The Regiment was organized in Winnipeg, Manitoba on April 15th 1912, as the 34th Regiment of Cavalry. The initial members came from “A” Squadron of the 18th Mounted Rifles in Winnipeg. The name “Fort Garry Horse” was added to the numeric designation in 1913. The first Commanding Officer was Lt. Col. R.W. Paterson who, as a Brigadier General, would later command the Canadian Cavalry Brigade in France in 1918. As a Regiment of the Canadian Militia, annual summer training in horsemanship, troop drills and musketry was conducted in 1913 and 1914 at Sewell Camp, in Western Manitoba.
The First World War
The Regiment was mobilized on August 5th 1914 and moved to Valcartier, Quebec on August 30. There it was combined with members of other pre-war Militia regiments to form the 6th Battalion C.E.F. (Canadian Expeditionary Force). The role of the Regiment was changed from Cavalry to Infantry at this time. The 6th Battalion sailed for England on October 3, 1914, and trained on Salisbury Plain throughout the remainder of the year under arduous weather conditions.
In January 1915, the Canadian Cavalry Brigade was formed and the 6th Battalion was converted back to Cavalry under command of Lt. Col. Paterson. As a Depot Regiment for the Cavalry Brigade, the Garrys provided reinforcements for Canadian Cavalry and Mounted Infantry units until February 1916, when they joined the Royal Canadian Dragoons, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) and A and B Batteries, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery to form an all-Canadian Cavalry Brigade in France. The Regiment took part in many actions, acting as Cavalry and relieving Infantry in the trenches throughout 1916 and 1917.
In November 1917, as part of the famous tank attack on Cambrai, “B” Squadron was given the task of capturing a German Corps HQ at Escaudoeuvres. Destruction of a vital bridge caused the Cavalry Brigade’s advance to be cancelled, but “B” Squadron had already crossed a temporary bridge and did not receive the order. The Squadron leader was killed and Lt. Harcus Strachan took command and pushed on. Coming across a German artillery battery, the Squadron charged with swords drawn and put the battery out of action. The Squadron rallied in a sunken road and found that only 43 men were left and most of the horses were wounded. After dark, the horses were stampeded as a diversion, allowing the men to make their way back through the German lines on foot, bringing in 9 prisoners. Lt. Strachan was awarded the Victoria Cross for this action.
The regiment continued to serve in the Cavalry Brigade, taking part in the important actions of Moreuil and Rifle Wood in March and April 1918. In October 1918, the Regiment took part in the battle of Gattigny Wood, members earning 21 decorations for this action. The attack was judged by the commander of the Cavalry Corps, General Kavanagh, as “the best cavalry action carried out by any cavalry unit on any front during the war”.
After the war ended in November 1918, the regiment did a short period of garrison duty in Belgium and came home to Winnipeg in 1919 under command of Lt. Col. H.I. Stevenson DSO.
Between The Wars
Shortly before demobilization in June 1919, a detachment of the Garrys volunteered to assist the RNWMP in putting down a riot during the Winnipeg General Strike. After demobilization, the 34th Fort Garry Horse, which had remained active in Winnipeg training recruits throughout the war, carried on the training and traditions of the Regiment. As a unit in the N.P.A.M. (Non-Permanent Active Militia) the Regiment continued to soldier on throughout the 20’s and 30’s despite lack of funding and support for the Militia at the time. In 1936, the Militia was reorganized, and the Manitoba Horse, based in Roblin, was amalgamated with the Fort Garry Horse. From this amalgamation, the Garrys acquired the battle honours of Fish Creek, Batoche, and North West Canada, 1885.
The Second World War
The regiment was mobilized as the Fort Garry Horse CASF (Canadian Active Service Force) on 1 September 1939 under the command of Lt. Col. S.J. Cox VD. The regiment, still acting in the role of Divisional Cavalry, trained in Winnipeg, at the old Robinson building, and briefly in camp Shilo. In 1940, the regiment was moved to Red Rock, Ontario to act as guards for German internees and prisoners of war.
In 1941, the regiment moved to Camp Borden to begin armoured training and was re-designated “10th Armoured Regiment (The Fort Garry Horse)”. Training began on surplus tanks purchased from the USA as scrap iron. Eventually, production of armoured vehicles in Canada got underway and more realistic training was possible.
In November 1941 the regiment sailed for England where they continued to train in an armoured role, first on American M3 Lee and British Valentine tanks, and later with the Canadian developed Ram tank. During the training period in England, the regiment became part of the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, along with the 1st Hussars and the Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment. This Brigade was given a role as the vanguard in the coming invasion of Normandy: the Garrys and the Hussars being the only Canadian armoured Regiments selected to use the top-secret “Duplex Drive” swimming Sherman tanks.
The Garrys were among the first armour to land in Normandy on “D-Day”, June 6th 1944, supporting the Queen’s own Rifles at Bernieres-sur-Mer and the North Shore Regiment at St. Aubin-sur-Mer. Fierce and costly fighting took place during the first 6 days after the landing, but the result was a strong toehold on the European continent. The regiment went on to distinguish itself in the Allied advance through France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany. Battle honours won include “Carpiquet”, “Falaise Road”, “The Scheldt”, and “Antwerp-Turnhout Canal” to name a few. One of the first Canadian armoured units to enter Germany, the Garrys continued to press forward until the end of the 11 month campaign in Europe in May 1945.
The regiment ended the war in the German city of Oldenburg, accepting the surrender of German troops in the area, later moving back to Doetinchem in Holland where it remained for 6 months before returning to Canadian November 1945. Members of the Regiment assisted the citizens of Doetinchem in re-establishing their city and post-war lives. Working together, the Garrys and Dutch citizens built a friendship which remains to this day. As a reminder, a Garry tank still stands as a monument in “Canada Park” in Doetinchem.
Post-War to the Present
The active Regiment was demobilized in January 1946, but as Militia, carried on as they had between the wars. In 1950, volunteers from the Militia served in the Korean War as a tank troop of Lord Strathcona’s Horse. Militia training during the 50’s and 60’s included “National Survival” (rescue operations for nuclear war), tank tactics, driving, maintenance, and gunnery.
In October 1958, a Regular Force component of the Garrys was formed in Camp Petawawa, Ontario. Equipped with the new Centurion tank, the Regiment served in Germany from 1962 to 1965, moving to Calgary, its home base until 1970. The Reconnaissance Squadron served with the United Nations Emergency Force in Egypt in 1960, while Squadrons served with the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus in 1966, 67, and 68. Members of the Regiment, Militia and Regular, have a long association with the UN and NATO, serving in the Sinai, Cyprus, Egypt, the Golan Heights, the former Yugoslavia, and the Perisan Gulf.
In 1970, the Regular Regiment was deactivated and the Guidon laid up in the Manitoba Legislative Building. Two identical Guidons, emblazoned with the battle honours of the 1885 Rebellion and two World Wars, had been presented to the Militia and Regular Regiments in 1963 and 1964.
The Militia Regiment gave up its tanks in 1969 and has been employed as a Reconnaissance Regiment ever since. Members train in “Recce” driving and tactics, weapons, navigation, and communications. Some serve as clerks, technicians and other support trades. Services to the community have included flood and forest fire fighting, assistance in blizzards, and the yearly tradition of delivering Christmas Cheer hampers.
All Garrys, past and present, are members of the Regimental Family. They can be proud of their long list of accomplishments and of their Regimental motto:
FACTA NON VERBA
(deeds not words)
“Facta Non Verba, A History of The Fort Garry Horse”
Published by The Fort Garry Horse Foundation, April 2012. A fully illustrated history of the regiment from the origins of cavalry in Manitoba to the 100th anniversary of the regiment in 2012. Available from the FGH Museum, FGH Kitshop, and McNally-Robinson booksellers.
“The Gate: A History of The Fort Garry Horse”
Commercial printers, Calgary Alberta, 1970 (Covers the history of the Regiment from 1912, emphasis on the Regular Regiment 1958-1970, available in some libraries)
“Vanguard – Fort Garry Horse”
First printed in the Netherlands 1945, 3rd printing 1995 A detailed history of the Regiment in the World War II, available from the Museum for $25.00 (Canadian) plus shipping)
“Deeds not Words , a History of the Fort Garry Horse 1912-1936”
written in 1937, Unpublished, in possession of the Museum. To be printed in future.
Regimental War Diaries, 1916-1919, 1939-1946
Printed copies can be viewed in the Museum. War Diaries are also available on microfilm through the National Archives of Canada via interlibrary loan.
Nominal Rolls, 1914-1919, 1919-1939, 1939-1945, 1958-1970(Regular) 1946-present(Militia)
These contain names, service numbers, awards, casualties, and next-of-kin for all members serving in the Regiment in both world wars. Printed copies can be viewed in the Museum.