National Defence and the Canadian Forces

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4th Canadian Division

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On May 22nd, 2012, the RHLI gained their first battle honour - first in sequence, that is! The new honour is "Defence of Canada 1812-15", and is awarded in perpetuation of the 2nd York Militia. The Honour was presented by HRH Prince Charles in a special ceremony at Ft. York Armoury in Toronto.

According to Dr. Steve Harris, the Acting Director and Chief Historian of the the Canadian Forces' Directorate of History and Heritage, the RHLI connection to 2nd Yorks comes from our Wentworth Regiment link. He noted, "Essentially, the Battle Honours Committee determined that the 2nd Regiment of York Militia, 1812-1815, which drew personnel from what is now Wentworth County when it was called out on active service, deserved to be awarded the non-emblazonable Honorary Distinction DEFENCE OF CANADA -- 1812-1815. CDS concurred and His Excellency the Governor General agreed. The Battle Honours Committee then determined that the most appropriate contemporary Regiment to perpetuate 2nd York was The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment) precisely because of the Wentworth County connection. That means that (the) RHLI inherit the non-emblazonable Honorary Distinction."

The ceremony in Toronto included the mounting of a special guard comprised of soldiers from all Regiments receiving similar honours. The Guard on parade was commanded by none other than our own Captain John Coomber, dressed in traditional RHLI scarlets, and standing out prominently in his position of honour.

In early August, the RHLI were awarded a second 1812-15 battle honour, "Detroit", also in perpetuation of the 2nd Yorks, giving us now 41 battle honours.

The 2nd Yorks - a favourite militia unit of Major-General Sir Isaac Brock - were prominent at the battles of Detroit, Queenston and Niagara during the War of 1812. Brock is attributed as saying, as he rode his horse pell-mell to Queenston when the Americans were landing, "Push on, brave York Volunteers!"

See below for the CF News Release.

News Release

The Government of Canada honours Canadian Army Regiments for the Victory at the Battle of Detroit

NR-12.164 - August 15, 2012

TORONTO - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, today announced that Canadian Army regiments that perpetuate the history and heritage of War of 1812 units that defended our country during that conflict will be awarded a battle honour for the victory at the Battle of Detroit. Minister MacKay , joined by Ted Opitz, Member of Parliament for Etobicoke Centre, made the announcement at Fort York National Historic Site as part of the Government's efforts to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812.
"Our Government is committed to support our men and women in uniform and to commemorate Canada's military heritage," said Minister MacKay. "I am pleased to be here on the eve of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Detroit to honour those regiments and soldiers whose decisive actions protected our nation, contributing to the prosperity, well-being, and freedom we enjoy today."
The Battle of Detroit was a pivotal event for the people of York and for the Militia units that they raised. Upon his return to York (Toronto) after the battle of Detroit, Major-General Isaac Brock, their commander at Detroit, publicly expressed his admiration for the militia units from York that had served in the battle. In his report on the battle he went on to note that the service of the militia units would never be forgotten.
As part of the commemorations of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, the federal Government committed to honouring the memory of all who served during the war. As a result, seven modern day Canadian Army regiments that perpetuate the War of 1812 units that fought at the battle of Detroit will receive the Battle Honour "DETROIT". The first six of these regiments are:
  • 56th Field Artillery Regiment (RCA), Brantford, Ont.;
  • The Essex and Kent Scottish, Windsor, Ont.;
  • The Lincoln and Welland Regiment, St. Catharines, Ont.;
  • The Queen's York Rangers (1st American Regiment) (RCAC), Toronto, Ont.;
  • The Royal Canadian Regiment, Petawawa, Ont.; and
  • The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment), Hamilton, Ont.
  • In addition to these units, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment stationed in St. John's, N.L., will also receive the Battle Honour "DETROIT" in memory of the Newfoundlanders who, as members of the British Royal Newfoundland Fencible Infantry, were present at the Battle of Detroit. "Our Government is taking concrete steps to preserve the memory of the accomplishments of those who, through their bravery and their sacrifices, protected the territory of what would become our great country," concluded Mr. Opitz.
    "The Battle Honour "DETROIT" formally recognizes the services rendered by the Canadian units that served during the battle of Detroit and permits the modern Canadian Army regiments that perpetuate these units to carry this great honour," added Minister MacKay. "It will serve as a reminder of the achievements of those who fought in the War of 1812, and will allow today's Canadian Forces personnel to honour and remember those who served before them."
    The War of 1812 was instrumental in the development of Canada's military history and established the basis of the Canada we know today - an independent and free country in a constitutional monarchy with its own parliamentary system. The Government of Canada and the Canadian Forces are proud to commemorate the achievements of those early Canadian soldiers and sailors who fought in the War of 1812.
    The 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812 is an opportunity for all Canadians to take pride in our history and to pay tribute to our founders, defining historical moments, and the heroes who fought for Canada. As part of the ongoing commemoration, additional Battle Honours related to the War of 1812 will be announced at a later date.

    For further information on the award of the "DETROIT" battle honour go to:

    For additional information on Battle of Detroit, please visit:

    For more information on the process of perpetuation, please consult the "Battle Honours and Honorary Distinctions: Process of Perpetuation" Fact Sheet:

    For additional information on DND/CF's contributions towards the War of 1812 Bicentennial Commemoration, please consult the following backgrounder:

    Browse through our "RHLI History" site 


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