Christmas dinner served up amidst the firefight during the Battle of Ortona, 1943.

I wasn’t sure what to write for a Christmas blog entry—or if I even really needed to do one—but a documentary link cropped up on my Facebook feed on Christmas Eve, (coming from the Canadian Virtual Military Museum) and got me thinking about Christmases past and how the turmoil back then makes the present-day holiday season feel downright peaceful in comparison.

Sadly, the CBC archives won’t let me imbed the videos onto this update, so I’m left no choice but to simply link to the documentary in the archives.

Return to Ortona (link)

The documentary not only touches on the time of year but dovetails appropriately with my nationality (Canadian), my getting involved in Flames of War and the army I’ve decided to play in the game: the Loyal Edmonton Regiment (as a tribute to my hometown), who were there.

The Battle of Ortona by Gerald Trottier (1925-2004). Oil painting on masonite. This image doesn’t look it, but the painting measures 48 feet wide by 8 feet high. In it, a group of infantrymen assault down an Ortona Street under the covering fire of a tank. Veterans of the battle attest to the accuracy of its imagery.

Being that I’m working on my Flames of War Mid-War Canadians, I’ve been meaning to do a more involved update about the force I’ll be playing. It was back in summer that I hoped to write up enough of a brief(ish) history of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, but that just hasn’t come about…the write up of the framework of the army I plan on fielding has also been curiously  absent these past months.

A Quick History

The regiment that would become the Loyal Edmonton Regiment (affectionately nicknamed, The Loyal Eddies) was raised in 1908 as the 101st Fusiliers: the first local militia in Alberta—Alberta itself having become an actual province in the Dominion of Canada only three years previous.

The outbreak of World War I transformed the local-yokels of the 101st Regiment into the newly-formed 49th Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel W.A. Griesbach. The battalion acquitted itself honourably during the Great War and included  such well-known battles as the Somme, Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele in its honours.

The 1930s, saw militaries everywhere being downsized by peace-time governments and the Edmonton Regiment decided to ally themselves with the British army’s The Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire)—one of the oldest regiments of the British army—to bring extra clout to the regiment (and hopefully stave off further downsizing). In 1943 King George VI granted a name change to reflect that alliance, with the Edmonton Regiment’s name being changed to “The Loyal Edmonton Regiment.” World War II saw the Edmonton Regiment commence combat at the start of the Italian campaign with the invasion of Sicily and continued through 1943 and into 19444 before ultimately transferring to north-western Europe where they finished the war in Holland.

After the war, Great Britain’s The Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) was amalgamated into The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment,effectively dissolving it and thereby making  the Loyal Edmonton Regiment the only regiment in the entire Commonwealth with “Loyal” in its title–a claim the regiment can still hold to this day. 

In Canada, the years after the war saw all other militia-born regiments being amalgamated into regular-force regiments of the Canadian Armed Forces; and the Loyal Eddies were no exception. They were incorporated into the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) as its third battalion shortly after the Korean war (in personnel more than in name). though no longer their own regiment anymore, it was a natural fit for The Loyal Edmonton Regiment as  they had been in the same brigades as the PPCLI in both World Wars: having fought beside each other in so many battles already, the two regiments already  worked together well.

In 1970 Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry expanded further and The Loyal Eddies were officially named as the PPCLI’s fourth battalion that year. The Loyal Edmonton Regiment still serves today as 4 Battalion, PPCLI.

The Colours of The Loyal Edmonton Regiment (4th Battalion, PPCLI) with their battle honours.

My progress on the army itself has been slow and more than a tad sporadic. I’ll get pictures up once I get more on my first infantry platoon done, but Christmas is not a day for work-in-progress shots; it’s a day for being with family and appreciating all the ways we are fortunate.

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah—or whatever holiday you might be celebrating this December 25. Peace on Earth and good will toward men.

Further CBC Archives Documentaries on The Battle of Ortona (if you’re interested).

Road to Ortona

Memories of Ortona

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One Response to Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men.

  1. […] known as the Hasty Ps) during World War II. I learned more than just names of places like Ortona; more importantly, I learned about the Canadian narrative in the Second World War. Upon finishing […]

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