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Message from the Commanding Officer

LCol Alkema

LCol Alkema

Hello Highlanders –

 

It’s a great day to be a Highlander!

 

Tomorrow, 16 October 2021, is the 130th anniversary of the founding of our Regiment; and we celebrate 130 years of service to Canada and Canadians.

 

We had planned a weekend of celebrations and events to mark this significant milestone – an Open House & Smoker at Moss Park Armoury, the WO & Sgts Mess Dinner, and the culmination of the weekend being the Regimental Change of Command Parade.

 

However, COVID got in the way of our plans.  We all know that “no plan survives first contact with the enemy”, so we did what all infantry soldiers do – “adapt and overcome”.  Instead of the Open House, we put together a video that marks our 130 years of service.  This video goes live at 2000hrs on Friday 15 October, 2021.  I hope that you’ll join in with the Active Regiment tonight and watch with us.  Here is the link:

130th Anniversary Video: 

2000hrs on Friday 15 October, 2021

https://www.facebook.com/events/4273467686095821/

This video is also viewable on YouTube by clicking on this text

 

The WO & Sgts’ Mess Dinner will be held on Saturday night, but instead of being held in the Mess, it will be held at Legion Branch 344 on Lakeshore Blvd.

 

The Regimental Change of Command will take place at 1400hrs on Sunday 17 October 2021.  At that time, I will hand over command of the 48th Highlanders of Canada to LCol Jason Morische.  This will be a livestreamed event, and will be conducted in the Officers’ Mess, in the presence of Comd 32 CBG, Col John McEwen, a former CO of the 48th Highlanders and HCol John MacIntyre.  Here is the link to this event:

Regimental Change of Command Livestreamed Event:

1400hrs on Sunday 17 October 2021

https://www.facebook.com/events/711804449794819/


Highlanders – while COVID has a huge impact on all of us, on all Canadians, and the entire world, we have refused to be beaten.  The Regiment has continued to train, to deploy soldiers, and to recognize and honour our significant events and traditions.  I hope that you will join in to witness these events, and to celebrate our milestone of 130 years of service.  As you do so, I encourage you to do so with pride, and to recall fondly, your service, your time with the Regiment, and the friends and comrades you served with.  And remember that you are part of our history, that each and everyone of you played a part in making the 48th Highlanders of Canada the Regiment that it is.  Thanks to all of you for your service.

 

At this point, I want to shoot a new bearing for a minute.

 

This is my last blog as CO.  I’ve been privileged to serve as Commanding Officer for the past three years – to be entrusted with leading our Regiment.  The past three years have been incredibly busy, incredibly challenging, incredibly exciting. and incredibly rewarding.  Commanding the Regiment has been the best “job” I’ve ever had.

 

While COVID prevented us from accomplishing a number of things that I had in mind (training with 48 IBCT and 7 Scots), and made us drastically change how we honour our traditions (Act of Remembrance Parade, Remembrance Day, Change of RSM events all done virtually rather than as Regimental Parades), we found new and effective ways to conduct these events with dignity and appropriate ceremony.

 

But I didn’t do this on my own – there is a team of very dedicated Highlanders, serving soldiers and members of the Regimental Family who have provided outstanding support and assistance to me during my time as CO: the Honouraries, the Senate, and the Regimental Association.  I wouldn’t have any success without the serving soldiers, NCOs and officers of the Regiment  – thank you for your dedication, your commitment, your efforts and your service.  You are what makes the Regiment; and because of you, we can step forward into the next 130 years with confidence.

 

On that note, I’ll sign off the net.  I hope to see a number of you over this weekend at our various events.  And if not, then may our paths cross again soon.  Stay safe.

 

DILEAS GU BRATH

Niner – Out

R.A. Alkema

LCol

CO

Message from the Padre – #3

Among my favourite photos in the Regiment’s vast archives are those of war time weddings. Each photo tells an amazing story of two people who chose to take a leap of faith and tie the knot in the face of a very uncertain future in dangerous and difficult times.

Perhaps the uncertainty of the times had a roll to play in their decision to seize the day and not to put off to tomorrow what could be done today. At any rate, when I look at the photos I am moved by the love in their eyes and the courage that must have been in their hearts.

Last weekend I had the privilege of officiating at the wedding of one of our Highlanders. As we went over the vows at the rehearsal one of the traditional lines jumped out at me in a new way. “Forsaking all others will you be faithful to this person so long as you both shall live?”

Faithful Forever. Dileas gu Brath.

A marriage may be inspired by love but it is built on fidelity – faithfulness.

Often the word faithful has a religious connotation and to say that one has faith is to say that one believes in a proposition such as “I believe that God exists.” But having faith in or believing in someone is really more about trust and reliability. It is about knowing that they will be there when you need them.

That kind of trust is nurtured and developed over time through repeated experiences until it becomes strong and unshakeable. It has been the foundation of our regiment for 130 years.

In this Thanksgiving season I am grateful for having had the opportunity to be a part of this regimental family and to have built good friendships with so many outstanding people. I am grateful for the faithfulness with which each of you serve our Queen and country. I am grateful for all who have gone before us, setting the example for us to follow.

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Dileas gu Brath.

Maj the Rev’d Canon Don McLean Aitchison UE

Chaplain, Trinity College School

105th Anniversary Thiepval Ridge 1916

“They were on The Somme”

The Somme 1916 cover pictureBetween September 1st and October 14th, 1916 the 15th Battalion took part in the Canadian Corps’ offensive on The Somme for which the battalion was awarded the Battle Honours, Somme 1916, Poziers, Thiepval and Ancre Heights. There were three phases in the 15th Battalion’s participation in Somme offensive: September 1-25 saw the battalion arrive in Albert and move into the forward trench line near Pozieres and Mouquet Farm taking part in the fighting to advance the line closer to Courcelette;  on September 26th the Battalion, along with the 14th Battalion, led the 3rd Brigade’s assault on Thiepval ridge advancing the line north of Courcelette towards Regina Trench; September 29-October 14 saw the battalion in close support positions on the edge of Courcelette operating in the ‘Sunken Road’ and ‘Death Valley  until it was withdrawn in October.

During its time on the Somme, the 15th Battalion lost almost half of its usual strength suffering well over 500 casualties – between September 25th and 28th alone 2 Officers and 115 Other Ranks were killed, missing or died of wounds.

This video covers the period from September 1st to October 14th, 1916 and commemorates all those men of the Battalion that fell on The Somme.

Dileas Gu Brath

 

Click here to see our 15th Battalion CEF(48th Highlanders of Canada) tribute video on YouTube.

Click here to see our “This Week in History” page.

 

15th Bn Memorial Project logo

From The RSM’s Desk – Blog #3:

RSM Reesor 2021

Good day fellow Highlanders,

As I write this blog, we are quickly approaching our 130th Regimental Birthday and coincidentally the first anniversary of my assuming the appointment of RSM.  The time is passing quickly, but as you will read below you have accomplished many great things this summer.

There have been many parts of this year that have not gone as one would expect, but we have been able to carry on despite this and can be proud of all you’ve done.

This past summer we sent 20 new soldiers out the door to achieve their full Infantry Qualifications, three Cpls on their leadership crse, three MCpls on their Sgts crses and have promoted as many Highlanders into new ranks as we possibly could. Were there roadblocks along the way?  Certainly.  But we adapted, our members adapted, and we soldiered on as evidenced by the successes we had.  In total, we have presented Balmorals and Cap Badges to 23 new Highlanders, Promoted 14 more to Cpl, 3 new MCpls and 5 Sgts.  This is excellent for the unit.  23 new Highlanders may not seem like many, but given there have been no recruiting events over the past 18 months to attract new candidates, this is an excellent achievement.  I mentioned in my last blog that WO Ross was retiring in July.  Not one to fade quietly into the background, he still managed to get 14 more drivers from the 48th qualified to support our training when needed.  Our pool of qualified drivers is much better now thanks to WO Ross and his tireless efforts.  Thank you!

To ensure there were enough instructors to teach all of these Highlanders above, we provided staff for Basic Military Qualification (BMQ), Developmental Period 1 Infantry, Primary Leadership Qualification, Army Junior Leaders Course, Piping and Drumming Trades courses and Human Resource Administrator Trades courses.  We even have a Sgt who has been working in Meaford since January teaching on Regular Force BMQ’s to help tackle the backlog of new Regular Force recruits as a result of COVID delays last year.  This has been a major commitment on the part of these MCpls and Sgts as they have taken time away from their employers and families to ensure the success of our future generations.  Some even completed courses and then remained to teach on subsequent courses.  Well done all.  You can all be proud of your work this summer.

The future is looking bright as we return to a more normal operation.  Many of the promotions mentioned above took place on 11 Sep on our first full Regimental Training day since 13 March 2020.  It was great to see so many soldiers in person doing training together again.  The presentations and promotions that took place at the end of the day lasted a full hour.  There was a lot to get caught up on.   Now that the federal election is over and we can announce these milestones again, keep an eye on the various Regimental social media pages for photos and descriptions.  This year, we have a fighting company that is 97 soldiers strong, a pre Infantry Platoon of 16 soldiers who are just beginning their journey in the 48th on their first courses and a Leadership Development platoon of 14 Cpls who we are expecting to take their courses next summer for promotion to MCpl.  Our Leadership Development program has proven very successful over the past several years with everyone who has completed course graduating strongly.  Cpl Clark (now MCpl) finished 3rd on his course this summer as one example.  Anyone who has not made it to the end was due to injury and not any lack of drive or ability to pass.  This fall we will have 10 MCpls on course completing their final requirements to become qualified to Sgt.  Once the time is right, they will be promoted to Sgt as their experience and meriting dictates.

Speaking of Sr NCOs, our current roster looks like this:

BHQ

CWO Reesor


BOR

Sgt Liddell, Chief Human Resources Administrator

Sgt Sherry, Finance Sgt

 

A Coy

WO Rukman, CSM

Sgt Bradbury, 1 Plt WO

Sgt Haley, 2 Plt WO

Sgt General, CQMS (once his paperwork is completed for his return off supplementary reserve)

 

B Coy

Sgt Kowalenko, CSM

Sgt Wang, Pl WO Leadership Development

Sgt Pawlus, Pl WO Pre Infantry Qualifications

Sgt Moore, 5 Pl Sect Comd

 

Adm Coy

WO Potapenko, CSM

Sgt Blair, RQMS

 

P&D

MWO Lang, Pipe Major

Sgt McKenzie-Mardelli, Drum Major

Sgt Brown, Pipe Sgt

Sgt Turner, B, Drum Sgt

 

Working externally from the unit:

MWO Hanson, DSM at the 32 CBG Battle School

Sgt Avdagic, Recruiting at CFRC Toronto Detachment

Sgt Thomas, Unit Recruiter for 25 Field Ambulance

Sgt Cunti, on tasking in Meaford teaching BMQ for the Regular Force

 

I mentioned above that 11 September was the first time the entire Regiment was training since March of 2020.   It has been even longer since we have conducted any ceremonial events as a Regiment.  And unfortunately, it will still be a little longer before we will again.  Because of COVID restrictions we will not be able to have a formal Regimental Parade for the Change of Command on 17 October when LCol Alkema will relinquish Command.  Nor will we be able to have a formal parade for our Remembrance Day parade in November.  And the planned Cielidh for the Regimental Birthday in October will take on a different look than we had hoped.  The silver lining is we will have more time to get our soldiers back doing drill before we are on parade in public again.  Many of our members have never done a parade at all and for everyone else, the last formal parade we conducted was for Remembrance Day in 2019.   There will be a lot of retraining needed before we are fully able to conduct ceremonial parades.  We are looking towards a resumption of Ceremonial Parades for Remembrance Sunday in April as we attend our Regimental Church to turn a page in the Book of Remembrance.  Until then, please keep watch on our social media platforms, emails and notices for links to virtual events on 15 October, 17 October and 9 November for milestones we will hit as a Regiment over the next short period.

I hope that this message finds you and your families in good health and ready to resume our activities as we emerge from this period of protection against COVID.

9C out

Dileas Gu Brath

C.E.A. Reesor

CWO

RSM

 

 

 

 

Message from the Honorary Colonel

Virtual Change of Command Ceremony

48Highrs-Change-of-Command-Invitation-Virtual-Event

DILEAS GU BRATH

 

HCol John MacIntyre

Message from the Honorary Lieutenant Colonel

Building bridges through inclusion

This blog begins in the midst of the High Holidays, which is an important time of year for people of the Jewish faith. Shana Tova to Jewish members of our Regimental community and may it be an easy fast.

Ours is a Regiment and a Brigade that is rich in diversity, residing within one of the most multicultural cities on the planet.  And yet, the military has work to do, as an example, to attract and retain more women, within all ranks.  The CAF is committed to culture change to increase female participation and to promote inclusion.

In support of this objective, 32 Brigade has recently formed a Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Advisory Board. I am representing our Regiment on it, along with members of other Regiments within our Brigade who are sharing their experiences, ideas and best practices. Our mandate is to support diversity and assist the Brigade in enhancing inclusivity.

A growing number of organizations have recognized the business case for diversity and inclusion. Diversity of thought and perspective has been shown to lead to outperformance.  CAF leadership recognizes this, but building meaningful change will take time. It will require a consistent, constant commitment and a growth mindset (which thrives on challenge and learning for stretching our existing abilities) within all of us to continually cultivate a culture of respect. My observation, from the diversity work that I have done in other organizations, is that while it is critical to have leadership which models and drives the values, real change happens when there is engagement at all levels.

Active Listening SkillsGreek philosopher Epictetus is quoted as saying: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”  Active listening is a powerful tool that we can all use, every day, to build bridges with each other. It is easier said than done, requiring focus to really hear and understand other perspectives. In grade 5, I was nicknamed “motormouth”. Active listening has been a learned skill for me – it wasn’t in my nature!  It has been worth the effort, widening my lens of understanding and strengthening my relationships with others.

A sense of belonging, which is the feeling that I have always had within our Regiment, enables teamwork. Committing ourselves to a culture of inclusion will enrich our community and keep us on a path of learning. I look forward to sharing with you new ideas from the DE&I Advisory Group which may contribute to keeping our legacy strong for years to come.

Stay strong.  Stay connected.

 

Dileas Gu Brath

 

Sasha Darling

HLCol

Message from the Commanding Officer

LCol Alkema

LCol Alkema

Greetings Highlanders –

 

It’s a great day to be a Highlander!

 

As I’m enjoying the last few days of summer, I thought that I should send out a brief update on the status of the Regiment, and let you know what’s going on as we resume training.

 

We continue to navigate our way through a latent COVID environment.  There are restrictions to what we can and cannot do, the situation remains fluid, especially with COVID numbers on the increase with the Delta variant, and the current “4th wave”.  However, the Active Unit will resume in-person training this week.

 

I’ve briefed you all previously about our affiliation with 1 RCR.  Early in September, 4 of our soldiers will depart for CFB Petawawa and 3 months of training with 1 RCR.  Additionally, we are conducting training exercises with 1 RCR in September and October.  This is a significant step for the integration between the Regular Force and the Army Reserve, and will result in some excellent training and experiences, and will make the Regiment stronger as a result.

 

On Friday 15 October 2021 we are going to celebrate the Regiment’s 130th Anniversary. We had planned to host a Regimental “ceilidh” at Moss Park Armoury on the Friday evening, but with COVID restrictions, unfortunately, that is not going to happen.   Instead, we are preparing a 20-minute video celebrating our Regiment’s history.  This video is being prepared by Capt van der Toorn and Capt Lau, and will be “open” at 2000 hrs on Friday 16 October.  The Regiment will watch this video at MPA, and we invite you to join online at the same time.  There will be reminders and details regarding the link as we get closer to the date.

 

On Saturday, 16 October, the WO & Sgt Mess will be hosting their Annual Mess Dinner.  It will be held at a remote location, and attendance will be capped at 80.  During this event, the interim Executive of the Regimental Association will step down, and the new Executive will be announced.  This is big step, and concludes the project to restructure the Regimental Association.

 

As most of you are aware, I am quickly approaching the end of my three years as CO.  I will hand over command of the Regiment to Maj (LCol designate) Morische on Sunday 17 October, 2021.  Due to the current COVID restrictions, this will be a virtual event, with minimum personnel in attendance, very similar to last year’s Change of RSM event.  We will send out details and a link so that you can still participate in this Regimental event – albeit with your feet up and a cold adult beverage.

 

That’s it for now.  Stay safe, stay healthy; and I hope to see you at some point in the fall.

 

DILEAS GU BRATH

Niner – Out

R.A. Alkema

LCol

CO

103rd anniversary of the battle for the Drocourt-Queant Line and the assault on The Crow’s Nest

Today is the 103rd anniversary of the battle for the Drocourt-Queant Line and more specifically for the 15th Battalion (48thHighlanders), the assault on The Crow’s Nest at Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt.

The D-Q Line was part of the heavily defended Hindenburg Line and the assault on it by The Canadian Corps in late August-September 1918 was part of The Hundred Days campaign. Known by the German Army as the Wotung Stellung, the D-Q Line was one of the most powerful and well organized enemy defence systems.

104th anniversary - Crow's NestThe approach to the D-Q Line and the need to secure good ‘jump-off’ positions to assault it was made difficult by several defended obstacles forward of the line itself – the most formidable of which was The Crow’s Nest, an strongpoint on a high bluff which overlooked a large section of the D-Q defences.

The 15th Battalion was assigned the task of securing The Crow’s Nest and on the morning of 1 September 1918, the unit assaulted and quickly captured it and the adjacent Chateau Wood. As at Hill 70, the battalion successfully defended the position against several German counterattacks thereby ‘opening the door’ for the main attack on the D-Q Line in which it also participated.

 

The Drocourt-Queant Line is one of the twenty one Battle Honours awarded to the 15th Battalion for its service during The Great War and one of the ten emblazoned on the Colours of 48th Highlanders of Canada which perpetuates the 15th Battalion.

 

This video was produced last year and is part of the History and Commemoration Series of videos produced by the 15thBattalion CEF Memorial Project to commemorate the battalion’s role in a number of the key battles of The Great War in which, as part of the Canadian Corps, the 15th Battalion (48th Highlanders) was engaged. The programs also acknowledge the sacrifice of those men of the battalion who fell during those battles and to whose memory we remain Faithful Forever.

 

Click here to see our 15th Battalion CEF(48th Highlanders of Canada) tribute video on YouTube.

Click here to see our “This Week in History” page.

104th anniversary of Hill 70

This is the 104th anniversary of the battle of Hill 70 during which the 15th Battalion (48th Highlanders) assaulted and captured Puits 14 and Bois Hugo as part of the Canadian Corps’ assault on Hill 70 near Lens, France. The battalion was in the first wave of the assault on the Corps’ exposed and vital left flank. Having secured all their objectives on the morning of 15 August 1917, the battalion defended its position for a day and half against numerous German counter attacks until it was relieved and withdrawn from the line.

Hill 70 was the first time that all four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together completely under Canadian leadership and it is one of the twenty one Battle Honours awarded to the 15th Battalion for its service during The Great War and one of the ten emblazoned on the Colours of 48th Highlanders of Canada which perpetuates the 15th Battalion.

This video on Hill 70, which was produced and uploaded to YouTube last year on the 103rd anniversary of the battle, was the first in a series of videos being produced by the 15th Battalion CEF Memorial Project to commemorate the battalion’s role in a number of the key battles of The Great War in which, as part of the Canadian Corps, the 15th Battalion (48thHighlanders) was engaged. The programs also acknowledge the sacrifice of those men of the battalion who fell during those battles and to whose memory we remain Dileas Gu Brath – Faithful Forever.

Click here to see our 15th Battalion CEF(48th Highlanders of Canada) – Battle for Hill 70 104th Anniversary tribute video on YouTube.

Click here to see our “This Week in History” page.

The 103rd Anniversary of the battle of Amiens: August 8-10, 1918

The battle of Amiens was the beginning of Canada’s 100 Days on the road to final victory in The Great War.

In March 1918 the German High Command commenced a series of large scale offensives along the Western Front. Although German forces achieved significant gains the Allies eventually contained their advance. The British and French prepared for a major counter-offensive at Amiens on 8 August 1918. The plan required moving the Canadian Corps from Artois, in conditions of the utmost secrecy, to take up a position between the Australian Corps and the French.

The 1st Canadian Division chose the 3rd Brigade to spearhead their assault. There would not be a preliminary bombardment but the infantry would be accompanied by four hundred light and heavy tanks. At 0420 hours on the 8 August 1918 the 15th Battalion, supporting the 13th Battalion, advanced into Hangard Wood and then Morgement Wood. One of their tasks was to deal with enemy positions that had been missed in a heavy fog which reduced visibility to under five metres.

One by one the villages fell to the Canadian infantry and the cavalry now took up the advance with thousands of horses thundering across the fields. On 9 August the ‘Highlanders’ continued their advance this time in support of the 2nd Canadian Brigade. Surprise was no-longer possible and the attack was met by a hail of bullets. A shell fell on the Battalion HQ, seriously injuring Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Bent, who handed his command to Captain John Maybin.

Amiens Video ThumbnailAt Beaufort Château, machine gun fire brought the leading battalions to a halt, but Captain Maybin located five Whippet tanks and with their aid the château’s defenders were pushed aside. The Highlanders now rushed the village of Warvillers. As communications were lost with the 2nd Battalion in Rouvroy, the 15th Battalion sent out a reconnaissance party. Rouvroy seemed deserted until, suddenly, the patrol was confronted by a dozen Germans. The Battalion’s Scout Officer, Captain Gordon Winnifrith, reacted instantly drawing his revolver and single handed, made a screaming charge against the enemy. The vision of the charging ‘madman’ in a kilt put the Germans to flight.

That evening the 15th Battalion filled the gap between the 1st and 2nd Canadian Brigades and established their headquarters in the village château. The Battalion remained in this area until the 20 August 1918 when they were relieved by the French 112e Régiment d’Infanterie.

Between 8-9 August 1918, thirty-nine Highlanders of the 15th Battalion fell in combat and three more were killed during their occupation of positions near Warvillers and more died of wounds in the days thereafter up to August 29th. The Fallen lie in cemeteries along their line advance: Warvillers Churchyard Extension; Boucher New British Cemetery; Crouy British Cemetery; Demuin British Cemetery; Hangard Wood Cemetery; Hillside Cemetery; Manitoba Cemetery; Rosières Communal Cemetery Extension and Toronto Cemetery. The sole missing Highlander is commemorated on the Vimy memorial.

 

Click here to see our “103rd Anniversary of the battle of Amiens” tribute video on YouTube.

 

Click here to see our “This Week in History” page.