National Defence and the Canadian Forces

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Regimental History

The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry was formed in 1862 as the 13th Battalion, Volunteer Militia (Infantry) Canada, but had its roots in local units of Volunteer Militia, notably the 1st and 2nd Companies of Volunteer Rifles (Hamilton), formed in 1855, and the Volunteer Highland Company (No. 3 Company) formed in 1856.

13th Regiment

Cap Badge of the 13th

In 1900, the name was changed to the 13th Regiment, and in 1910, to the 13th Royal Regiment. In 1920, it became The Royal Hamilton Regiment, and in 1927, The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry.

The Wentworth Regiment was raised in 1872 as the 77th (Wentworth) Battalion of Infantry. In 1900, it became the 77th Wentworth Regiment, and in 1920 The Wentworth Regiment.

In 1936, all but one company of The Wentworth Regiment was amalgamated with the RHLI, and the unit was designated The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment) its present title.

The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment)
Gazetted as the 13th BATTALION VOLUNTEER MILITIA (Infantry) Canada December 11, 1862
Semper Paratus (Always Ready)
Allied Regiment
The Light Infantry, Peninsula Barracks, Winchester, England
Regimental March
Mountain Rose
Regimental Church
Church of the Ascension, Hamilton, Ontario

The Colours of the Regiment

The original Colours of the Regiment were consecrated at Christ's Church Cathedral on September 1, 1863 and presented to the 13th Battalion a few days later by Mrs. Isaac Buchanan, wife of the first Commanding Officer. These Colours were carried at the Battle of Ridgeway and continued in service for 38 years.

On October 14, 1901, during his Canadian tour, H.R.H. The Duke of Cornwall and York, later King George V, presented new Colours in a ceremony at Victoria Park. The original Colours were subsequently laid up in the Cathedral. From 1901 until the Great War, the Colours were career by the 13th on all ceremonial occasions.

By 1957 when the Regiment was awarded its hard-earned Battle Honours of World War II, the Colours had been in service for 56 years. New colours were presented to the Regiment by Governor-General P. Vanier, DSO, MC, ED on June 30, 1962, as part of the Regiment's centennial celebrations.

The second set of Colours was laid up in the Regimental church, the Church of the Ascension, in October 1962. By this time also, the original Colours, which had rested in the Cathedral since 1901, had been removed, restored and placed on display in the Regimental Museum.

The Colours of the Regiment, when not being carried on parade, occupy a place of honour in locked cases in the Officers' Mess.

Excerpt from the book "Semper Paratus, The History of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment) 1862 - 1977".

A Brief History of the History of The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment)

As of 04 September 2016

During the War of 1812, parts of Wentworth County were the territory of the 2nd Regiment, York Militia. Today’s RHLI are in that same territory. In mid-2012, we were awarded the battle honours "Detroit", "Niagara", "Queenston" and "Defence of Canada 1812-1815" to perpetuate the 2nd Yorks and ensure the efforts of the citizenry in defence of their land would not be forgotten.

On 11 December 1862 today’s RHLI came into being as the XIII Battalion, Volunteer Militia of Canada (Infantry). The name changed over the years: 1900- XIII Regiment; 1910 - XIII Royal Regiment; 1920 - The Royal Hamilton Regiment; and in 1927, The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry.

The Wentworth Regiment was raised in 1872 as the 77th (Wentworth) Battalion of Infantry. In 1900, it was renamed the 77th Wentworth Regiment, and in 1920 it became simply Wentworth Regiment. In 1936, all but one company of the Wentworths merged with the RHLI to create The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment).

The Regiment first saw action at the Battle of Ridgeway, ON, in 1866 against Fenian invaders from the US. In 1870, a contingent served in Manitoba in the Riel campaign. During the Boer War 1899-1902, members volunteered for the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment and the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles to give us our first battle honour under our own name. During the Great War 1914-18, many enlisted in units of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, notably the 4th, 86th (Machine Gun), 120th, 129th and 205th Battalions, whose battle honours we perpetuate. Sgt. William Merrifield, VC, MM, of the 4th Battalion ("Mad 4th") was awarded our first Victoria Cross.

In World War II 1939-45, the RHLI fought through North-West Europe with the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division. On August 19th, 1942 we suffered heavily during the raid on Dieppe, but paved the way for D-Day. Our padre, Hon. Capt. The Reverend John Weir Foote VC, CD, earned his Victoria Cross at Dieppe tending to the many wounded under heavy fire.

Former Rileys served in combat in Korea under Brigadier “Rocky” Rockingham, an RHLI WW II CO. In 1951-52 the Regiment sent a company to each of the 1st & 2nd Canadian Rifles with the 27th NATO Brigade in West Germany. The 1990s saw Rileys under fire in the Balkans on UN / NATO operations. Rileys have served tours in Bosnia, the Golan Heights, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Kenya, South Sudan, in heavy combat in Afghanistan, and in key positions in Iraq and Kuwait in the fight against ISIS. 44 battle honours have been awarded to the RHLI so far.

On humanitarian operations in Canada, Rileys helped contain the Red River in Manitoba in February/March 1997. In February 1999 we deployed 60 Rileys to Eastern Ontario during their fierce ice storm, and we were on standby during the "Y2K" Millennium changeover.

In late 2003 "C" Company was re-established in Burlington. The Rileys today are a professional, combat-capable Army Reserve regiment, trained for full-spectrum operations world-wide. We proudly serve our communities and our nation in response to our motto, "Semper Paratus" - Always Ready.

Browse through our "RHLI History" site 


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