As The Brockville Rifles deploy on the flood relief operation, I am compelled to express how proud I am to be a Rifleman and the Commanding Officer of the unit. Our available members are supporting the hard-working efforts to save homes and critical infrastructure in Gatineau area, while assisting exhausted public services and communities as they assess the damage and begin the recovery and repairs. Our Rifles, under the leadership of MCpls Ryan Moss and Dustin Jackson, are well served.
I thought this is an appropriate time to reflect on the past months and share some words on all our accomplishments.
The unit is a strong proud group that is centered on camaraderie and a core of dedicated members that mutually support each other at all times. Members demonstrate personal pride, integrity and determination, self-discipline and initiative to get the job done the Rifles way. Its been that way since the Regiment was first formed in Brockville in 1796.
Out-going Commanding Officer Lcol Shawn Herron demonstrated his unwavering dedication throughout his tenure as CO and again at the Oct 2016 Change of Command ceremony. Despite the fact that he was facing a very difficult personal situation, he made himself available for the Rifles and professionally led an excellent parade. This was inspirational for us all and stiffened our backs as we stood on parade before our 33 Brigade Commander, Colonel P. Kelly, MSM, CD, to demonstrate that the Regiment will carry the day. We are extremely pleased that LCol Herron is considering returning to the unit in support of the unit Museum Committee.
Our 150th anniversary events were special moments that brought forward our proud history and Rifles tradition and reunited long lost Rifles. We are thankful to ex-CO Jeff Shaver and his team for making the year memorable, and to Roger Hum and his fellow authors for the magnificent Regimental History book. The donation by the Kirkland family of the Fenian Medalearned by Corporal Kirkland in 1870 with the 41st Brockville Battalion of Rifles that was received by Corporal Joe Ashford on behalf of the unit marked another important moment. I would also like to thank Cpl Nick Perry for his excellent performance on the Bass Drum at the Remembrance Day ceremony. His efforts ensured we all kept pace despite the cold dreary weather. I would like to make special mention of the cadets and officers of the 113 Brockville Rifles Army Cadet Corps and 870 Vampire Squadron Royal Canadian Air Cadets. They were valiant through the ceremony despite the cold weather and were rewarded with heartfelt applause by the appreciative citizens of the City of Brockville.
For the Vimy Ceremonies in Europe in April, The Brockville Rifles stepped up as the sole regimental delegation from 33 CBG. We were proud to represent the thousands of soldiers from our 156th CEF (Leeds and Grenville) Battalion (5th Division), and our soldiers that directly joined the PPCLI (Then an Ontario Regiment), the 2nd, 21st, and 38th CEF Battalions of the Canadian Corps.
The Honorary LCol (and ex-CO) Richard Garber and Lt (ret) Nathalie Thibault, Second-Lieutenant Andrew Melchers, Warrant Officer Chris Cox, and Corporal Sean Parker and I stood solemnly at attention in the shadow of this magnificent monument as the National Anthems and The Last Post was played; a proud Canadian moment. Our Corporal Roger Varacalli had a first-hand view of the ceremonies as our official unit representative on sentinel duty on the monument during the ceremony with Prince Charles, French President Hollande, our Governor-General and Prime Minister walked next to him.
AtÂ Menin Gate in Ypres, our delegation of 2lt Melchers, WO Cox and Cpl Parker joined our senior Rifles Regiment, The Queen’s Own Rifles, in laying a wreath to honor those from Brockville, and Grenville and Leeds Counties with no known graves but their names remain, engraved on the walls of the Gate.
The delegation later walked the beach of Courseulles-sur-Mer in solemn silence recalling where B Coy (The Brockville Rifles) of the SD&G Regt landed on D-Day 6 June 1944, braving machine gun fire to establish a beachhead in France and begin the liberation of Europe.
While in Europe, we also tookÂ time to focus on strengthening our alliance with The Rifles Regiment of the UK. We discussed possible future training opportunities for our Riflemen and women as we become affiliated with 8 Battalion The Rifles Regiment, their reserve battalion in the Yorkshire area.
Next year will be the commemoration our Battle Honour of the Pursuit to Mons, where the four Divisions of the Canadian Corps broke through German defences in 1918 and began a rapid pursuit that helped bring the Armistice of 11 Nov 1918. The Brockville Rifles will be present with a unit delegation to fulfill our duty to remember. We will continue our close collaboration with the Brockville Museum by holding a lecture series on those battles, as was done for the Vimy Commemoration.
The 44th Annual Rick Foldeak Hockey tournament was held in April, and all participating 33 CBG unit teams played their best to beat our sister units. our unit team, well coached by Warrant Officer Tal Shlaket, provided a determined and valiant effort, however it was the Camerons this year that skated away with the trophy in what was the largest tournament held with 20 teams playing! Well done RSM Gagnon at ensuring the hockey tournament continues to remain the longest running Army sports tournament.
Demonstrating initiative and foresight with our recruiting effort, our Sergeant Josh Hopper and our Orderly Room staff skillfully applied the new Army recruitment approaches and in so doing has increased our number of recruits, which will help fill out Mons Company, well done Sgt Hopper
Unit training was very well organized by WO Shlaket and MCpl Tim Perry, with many battle procedures practiced, our gunnery skills strengthened and our fieldcraft improved. Continuing the tradition that no Rifleman or woman leaves the field unless regrettably injured, Sgt Hopper successfully demonstrated his newly acquired skills with a hatchet that quickly led him to the local clinic for a series of stitches, followed however by a prompt return to the field!
The officer’s Mess Diner this year will proudly have as Guest of Honour the Deputy Commander of the Canadian Army, who is responsible for the Primary Reserve for the CA, and we are committed to ensuring that he remembers The Brocks!
As we start the Reserve Summer Training period, I strongly encourage you to apply our regimental ethos of self-discipline and commitment to the various tasks you will take on, to qualifications that will make you a more versatile soldier, to job tasking that gains you more experience, or for a career progression course that will help you develop your leadership potential and skills.
The RSM and I wish everyone a very good start to the summer training as the unit members join up with their RST taskings and the unit gets ready to hold our annual BBQ in early June.
Lcol Paul d’Orsonnens MSM, CD
The Brockville Rifles