The Minute Book
Thursday, 2 October 2014

The RCR Museum (1977)
Topic: The RCR Museum

Invincible Wall Holding Back Museum Work

Ottawa Citizen; 29 June 1977
By Nick Martin, for the Canadian Press

London, Ont.—Five wars have never produced an obstacle that has taken The Royal Canadian Regiment longer to overcome than the washroom wall in its own A-block building.

The invincible wall hides an antiquated washroom that blocks a much-needed expansion of the regimental museum at Wolseley Barracks.

Capt. Ray Britton, museum curator and regimental adjutant, explained that before any structural changes can be made in the museum, the ministry of national defence has to give its approval.

A request to demolish the wall has been meandering through the chain of command for the last year.

The museum has more than enough artifacts for the additional space and enough visitors to justify exhibiting as much material as possible, Britton said.

"By 1983 we hope the museum will encompass a mini-theatre to show historical films and a proper archives," he said, "The museum is becoming more popular, especially to American visitors to the city."

Ironically, more Americans than local residents seem to be aware of the museum's existence, said Cpl. Ed Duffney, one of the forces personnel assigned to the museum. "A lot of people in London don't realize it's here."

Museum Located in Barracks

Located on the second floor of the original barracks building erected in 1886, the museum crams much history into a few square feet.

London children frequently visit it in school or club and scout tours and word is working back to their parents.

Displays of histrical material in area shopping centres, part of a new community program that may be resumed in the fall, should also spread the word about the museum, Britton said.

Since its formation in 1883, The Royal Canadian Regiment, Canada's oldest [regular force infantry regiment], has distinguished itself in the Northwest Rebellion, Boer War, First World War, Second World War, Korean War and in its recent peacekeeping role in Cyprus.

The museum is arranged chronologically, but the proposed expansion would allow it to devote individual rooms to chronological displays of uniforms, weapons, medals and equipment.

"The weapons display is quite an attraction," Master Cpl. Jim Wellhauser said, adding that the Boer War exhibit of old uniforms, equipment and photographs is a close second.

Many Medals Donated to Museum

Medals remain the museum's pride and joy.

"A lot of people donate their medals to the museum," Duffney said, But because medals are so important to those to whom they were aware, those awarded during the Second World War and Korea are generally kept by their owners.

In 1979, Milton Gregg's medals were stolen from The RCR Museum. Their whereabouts remain unknown.

London Free Press, 10 Nov 2012 - Hunt on for storied vet's ripped-off Victoria Cross

London Free Press, 1 Nov 2013 - Milton Gregg’s rare medal was stolen in 1979 from Wolseley Barracks

Britton says he craves a Victoria Cross, but it is a difficult commodity to procure, Former regiment member Brig. Milton Gregg won a Victoria Cross in 1917 at Vimy Ridge Cambrai, but he retains it at his home in Fredericton.

Gregg, a spry 84, visited London recently to take the salute at the regiment's trooping the color ceremony.

Any medal awarded in 1918 or earlier is almost certain to be in the museum's collection. American medals of every nature are also at Wolseley, including the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Not every artifact reflects the spit and polish of the regiment. Many are grim reminders of battles that added names to the roll of honor in the museum's chapel; German shell casings, Nazi flags, Boer bayonets, Russian machine-guns.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

The Royal Canadian Regiment in the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014 2:21 PM EDT
Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Harry Cock's “Tin Lid”
Topic: The RCR Museum

While assisting in The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum, I discovered in the basement an uncatalogued collection of items related to Harry Tredennick Cock. Cock was a consummate regimental officer who served in the Canadian Army from 1912 (with prior British Army service) until the 1950s, retiring as a Colonel.

Along the way Cock was a notable regimental personage in The RCR, leaving his mark in many areas. In 1917, while serving overseas with the Regiment, he wrote a regimental history pamphlet that was used as a basis for instruction of new recruits in the Regiment. In the 1930s he contributed to the first volume of the regiment's history with his extensive collection of regimental information; even the published plate of badges in the volume are his own collection.

Notes on HT Cock in The Royal Canadian Regiment, 1883-1933

Regimental Service: 1912 - still serving [1936]
Rank attained in the Regiment [to that date]: Major

(GW) Wounded. 1914-15 Star, British War medal, Victory medal, Despatches. M.C. Staff Captain, England, 1917. Instructor Tactics, R.N.C., 1923. G.S.O., M.D. 13, 1925. G.S.O. 2 (temp) M.D. 6, 1934. D.A.A. & Q.M.G., M.D. 2, 1935.

Among the Harry Cock items discovered in the Museum were his medals, Commissioning Scrolls and award documents, his First World War binoculars with case, the drafting set he purchased in 1902 as a junior officer (probably for map sketching work), and his First World War helmet.

Harry Cock's helmet was no common "tin lid."

The first clue was the surviving canvas cover, a tailor-made fitted cover no less. Second was the two-piece bronze cap badge affixed to the cover.

Having seen this much I flipped the helmet over to verify its age as a First World War helmet and set it aside to discuss with the Curator. On the leather headband, not only had Cock inscribed his name and the Regiment's name, but also the date "1917."

I smiled as I displayed the box of artifacts, and especially the helmet to the Curator. "As a regimental collector," I told her, "I would sell a kidney to acquire this helmet."

She recognized the immediacy of cataloging the Cock artifacts and soon I was again looking at the helmet in the Curator's office. To add to my earlier observations, I identified the following:

  • It was an early pattern helmet with a bare metal edge, not a rolled edge.
  • The canvas cover was fitted, professionally tailored for the purpose, and included a leather trim piece around the perimeter, on the bottom side, where it would wear on the helmet edge.
  • The badge on the cover was a pre-War two-piece cast bronze Officer Service Dress badge (example). It's method of fastening was two tangs which were pushed through the canvas and bent over.
  • The lining, rather than the issue sort, was a patent model marked with "Hawke's Patent Self-Fitting & Ventilating Lining" with British, Canadian, Indian and American patents identified.
  • The inner harness as also marked: "Hawke's & Co. 1 Savile Row, London" (British and US patents).


Finally, the piece de resistance came as I was inspecting the helmet lining. Supporting the outer shell, I identified something under the cover. Removing the cover, I discovered another badge, a second guelphic crown pattern RCR badge that had been brazed onto the helmet shell itself. The cover had been placed on such that the badges did not align, thus protecting the underlying badge from the scraping of the tangs of the outer badge.

Having identified all of this, I had to correct my earlier level of commitment. I told the Curator I would have given up both kidneys to acquire it, short-lived though my enjoyment might have been.

The post-renovation state of the Museum is challenging, and, depending on a number of factors, who knows what other surprises await is. Regardless, any day I get to handle an artifact as important as Harry Cock's medals, or his very unique Great War helmet, is a good day in the Regiment.

And here is Harry wearing his helmet:



More on badged helmets.

Pro Patria

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 July 2013 12:37 AM EDT
Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Harry Cock's Medals
Topic: The RCR Museum

Lately, I've been helping out in the regimental museum; The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum. Our new curator, a welcome expert on many facets of museum administration, readily accepts that she is still developing a detailed knowledge of the Regiment's history (and is absorbing it at the usual Army firehose feeding rate). This has led to her enlisting the aid of in a few volunteers who have focussed personal research on various aspects of the Regiment's history.

Which brings me to this week. As the appointed volunteer to scour the chaos of boxes, shelves and racks in the Museum's basement, I have been turning up a variety of things. Some will help populate new galleries being opened in September (come see the Museum during Doors Open London on 27/28 September 2013), and others have been surprising, to say the least. Among the latter, today I opened a box to find donated artifacts which had belonged to a consummate regimental officer, Harry Tredennick Cock, M.C.

Shown above, and with the privately engraved back of his Military Cross shown below, how these medals had escaped being catalogued and placed on display, along with the rest of Harry's gear in appropriate galleries, will forever mystify me.

Cock's medals include:

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 17 July 2013 12:50 AM EDT
Saturday, 2 March 2013

Wolseley Hall and The RCR Museum
Topic: The RCR Museum

Constructed between 1886 and 1888, Wolseley Hall in London, Ontario, is the first piece of military architecture contracted and completed by the Canadian Government to house a unit of the Permanent Force. Other elements of the growing Permanent Force had taken over quarters previously occupied by British garrisons.

Begun in 1886, after the Militia Department traded the downtown Victoria Park location for the Carling heights property on which the current base sits, the building was first occupied by "D" Company of the Canadian Infantry School Corps in 1888. Wolseley Hall has been in use by the Canadian Army since its construction, and some element of The Royal Canadian Regiment (which began as the Infantry School Corps) has always resided within its walls.

At present, the regimental occupants of Wolseley Hall are the Regiment's Reserve battalion, the 4th Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, and The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum. Remaining space within the building is occupied by the Reserve Armoured Reconnaissance unit, the 1st Hussars, and a variety of other Department of National Defence residents supported by the base.

Wolseley Hall, like so may older edifices, suffers from the fact that for many London residents, it has fallen into the unnoticed background for those who travel past it on Oxford Street. Similarly, The RCR Museum, arguably one of the best military museums in Canada has been missed by many of the Canadians who live in, or within easy reach of, London; perhaps too often postponed until "another time" for a future visit due to its proximity, a future visit that seldom happens.

While those who travel on Oxford Street may occasionally notice the building, and even the Museum's sign, it is that smaller group of travelers that pass on Elizabeth Street that see the remarkable architecture of the east face of the building, and the carriageway which leads to the parade square that the building encloses on three sides.

The carriage-way began as the principal entrance to Wolseley Barracks, overtaken by other base perimeter gates as the base expanded over the decades, and new roads were needed to accept vehicles that would no longer pass through the archway, or had need to stop at Wolseley Hall.

Most recently, the archway has been rebuilt and re-purposed. No longer an open passageway to the parade square where generations of soldiers from London and surrounding counties prepared to serve the nation in war and peace, it is now enclosed as the new main entrance to The RCR Museum. Reconstruction of the Museum has significantly increased gallery space, and expanded the bottom floor space, which used to be just that area to the north of the archway, to now include all of the lower floor of the eastern wing of Wolseley Hall.

If you are in London, or passing by, it is worthwhile to take the time to visit this Museum, now to see the extent of changes being wrought, and in future months as new gallery spaces are populated to show Canadian military history through the story of The Royal Canadian Regiment.

Visit The RCR Museum on facebook.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 2 March 2013 9:55 AM EST

Newer | Latest | Older

The Regimental Rogue.

Follow The Regimental Rogue on facebook.

« June 2024 »
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Entries by Topic
All topics
Army Rations
Battle Honours
British Army
Canadian Armed Forces
Canadian Army
Canadian Militia
Cold Steel
Cold War
Drill and Training
European Armies
Forays in Fiction
Martial Music
Military Medical
Military Theory
Pay; the Queen's shilling
Sam Hughes
Soldier Slang
Soldiers' Load
Staff Duties
Stolen Valour
Taking Advantage
The Field of Battle
The RCR Museum  «
US Armed Forces
Vimy Pilgrimage
Wolseley Barracks

You are not logged in. Log in
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile