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Brief History


The Bytown Gunners have served Ottawa and Canada for over 165 years.

In August 1855, the British Government decided to withdraw most of its troops from Canada.  As a result of this decision and the corresponding requirement to defend Canada, the provincial parliament passed the Militia Act which included the creation of the Volunteer Militia Field Battery of Ottawa on the 27th of September 1855, under the command of Captain J. B. Turner. The battery’s first gun shed was the commissariat building - now the Bytown Museum - at the mouth of the Rideau Canal. In December 1855, the battery held its first live-fire practice, dragging two 6-pounders out onto the ice of the Ottawa River towards Chaudière Falls. The gunners fired 16 solid shot rounds at a 12-foot² target at a range of 450 yards and put two in the bull’s eye and four elsewhere on the target. Since that historic founding, the Volunteer Militia Field Battery of Ottawa and its successors have been the only artillery presence in Ottawa. The Regiment quickly attained its nickname, “The Bytown Gunners”, honouring the original name of Ottawa. The Regiment is Ottawa’s oldest Reserve Regiment and one of the oldest in Canada.

The battery assisted the local authorities in 1861 when the city requested it to demonstrate a “Show of Force” during a railroad disturbance. Orders for 1861 record the thanks of the Mayor of Ottawa for the "good conduct, steadiness and forbearance" of the battery when called out in aid of the civil power, to check too vigorous partisanship during an election.  Later that year, the battery was called out again to restrain a group of citizens who endeavoured to settle by force outstanding questions on the ownership of Ottawa and Prescott Railways. The battery also took part in the famous "Township of Low Tax War." The farmers of the municipality having refused to pay their taxes, were forced to submit to the tax collectors when 118 of our soldiers moved with guns and horses against them.  This was accomplished without bloodshed. Because of fear of Fenian Brotherhood raids into Canada from the United States, a limited call out in 1865 of the Volunteer Companies was expanded in March 1866 to include the Ottawa Field Battery as part of the 10,000 troops mustered. From 1866-1870, more than 60 personnel from the now 2nd Ottawa Field Battery contributed to border security at Prescott and Cornwall.  1885 saw the Bytown Gunners send Gunners to fight in the North-West Rebellion.

Ottawa Gunners commenced their first overseas deployment during the South African War The nominal roll of the battery also included two famous names: the officer appointed to command the 3rd Section (2 guns) of the battery was an individual who was an employee of the Ottawa Citizen by the name of Lieutenant E.W.B. Morrison. The second was none other than Lieutenant John McCrae who led the 1st Section. The preeminent Canadian battery to come out of that war was D Battery, which fought a famous rearguard action at the Battle of Leliefontein. Lieutenant Morrison of 2nd Battery was the troop commander at this battle and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his leadership.  Interestingly, an Ottawa born father and son team, Driver William Hare Sr. and William Hare Jr. were instrumental in rescuing the guns, under withering rifle fire at that battle.  This composite battery was recruited from four different Ontario cities, however, it was largely an expanded 2nd Battery, as over one-third of the soldiers and four out of five officers were from 2nd Battery.



By August 1914, the Ottawa Artillery consisted of a Field Brigade comprising the 2nd Battery and the 23rd Battery.  Two new batteries augmented this formation and re-designated as the 1st Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery, proceeded overseas initially under the command of then LCol E.W.B. Morrison.  John McCrae joined Morrison once again and served as the Brigade Medical Officer. The Brigade fought in the 1st Canadian Division through Ypres, Festubert, Sanctuary Wood, the Somme, Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, Amiens, Arras, Cambrai, and Mons. As tactics developed during the war, there was a tremendous increase in the use of artillery shells.  For example, two of the brigade’s field batteries alone fired 1.2 tons of ammunition during just one, five-day battle - an average of 146 rounds per gun per day.  On 3 May 1915, McCrae wrote the now famous poem “In Flanders Fields” but unfortunately died from ill health before the end of the war. Morrison rapidly progressed through the ranks, commanding the artillery of the Canadian Corps at Vimy Ridge, and at the end of service in World War I would eventually retire as Major General Sir Edward W.B. Morrison, K.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O.   Officers and men of the Brigade suffered 178 fatal casualties, won eight Distinguished Service Orders, 23 Military Crosses, 61 Military Medals (1) and 18 foreign decorations and numerous Mentions in Dispatches.


In the years following the First World War, just as it has been throughout much of Canada's Army Reserve’s history, recruiting and training were the focus of 1st Brigade’s activities. Training continued two nights a week, on selected weekends and, eventually, during summer camp training. However, the Bytown Gunners spent much of the 1930s dealing with the fiscal realities of Depression-era Canada and the resulting training and equipment restrictions imposed on what was then known as the Non-Permanent Active Militia.

In 1939 with the outbreak of the Second World War, two of the four batteries of the Brigade were mobilized.  The 1st Battery, mobilized in 1941, served as a light anti-aircraft battery and was part of 2nd Canadian Corps Artillery. The 2nd Battery mobilized under Major G.E. Beament, a distinguished Ottawa lawyer, kept their field guns and became part of the 4th Field Regiment in the 2nd Canadian Division. Both 1st and 2nd Batteries served in the same theatres of war fighting in Normandy, the Scheldt, the Reichwald and Germany. The 25th Battery was used primarily as a training battery for light anti-aircraft units overseas. It deployed to British Columbia for the duration of the war to defend against possible Japanese air threats (i.e. explosive laden intercontinental balloons and aircraft launched from both aircraft carriers and submarines).  The 51st Battery became an anti-tank Battery and served with the 1st Canadian Division fighting in Sicily, Italy, and the Netherlands.  

As with the First World War, tactics and weapons development increased the requirement for artillery ammunition.  During the three most intense days in August 1944, 2nd Battery fired over 35 tons of shells – an average of 469 rounds per gun, per day. One Bytown Gunner, Brigadier Stanley Todd, eventually served as the Commander Corps Royal Artillery, 2nd Canadian Corps. Another Bytown Gunner, Captain George Blackburn, would immortalize the brutal Normandy fighting of 2nd Battery in his award-winning book, The Guns of Normandy (2).



(1)  One of these was awarded to Bombardier C.L. Weaver, for continuing to fire his gun during a prolonged deadly gas attack, inspiring others to also continue firing despite the lethal rain.

The changes of the early postwar years for the Bytown Gunners reflected the wider reality of Canada’s Army Reserve during this period: on 1 April 1946, 1st  (Reserve) Field Regiment was re-designated 30th Field Regiment, RCA; the 1st and 2nd Field Batteries lost their “Reserve” titles; and the Reserve 25th and 51st  Batteries were amalgamated as 25th Field Battery, RCA.  

Bytown Gunners have fought on all major battlefields since the Second World War.  They have served with distinction in Korea, Europe (during the Cold War) and on UN and NATO missions in Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle East, as well as throughout the campaign in Afghanistan, where it provided some 45 volunteers.

Domestically, the Bytown Gunners have assisted Canadians across Canada during emergencies. These operations have included a section of soldiers deployed to Winnipeg in 1997 to fight the Red River flood, avalanche control in British Columbia, and providing 68 soldiers to assist the civil authority in Eastern Ontario during the 1998 “Ice Storm of the Century”.  During the past three years, these Gunners assisted with flood response operations in Eastern Ontario.  In 2020, they supported the provincial government in the Toronto area during the COVID-19 global pandemic (Op LASER). 

For over a century, 30th Field Regiment has represented the Royal Canadian Artillery at national events in Ottawa, providing gun salutes for visiting heads of state, as well as Canadian ceremonial occasions including the Remembrance Day and the annual Fortissimo concert series on Parliament Hill.  In 1965 The Bytown Gunners were granted the honour of the Freedom of the City, the first Ottawa Regiment to receive this distinction.

Today, 30th Field Regiment is the major artillery regiment within 33 Canadian Brigade Group, which is subordinate to 4th Canadian Division of the Canadian Army.  It is garrisoned in Morrison Artillery Park in southern Ottawa. Morrison Artillery Park also houses the Bytown Gunners Firepower Museum. The regiment is supported by the Bytown Gunners Order, a registered charity (# 0610287-51-10), dedicated to the welfare of the members of the Regiment. 

Further Reading:

The Bytown Gunners: The History of Ottawa’s Artillery, 1855-2015, by Kenneth W. Reynolds (Ottawa: The Bytown Gunners Orders, 2017). Copies may be obtained by contacting the Regiment.

(2)  Captain Blackburn won a Military Cross for his part in saving the Twente Canal bridgehead in the Netherlands. His trilogy of his wartime Gunner service consists of: Where the Hell are the Guns: A Soldier’s Eye View of the Anxious Years, 1939-44; The Guns of Normandy: A Soldier’s Eye View, France 1944; and The Guns of Victory: A Soldier’s Eye View, Belgium, Holland and Germany, 1944-45. The Guns of Normandy was the 1996 winner of the Ottawa Citizen Book of the Year Award, the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction and the 1995-1996 C.P. Stacey Prize.

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Battle Honours

Honours & Awards

South African War

“D” Battery, RCFA

  • Distinguished Service Order

Lieut E.W.B. Morrison

  • Mention-in-Despatches

Lieut E.W.B. Morrison

First World War

1st Brigade, CFA, CEF

  • Bar to the Distinguished Service Order

Maj C.V. Stockwell 

  • Distinguished Service Order

Maj L.C. Goodeve; Lt-Col C.H. Maclaren; Maj A.O. McMurtry; Lt-Col J.G. Piercey; Maj C.V. Stockwell; 
Maj D.A. White

  • 2nd Bar to the Military Cross

Capt J.C. Auld

  • Bar to the Military Cross

Maj C.B. Hill

  • Military Cross

Lieut F.J. Ainsborough; Lieut D.A. Anderson; Lieut S.C. Anderson; Lieut F.D. Barager; 
Lieut C.S. Craig; Lieut I.H. Dawson; Lieut D. de St. Duchesnay; Lieut H.L. Fetherstonhaugh; 
Lieut C.S. Gonnason; Lieut J.A. Gordon; Capt R.St.C. Hayes; Lieut C.B. Hill; Lieut H. Johnson; 
Lieut B. de B. Millildge; Lieut A.R. Montgomery; Lieut H.H. Phinney; Capt D.H. Storms; 
Capt G. Tyndale-Lea; Lieut W.R. West

  • Distinguished Conduct Medal

Bdr R.B. Bradley; RSM J.W.A. Donaldson; BSM S.C. Evans; BSM G.H. Fry; Sgt M.H. Irvine; Sgt J.R. Langford; 
Sgt W. MacInnes; Sgt C.G. McDougall; BSM T.P. Melvin; Sgt A.B. Ritchie; Sgt H. St. Lawrence; BSM J. Smith; 
Sgt J. Spence; BSM F.M. Vagg; Bdr H.E. Wilkinson

  • 2nd Bar to the Military Medal 

BSM E. Collins

  • Bar to the Military Medal

BSM E. Collins; Sgt H.R. Cousins; Sgt A.V. Graham; Sgt T.W. Mackenzie

  • Military Medal

Gnr G.W. Abbott-Smith; Gnr D.J. Allan; Cpl G.R. Ball; Bdr F.T. Bean; Gnr A.E. Bond; Cpl J.G. Boyd; 
Bdr F. Braybrook; Sgt P.J. Burns; Cpl E.D. Carter; Dvr V. Chadwick; A/Bdr C.C. Chipman; A/Bdr J.K. Clarke; 
Bdr J. Clements; Sgt D.H. Cole; Sgt E. Collins; Sgt H.R. Cousins; Gnr W. Cumming; Bdr E. Dalton; 
Gnr W.B. Earle; BQMS M.J. Forrestal; Gnr H. Gallaher; A/Cpl A.W. Gibson; Sgt A.V. Graham; A/Sgt B. Hamilton; Gnr H.W. Harland; Gnr M.E. Hayden; Dvr H. Heaton; Dvr S.J. Hicks; Gnr T. Judge; Gnr W. Knox; Gnr H. Laundy; Gnr W.B. Leech; Gnr H.S. Mackay; Dvr A. Mackenzie; Sgt T.W. Mackenzie; Cpl A. McBride; Gnr V. McInnes; 
Sgt H.H. McLellan; Sgt A.R. Montgomery; Sgt D.J. O’Rourke; Gnr G. Ping; Sgt A.B. Ritchie; Gnr H.R. Sangster; Sgt C.F. Schelletter; Gnr F.T.A. Skelcher; Cpl B.W. Sloane; S/Sgt C.K. Smith; Sgt W.A. Smith; Sgt J. Somers; 
Bdr P. Studholme; Gnr J.M. Taylor; Gnr J.B. Tetlock; Sgt E.E. Wallis; Sgt C.A. Warren; Bdr C.L. Weaver; 
Sgt F.E. Wilkes; A/Bdr F.L. Yeomans; BSM F. Young

  • Meritorious Service Medal

RSM J.W.A. Donaldson; QMS H. Duke; Farr Sgt J. Hargraves; BQMS H. Martin;  
Sgt J.A. Quinn; Cpl C. Spears

  • Mention in Despatches

Gnr S. Beames; Lieut C.B. Belk; Lieut G.M. Cameron; BSM G.R. Christianson; Capt L.V.M. Cosgrave;
Bdr E. Dalton; Lieut R.E.A. Diespecker; Maj L.C. Goodeve (2x); Sgt A.V. Graham; Capt F.C. Hannington; 
Gnr C. Harrison; L/Sgt R.J. Kennedy; Cpl L.A. Lamplough; BSM J.R. Langford; Gnr M.M. Mackay; 
Maj C.H. Maclaren; Maj A.O. McMurtry; Sgt H. Patten; Lt-Col J.G. Piercey (2x); Cpl H.L. Robinson; 
Grr J. Somers; RQMS J.K. Steven; Maj C.V. Stockwell (2x); Capt D.H. Storms; Maj D.A. White (3x); 
Maj H.T.C. Whitley (2x)

  • Croix de Guerre (Belgian)

Bdr F.T. Bean; Sgt G.R. Brady; S/Sgt H.R. Cowley; Gnr F. Kett; Dvr A.R. McVicar; Sgt H. Patten; 
Gnr W.B. Sanders; Lieut H.L.O. Savinon

  • Croix de Guerre (French)

Sgt W. MacInnes

  • Medal of St. George, 2nd Class (Russian)

BSM H.G. Kerry

25th Battery, CFA, CEF

  • Distinguished Service Order

Maj J.F. McParland

  • Military Cross

Lieut W.J.H. Ellwood; Lieut A.D. Golden; Lieut J.D. Kearney; Lieut D.N. McCallum; 
Lieut H.S. Robinson

  • Distinguished Conduct Medal

Cpl G. Belford; Cpl G.T. Elliott; BQMS H. Higgins

  • Bar to the Military Medal

Gnr L.W. Dippill

  • Military Medal

Gnr J.H. Bonar; A/Sgt H.L. Broadbent; Gnr H.W. Coon; Sgt R.H. Cummings; Sgt C.J. Dewar; Gnr L.W. Dippill; 
Gnr F.B. Houston; Sgt L.W. Law; Gnr P.L. Manchester; Sgt J.B.C. Moffat; Bdr W.E. Rainboth; Gnr L.D. Sheppard; Sgt G. Stephen; Gnr J. Ward; Sgt H.K. Wyman

  • Mention in Despatches

Maj J.F. McParland (2x)

  • Croix de Guerre (Belgian)

Cpl G.T. Elliott

51st Battery, CFA, CEF

  • Distinguished Service Order

Maj M.V. Plummer

  • Military Cross

Lieut J.B. Clearihue; Lieut J.S. Wilson

  • Distinguished Conduct Medal 

Dvr W. Baldwin; Gnr J.L. Curzon; Sgt F. Dow; Dvr E. Gracey; A/Bdr T.H. Green

  • Bar to the Military Medal

Cpl G.B.H. Stevens

  • Military Medal

Bdr J.H. Dudley; Gnr V.A. Hare; Bdr C.S. Moulds; Gnr E.P. Sidall; Gnr G.B.H. Stevens

  • Meritorious Service Medal

Cpl E. Stanford

  • Mention in Despatches

Farr Sgt W. Balharry; Capt H.A. Buckley; Maj M.V. Plummer (2x)

Second Word War

1st Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, RCA, CASF

  • Member of the Order of the British Empire 

Maj G.F. Maclaren

  • Military Medal

BSM D.M. Ault; Gnr J.S. Jackson; Gnr J. Osinchuk

  • Mention in Despatches

Capt G.B. Duhamel; Gnr J.S. Jackson; Gnr E.F. Keane; Capt R.M. MacGibbon; 
Lieut D. Maclaren; Bdr J. McRoberts; Capt P.L. Partington; Gnr C. Strain; Capt P. White

  • Croix de Guerre with Vermillion Star (French)

Capt P. White

2nd (Ottawa) Field Battery, RCA, CASF

  • Military Cross

Capt G.G. Blackburn; Capt W.J. Waddell

  • Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star 

Gnr J.A. Turner

  • Croix de Guerre avec Palme (Belgian) 

WO II G.R. Phillips

51st Anti-Tank Battery, RCA, CASF

  • Military Medal

Gnr J.D. Breeze

  • Mention in Despatches

Gnr J.T. Forsyth

  • British Empire Medal (Military Division) 

Gnr J.T. Forsyth

  • Military Cross, Class III (Greek)

Maj T.A. Cowan; Sgt J.A. Reid

33(R) Field Regiment, RCA

  • Member of the Order of the British Empire

Maj S.H. Short


30th Field Artillery Regiment, RCA

  • Commander, Canadian Expeditionary Force Command, Commendation 

LCol F.L. Mullally

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