H.T. Cock Manuscript: 1919-1933

Harry Tredennick Cock's manuscript titled "Short History of The Royal Canadian Regiment, 1883-1933" is a valuable document from our Archive Collection that discusses the first 50 years of The Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR). This story focuses on The RCR’s service from 1919, just after the end of the First World War, to 1933, the 50th anniversary of the regiment. Cock was an officer in The RCR at the time.

TYPEWRITTEN MANUSCRIPT: "SHORT HISTORY OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN REGIMENT, 1883-1933"
DATE: December 1934
DONATED BY: Unknown
OBJECT ID: RCRM2013.043.092

During this time, The RCR resumed its pre-war duties as part of Canada’s Permanent Force (PF), which involved the instruction of the Canadian Militia through Royal Schools of Instruction and summer camps. In addition to instruction duties, the regiment took part in a variety of ceremonial events. Cock's manuscript highlights many of these occasions. Some of them are described in the text of the manuscript, while others are recorded only via photographs and supplemental documents. The manuscript also provides information on two of the places where Cock was stationed over the course of this period: St. Jean, Quebec and the historic Halifax Citadel.

While there is no major conflict that characterizes this period, it is nevertheless, an important era in The RCR's history. Cock sums up the importance of the regiment’s duties during this relatively peaceful time:

“It must, however, never be forgotten that the long periods of humdrum routine are those of character building and preparation for the great test when a nation, after all other means have failed, is reluctantly obliged to use force for some all-important cause…while the Regiment will be called upon to acquit itself, what is more important is, that the whole of the Land Forces of Canada will also be called upon for such as test. The success of Canadian Militia will depend greatly on its pre-war training. This heavy responsibility rests mostly on the Permanent Force of Canada of which the Regiment forms a part.”

H.T. Cock’s original typewritten writings on the period can be viewed by clicking the following images:


Guard of Honour for the Prince of Wales

In June 1919, the regiment furnished a guard of honour for the Prince of Wales, who would later become King Edward VIII. A guard of honour is ceremonial in nature, and often supplied to welcome heads of state and other dignitaries. A photograph of the event is included in the manuscript. It shows the regiment marching through Halifax as a great number of civilians line the street. 


First Trooping of the South African Banner

On February 27, 1920, Paardeberg Day, the first trooping of the King Edward’s South African Banner was undertaken. The South African Banner is a silk Union Jack that was given to The RCR by King Edward VII in 1904 to commemorate the regiment’s service in the South African War (also known as the Second Boer War).

Traditionally, infantry regiments maintain a set of two colours. The first is the King or Queen’s Colour symbolizing allegiance to the monarch. The second is a Regimental Colour, symbolizing loyalty to the regiment. For many years, the regiment treated the South African Banner as a third Colour. The regiment sought authority to carry it as such, but were not permitted to do so by King Edward VII, who confirmed that infantry regiment’s may only carry two Colours. Nevertheless, the regiment still held the banner as a prized possession and devised a special trooping ceremony on Paardeberg Day each year where members of the unit could observe the banner. The first such ceremony was held in 1920, for which photographs are included in the manuscript. By 1932, it was reported in The Connecting File (the regimental magazine) that the ceremony had been discontinued.


"D" Company at St. Jean

In October 1924, "D" Company of The RCR moved to Fort Saint-Jean, Quebec after several years in the heart of downtown Montreal. It was somewhat of a homecoming for the regiment as Saint-Jean had been home to "B" Company of the Infantry School Corp (which became The RCR) from 1883-1905. A Royal School of Infantry was established there, responsible for instructing all English-speaking militia in Quebec, as well as French-speaking militia in Military District No. 4.

Major Cock was posted to “D” Company at St. Jean in 1929. He included a three-page history of the fort in the manuscript, as well as a photograph of “D” Company in winter gear complete with snowshoes.


“A” Company at the Halifax Citadel

At the end of 1931, “A” Company was ordered to evacuate the Halifax Citadel, which they had occupied since 1920 according to the manuscript. They were to return to Wellington Barracks, the former home of the regiment, which had been partially rebuilt following its destruction in the Halifax Explosion of 1917. Major Cock, who had recently been transferred from St. Jean, commanded “A” Company at the time of the evacuation of the fort. He can be seen leading troops out of the Citadel on December 17, 1931 below. The fort, with a history dating back almost two centuries, would largely cease military operations after this point except for a brief period during the Second World War when it was used as a signal post, radio station, and site for anti-aircraft guns.


New Colours

In 1932, at Wolseley Barracks in London, Ontario, new Colours were presented to The RCR by the Governor General of Canada, Vere Ponsonby, 9th Earl of Bessborough. These colours replaced the set given to the regiment in 1901 by the Duke of York, who would later become King George V. The old colours were in poor condition due in part to damage caused by the Halifax Explosion when they were housed at Wellington Barracks. The old colours were deposited in Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church in London where they remained until 2015 when the church closed. The colours are now kept in the Quiet Room at The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum.


Marching the CEF Banner to St. Mark’s Church

In the Fall of 1933, the CEF Banner was deposited in St. Mark’s Church, Halifax. This silk Union Jack was presented to the regiment by King George V in recognition of the unit's service during the First World War. The author does not mention this event in the text of the manuscript, but he does include photographs of the occasion. “A” Company, under the command of Major Cock, paraded the banner to the church. They were joined by 85 members of the Old Comrades Association, which had been formed in 1926 to promote loyalty and pride in The RCR among former serving members. Milton F. Gregg, who was awarded the Victoria Cross while serving with The RCR during the First World War, was tasked with carrying the banner.