Monday, April 07, 2008

100 years - The Rocky Mountain Rangers

Although a group of mounted irregulars were formed from cowboys and ranchers during the 1885 Northwest Rebellion, the Rocky Mountain Rangers of that era did not find their way onto the General Service list of the Canadian Militia.

It wasn't until 1898 that organized rifle companies were formed in the British Columbia interior. The cities of Kamloops, Nelson, Kaslo, Rossland and Revelstoke each raised independent rifle companies but were not affiliated with each other.

In 1900 the units were given the name Rocky Mountain Rangers, although each company remained independent and there was no regimental headquarters. At the same time the aggregate of companies provided 19 men for full-time service in the Boer War.

In 1908 with the addition of another company in Nelson, the Rocky Mountain Rangers were formed into the 102nd Regiment, headquartered in Nelson.

During the Great War 1914-1918 the Rocky Mountain Rangers were assigned local protection duties. In 1916 the RMR raised the 172nd Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force which, on arrival in Europe was disbursed among other Canadian units. At wars end the RMR, which had never fought as a whole unit, was awarded battle honours where RMR members had served. Unit colours bear the honours Arras 1917, Hill 70, Ypres 1917, Amiens, Hindenburg Line and Valenciennes.

During the 2nd World War 1939-1945 the RMR were employed as local defence and then coastal defence on the BC coast and Vancouver Island. In 1943, 1st Battalion RMR 13th Infantry Brigade became the core unit of the 16th Canadian Combat Team making the assault on Kiska Island. In 1944 they sailed to Britain in preparation for the assault on fortress Europe. As for the Great War, the battalion was disbursed and over 5000 RMRs fought as members of other Canadian units.

After the 2nd World War the RMR was reverted to reserve status with companies in Kamloops, Prince George, Salmon Arm, Armstrong and Revelstoke, the regimental HQ located in Kamloops. As the years passed the companies of the Rocky Mountain Rangers have declined leaving only the Kamloops company as the regimental standard bearer.

Although listed as a line infantry unit, the Rocky Mountain Rangers colours bear the green facings of a rifle regiment. The regiment exercises freedom in the cities of Kamloops and Salmon Arm, British Columbia.

Members of today's Rocky Mountain Rangers have served in Kosovo and more recently Afghanistan.

On 1 April, 2008, the Rocky Mountain Rangers celebrated their 100th birthday.

Kloshe Nanitch

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