The Minute Book
Saturday, 19 October 2013

Oldest vs. Senior
Topic: Tradition

From the cover of Sentinel 1974/5, A Centurion tank of the Royal Canadian Dragoons passes through a town in the Federal Republic of Germany during a NATO exercise.

Oldest vs. Senior; Precedence and Component

The Canadian Armed Forces Magazine Sentinel, in their Volume 10 (1974), Issue No. 5, made the following statements in an article on the Royal Canadian Dragoons.

Canada's Senior Armoured Regiment

The Royal Canadian Dragoons, Canada's oldest permanent force cavalry regiment, was formed just over 90 years ago on December 21, 1883, in St. Jean. P.Q., as the Cavalry School Corps.

These seemingly innocuous statements resulted in two letters to the editor, in each case with further editorial reply. These are presented below, and well illustrate the long and often repeated debates in both the armoured and infantry corps regarding regimental seniority, and the complications of precedence dictated by component.

"Oldest" Controversy

As published in Sentinel, Volume 11 (1975) , No. 1

I do not wish to split hairs, but your article in Number 5, Volume 10 of the Sentinel uses the words "senior" and "oldest" as though they were synonymous.

The RCD are indeed Canada's senior Armoured (and senior Cavalry) Regiment; however, they are not the oldest. That distinction belongs to the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's) who were formed as a Regiment in 1848 from eleven independent cavalry troops, the first of which was raised in 1825. I refer you to CFSO 43/72 and to Hansard of 4 April 1973.

J.R. Beveridge (Col.)
CFB Suffield
Ralson, Alberta

Director of History, W.A.B. Douglas, confirms that the date of formation of 8 CH was established as April 4, 1848. The date was officially recognized when CFSO 43, published Feb. 4, 1972 corrected the organizational date of the regiment, previously listed as Jan. 3, 1866. Thus 8 CH began as The New Brunswick Yeomanry Cavalry of the N.B. Militia.

The Director of History points out that the date of formation is not the only consideration in determining a regiment's position in the order of precedence. So 8 CH takes the "left of the line" to LSH and RCD, because as a regular unit it only dates from Jan. 29, 1957, while the other two regiments were regulars from their formation on July 1, 1901 and Dec. 21, 1883, respectively. — Editor.

RCD Guidon

The Guidon of the Royal Canadian Dragoons (above) and the Standard of the Governor General's Horse Guards (below), as seen on the Directorate of History and Heritage page for Colours:Armoured Regiments. (See the DHH page for larger versions.)

GGHG Standard

Senior Shock

As published in Sentinel, Volume 11 (1975) , No. 4

I was amazed at the statements made both by Sentinel and Col Beveridge (1975/1), under the illusion that the RCD and the 8CH are the senior regiments of this country. I am shocked that neither of you knew this was an accomplishment of the Governor General's Horse Guards in Toronto. This honour was awarded to the Governor General's Body Guards on 27 April 1866, General Order No. 1 states this fact. Therefore, the regiment is the SENIOR regiment of either armour or cavalry, and the GGHG provides mounted escorts for ceremonial occasions with a full squadron of cavalry. The only claim to fame of the RCD's is that they are the senior regular unit.

A note worthy to add, if you check the CFAO's is that the GGHG is the only Canadian cavalry or armoured unit to parade a Standard. The RCD and 8CH carry only Guidons. This tradition is copied from the British who only allow the senior regiment to parade a Standard.

E. Heidebrecht (O/Cdt)
Toronto, Ont.

(Officials in Ottawa's Directorate of Ceremonial advise that the senior armoured or cavalry regiment in the Forces is the RCD, as regular regiments take precedence over militia regiments. However, the senior militia regiment of cavalry is the Governor General's Horse Guards, as by tradition Horse Guards take precedence over other cavalry regiments, in this case, the older 8 CH.

The statement that the British only "allow the senior regiment to parade a standard" is, of course, wrong. The Life Guards, The Blues and Royals, and all regiments of Dragoon Guards are authorized a standard, as was the 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards of Ottawa before its disbandment. The GGHG is authorized a Dragoon Guards type of standard, not a Household Calvary standard. — Editor)

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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