Text comes from the 'Customs & Traditions' annex of the book "The Royal Montreal Regiment 1945-1989" (affectionately known as "Volume 3"), written by Allan Patrick, & Lt.-Col. R Jarymowyez, CD, published by The Royal Montreal Regt., Westmount, 1991.
The first and most sacred distinguishing mark of any Regiment are the Colours. The Royal Montreal Regiment, like all Regiments in Commonwealth countries that recognize Elizabeth II as Monarch possess two: the Royal or Queen’s Colour and the Regimental Colour.
The Regimental Colour is embroidered and carefully woven by skilled craftsmen and can only be approved by the reigning Monarch. The Regimental Colour is designed around a maple leaf inscribed with the Roman Numerals XIV, encircled by THE ROYAL MONTREAL REGIMENT, surmounted by the Crown of St. Edward. Surrounding the Regimental device are the battle honours of the RMR, earned in the two World Wars.
Both are carried on parade by Regimental subalterns with a Colour Guard composed of the Regiment’s subalterns and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers. On trooping the Colour, the Colour Party will always be augmented by an Escort to the Colours – a guard composed of an Officer, Non-Commissioned Officer and selected soldiers whose drill and bearing is of the highest standard.
Military Colours have been in use for many centuries, and from the outset fulfilled two practical needs. First, they were a rallying point in battle and second, a mark of family distinction. Early man often fixed his tribal markings to staffs; medieval knights carried armorial bearings on their banners or shields. When the British army adopted a Regimental system at the beginning of the 17th century, each company was allotted a colour. Since 1751, regiments have been permitted a Regimental Colour and a Sovereign’s Colour. When Colours are presented they are consecrated during a ceremony that was standardized in 1867.
The Royal Montreal Regiment has received four sets of Colours. The first occasion (in 1919) was unique in the annals of British and Canadian history. This was the first time that a Regiment had been presented with Colours on foreign conquered soil at the end of a victorious campaign. At Unter Eschbach, Germany, on January 4th, 1919, H.R.H. Prince Arthur of Connaught presented the Regiment with its first Colours. A second set of Colours were to have been presented to the Regiment in 1939. This ceremony was postponed until the cessation of hostilities. At Amersfoort, Holland, General H.D.G. Crerar, Commander 1st Canadian Army, presented the Colours on July 10th, 1945. These, however, were not the Colours that the City of Westmount had donated. The originals were destroyed by enemy bombing in London.
To mark the celebration of the Regiment’s Fiftieth Anniversary, His Excellency, the late Governor General, Major-General Georges P. Vanier, presented the third set of Regimental Colours to the RMR on September 20th, 1964. The ceremony took place in Westmount Park. The same site was used on November 9th, 1969, to receive the Queen’s Representative, His Excellency the Governor General, the Right Honourable Roland Michener, at which time, he presented a new Canadian Queen’s Colour (in accordance with the changes ordered by the Unification of Canada’s forces and the approval of the new Canadian flag) with the badge of the Regiment centred on Canada’s new maple leaf flag. During the Seventy-fifth Anniversary year of the Regiment, the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Quebec, The Honorable Gilles Lamontagne, PC, CD., on Sunday, May 28th 1989, presented the fourth set of Regimental Colours in Westmount Park.
The Colours rest in a glass case on the north wall of the Officers’ Mess. The Colours are protected on parade by an armed escort consisting of a Warrant Officer and two Sergeants. The Queen’s Colour is carried by the senior subaltern, while the junior most regimental officer carries the Regimental Colour. Colours are saluted by all ranks and are only dipped in the presence of royalty. Once the Colours have been returned to the Officers’ Mess following a parade, the senior subaltern offers refreshments to the Colour party, at which time the Regiment is toasted.
The Regimental parades have, in RMR style, no traditions (pronounced Regimental quiffs seemed to have escaped the Regiment) the Battalion on parade as always, conforms to the RSM’s direction, who in turn, as dozens before him, refer to CFAO’s .
HISTORY OF THE RMR COLOURS:
FIRST SET KING’S COLOUR – REGIMENTAL COLOUR
DONATED BY: Mrs. E.A. Whitehead, Montreal, mother of late Captain E.A. Whitehead (KIA 3 June 1916) and Captain G.V. Whitehead. These Colours were brought from England by Captains H.G. Brewer, M.C., and G.V. Whitehead.
PRESENTED BY: H.R.H. Prince Arthur of Connaught, son of Canada’s Governor General, H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, (1911-1916), and the grandson of the late Queen Victoria.
LOCATION: Uter Eschback, (East of the Rhine River in Westphalia), Germany.
DATE: 4 January 1919.
C. O.: Lieut.-Col. Richard Worral, D.S.O., M.C., 19 April 1918 to 20 April 1919.
RETIRED: Sunday, 21 Oct 1951, and deposited in the Chancel of the Regimental Church; St. Matthias’ Anglican Church, Westmount, Quebec. The Rector was Squadron Leader Reverend Gilbert Oliver, M.C., and the Regimental Chaplain, Major Reverend G.F. Leigh, conducted the service. (C.O. Lieut.-Col J.P.C. Macpherson, M.C., CD.)
REMARKS: This was the first time in the annals of the Canadian Army, or in the much longer history of the British Army, that Colours were presented on foreign conquered soil at the end of a victorious campaign. It is noteworthy that the presentation was made by a Prince of the Royal House (Windsor) of Great Britain.
NOTE: Regimental History – Vol. I, pp 276 & 277.
SECOND SET KING’S COLOUR – REGIMENTAL COLOUR
DONATED BY: The City of Westmount, Quebec. Honorary Colonel His Worship Mr. John Jenkins, Mayor of Westmount. On 8 July 1945, Major J.L. Blue returned from London, bringing from the makers the new Colours to be consecrated and presented.
PRESENTED BY: General H.D.G. Crerar, C.H., C.B., D.S.O., G.O.C.-in-C, 1st Canadian Army.
LOCATION: Amersfoort, (Utrech), Holland.
DATE: 10 July 1945.
C.O.: Major M.A. Willis, E.D.,2 i/c Major Robert Schwob, M.C.
RETIRED: Sunday, 2 May 1965, and deposited in the Nave of the Regimental Church; St. Matthias’ Anglican Church, Westmount. Rector of the Church and Regimental Chaplain, Captain Reverend J.N. Doidge, conducted the service. (C.O. Lieut.-Col. D.W. Ward, E.M., CD.)
REMARKS: So it was that New Colours were presented; this time on foreign liberated soil at the end of another victorious campaign against the identical enemy.
NOTE: Plans for the presentation of new Colours, donated by the City of Westmount, had been inaugurated in 1938. The Colours in question reached Canada from London in 1939, too late to be presented before the Regiment proceeded overseas with the First Canadian Contingent. Forwarded to England, where the Regiment decided that is would be ‘an appropriate repeti-tion of history to have them consecrated and presented on foreign soil when victory had been won, the Colours, while in storage in London, were destroyed in the German blitz. Replacing these were the Colours actually presented to the Regiment by General Crerar in Holland, July 10, 1945.
Regimental History – Vol. II, pp 207-208.
THIRD SET QUEEN’S COLOUR – REGIMENTAL COLOUR
PROVIDED BY: Department of National Defence, Ottawa.
PRESENTED BY: The Governor General and Commander-in-BY Chief, Maj.-Gen. C.P. Vanier, D.S.O., M.C., C.D., LL.D., on the occasion of the Regiment’s 50th Anniversary.
LOCATION: Westmount Park, adjacent to the Armoury.
DATE: Sunday, 20 September 1964.
C.O.: Lieut.-Col. D.W. Ward, E.M., CD. (1963-1966).
SPECIAL NOTE: On Sunday, 9 November 1969, the Queen’s Colour (Union Flag), was replaced by the present Canadian National Flag, at a parade held in the Armoury and in the presence of the Governor General and Commander-in-Chief, the Rt. Hon. D. Roland Michener, PC, CC, CMM, KStJ, CD, QC, MA, DCL, LL.D. This was the third Canadian Regiment to adopt the new Queen’s Colour.
The Union Flag was retired on the occasion of an annual Church Parade to the Regimental Church; St. Matthias’ Anglican Church, Westmount, Quebec, and deposited in the Memorial Chapel, on Sunday, 3 May 1970. The Regimental Chaplain and Rector of the Church, Captain Rev. J.N. Doidge, conducted the service.
The Commanding Officer for both occasions was LCo1 R.C.P. Lawson.
RETIRED: The Queen’s Colour presented in 1969 as well as the Regimental Colour presented in 1964 were laid-up in the Chancel of the Regimental Church; St. Matthias’ Anglican Church, Westmount, Quebec on the occasion of the Regimental Church Parade on Sunday, 28 May 1989. The service was conducted jointly by the church Rector, The Reverend Paul James, and the Regimental Padre, Major The Reverend D.F. Dwyer, CD.
Regimental History, Vol III.
FOURTH SET QUEEN’S COLOUR – REGIMENTAL COLOUR
PROVIDED BY: Department of National Defence, Ottawa.
PRESENTED BY: The Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Quebec, The Honorable Gilles Lamontagne, PC, CD., on the occasion of the Regiment’s 75th Anniversary.
LOCATION: Westmount Park, adjacent to the Armoury
DATE: Trooping of the Colours, Consecration and Presentation of new Colours, Saturday, 27 May 1989 at 13:30 hrs.
CO: LCOL. C.S. Hamel, CD. (1986 – 1989).
Regimental History, Vol III.
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE FOURTH (1989) REGIMENTAL COLOUR
The presentation of new Colours to the Regiment, as part of its 75th Anniversary, was marked by the awarding of an Honorary Distinction to the Regiment. Centered below the Regimental Badge on the Colour is found the badge of The Royal Canadian Armoured Corps, as worn in the 1944-45 era.
The explanation as to why an Infantry regiment should bear another corps crest upon its colour is part and parcel with the war-time history of The Royal Montreal Regiment…
Although mobilized in 1939 as an Infantry (Machine Gun) battalion, part of the first contingent of what was to become the First Canadian Army, the first battalion of the Regiment never saw action in the infantry role. Instead, following over four years of tedious training, the battalion was redesignated as the 32nd Recce Bn of the RCAC. With this dramatic role change, from machine gun trained infantry to armoured recce, the unit worked hard to perfect its newly required skills.
Unfortunately, after nearly a year of training in the recce role, and to the shock of all members of the Regiment, the overseas battalion of the RMR was disbanded on 18 March 1944. Despite the monumental efforts of the senior members and friends of the Regiment, who engineered the Regiment’s survival as the Canadian Army Head-quarters Defence Company, many fine RMR soldiers were “drafted” to other recce units.
These RMR officers and men, well skilled in both infantry and recce, represented the best possible reinforcements that any armoured unit could hope for. In all, RME, personnel served with seven different regiments of the RCAC, and were involved in 29 battle honours awarded to The Canadian Army in the European Theatre! It is also to be noted, sadly, that 39 members of the RMR died in active service with RCAC units.
In commemoration of the dedication and sacrifice of those members of the Regiment who served with the 32nd Recce Regiment, and other armoured units, The Royal Montreal Regiment, with the approval of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, was awarded the Honorary Distinction of having the badge of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps added to the Regimental Colour. This badge, consisting of the Royal Crown superimposed over a First World War tank, with its distinctive rhombus tracks and side sponson, surrounded by a wreath with the single word “CANADA” below, is fitting testimony to the proud service of so many Royal Montrealers with the RCAC.
 With the advent of more advanced weaponry, the long-established custom of carrying the Regimental Colour (or the Colours) in action, ceased. In the Zulu War of 1879, casualties in defence of the Colours of the 24th Foot, (the South Wales Borderers) brought public condemnation on the practice. Two years later, (1881) a similar situation arose for the 58th Foot (the Northamptonshire) Regiment in the engagement at Laing's Nek, Maluba Hill, South Africa. This was the last time the forces of the British Empire that Regimental Colours were carried in action with one exception - the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. Early in May 1915 the PPCLI headquarters were in the front line trenches and it was in that exposed position that the colour was torn by shrapnel and small arms fire. But the inspiration of the Princess's colour to the troops that day 'enabled them to hold out against terrible odds with no support on either of the flanks'.