11th Field Artillery Regiment, RCA - History

Our History

In Wellington County, the 11th Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery evolved out of the traditional county militia that was already established. In 1857, the military units of in Wellington County were re-organized into the 1st Wellington Battalion. At the time this unit was designated to an infantry role, but in 1866 a militia artillery unit was formed in response to the raids into Canada by the Fenian Brotherhood. This was the first sign that Guelph would rise to become a true “Gunner’s Town.”

On July 20th 1866, the Guelph Garrison Battery was organized into No. 1 Company of the 30th Wellington Rifles. A short five years later the battery became an independent unit and renamed the Wellington Field Battery of Artillery. In 1878 a second section made up of students from the Ontario Agricultural College at Guelph was formed, known as the Ontario Field Battery. In March 1880 the two Batteries were renumbered No. 11 and No. 16 Battery. In 1880 the Regiment was formed under the command of Major A.H. MacDonald. The Wellington Battery was commanded by Captain W. Nicholi while the Captain D. McCrae, the father of John McCrae, commanded the Ontario Battery.

At the outbreak of the Boar War, none of the Wellington units were mobilized. Instead a separate military unit known as D Battery was formed. Lieutenant John McCrae commanded a section of the battery and left for South Africa on Jan 4th 1900. The battery fought in 32 battles and three Victoria Crosses were awarded for action at Leliefontein to members of D Battery.

In 1911, Canada re-organized its militia in response to overseas tensions with a major emphasis on artillery. Guelph had the only artillery-equipped militia at the time. The units were renamed as the 1st (Howitzer) Brigade, Canadian Artillery in 1913. When war finally broke out names were once again changed and new mobilization plans began. Five Batteries were created in Guelph and the new 29th Battery departed in 1916 along with the 43rd Battery. Together these two batteries formed the 11th (Howitzer) Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery. The Gunners fought at Ypres, the Somme, Passchendaele, Amiens, Mons and most famously Vimy Ridge.

After the war, all of the Guelph units were re-designated to be included in the 11th Brigade. In 1936 the Wellington Rifles were converted to artillery to augment the 63rd Battery, leaving artillery the only military presence in the county.

During the Second World War, the 29th Battery was the first to mobilize. In 1942 the 11th Brigade was renamed to the 11th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery for the duration of the war. They fought in Italy, finally moving to the France after D-Day. The 16th and 43rd Batteries mobilized in 1940 as part of the 3rd Canadian Division and took part in all major Canadian Engagements in Europe including the D-Day landings. The 63rd Battery was also mobilized out of the pre-war militia in Guelph and saw considerable action with the 19th Field Army Regiment.

In 1960 the Regiment was officially designated as the 11th Field Artillery Regiment. In 1966 the Regiment celebrated its Centennial with the Fenian Brotherhood of Buffalo, New York present to apologize for the Fenian Raids of 1866. The Regiment served since the 1970’s as a pivotal part of the Hamilton Milita District, now know as 31 Canadian Brigade Group with its Headquarters in London. Since 1989 women have proudly served as gunners. In 1993 members of the Regiment served as part of Canada’s last full contingent to the UN forces in Cyprus. Members have proudly served in Yugoslavia, the Golan Heights, Cambodia, Sierra Leoen and Bosnia and continue to volunteer and augment batteries deploying to Afghanistan.

UBIQUE - (Everywhere.)

Quo fas et Gloria ducunt. - (Whither right and glory lead).

More history on 11th Field Artillery Regiment, RCA can be found on the History and Heritage website.

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