The formation of the unit now known as The South Saskatchewan Regiment (S.Sask.R. or S.S.R.) was the culmination of a series
of militia organizations subsequent to the termination of the First World War.
However, the regiment had its beginning considerably earlier than that, and in order to obtain a complete picture of the development of the Canadian Militia in Southern Saskatchewan, it may be well to recount briefly the history of the first militia organization in the territory now comprising the regimental area of the unit.
20th MOUNTED RIFLES - 1908
While the history of the South Saskatchewan Regiment may be traced back to July, 1905, when the 95th Regiment (later
redesignated 95th Saskatchewan Rifles) was organized, it has certain links connecting it with the 20th Mounted Rifles, a cavalry
regiment (now 12 D-18 Armd. Regt.) organized in 1908 within the regimental area of the South Saskatchewan Regiment.
Headquarters and one squadron of this regiment were located in Estevan, the remaining two squadrons being allotted Carlyle and Carnduff.
It was increased to a four-squadron regiment in June, 1910, and on July 2, 1910, it was redesignated 20th Border House; localized as follows: -
R.H.Q. - Pipestone, Manitoba
A Squadron - Reston, Manitoba
B Squadron - Carnduff, Saskatchewan
C Squadron - Estevan, Saskatchewan
D Squadron - Weyburn, Saskatchewan
152nd BATTALION C.E.F. 1915
During the First World War, Militia Regiments as such, did not, (with eight exceptions) serve in the field. Instead, new units were
organized especially for the Canadian Expeditionary Force, though all formed part, for the time being, of the Canadian Militia.
Although many officers and men who were past or present members of the pre-war militia units of C.E.F., mainly the 6th and 32nd Battalions raised from western Canada cavalry regiments in 1914, it was not until 1915 that a C.E.F. Battalion was allotted to the territory now comprising the regimental area of The South Saskatchewan Regiment. This was the 152nd Battalion C.E.F., which mobilized at Weyburn, the officer commanding being Lt. Col. S. B. Nelles, formerly of the 95th Saskatchewan Rifles, Regina. The battalion was recruited from for overseas on 3rd October, 1916, at a strength of 29 officers and 743 other ranks, but shortly after arrival at Shorncliffe Camp, Kent, it met the fate common to many of the C.E.F. Battalions - it was broken up for reinforcements. Nevertheless, the records of its individual members are among the proud traditions of its descendant, the South Saskatchewan Regiment. Most of the other ranks saw service in the field, the distribution being as follows: -
4th Battalion (I Inf. Bde., I Cdn. Div.) 11
5th Battalion (2 Inf. Bde., I Cdn. Div.) 519
28th Battalion (6 Inf. Bde., 2 Cdn. Div.) 61
102nd Battalion (II Inf. Bde., 4 Cdn. Div.) 39
Only 105 remained in the field at the Armistice, the remainder having become casualties of war.
THE SOUTH SASKATCHEWAN REGIMENT: - 1920
Following the First World War it was decided to increase considerably the proportion of Militia Infantry in Western Canada. In
Saskatchewan, in March, 1920, two multiple-battalion infantry regiments were formed. The North Saskatchewan Regiment by
amalgamation of the 60th Rifles of Canada and the 95th Saskatchewan Rifles. The South Saskatchewan Regiment was originally
organized with five battalions - two active and three reserve. Within a few months it was increased to ten battalions - five active
and five reserve. Appointed to command the active battalions were: 1st Battalion (H.Q., Regina), Lt.-Col. (Brevet Colonel) J. A.
Ross, D.S.O., 1st October 1920, who was succeeded by Lt.-Col. J. S. Rankin, D.S.O., 21st September, 1922, on which date
Colonel Ross was appointed to command the regiment; 2nd Battalion (H.Q., Moose Jaw), Lt.-Col. N. Gentles, D.S.O., 31st
October, 1920, succeeded by Lt.-Col. S. J. Anderson, D.S.O., on 1st April, 1921; 3rd Battalion (HW and "A", "B" and "C"
Companies, Weyburn, "D" Company, Osage), Lt.-Col. F. J. Picking, 5th August, 1920; 4th Battalion (H.Q. and "A" Company,
Moosomin, "B" Company, Whitewood, "C" Company, Manor, and "D" Company, Grenfell), Lt.-Col. A. H. D. Sharp, M.C., 21st
July, 1920; 5th Battalion (H.Q. Estevan), Lt.-Col. J. A. Smith, 12th August, 1920."
This situation continued until May, 1924, when a further reorganization took place with the South Saskatchewan Regiment and the North Saskatchewan Regiment each being organized into four two-battalion regiments. By mid-September, the South Saskatchewan Regiment had been reorganized into five, two battalion regiments, viz.: -
(Former units of S.Sask.R.)
The Regina Rifle Regiment (1 and 6 Bns.)
The Weyburn Regiment (3 and 8 Bns.)
The Assiniboia Regiment (4 and 9 Bns.)
The Saskatchewan Border Regiment (5 and 10 Bns.)
The King's Own Rifles of Canada (2 and 7 Bns.)
THE WEYBURN REGIMENT - 1924
Upon the reorganization in 1924, the 3rd battalion of the South Saskatchewan Regiment became The Weyburn Regiment, and the
command was assumed by Lt.-Col. J. E. McGillivray, M.M., E.D., until January, 1929. In October, 1930. "C" Company, at
Carlyle, was relocalized at Assiniboia. On 1st February, 1929, the command was assumed by Lt.-Col. S.M. Bayles, E.D., who
continued to guide the destinies of the unit until it was disbanded for the purposed of amalgamation in 1936. The history of the
Weyburn Regiment during the period 1924-36 is one of which any unit may be proud - a record of continuous progress. A high
degree of efficiency and "esprit de corps" was attained and a cadre of officer personnel was developed which was worthy of the
best traditions of the Canadian Militia. Especially noteworthy was the large number of expert marksmen trained during this period,
and the efficiency of the Regimental Signal Section.
THE SASKATCHEWAN BORDER REGIMENT - 1924
Like its sister regiment at Weyburn, the Saskatchewan Border Regiment was an off-shoot of the South Saskatchewan Regiment,
its immediate forbear being the 5th Battalion of that organization. Its first officer commanding was Lt.-Col. J. L. Hart, E.D. who
was succeeded by Lt.-Col. S. Dryden, D.C.M., an old Imperial soldier, who had served in many parts of the Commonwealth.
Upon his retirement the command was taken over by Major Jas. W. Mossop. During its earlier years the regiment suffered under
the handicap of having its companies scattered over a large area, company headquarters being located at Estevan, Carnduff,
Lampman, and Neptune. This dispersal was evenly due to a desire to have the regiment conform to its name, as the town
mentioned were spread along the International Border for a distance of over 100 miles. Most of the early years of the regiment's
existence were taken up in the effort to minimize the effect of this condition, and the fact that in spite of so great a handicap, it
maintained a high degree of efficiency is due to the earnestness and devotion of its officers and N.C.O.s Lt.-Col. J.E. Wright, E.D.,
was the last officer commanding, and under his leadership a great deal was accomplished toward having the activities of the
regiment localized at Estevan and its immediate vicinity. Plans were also made at this time for the construction of a rifle range and
these plans later came to fruition when the regiment was formed into its present unit.
THE SOUTH SASKATCHEWAN REGIMENT - 1936
For some years prior to 1936, it was becoming increasingly apparent to National Defense Headquarters that the existing
organization of the Canadian Militia was unsuited to the requirements of modern warfare. The number of infantry and cavalry was
disproportionately large as compared to artillery and machine gun units, and there was a notable lack of tank battalions and
armoured car regiments. Infantry regiments, in particular, were found to have regimental areas which could not be expected in time
of war, to provide the necessary reinforcements to maintain them in the field. The General Staff, therefore, had been at work for
some time upon a scheme of reorganization which it was decided in 1936 to be put into effect.
Among the first units to be affected by the order were the Weyburn Regiment and the Saskatchewan Border Regiment. Early in 1936 these two regiments received instructions to submit plans for amalgamation to constitute one unit of the three infantry regiments of the 19th Infantry Brigade. The composition of the Brigade effective 15 December, 1936, was: -
The Regina Rifle Regiment.
The Prince Albert and Battleford Volunteers
The South Saskatchewan Regiment
The King's Own Rifles of Canada (M.G.)
The Saskatoon Light Infantry (M.G.)
The preliminary work of reorganization was accomplished with a minimum of friction, as the common origin of the two regiments, their close association, and the cordial relations which had always existed between them, made the new arrangement a happy one. Almost the only item which occasioned any prolonged discussion was the selection of a new name for this unit, but finally it was agreed to revert to the old name of The South Saskatchewan Regiment.
On 14th December, 1936, the Weyburn Regiment and the Saskatchewan Border Regiment were disbanded, and on 15th December, 1936, The South Saskatchewan Regiment came into being. Lt.-Col. S. M. Bayles, formerly Commanding Officer of the Weyburn Regiment, assumed command of the new unit, while Lt.-Col. J. E. Wright, formerly Commanding Officer of the Saskatchewan Border Regiment, was posted as Lt.-Col. supernumerary. Regimental Headquarters, Headquarters Company, and "A" Company were allotted to Weyburn, "B" Company to Estevan", "C" Company to Assiniboia, and "D" Company to Oxbow.
The work of reorganization proceeded throughout 1937. There was a great deal of detail to be carried out, but finally by December of that year, the task was completed. Lt.-Col. Bayles was then posted to Corps reserve and the command of the regiment reverted to Lt.-Col. Wright. Regimental Headquarters transferred to Estevan on 15th December, 1937, the location of the companies remaining as before.
In 1938, "A" Company at Weyburn was fortunate in securing new quarters in the new Canadian Legion Building. "B" Company at Estevan continued to occupy the premises formerly leased by the Saskatchewan Border Regiment, and during the year arrangements were undertaken to secure suitable quarters at Assiniboia and Oxbow for "C" and "D" Companies.
PERPETUATION OF THE 152nd BATTALION, C.E.F.
In pursuance of carrying on the traditions of the units of the Canadian Expeditionary Force by having their names embodies in the
titles of the different regiments of the Canadian Militia the 152nd Battalion C.E.F. was allotted to both the Weyburn Regiment and
the Saskatchewan Border Regiment, the 1st Battalion of each regiment perpetuating the Overseas Unit. Upon amalgamation this
tradition was, of course, continued. The South Saskatchewan Regiment, therefore, now perpetuates the 152nd Battalion C.E.F.
Under the Canadian regulations for the awarding of Battle Honours for the Great War, both the Weyburn Regiment and the
Saskatchewan Border Regiment became eligible for the Battle Honours won through the services of the officers and men of the
152nd Battalion, a Battle Honour being awarded for a battle in which not less than 250 men took part. The South Saskatchewan
Regiment, therefore, inherits the Battle Honours, "ARRAS, 1917" and "HILL 70", which are emblazoned on the Regimental Colour.
During the period that the Weyburn Regiment and the Saskatchewan Border Regiment functioned as separate units, both regiments
became allied with units of the British Army. The Weyburn Regiment selected the Royal Warwickshire Regiment for the following
reasons: firstly, because various battalions of that regiment served in Canada on four different occasions between 1786 and 1846,
acquiring the Battle Honour of "Niagara" in the War of 1812; and secondly, because one of the Weyburn Regiment's through the
services of personnel of the 152nd Battalion; 410 of whom took part in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and 255 at the Battle of Arleux.
On the other hand the Saskatchewan Border Regiment chose the Border Regiment for similar reasons; namely, battalions of that regiment served in Canada between the years 1757 and 1841; because of similarity in the names of the two regiments (recruiting areas being, on one hand, the border between England and Scotland and the other the border between Canada and the United States); and because of the fact that the Border Regiment qualified for the Arras, 1917, Battle Honour by its participation in the Battle of the Scarpe, another of the same group of battles as fought by personnel of the 152nd Battalion. Both alliances were approved by His Majest the King, the Saskatchewan Border Regiment in 1930, and the Weyburn Regiment in December, 1931.
The benefits accruing from these alliances were so great that upon amalgamation the members of the regiments were loth to relinquish them. It was therefore agreed that the alliance should be continued, and this arrangement was finally confirmed in March, 1939.
The question of a Regimental Badge for the continuing unit was one which engaged the attention of the officers for a considerable
time. The badge of the Weyburn Regiment had been an adaptation of the Royal Warwickshire Badge, which had been bestowed
upon the unity by King George II in recognition of the great bravery displayed at the Battle of Saragossa in 1710. Among the
standards captured by the regiment at that time was that of a Moorish Regiment in Spanish pay, bearing the royal and ancient badge
of the antelope.
The Saskatchewan border regiment, in May, 1927, had adopted a badge indicative of its location along the International Border. Etched upon a shield within a spray of maple leaves was a map of North America, with the name of the unit inscribed "over the Canadian-United States international boundary," the whole surrounded by a beaver.
On April, 1933, the Weyburn Regiment adopted a somewhat similar badge motif - the pronghorn antelope that ranges the prairies. The badge being officially described, "an antelope standing on an heraldic wreath; below, a scroll inscribed 'The Weyburn Regiment'."
Upon amalgamation it was desired that the new badge of the continuing regiment should reflect the traditions of both component units. THE Saskatchewan Border Regiment wished to relinquish entirely its former badge, and to substitute for it elements denoting its Alliance with the Border Regiment, whose badge embodies the design of the Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (in honour of the three successive Colonels of the Regiment, who had the distinction of G.C.B., between 1810 and 1825), superimposed upon the eight-pointed, diamond-cut Star of the Order of the Garter (in honour of the Duke of Cumberland's investiture in that Order).
After much deliberation the committee submitted a design that reflected the Regiment's alliances, the antelope signifying the Royal Warwicks; the Maltese cross superimposed on an eight-pointed star identifying the Border Regiment. The badge, authorized on 12th May, 1939, was officially described thus: -
"An eight-pointed diamond-cut star surmounted by the Crown, in bronze. Superimposed on the star, a Maltese cross in bronze. On the center of the cross, a one inch double circle inscribed 'SOUTH SASKATCHEWAN REGIMENT' in 3/32" block letters, in silver. Within the circle a Canadian Pronghorn Antelope standing on an heraldic wreath, in silver, the inside of the circle pierced around the antelope."
As part of the Non-Permanent Active Militia of Canada, the unit either as one or two regiments, carried on with all manner of
activities, including annual summer training at various camps, rifle associations, qualifying courses for officers and N.C.O.s,
regimental dinners and military balls, Guards of Honour on numerous occasions, and representing the Canadian Militia in South
Saskatchewan in national and patriotic parades and ceremonies.
Many competitions and prizes were won by the regiment in its militia activities. These were offered by the Canadian Infantry Association and were won by the Signal Section and Lewis Gun Section many times. The Efficiency of Personnel Competition for rural units was won three times, and in 1939 the S.S.R. won the Efficiency of Personnel Competition with all infantry unity in Military District No. 12, both urban and rural. These activities helped to establish the strong spirit of esprits de corps, in all ranks, and leadership in the N.C.O.s and officers. From this came the traditions of the unit which stood so firm in the dark days of the Second World War to come.
WORDS OF THE REGIMENTAL MARCH
As used during the Second World War.
THE BOYS OF THE S.SASK.R.
By. A.C. Parker, Weyburn, Sask.
We're the boys who have gathered from near and far
To fight for out country and our King,
And if you're in doubt as to who we are
Just listen while we sing:
We're the boys of the S.S.R.
We're the boys of the S.S.R.
We left our homes and our loved ones true,
To fight for the Red, White, and Blue.
And then we came over the sea
And have fought on to Victory
We've shown the world how proud we are
To be the Boys of the S.S.R.
NOTE - In April, 1950, "Warwickshire Lads' - the march of The Royal Warwickshire Regiment - was approved as the Regimental March of S.Sask.R.