48th Highlanders of Canada
An Infantry Regiment of Canada's Primary Reserves
The 48th Highlanders have been a reserve (militia) regiment, tasked as infantry and located in the heart of downtown Toronto from its founding in 1891 to the present day. Today the regiment fulfils three roles, as does every regiment in Canada's Reserves. Service to Canadians is the Reserves primary role, linking the civilian lives of each of its soldiers and the location of reserve regiments to communities throughout Canada. Under Canada Command tasking or when called out under "Aide to the Civil Power" 48th Highlanders have served across the breadth and width of our country. In its second role, augmentation to the Regular Forces in locations outside of Canada, members of the 48th continue to serve around the world. Finally, in the event of a declaration of war, the Reserves form a framework for mobilization, as the 48th Highlanders have in the First and Second World Wars.
The Regiment originated on 16 October 1891 when the "48th Battalion (Highlanders)" was authorized as an infantry battalion of the Canadian Militia following entreaties to the government by Scottish societies of Toronto. For Ontario's first kilted regiment, the Davidson tartan was selected in honour of its first Commanding Officer, John Irvine Davidson. A falcon's head from his family crest was incorporated into the distinctive regimental badges. The Gaelic phrase Dileas Gu Brath (Faithful Forever) has been the Regiment's motto since its inception. From 1891 and to this day, scarlet doublets and feathered bonnets, based on historic Scottish infantry uniforms, have identified the 48th Highlanders of Canada on formal parades. Leading them on parade are the Pipes and Drums with the regimental pipers in Stuart of Fingask tartan.
The 48th Highlanders of Canada have earned 49 battle honours in three wars, South Africa - 1, First World War - 21 and Second World War - 27. Eleven of these battle honours are emblazoned on the Regimental Colour: South Africa 1899-1900 and ten each from the First and Second World Wars.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the Regiment's Colonel-in-Chief, accepting the appointment on 1 December 1947 as The Princess Elizabeth. This and two others appointments on that day were the first such accepted by Her Majesty.
The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Following a proposal by General the Earl of Dundonald, General Officer Commanding the Canadian Militia, the 48th Highlanders became allied with The Gordon Highlanders in May 1904. This was the first official alliance in the British Empire. The alliance was solidified with the appointment in 1913 of General Sir Ian Hamilton, GCB, GCMG, DSO, Colonel of the Regiment, The Gordon Highlanders as Honorary Colonel of the 48th Highlanders, a position he held until 1947. The alliance continues today with The Highlanders, now part of The Royal Regiment of Scotland.
48th Highlanders of Canada Cadet Corps
In 1940 48th veterans of the First World War, seeking to benefit the community and the fitness of youth volunteering for military service formed the Rotary Youth Training Corps (Cadet Corps 1625). The corps continues today as the 48th Highlanders Cadet Corps (Cadet Corps 48).
St. Andrew's College Cadet Corps
The Regiment assisted in forming a Cadet Corps in 1905 at St Andrew's College, a prestigious boys' private school located in Aurora Ontario. Today this affiliated Corps has more than 600 members.
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church on King Street in downtown Toronto has been the Regimental church since the 48th Highlander's inception in 1891. The first three Stands of Colours (Queen's and Regimental) are laid up in the church.
The 48th Highlanders Museum, located in St. Andrew's Church, was begun in 1957 by the veterans of the regiment in the club facilities of the Old Comrades. It was moved to St. Andrew's Church to be reopened by Her Majesty the Queen on 29 June 1997. Open to the public, the museum presents the history of the 48th Highlanders through the uniforms and accoutrements of those who served. The volunteer staff also provides research on the Regiment and its former members to descendants of Highlanders and their families.
The 48th Highlanders Association, begun in 1920 by the veterans of the Great War, includes all who served with any unit of the 48th. It encompasses associations for Old Comrades, Sergeants, Officers, Bands, 48th IODE and members of Highlanders' families. Its shared purposes are supporting the active battalion and honouring the memory of those who gave their lives.
Service to Canada: - War Service
South Africa: Immediately on the opening of recruiting offices in Toronto the quotas, limited to just 20 per regiment, were filled. So earnest were Highlanders to serve that many Highlanders travelled by train across southern Ontario to fill open vacancies. The first of at least 116 soldiers of the 48th Highlanders left immediately for South Africa with the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion of The Royal Canadian Regiment. Their service was recognized with the Battle Honour, South Africa 1899-1900.
First World War: The 15th Battalion (48th Highlanders of Canada) went overseas with the first Canadian contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in October 1914 in uniforms paid for by the Regiment as the Regiment's contribution to Canada. For the war the 48th recruited three battalions, the 15th and two reinforcement battalions, the 92nd and 134th, plus companies equal to two more battalions for other units. The 15th Bn faced the first gas attack of the war at the Second Battle of Ypres on 24 April 1915, losing 664 Highlanders, killed, wounded or prisoners of war. The 15th Bn was immediately reinforced and continued fighting until the Armistice. The names of the regiment's 21 Battle Honours including Ypres, the Somme, Passchendaele, Vimy and Amiens are familiar to all Canadians and historians. In all, 1,467 Highlanders were killed in action.
Second World War: The 1st Battalion, 48th Highlanders went overseas in December 1939, again with the first contingent of the Canadian forces, as part of the 1st Brigade of the 1st Division. Training in England was interrupted briefly in 1940 when they were sent by Prime Minister Churchill to France; just two weeks after the Dunkerque evacuation had been completed. The battalion thrust 300 km into enemy-occupied France before being recalled. The Italian campaign began for the 48th at Pachino, Sicily on 10 July 1943. They fought for 18 months in Sicily and up the length of Italy. The 48th battle field successes included breaking the Hitler Line south of Rome, flanking Ortona, overcoming the deep defences of the Gothic and Rimini lines and leading the crossing of the flooded Lamone River in northern Italy. They closed their war in Holland, liberating Apeldoorn in April 1945, having earned 27 Battle Honours. A total of 317 Highlanders were killed in action in Italy and Holland.
Service to Canada: - Under Other Commands
Just as Highlanders volunteered for service in South Africa in 1900, 48th Highlanders have continued to volunteer for service abroad. Since the Second World War, they have served in the Canadian Forces under commitments and combined efforts made through NATO and the United Nations, beginning with the first UN tasking in 1949 with the Military Observation Group in India and Pakistan and continuing today with deployments to Afghanistan. In 1951 the 48th Highlanders raised companies for the UN in Korea with 25 Commonwealth Brigade and for NATO in Germany with 27 Canadian Brigade. Highlanders have been on operations from Kosovo to the Golan Heights and from Sierra Leone to Phnom Penn. Since deployments to Afghanistan began in 2002, a large proportion of today's generation of 48th Highlanders has volunteered to serve in Afghanistan including the Regiment's Padre who followed the standards of the 48th's beloved Second War Padre Stewart B East, MBE MC, Canada's only chaplain twice decorated for gallantry in action. The active regiment now has more soldiers with overseas experience, from private to Commanding Officer, than any time since immediately after the Second World War.
Service to Canada: Canadians at Home
As part of Mobile Command Reserve in the 1960s and 70s the 48th were awarded the Gzowski Trophy five times as Canada's most proficient Militia Infantry unit.
Today's Regiment, a unit of 32 Canadian Brigade Group, reflects the diversity of its own city of Toronto and of Canada. 48th Highlanders of every background proudly serve, Dileas Gu Brath, Faithful Forever.