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General Sir William Otter KCMG, CVO Regimental History


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« on: April 24, 2009, 09:46:33 am »

Lieutenant-Colonel William D. Otter (1843-1929)

Commanding Officer, 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry



Boer War Photo, Lieutenant-Colonel William D. Otter, Commanding Officer of the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry in South Africa, November 1899 - November 1900. CWM 19910162-005


Lieutenant-Colonel William D. Otter, Commanding Officer of the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry in South Africa, November 1899 - November 1900.

Otter was the foremost Canadian professional soldier of his day, both in terms of seniority and experience. He began his military career in the militia in Toronto in 1864. In 1866, he served at the battle of Ridgeway where Fenian Irish nationalists from the United States defeated a Canadian force. He joined the Permanent Force infantry when it was established in 1883, and in 1885 commanded the Battleford Column during the Northwest Campaign.

As commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry in South Africa, his no nonsense, no frills approach to soldiering brought him into conflict with the less disciplined ways of his officers and men, most of whom were volunteers from the militia or from civilian life. Otter was uncompromising, his convictions having been set by his memory of young militiamen fleeing in panic at Ridgeway. He was grimly determined that Canadian troops would not again fall into confusion on the battlefield.

Otter was steady and courageous under fire. However unpopular with his men, his 'austere professionalism' got results. The 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry was considered by many British officers to be the best infantry battalion in South Africa.

He became the first Canadian-born officer to command this country's military, and he retired in 1910 as General Sir William Otter KCMG, CVO. During the First World War he came out of retirement to command operations for the internment of enemy nationals resident in Canada.

More about the Boer War here.

http://www.museedelaguerre.ca/cwm/exhibitions/boer/boerwarhistory_e.shtml
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2009, 09:55:45 am »

FYI

Canada & The South African War, 1899-1902

The South African War (1899-1902) or, as it is also known, the Boer War, marked Canada's first official dispatch of troops to an overseas war.

In 1899, fighting erupted between Great Britain and two small republics in South Africa. (See map) The two republics, settled by Boers, descendants of the region's first Dutch immigrants, were not expected to survive for long against the world's greatest power. Pro-Empire Canadians nevertheless urged their government to help. The war, they argued, pitted British freedom, justice, and civilization against Boer backwardness.

While many English-Canadians supported Britain's cause in South Africa, most French-Canadians and many recent immigrants from countries other than Britain wondered why Canada should fight in a war half way around the world. Concerned with maintaining national stability and political popularity, Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier did not want to commit his government. Yet the bonds of Empire were strong and public pressure mounted. As a compromise, Laurier agreed to send a battalion of volunteers to South Africa.

Over the next three years, more than 7,000 Canadians, including 12 women nurses, served overseas. They would fight in key battles from Paardeberg to Leliefontein. The Boers inflicted heavy losses on the British, but were defeated in several key engagements. Refusing to surrender, the Boers turned to a guerrilla war of ambush and retreat. In this second phase of fighting, Canadians participated in numerous small actions. Gruelling mounted patrols sought to bring the enemy to battle, and harsh conditions ensured that all soldiers struggled against disease and snipers' bullets.

Imperial forces attempted to deny the Boers the food, water and lodging afforded by sympathetic farmers. They burned Boer houses and farms, and moved civilians to internment camps, where thousands died from disease. This harsh strategy eventually defeated the Boers.

Of the Canadians who served in South Africa, 267 were killed and are listed in the Books of Remembrance. The Canadian government claimed at the time that this overseas expedition was not a precedent. History would prove otherwise. The new century would see Canadians serve in two world wars, the Korean War, and dozens of peacekeeping missions.

http://www.museedelaguerre.ca/cwm/exhibitions/boer/boerwarhistory_e.shtml
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1977-1RCR  Italy PL, B Coy, Mortars
                   Pioneers, Delta Coy
                   CFB London

1979-3RCR  M Coy 12C,  Sigs, Pipes&Drums
                   Mortars
                   CFB Baden WG

1982 1RCR  Mortars 51B, Dukes, BBC (Cyp)
                   Mortars, WO-Sgts Mess,
                   CFB London

2008            President. Niagara Branch
                   The Royal Canadian Regiment
                           Association

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