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Message from the Outgoing RSM, CWO Neal Porter

October 9, 2018

I want to start by thanking all those who were part of the parades in March for the Latvian Army Commander[1] and for the transfer of command authority for Ceremonial Guard (CG).  We had numerous members who either enabled the parades and/or were on the parades themselves.  Everyone conducted themselves with the utmost professionalism and I greatly appreciate how all of you incorporated these important ceremonial activities into your personal and professional lives and your current unit commitments.  Worthy of particular note in relation to the Latvian parade were Cpl Diana Farnand, who coordinated the tracking of individual availability and kitting, and the teams in the GGFG and CG Quartermaster Stores, who ensured necessary equipment was available and fitted.

 

 

The success of these parades was echoed in May when the Regiment and The Canadian Grenadier Guards (CGG) provided a Guard of Honour for the Chief of Staff Swedish Army.  The LCC also led a team from the Regiment to discuss reserve issues with the Swedish contingent and members from Canadian Army Headquarters.[2]  Echoing a scenario from the 1965 The Canadian Guardsman, members of the Regiment went from their annual Individual Battle Task Standards (IBTS) exercise in Petawawa straight into final kitting and rehearsals for the parade.

 

 

The Canadian Guardsman, 1965 edition, p. 17

 

Congratulations are due to members of the Regiment who were recognized during the parade on 27 March 2018.  This included Capt Allison Grella, Lt Stefan Sikorski, and Cpl Patrick Trahan who received their Canadian Forces’ Decorations; Corporal Anne Gregory received a Lieutenant Colonel Commanding’s commendation for being the initiator and leader of the Regimental Running Team, while Corporal Joshua McGrath received one for his exceptional support to the Regiment’s infantry, ceremonial and administrative tasks; and Cpl Jack Erdmann was awarded ‘the Stick’. 

 

Congratulations as well to Rct Jesse Whatley who was recognized as the Top Candidate on his Basic Military Qualification course during its graduation parade on 7 April 2018.  May 2018 saw the promotion of Sgt Jermaine Ankamah-Modzabi and the Regimental Smoker on 12 June was the opportunity to present the Canadian Forces’ Decoration to Cpl Melissa Jérôme. 

 

At the smoker, it was announced by the LCC that Cpl Diana Farnand had been selected by the Regiment’s NCOs as the recipient of the Erno Kiss Memorial Plaque, meaning that she was recognized for her outstanding effort in achieving the qualities of excellence, devotion to duty, discipline, and cooperation expected of a Guardsman.  The LCC also recognized Cpl Daniel Desgroseilliers as the winner of the Erno Kiss 100-metre dash.  Maj Andrew Spencer was also rewarded with the LCC’s Challenge Cup as the top shot for that particular match during the May IBTS weekend (which had some black bear excitement but that’s another story).   In other marksmanship news, Cpl Patrick Lopez is with the CF Bisley Team in the United Kingdom this May-June and MCpl Colin Muldoon and Cpl Patrick Fortin were at the Australian Army Skill at Arms Meet (AASAM) this past April-May.  Finally, best wishes to CWO Don Reid and welcome to CWO Brett Perry on the change of appointment of CG RSM that occurred on 7 June 2018.

 

Sgt Sean Gagnon gives orders on the bus trip out to the staging area.

 

The ice storm we had in Ottawa this winter was a timely reminder of the 20th anniversary of the January 1998 Ice Storm, when over several days up to 100 mm of ice fell across Eastern Canada and caused 35 fatalities and affected millions of Canadians as multiple communities declared disaster situations and grappled with widespread power outages.  In the largest peace-time deployment in Canadian history, named Operation RECUPERATION, nearly 16,000 Canadian Armed Forces personnel provided humanitarian assistance as part of the larger relief effort. 

 

Over 160 members of the Regiment deployed east of Ottawa and created long-standing relationships with the communities in which assistance was provided.  Long-lasting relationships were formed with communities such as Casselman, Avonmore, Finch, Crysler, Moose Creek, and St-Albert and the Regiment was later granted the privilege whenever it proceeds within the Township of North Stormont of marching with its drums beating, its Colours flying, and its bayonets fixed.  Training events often occurred in this area in later years, including Y2K preparations.

 

In resuming the history of the 2nd Battalion, 1918 found the battalion returning to full strength and going into the front line near Lens and then subsequent rotations, patrols, and training (including on how to cooperate with tanks).  The expected German offensive coincided with the Battalion going into the line in the Hill 70 Sector on 20 March 1918.  Nothing was noted as out of place that night; however, a great German bombardment began the next morning and was followed by an assault on the Allied trenches, with the attack on the 2nd Battalion being classed as a raid.  This included German soldiers who managed to get into the Battalion’s front-line. 

 

Key to the Battalion’s defence was the work of its Lewis gunners (ie machine gunners) and bombers (ie grenadiers).  The Battalion history particularly praises Pte GS Eastwood, who led No 6 Platoon’s machine gun crew, for how he arranged the rest of his team in the defence and how he personally was able to clear a stoppage on their Lewis Gun and get it back into action.  Similarly, Cpl RJ Lynch’s gun team was killed in the bombardment but he continued to fire his Lewis Gun, inflicting heavy casualties despite being wounded himself.  By the time it was relieved on the night of 23 March, the Battalion’s casualties were 12 killed or died of wounds, 30 wounded, and four missing.  At the end of the month, the Battalion was moved towards Arras by bus, but endured a long trip with conflicting orders due to the changing situation at the front from the larger German offensive. 

 

Memories of Ypres 1915 were evident, as the Battalion history notes the same experience of refugees blocking the roads and the uncertainty of what awaited in moving into an unfamiliar area (this time east of Arras) where it was not even known if they would find a front line at their objective.  The Battalion moved into position on Telegraph Hill and began to dig in, noting that the Germans a few hundred yards away also did not seem to know exactly where the Allied troops were.  10 members were killed and 26 wounded the day the Hill was occupied and before trenches could be sufficiency constructed for protection. 

 

Returning to the present, members of the Regiment will now have made their plans for the summer or already departed on summer task.  Those members thinking of taking leadership training starting in fall 2018 should speak to Sgt Dom Kowlessar now to signal their interest and to be briefed on how they can prepare themselves over the summer.

A special thank you is due to Sgt Simon Huang and Sgt Dave Turner-Bob for organizing Master Corporals’ Night on 16 March 2018.  A spirited hockey game was followed by professional development and games in the Sergeants’ Mess.  A special congratulations to MCpl Samantha Williams-Hamaoui for receiving the Master Corporal of the Year award, as voted by the Regiment’s CSgts/WOs and Sgts.  MCpl Williams-Hamaoui has been heavily engaged in rifle company and ceremonial activities and is also the President of the Junior Ranks’ Mess Committee.

 

CWO Neal Porter, Sgt Kevin Smith, CWO Chris Mielke (ret’d), CSgt Trevor Thomlinson

 

A significant award was presented to Sgt Kevin Smith on the 8th of May.  This was the Mielke Award for the NCO most respected amongst his or her peers.  CWO Chris Mielke first presented this trophy to the Sergeants’ Mess at his mugging out on 7 March 2003 with the intent that it be awarded to members of the Sergeants’ Mess who should be acknowledged by their peers for actions or contributions worthy of recognition and remembrance that generally would go unrecorded.  Members who are awarded this honour have their names engraved on the trophy and the full nomination is put in the Mielke Award Book, which is the historical reference as to the “why and what for” the award was given.  This year the Mess was pleased to invite CWO Mielke (ret’d) to the presentation.  CSgt Trevor Thomlinson nominated Sgt Smith for being an extremely competent, professional and capable Senior NCO, as well as a valued member of the Sergeants’ Mess.  As the recruiting NCO, Sgt Smith has worked tirelessly processing applicants and running Force testing and, as a Mess member, he is valued for his knowledge of the business of the Mess as well sustaining Mess traditions. 

 

The Sergeants’ Mess is preparing for a full year ahead and would like to stay connected to past members.  Please ensure we have your up-to-date information by contacting wo1keatingclub@gmail.com .  We are also continuing to build our collection of photographs of past Regimental Sergeants Major and would appreciate additional photos that would be suitable to build a similar collection of official photographs as the Regiment has for Lieutenant Colonels Commanding. 

 

Speaking of that matter, on 5 June I handed over the appointment of Sergeant Major to CWO Guy Doucette.  We were both sworn in by Ensign Rob Foster on the same day, so I can confidently say I have known him my entire military career plus or minus a few minutes.  I wish to thank all members of the Regiment and the Regimental family for the support you have given me and to each other over the past three years in particular.  I have greatly appreciated your dedication and willingness to ensure that the Regiment was ready for any task.  I know that you will continue to support each other in the years to come and uphold the finest customs and traditions of the regiment.

 

 GGFG recruits of fall 1991

 

 

A number of Sergeants-Major attended the parade on 5 June (L-R):  Capt Kevin Carleton (2006 to 2009); CWO Chris Mielke (ret’d) (1996 to 1999); CWO David Snyder (2012 to 2015); CWO Guy Doucette; CWO Arthur McKenzie (2009 to 2012); CWO Neal Porter (2015 to 2018); Capt Brian Lypps (ret’d) (1999 to 2002); Maj Morgan Hladik (2002 to 2006) [not pictured].

 

 

[1] https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/news/2018/03/canadian-army-hosted-commander-of-latvian-land-force.html

 

[2] https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/news/2018/05/canadian-army-hosted-chief-of-staff-swedish-army.html

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