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North Saskatchewan Regiment

Gerry Carline

The North Saskatchewan Regiment, a reserve infantry unit of 38 Canadian Brigade Group, is headquartered in Saskatoon, with a company in Prince Albert. The Regiment has a history going back to the earliest Militia unit in the North-West Territories: No. 1 Company, Prince Albert Mounted Rifles, which was formed in 1879. On January 16, 1880, this unit was granted official status with an establishment of three officers and 42 non-commissioned officers and men. It disbanded in November 1884 but was reactivated in March 1885 as the Prince Albert Volunteers in response to the increasing hostilities exhibited by Métis forces, led by Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont. The Prince Albert Volunteers fought alongside the North-West Mounted Police in the first engagement of the North-West Resistance at Duck Lake. The Battleford Rifle Company, also mobilized in 1885 as a response to Aboriginal unrest in the area, fought under Lieutenant Colonel Otter at the Battle of Cut Knife Creek. With the conclusion of the 1885 Resistance, both these units were demobilized. As a result of its service during the Resistance, the North Saskatchewan Regiment today bears the battle honour “North-Canada 1885” on its regimental colour.

In the period after the Boer War, the militia in Saskatchewan was reorganized; the first militia infantry unit, the 95th Regiment, was formed in April 1905. The regiment formed companies throughout the province, including G Company in Saskatoon and H Company in Prince Albert. The 16th Mounted Rifles were also formed in 1905 and authorized to perpetuate the Battleford Rifle Company of the 1885 Resistance. With the further expansion of the militia in April 1912, the northern companies of the 95th Regiment were expanded to form a separate unit, the 105th Regiment (Fusiliers). In the following year, the militia in Saskatchewan again went through reorganization, and the Saskatoon area companies of the 105th Regiment (Fusiliers) became the 105th Regiment (Saskatoon Fusiliers), while the companies in the Prince Albert area became the 52nd Regiment (Prince Albert Volunteers). It was also at this time that the 105th established its alliance with the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in England. This alliance continues to exist today between the North Saskatchewan Regiment and the 2nd Battalion, Light Infantry.

At the outbreak of World War I, the 52nd Regiment (Prince Albert Volunteers), the 105th Regiment (Saskatoon Fusiliers) and the 16th Light Horse from Battleford provided troops for the 5th (Western Cavalry) Battalion, CEF. The North Saskatchewan Regiment perpetuates the 5th (Western Cavalry) Battalion. A member of the 5th Battalion, Sgt. Raphael L. Zengel, MM, won the Victoria Cross on August 9, 1918. With the end of World War I, the militia in Canada was reorganized. From 1920 to 1924, all infantry units in northern Saskatchewan were organized into the North Saskatchewan Regiment. In 1924 the North Saskatchewan Regiment was broken up into four city-based infantry units: the Saskatoon Light Infantry; the Prince Albert Volunteers; the Battleford Light Infantry; and the Yorkton Regiment. The Saskatoon Light Infantry was to be later designated a machine gun battalion in 1936, when the Canadian Machine Gun Corps was disbanded.

The 1st Battalion Saskatoon Light Infantry (MG) was mobilized for active service on September 1, 1939, and embarked for the United Kingdom on December 8, 1939. It was designated 1st Division Support Battalion (Saskatoon Light Infantry) on May 1, 1943. The Battalion landed in Sicily on July 13, 1943, as part of the 1st Canadian Division. On September 3, 1943, the Battalion landed in Italy, where members of the Saskatoon Light Infantry (MG) fought throughout the remainder of the Italian campaign. The Saskatoon Light Infantry (MG) moved to northwestern Europe on March 4, 1945. Upon return to Canada in October 1945 the 1st Battalion was disbanded. The 1st Battalion, Saskatoon Light Infantry (MG) was the only infantry unit from northern Saskatchewan to have seen active service overseas. The 2nd Battalion, Saskatoon Light Infantry (MG) served in the Reserve Army in Canada. The Prince Albert and Battleford Volunteers had also been placed on active service on September 1, 1939, for local protective duty. The Regiment mobilized the Prince Albert Volunteers on March 5, 1942; this Unit served in Canada until it was disbanded on November 30, 1945.

After World War II, the militia was again reorganized. In 1958, the Prince Albert and Battleford Volunteers and the Saskatoon Light Infantry amalgamated to become the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the North Saskatchewan Regiment. In 1972 the two Battalions amalgamated to form the North Saskatchewan Regiment, with Headquarters and A Company located in Saskatoon, and B Company in Prince Albert. Currently, members of the Regiment have worked with the Regular Force in Germany, Norway, and northern Canada. Personnel from the Regiment have also been called upon to serve in a number of United Nations peacekeeping operations in the Golan Heights, Egypt, Cyprus, Bosnia, and Croatia. The regimental motto is Cede Nullis, “Yield to None.”

John Chaput

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