Notes on the Lineage of The Rocky Mountain Rangers

 

by M. Vincent Bezeau

 

The Rocky Mountain Rangers originated in five independent infantry companies formed in 1898 along the Canadian Pacific Railway through the Rocky Mountains and down the Kootenay Valley toward the American border. In 1908 and 1909, the companies, along with a sixth newly-formed one, amalgamated to form the 102 nd Regiment, Rocky Mountain Rangers. This proved too widespread for effective coordination, and the Kootenay Valley companies became non-effective in 1911. In 1912, the regiment amalgamated with an independent company originally formed in 1908 in Armstrong in the Okanagan Valley , and the Kootenay companies disbanded for reorganization. The regimental companies which remained after these changes - two in Kamloops and one each in Revelstoke and Armstrong, along the main railway line and into the Okanagan - were sequentially joined by others in Kelowna in 1913 and Salmon Arm, Vernon and Penticton in 1914 to form a then-standard eight-company organization. The regiment's Okanagan territory overlapped that of the 1 st , later 30 th Regiment, British Columbia Horse (now The British Columbia Dragoons), which then stretched from Enderby to Kelowna , and east of Vernon to Lumby.

 

After the First World War, the militia regiments reorganized on more modern lines. The 102 nd , redesignated The Rocky Mountain Rangers, became a four-company regiment headquartered in Kamloops, with companies in Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Armstrong, and Kelowna. The latter relocated to Revelstoke in 1928, returning the regiment to an earlier geographic coverage.

 

The regiment raised an active-service battalion during the Second World War, originally on west coast defence. It was sent to fight Japanese troops occupying Kiska Island in Alaska - the Japanese withdrew before the American-Canadian assault landing - then transferred to England for reinforcement and training duties. A second battalion, much expanded to cover a larger area, served in the reserve army.

 

After the war, the regiment shrank back to its prewar size, re-deploying one company to Prince George further up BC's central plateau. The recruiting area of the regiment fluctuated over the next two decades, until large army reserve reductions gradually reduced the regiment to its headquarters location of Kamloops .

 

Date

Titles and locations

Comments

1 Jul 1898

Independent companies

Rossland Rifle Company

Nelson Rifle Company

Kamloops Rifle Company

Kaslo Rifle Company

Revelstoke Rifle Company

Five independent rifle companies authorized, named after their locations. [GO 67/1898]

'Rifle' versus 'infantry' company: these titles reflect an earlier tactical difference, but by the end of the 19 th Century the differences had disappeared and equipment and employment were the same.

1 Jan 1900

Independent companies of Rocky Mountain Rangers [see comments]

No. 1 Company - Rossland

No. 2 - Nelson

No. 3 - Kamloops

No. 4 - Kaslo

No. 5 - Revelstoke

The independent rifle companies were numbered as part of a newly designated 'corps' (or body of troops) of Rocky Mountain Rangers. [GO 130/1899] There was no corps or regimental headquarters.

1 Mar 1907

A Company - Rossland

B - Nelson

C - Kamloops

D - Kaslo

E - Revelstoke

Independent companies redesignated from numerals to letters. [GO 29/1907]

1 Apr 1908

102 nd Regiment

HQ - Nelson

A - Rossland

B - Nelson

C - Nelson

D - Kaslo

 

Rocky Mountain Rangers

C - Kamloops

E - Revelstoke

Formed by the amalgamation of A, B, and D Companies and a newly formed fourth company (C Company) in Nelson. [GO 59/1908 & 123/1908]

 

 

 

 

Kamloops and Revelstoke companies remained as independent companies of Rocky Mountain Rangers.

1 Jun 1908

Company of Infantry - Armstrong

Independent company of infantry authorized - no further designation or 'corps' affiliation. [GO 119/1908]

1 Jun 1909

102 nd Regiment, Rocky Mountain Rangers

HQ - Nelson

A - Rossland

B - Nelson

C - Nelson

D - Kaslo

E - Kamloops

F - Revelstoke

Amalgamation and redesignation of the 102 nd Regiment and the two independent companies of Rocky Mountain Rangers. [GO 73/1908 & 75/1908]

1 Mar 1912

G - Armstrong

Amalgamation with the independent Company of Infantry in Armstrong to form a seven-company regiment. [GO 40/1912]

1 May 1912

HQ - Nelson

A - Kamloops

G - Armstrong

The four companies in Rossland, Nelson, Kaslo, and Revelstoke disbanded for the purposes of re-organization. [GO 83/1912]

 

The four companies had resigned and become non-effective in 1911. [Upton, "Rocky Mountain Rangers," 26 th Report of the Okanagan Historical Society , p78-79.]

3 Sep 1912

HQ - Kamloops

A - Kamloops

B - Kamloops

C - Armstrong

D - Revelstoke

Re-organization and company redesignations. HQ moved to Kamloops . Two new companies formed: B - Kamloops , and D - Revelstoke. [GO 157/1912, 158/1912, & 159/1912]

15 Aug 1913

E - Kelowna

New company formed. [GO 180/1913]

16 Mar 1914

F - Salmon Arm

New company formed. [GO 42/1914]

10 Aug 1914

 

Regiment placed on active service for First World War local protection duties. [Army Historical Section, The Regiments and Corps of the Canadian Army: Volume I of the Canadian Army List , 1964, p217.]

15 Sep 1914

G - Vernon

New company formed. [GO 150/1914]

15 Dec 1914

H - Penticton

New company formed. [GO 202/1914]

 

There were now eight companies in the regiment, the standard peacetime organization. The regiment kept that organization through 1919, although overseas battalions changed to four, double-sized companies in the First World War.

6 Jan 1916

 

172 nd Overseas Battalion, CEF, organized. [GO 69/1916] This order, dated 15 Jul 1916, placed the battalion on active service from the date of its organization, and mobilization was authorized 6 Jan 1916. [PAC, RG24, Vol. 1398, 593-6-2 ]

"CEF" is the abbreviation for "Canadian Expeditionary Force," the full-time force raised for overseas service during the First World War.

19 Feb 1916

 

CEF battalion redesignated: 172 nd Overseas Battalion (Rocky Mountain Rangers). [AG to DOC MD 11, 19 Feb 1916, PAC, RG24, Vol. 1585, 683-244-1]

1 Jan 1917

 

172 nd Battalion reduced to nil strength. Personnel amalgamated with the personnel of 11 th Battalion Canadian Mounted Rifles to form the 24 th Reserve Battalion ( British Columbia ), CEF. [CROs 198, 271; 24 th Res Bn War Diary, reel T-10768]

17 Jul 1917

 

172 nd Battalion, CEF, disbanded. [PCO 1895/17 in CRO 2174 and GO 82/1918]

 

Perpetuated by The Rocky Mountain Rangers. [Charles H Stewart, "Overseas" The Lineages and Insignia of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919 , 1970, p77.]

15 Mar 1920

The Rocky Mountain Rangers

Regiment redesignated. [GO 30/1920]

 

Re-organized on a four-company basis. ["Rocky Mountain Rangers," Okanagan Historical Society 26 th Report , p.80.] The detailed timings; dates of the loss of the Revelstoke, Vernon and Penticton companies (see below); and the change in company designations (with its seniority implications) are not yet documented.

A second 'reserve' battalion was authorized

 

In 1920, "active" regiments or battalions were the formed and trained units of the Non-Permanent Active Militia (NPAM - the long-standing, part-time army, composed of units such as The Rocky Mountain Rangers), or the Permanent Active Militia (the small regular or Permanent Force). "Reserve" regiments and battalions were new "paper" organizations of sedentary militia - essentially a list of those willing to be kept on a nominal role. There was no limit to the number of personnel enrolled in the reserve units. [GO 185/1920] Reserve Militia units were disbanded before the Second World War, though individuals could be held on a Supplementary Reserve List of those who agreed to be called upon if needed.

In the Second World War, "reserve" regiments and battalions were non-permanent or part-time ones - that is, a reserve for the regular or Active Force. See comments in the 1940s below. Later in the century, these were once again called the "Militia," the current formal title of the Canadian Forces' army reserve.

1 Mar 1922

HQ - Kamloops

A - Kamloops

B - Salmon Arm

C - Armstrong

D - Kelowna

GO 43/1922 organization.

1 Aug 1928

D - Revelstoke

Company relocation. [GO 146/1928]

15 Dec 1936

HQ - Salmon Arm

HQ relocation. [GO 168/1936]

6 Oct 1937

HQ - Kamloops

HQ relocation back. [GO 182/1937]

Headquarters Company remained in Salmon Arm. ["Rocky Mountain Rangers," Okanagan Historical Society 26 th Report , p81.]

26 Aug 1939

 

Details called out for local protective service. Details of The British Columbia Dragoons were attached - see that regiment's lineage chart. [Army Headquarters Report No.3 "The Employment of Infantry in the Pacific Coast Defences (Aug 39 to Dec 43)," para 11 and footnote 13]

1 Sep 1939

 

Details called out were put on active service. [ Regiments and Corps , p218.] Mobilized on a special home war establishment (WE) of approximately half WE strength, though this fluctuated greatly. ["Infantry in the Pacific Coast Defences," paras 14, 18, 20.]

 

Employed on vulnerable point protection. Vulnerable point guards were reduced when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police took over much of this task in November and December 1939. ["Infantry in the Pacific Coast Defences," para 18.] Regimental strength was also drained by drafts to other units. One chronicler noted that, by 31 December 1939, the active regiment was down to 11 officers and 60 other ranks and reverted to NPAM status. [Upton, "Rocky Mountain Rangers," 26 th Report of the Okanagan Historical Society, p81.] However, this organizational statement must be confirmed. The NPAM or reserve portion of the unit continued throughout the war no matter what the status of active components raised by the regiment, and it is not clear that all regimental components officially changed status. See, for example, 20 June 1940 below.

 

"Active service" was continuous service under Section 64 of the Militia Act, which allowed for the creation of a "Canadian Active Service Force" (CASF) for war. [CP Stacey, Six Years of War (Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1966), p42-43.]

20 Jun 1940

[See comments]

Active service details authorized to mobilize to full war establishment. ["Infantry in the Pacific Coast Defences," para 22.] The regiment received this authority 21 June. [Upton, "Rocky Mountain Rangers," Okanagan Historical Society 26 th Report , p82.] It had previously been told to organize two companies for coast defence [ Kelowna Courier , 13 Jun 1940], which would have been about half WE. However, it only had a reported strength of 1 officer and 18 other ranks on 20 June as it recruited to replace The British Columbia Regiment on guard duty in the Vancouver Area. ["Infantry in the Pacific Coast Defences," para 20.]

 

The active battalion mobilized to full strength in camps at Kamloops , Salmon Arm, and Revelstoke. It left for New Westminster on 2 Oct 1940, the first of many wartime moves, including a 4-day stop in Kamloops in Aug 1941. [Upton, "Rocky Mountain Rangers," Okanagan Historical Society 26 th Report , p82.]

 

While the active battalion mobilized, trained, and prepared to leave, the reserve unit - called the 2 nd Battalion, The Rocky Mountain Rangers, Non-Permanent Active Militia (2 nd Bn, RM Rang, NPAM - see also next note) - remained and recruited to a newly-authorized full strength. Recruiting for the 2 nd Bn was to be in Kamloops , Revelstoke, Salmon Arm, Vernon , and Kelowna . [ Kelowna Courier , 10 and 25 Jul 1940]

Company designations are not clear since headquarters records did not always differentiate between co-located active companies and NPAM companies in Kamloops , or clarify the status of the company in the small community of Armstrong. Some notes:

A Company, 2 nd Bn, RM Rang, NPAM, was in Vernon and began training ca. Sep 1940. [ The Vernon News , 6 Nov 1941, p1]

B Company was in Salmon Arm in Nov 1940. [ The Vernon News , 28 Nov 1940, p12]

C Company was reported as being from Revelstoke-Salmon Arm [ Kelowna Courier , 12 Sep 1940], but that might reflect a temporary combination for camp training or an error (see below). This needs to be confirmed.

D Company was in Kelowna . Recruiting for it was underway in Jul 1940. [ Kelowna Courier , 10 and 25 Jul 1940]

The titles and locations of the other components, such as platoons, are uncertain. The RM Rang NPAM companies in the NPAM camp held in September were from Kamloops , Revelstoke-Salmon Arm, Armstrong, Vernon , and Kelowna . [ Kelowna Courier , 12 Sep 1940]

 

The use of the term "active" was made more explicit on 19 November 1940 by dropping the historic terms Canadian Militia, Permanent Active Militia (the Permanent Force) and Non-Permanent Active Militia. These were replaced by the title The Canadian Army, with units embodied for continuous service being "Active" and all others - the old NPAM - being "Reserve". [CP Stacey, Six Years of War (Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1966), p89.] Thus, later references to the reserve unit as 2 nd Bn, RM Rang (Res). [ The Vernon News , 24 Apr 1941, p1.]

1 Jan 1941

 

The Rocky Mountain Rangers, CASF, mobilized. [ Regiments and Corps , p218.] A change in status for the battalion already on active service.

Aug 1941

[See comments]

2 nd (Reserve) Battalion, The Rocky Mountain Rangers reorganized. [GO 194/1941]

 

The GO gave authorized company and platoon locations as follows, with variation from locations authorized by the last pre-war GO noted in brackets:

Bn HQ - Kamloops , less one platoon in Ashcroft (headquarters company previously authorized in Salmon Arm - see 1936 and 1937)

A - Cranbrook , less two platoons in Kimberley and Fernie (company previously authorized in Kamloops - see 1922)

B - Revelstoke, less one platoon in Michel from 1 Oct 1942 (company previously authorized in Salmon Arm - see 1922)

C - Salmon Arm, less one platoon in Enderby (company previously authorized in Armstrong - see 1922)

D - Trail, less two platoons in Rossland and Nelson (company previously authorized in Revelstoke see 1928)

 

The transition from the existing 2 nd Battalion to its new organization needs more research. Preliminary information follows.

A Company, Vernon , disbanded ca. 3 Nov 1941. [Turned in all kit and awaited further instructions on 3 Nov, reported as disbanded with some personnel transferred to the other reserve unit in Vernon , A Squadron, The British Columbia Dragoons, by 27 Nov. The Vernon News , 6 Nov 1941, p1, and 27 Nov 1941, p1]

D Company, Kelowna , disbanded ca. 6 Nov 1941. [Ordered on 5 Nov to turn in all kit. No mention of it in newspapers thereafter. Kelowna Courier , 6 Nov 1941, p1; 13 Nov 1941, p1.]

The Armstrong company ceased to exist in late 1941 - no mention of it at Remembrance Day parade, 11 Nov - though some element was re-established in Apr 1942. [ Armstrong Advertiser , 13 Nov 1941, p1; 16 Apr 1942, p4.]

 

Some context: reserve brigade groups were formed throughout Canada in January 1942 with the aim of providing tactical reserves. Number 39 (Reserve) Brigade Group was formed in Militia District 11, ie, BC. The roles of reserve units in Pacific Command were:

Primary role - defence of their home stations;

Secondary role - protection of road and rail communications in their areas of responsibility;

Tertiary role - use as a separate brigade group in the defence of the Pacific Coast if so ordered. ["Infantry in the Pacific Coast Defences," paras 91-92]

The industrial plants and power installations at Trail were identified as essential vulnerable points and were protected by a company of The Veterans Guards of Canada. ["Infantry in the Pacific Coast Defences," paras 28, 37, and 108.] The local reserve unit there was artillery, the 24 th (Reserve) Field Regiment, RCA.

The RM Rang reorganization placed infantry near the industrial vulnerable points and along the main and southern CPR lines.

1 Nov 1944

 

The Rocky Mountain Rangers, CASF, redesignated: 1 st Canadian Infantry Training Battalion, Type A (Rocky Mountain Rangers), CASF. [ Regiments and Corps , p218.]

5 Jul 1945

 

1 st Canadian Infantry Training Battalion redesignated: No. 9 Canadian Repatriation Depot, Type T, CASF. [ Regiments and Corps , p218.]

28 Jan 1946

 

No. 9 Canadian Repatriation Depot disbanded. [ Regiments and Corps , p218.]

1 Apr 1946

[See comments]

HQ - Kamloops

A - Prince George

B - Salmon Arm

C - Armstrong

D - Revelstoke

Reserve unit redesignated The Rocky Mountain Rangers. This dropped the wartime title "Reserve", which had previously applied.

Dates for formation, relocation, and redesignation of individual companies are not yet documented. The organization and locations shown in the column to the left are those in 1948. ["The Canadian Army List, 1 st Edition, Part II - Reserve Force," 1 Jul 1948]

Ca. 1949

RHQ, HQ Coy & Sp Coy - Kamloops

A - Prince George

B - Revelstoke

C - Salmon Arm

D - Armstrong

12 Platoon, D Company, was in Enderby.

Dates for the formation, relocation, and redesignation of individual companies are not yet documented. [RM Rang Annual Historical Report]

1952

B - Whitehorse , Yukon

Company relocation from Revelstoke. [RM Rang Annual Historical Report]

1952

 

7 Platoon, C Company, organized in Revelstoke.

9 Platoon, C Company, in Chase

Mortar Platoon, Support Company, in Merrit

[RM Rang Annual Historical Report]

1953

 

7 Platoon in Revelstoke redesignated 9 Platoon; and 9 Platoon in Chase became 7 Platoon. [RM Rang Annual Historical Report]

Ca. 1955

B - [inactive]

Whitehorse company became inactive. [RM Rang Annual Historical Report]

1 May 1956

 

Platoon formed in Williams Lake . [ Kamloops Sentinel , 4 May 1956, copy in File 8-15, TB Upton files, RM Rang Archives]

1956

 

3 Platoon, A Company, in Quesnel.

4 Platoon, B Company - the only part of B Company still active (see 1955) - in Williams Lake .

9 Platoon in Revelstoke redesignated 7 Platoon; and 7 Platoon in Chase became 9 Platoon.

Pioneer Platoon established in Lytton.

[RM Rang Annual Historical Report; SD 1 letter 58/64, 15 Sep 1958]

 

Regimental locations in May 1956:

Prince George , Quesnel, Williams Lake , Lytton, Merritt, Kamloops , Chase, Salmon Arm, Armstrong, Enderby, Revelstoke, Beaton. [ Kamloops Sentinel , 4 May 1956, File 8-15, TB Upton files, RM Rang Archives]

1958

 

4 Platoon relocated to Kamloops .

9 Platoon, in Chase, relocated to Salmon Arm.

12 Platoon relocated from Enderby to rest of D Company in Armstrong.

Pioneer Platoon relocated to Kamloops .

[RM Rang Annual Historical Report; SD 1 letter 58/64, 15 Sep 1958]

1959

D - Revelstoke

Company headquarters relocated.

7 Platoon, in Revelstoke, relocated to Armstrong.

[RM Rang Annual Historical Report]

1960

 

3 Platoon in Quesnel redesignated 4 Platoon.

After fire gutted Armstrong armoury, 7 Platoon temporarily housed in newly-empty Enderby armoury.

[RM Rang Annual Historical Report]

24 Feb 1964

 

4 Platoon in Quesnel reduced to nil strength and made dormant. [Army HQ HQC 2001-603/R8 (SD 1A) 26 Feb 1964]

1965

HQ - Kamloops

A - Prince George

B - Kamloops

C - Salmon Arm

D - Revelstoke

Sp Coy - Kamloops

Regt Band - Prince George

Regimental locations after Suttie Committee in 1964, and subsequent adjustments.

4 Platoon relocated on paper to parent B Company, Kamloops .

Mortar Platoon, Support Company, in Merritt.

Dates for organization of the band are not yet determined. [Band locations noted in CFOO 65/3 CFHQ F 5050-0003/1 (DO), 26 May 1965]

7 Platoon relocated from Armstrong to Salmon Arm. [SD 1 letter 64/53, 26 Nov 1965 - BC Area]

1 Apr 1968

 

Mortar Platoon relocated to parent Support Company in Kamloops . [CFOO 68/8, CFHQ F 1901-0003/1 (DO) 28 Feb 1968]

1970

HQ - Kamloops

A - Kamloops

B - Revelstoke

 

Former A Company and Regimental Band in Prince George , and C Company in Salmon Arm, all reduced to nil strength. [Reference for band only: not included on the list of authorized bands in CFOO 70/10, 1 May 1970.]

Regimental locations only in Kamloops and Revelstoke. Companies redesignated accordingly.

["The Reserve Army (The Militia) in Southeastern British Columbia ," on www-site members.tripod.com/apollon_2/100Years/Post54, 23 Oct 2001]

4 Jul 1978

HQ - Kamloops

A - Kamloops

B - Salmon Arm

B Company relocated from Revelstoke to Salmon Arm. [Milarea Vancouver Log C216 262215Z Jul 78, copy in RM Rang Annual Historical Report, 1979]

1998

HQ - Kamloops

A - Kamloops

B Company relocated from Salmon Arm to Kamloops , but unorganized and at nil strength. ["The Reserve Army Southeastern British Columbia ," on www-site members.tripod.com/apollon_2/100Years/Post54, 23 Oct 2001]