majesty's Transport Queen Elizabeth bound for Greenock, Scotland where they landed on the 27 of July, 1943.
The CO was called to the office of General McNaughton where he was informed that the Regiment had a special assignment. There was a large amount of unassembled military vehicles that needed to be put together. So as luck would have it, the men of the Essex Regiment (Tank), many of whom joined the army to escape the auto plants, found themselves as overseas auto workers. They would be paid $1.30 a day while their friends on the assemble lines in Windsor were getting $5.00 to $6.00 a day for the same work. They became Number 1 Canadian Armoured Corp Company Canadian Equipment Assembly Unit. On April 6, 1944, the active unit was disbanded and the personnel became reinforcements for other regiments in the European Theater.
After the war, members of the Regiment formed a Regimental Association which remained active keep the members of the Regiment, past and present, together.
On February 28, 1958, The Essex Regiment (Tank) Regimental Association became Royal Canadian Legion Branch 578 (LtCol D.C. Warnica Branch). Major General F.F. Worthington was a charter member of the new Legion Branch.
In 1949 the Essex Regiment (Tank) became The Windsor Regiment (RCAC).
During the Korean war, the Regiment provided many volunteers for service.
On May 25, 1951, having ended the alliance with the Royal Tank Regiment, the Windsor Regiment (RCAC) became allied with a recce regiment of the British Army, The 3rd Carabineers . After further amalgamations in the British Army, the 3rd Carbineers became the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in 1971.
In August 1954, Lt Col Alexander, then commanding officer of the Regiment, was sent to the India-Pakistani border on a United Nations mission. He would be the first of many members of the Regiment to participate in peacekeeping missions. While there he was presented with lances from the 12th Pakistan Cavalry. We still use these lances as squadron parade markers today.
The year 1954 also saw the Windsor Regiment return to tanks, reassuming the armoured role. The Regiment received it allotment of M4A2E8 Sherman tanks. Gun camps, driving, maintenance, radio training filled the training years.
Our guidon was presented by the Lieutenant-Govenor of Ontario, W. Earl Rowe, PC on 16 June, 1963. The sixties saw more changes for the Regiment. In 1965 the Regiment went back to the recce role which lasted for 14 years.
A severe winter storm struck South-Western Ontario during late January of 1978 bringing the Regiment out in the support of the local emergency agencies. Later that summer, Then Captain George Walker took a recce troop to Germany. While there they were attached to the Royal Canadian Dragoons as Regimental Headquarters Recce Troop.
With the advent of the Cougar, the Regiment's role changed again. Back to armour! The Cougar is a 6 wheeled fire support vehicle having a 76mm main gun. It was officially referred to as a tank trainer but this vehicle would see service in war zones in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Somalia.
The year 1997 saw the latest re-role of the Regiment, back to Recce.