THE SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS

OF CANADA

The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada are Vancouver’s infantry regiment, based in Vancouver, British Columbia. As a reserve force in the Canadian Forces, The Seaforth Highlanders have served in times of war, humanitarian and disaster relief and in peacemaking efforts abroad, and during times of civil emergency at home.  The Regiment is comprised of volunteer soldiers who offer their time, their commitment to serve, their skills and their ever-lasting dedication to achieving the Canadian freedoms we enjoy today.

Ortona Dinner 2014

About Ortona

From Dec 20-28th 1943, a small sea town in Eastern Italy on the Adriatic Sea witnessed a short, high intensity conflict so fierce, it became known as “Little Stalingrad”, and exposed a new breed of close quarter battle that would influence combat techniques for years to come. The Battle of Ortona, fought between a battalion of elite German paratroopers from the German 1st Parachute Division and the soldiers of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division, of which the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada were a part, would become one of the bloodiest encounters of the Italian campaign.

As with many other battles in the Second World War, the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada under the then command of Lieutenant-Colonel Syd Thomson faced a deeply entrenched enemy. Ortona was particular however, in that very rarely had the Seaforths faced the trials and tribulations of fighting in built-up areas since the invasion of Sicily in the summer of 1943.  To make matters worse, the German paratroopers had more than sufficient time to familiarize themselves with the town’s layout and to develop a resilient defensive strategy.  Facing no other option but to advance and secure the town, it was the open killing grounds on the streets of Ortona that forced the Seaforths to adopt innovative and unpredictable tactics to clear the tightly packed buildings surrounding them. Within a week of fighting, the Seaforths had developed their close quarter battle skills sufficiently enough to measure their advancements in rooms taken and buildings seize, as opposed to mere feet short days before. The skills and experience gained in these battles shaped and developed room and building clearing techniques that are still widely used today.

It became clear, however, that the lack of man power and the difficulty of the task at hand weighed heavily on the troops’ morale.  Sensing despair and exhaustion in the men, Captain D.B. Cameron, the Seaforth Quartermaster took it upon himself to undertake the logistical nightmare of hosting a first class Christmas dinner for the Seaforths in the battered Santa Maria Di Constantinapoli church in the south-east part of town that after being taken, served as the Seaforth’s headquarters. On the evening of the 24th of December, Captain Cameron and his men arranged an elaborate seating plan with white table cloths, soup, pork and Christmas pudding. Each man also received a bottle of beer, fruits, nuts, candies and cigarettes. In order to maintain their aggressive advance, individual companies ate dinner in rotations, each enjoying the festive celebration and then returning to the front to relieve the next.

In December 1943, the Christmas dinner held at the church within the embattled town of Ortona offered the men of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada a short relief from the strain of battle and allowed them, if only for a short time, to relish in the festive spirit of Christmas. Little did Captain Cameron know that Christmas Eve, he had set the foundation for an annual tradition that still is maintained to this day.  Every December, The Seaforths commemorate the battle of Ortona by staging a dinner much the same as the World War 2 original. The menu is similar, and the dinner allows past and serving members of the Seaforths an opportunity to remember and celebrate the accomplishments of their Regiment in one of the most arduous and costly battles of the Second World War.

On 14 December 2014 The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada held to tradition and served up a wonderful dinner to the soldiers of the Unit in commemoration of that original dinner and of the battle where fellow Seaforths fought and died in service to their country and for their fellow Citizens. The menu was the same as it had been in 1943 and it was served in a similar manner to the very first dinner…by the Officers of the unit and of the various Affiliated Cadet Corps who acted as hosts to those in attendance. It was as great turn out by all elements of the Regimental family with over 150 attendees in total.

Ortona Dinner 2012

“From Dec 20-28th 1943, a small sea town in Eastern Italy on the Adriatic Sea witnessed a short, high intensity conflict so fierce, it became known as “Little Stalingrad”, and exposed a new breed of close quarter battle that would influence combat techniques for years to come. The battle of Ortona, fought between a battalion of elite German paratroopers from the German 1st Parachute Division and the soldiers of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division, of which the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada were a part, would become one of the bloodiest encounters of the Italian campaign. As with many other battles in the Second World War, the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada under the then command of Lieutenant-Colonel Syd Thompson faced a deeply entrenched enemy. Ortona was particular however, in that very rarely had the Seaforths faced the trials and tribulations of fighting in built-up areas since the invasion of Sicily in the summer of 1943.

It became clear however, that the lack of man power and the difficulty of the task at hand weighed heavily on the troops’ morale.  Sensing despair and exhaustion in the men, Captain D.B. Cameron, the Seaforth Quartermaster took it upon himself to undertake the logistical nightmare of hosting a first class Christmas dinner for the Seaforths in the battered Santa Maria Di Constantinapoli church in the south-east part of town that after being taken, served as the Seaforth’s headquarters. On the evening of the 24th of December, Captain Cameron and his men arranged an elaborate seating plan with white table cloths, soup, pork and Christmas pudding. Each man also received a bottle of beer, fruits, nuts, candies and cigarettes. In order to maintain their aggressive advance, individual companies ate dinner in rotations, each enjoying the festive celebration and then returning to the front to relieve the next.

In December 1943, the Christmas dinner held at the church within the embattled town of Ortona , offered the men of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada a short relief from the strain of battle and allowed them, if only for a short time, to relish in the festive spirit of Christmas. Little did Captain Cameron know that Christmas Eve, he had set the foundation for an annual tradition that still is maintained to this day.  Every December, “The Seaforths” commemorate the battle of Ortona by staging a dinner much the same as the World War 2 original. The menu is identical, and the dinner allows past and serving members of the Seaforths an opportunity to remember and celebrate the accomplishments of their Regiment in one of the most arduous and costly battles of the Second World War. In December, 2012, the Regiment again commemorated the Battle of Ortona with a Dinner attended by the Regimental family as it has done every year since 1945.”

March Out of The Armoury

With the Seaforth Armoury on Burrard Street undergoing renovations, The Seaforth Highlanders Vancouver Infantry Regiment marched to their temporary headquarters at Jericho Garrison.

The Ceremonial Guard

The Ceremonial Guard (CG) is an annual four to five month summer posting in Ottawa for ceremonial duties (Changing of the Guard on Parliament Hill, Mount Sentries on the National War Memorial, Guard Mount at Rideau Hall, etc.). There is a foot guard, a brass and reed band and a pipe/drum contingent,totaling about 400 members, both reservists and reg force.

The CG pipes and drums have about 24-28 positions available and is competition is high. For each of the last two years, the Seaforths have had six successful candidates participate. There is also an annual military music tattoo called Fortissimo held on Parliament Hill in August. This year we were invited and able to send a contingent of four to augment
the Massed Pipes and Drums.

Our Drum Major, WO Rob Deans, acted as Drum Major for the Massed Pipes and Drums, as well as the Massed Drum Corps portion of the show. We also provided six pipers for the beginning of the 15th Field Band’s set. They were one of the invited guest bands and as we play together a lot here in BC, they incorporated us into their entrance.


Change of Command Ceremony

For years, the Seaforth Highlanders’ commanding officer kept his cellphone with him at all times in case a member of the volunteer reserve regiment was killed in Afghanistan.

Fortunately, Lt.-Col. Paul Ursich never received that call, and as Canada’s mission in Afghanistan ended, so too did his leadership of the 102-year-old regiment.

On Sunday afternoon, Seaforth’s command passed from Ursich to his longtime friend and former cadet trainer, Lt.-Col. Scott Raesler during a ceremony at the regiment’s armoury on Burrard Street in front of about 200 people, including other military personnel, cadets and members of the public.

The change of command was marked by the symbolic passing of the commanding officer’s colours and sword from Ursich to Raesler.

Raesler’s mandate will be different now that the war is over, said Rod Hoffmeister, Seaforth’s honorary major.

The focus turns to “civil defence,” Hoffmeister said. “When the phone rings now, it won’t be someone from Kabul saying you’ve lost a soldier.”

Raesler will also need to ensure there is new blood in the regiment, he said.

The regiment has augmented the Canadian Forces for decades, providing volunteer on-call soldiers and peacekeepers, and fighting natural disasters closer to home.

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Seaforth+Highlanders+change+commanders/6000490/story.html#ixzz1oZAPndyd

Seaforth 100 Centennial Events

Ceilidh – May 29th, 2010

Thanks so much to all who attended our Ceilidh on Saturday, May 29th, 2010.

It has been many, many years since our Armoury has hosted so many friends and families.  The turnout was truly amazing!  Thanks so much to the hundreds of people who popped by the festivities.  From familiar faces and those new friendships made, we hope you enjoyed our traditional Scottish “social” as much as we did.  A full afternoon of pipe and drum bands, highland dancers and highland games, it was such a unique afternoon.

The grand finale saw all participating bands performing together – really quite the thing to see (and hear)!

100th Anniversary – November 27th, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010 The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada celebrated their 100 year anniversary with a free, fun family event – offering lots of entertainment and a regimental parade at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. Our event was a unique celebration of  The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada’s historical milestone.


Freedom of the City Parade and Laying Up of Old Colours

At about 11am, with rain threatening, the Regiment along with a contingent of Cadets, paraded in front of Vancouver City Hall. They were accompanied by an honour guard of Vancouver police including the Mounted Squad all commanded by the Deputy Chief.  The acting CO, Major Scott Raesler, knocked on the door of City Hall to request permission to exercise the Regiment’s right of Freedom of the City. The door was opened by Geoff Meggs, Deputy Mayor. He read the proclamation on behalf of Mayor Robertson confirming the Regiment’s Freedom of the City and proclaiming April 16th Seaforth Highlanders Day. He then inspected the troops. The event was filmed by Global and later reported on the 6pm news. Shaw and Chinese TV also had cameras present.

At noon the Regiment assembled in Christ Church Cathedral to lay up the Old Colours. The 45 minute ceremony was led by Dean Peter Elliott and by Seaforth Padre Jim Short assisted by the Cathedral organ and choir. The highlight of the service was the performance of the tune Highland Cathedral by the Pipes & Drums and the church organ. This can be viewed on You Tube. There was not a dry eye in the congregation when the music ended.

At about 1:15 pm the Regiment assembled on Burrard Street in front of the Cathedral in the sunshine for the march back along Burrard to the Armouries. The Pipes & Drums led the troops along the same route that Seaforths have traveled to and from the two World Wars. The crowds along the street stopped and applauded. People leaned out of their cars taking photos with their iPhones. In 45 minutes, Vancouver’s Infantry Regiment had more exposure to the citizens than at any time in the last decade.

The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada