Topic: Battle Honours
Not all Battle Honours are equal in terms of the scale of action for which they were awarded. Some cover vast expanses of terrain and months or years of warfare, while others are defined by single dates and very restrictive geographical boundaries. When we look at the list of honours awarded to a regiment we may find Battle Honours that range from Theatre Honours to Separate Actions or Engagements.
The Conditions of Award of Battle Honours for The Great War 1914-1919 present Battle Honours with the following hierarchy:
- Theatre (e.g., FRANCE AND FLANDERS)
- Then, with each theatre there are Operations, consisting of:
- Battles (e.g., BATTLE OF HILL 70)
- Tactical Incidents Included (within named battles) (e.g., CAPTURE OF REGINA TRENCH)
- Actions (e.g., CAPTURE OF MONS)
The Conditions governing the award of Battle Honours to regiments of the Canadian Army for Second World War Battle Honours sets out Battle Honours by the following system:
- Theatre (e.g., NORTHWEST EUROPE)
- Battle (e.g., LANDING IN SICILY)
- Included Action (e.g., FALAISE ROAD)
- Included Engagement (e.g., CARPIQUET)
- Separate Action (e.g., ORTONA)
- Separate Engagement (e.g., APELDOORN)
Both Theatre and Battle Honours may include year dates. In the case of theatre honours, these will be the year or years during which the unit fought within that theatre, these dates will be hyphenated to indicate a continuous period of operations. In the case of Battle Honours, where the Battle Honour name recurs on different years, the year dates will indicate each year the unit received that named Battle Honour, these dates will be separated by commas, indicating multiple awards. For example, the Battle Honours of The Royal Canadian Regiment are:
"Detroit, Niagara, Defence of Canada – 1812-1815, Saskatchewan, North West Canada 1885, Paardeberg, South Africa 1899-1900, Ypres, 1915, '17, Gravenstafel, St Julien, Festubert, 1915, Mount Sorrel, Somme, 1916, Pozieres, Flers-Courcelette, Ancre Heights, Arras, 1917, '18, Vimy, 1917, Arleux, Scarpe, 1917, '18, Hill 70, Passchendaele, Amiens, Drocourt-Queant, Hindenburg Line, Canal Du Nord, Cambrai 1918, Pursuit To Mons, France and Flanders, 1915-18, Landing In Sicily, Valguarnera, Agira, Adrano, Regalbuto, Sicily, 1943, Landing at Reggio, Motta Montecorvino, Campobasso, Torella, San Leonardo, The Gully, Ortona, Cassino II, Gustav Line, Liri Valley, Hitler Line, Gothic Line, Lamone Crossing, Misano Ridge, Rimini Line, San Martino - San Lorenzo, Pisciatello, Fosso Vecchio, Italy 1943-45, Apeldoorn, North-West Europe, 1945, Korea, 1951-1953"
This regimental list of Battle Honours includes:
- 9 Theatre Honours
- 33 Battles
- 3 Included Actions
- 1 Included Engagements
- 8 Separate Actions
- 6 Separate Engagements
The majority of the Actions and Engagements (both Separate and Included) come from the Regiment's Second World War Honours, a trend which reflects the more open battlefields of that war and the higher potential for limited engagements compared to the First World War.
Examples of the multi-year theatre Battle Honours shown are:
- SOUTH AFRICA, 1899-1900; for continuous operations in the theatre from 1899 to 1900.
- FRANCE AND FLANDERS, 1915-18; for continuous operations in the theatre from 1915 to 1918.
- ITALY, 1943-45; for continuous operations in the theatre from 1943 to 1945.
Examples of multiple awards of Battle Honours with the same location name are:
- YPRES. 1915, '17; for award of the two Battle Honours, YPRES, 1915, and YPRES, 1917.
- ARRAS, 1917, '18; for award of the two Battle Honours, ARRAS, 1917, and ARRAS, 1918.
- SCARPE, 1917, '18; for award of the two Battle Honours, SCARPE, 1917, and SCARPE, 1918.
When we consider that Battles, Actions, and Engagements are inclusive to the applicable Theatre Honours, and that a regiment may have received honours for both a Battle as well as included Actions and/or Engagements, we start to see that a list of regimental honours is not a simple chronology of places and dates for combat actions. Within that seemingly simplistic list, there is a layering of periods of combat, some with their own designations for honours and many without, that still need to be unraveled to fully understand the roles and contributions of that regiment and its soldiers.