My friend Padre Neil is away this month at the Canadian Forces Leadership School in St. Jean, QC, getting the official training and qualifications to set the seal on his pre-existing awesomeness as a padre. Unfortunately his absence left his reserve unit, the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada, in a bit of a lurch, as they wanted him to offer a prayer and blessing at their parade this past Saturday. I was happy to fill in.
The RHFC are one of the many colourful Reserve regiments of Canada’s Army. As you can see below, their ceremonial dress uniform is a Highland variation of the less glamorous, plain green DEU (Distinctive Environmental Uniform) worn by most Regular Force army units. I felt quite plain standing next to them. The Fusiliers have a proud history, with their roots in the various militia regiments formed in the Waterloo Region of SW Ontario since the mid 1800s. In World War 1, a rather confusing period in the lineage of Canadian regiments, the RHFC’s ancestors included the 108th Battalion CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force), the 111th CEF, and the 29th Waterloo Regiment, Highland Light Infantry of Canada (HLI). During World War Two the HLI earned a distinguished reputation in places such as Normandy and Holland, and claimed to be the only Canadian regiment never to have given up a prisoner or man missing, or to have yielded its ground to the enemy. In 1965 the HLI was amalgamated with another local militia regiment, the Highland Fusiliers of Canada, thus becoming the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada. Many members of the RHFC deployed to Afghanistan in the last decade as augments to Reg Force regiments, and so the RHFC will soon receive a new Battle Honour, Afghanistan, for its colours.
It was a perfect day for a parade. September has been cool and wet, but the sun came out on cue. In this photo, the Colour Guards stand before the Commanding Officer, preparing to lay the colours on the regimental drums during a short parade at the cenotaph in Cambridge. The Pipe Sergeant Major is standing on the cenotaph. My role in the service was to offer this short prayer, and since I couldn’t find a specific prayer for the RHFC, I adapted from the Regimental Collect of the British Army’s Royal Highland Fusiliers, which are allied to Canada’s RHFC. Padre Neil, your homework is to see if there is in fact a proper prayer for yur regiment, and if so, to make it more visible for future use.
Gracious and loving God, look with favour on the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada. Keep us all mindful of their legacy of heroism, sacrifice, and service. Abide with them, in all the places where they may be called to serve, and strengthen them to resist to the uttermost all assaults of evil. To their leaders, give wisdom, and to all ranks, give valour. Inspire them to serve in their day and generation so that they may worthily uphold the trust that has been handed down to them, and give them we pray your continued blessing. Amen.
To my chaplain friends, there is a useful resource on Collects of the British Army here. Someone should compile a similar list for the Canadian Army.