North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment

The North Shore (NB) Regiment (NS(NB)R) is a bilingual, primary reserve infantry regiment of the Canadian Army. It is part of the 5th Canadian Division, 37th Canadian Brigade Group. The regimental headquarters is located in Bathurst, New Brunswick. Regimental battle honours include Passchendaele, Ypres 1917 and Hill 70 (First World War); the Normandy Landing and the Battle of the Scheldt (Second World War).

Archie MacNaughton
Major John Archibald (“Archie”) MacNaughton. (courtesy of the family of Major J. Archie MacNaughton)

Early History

The North Shore (NB) Regiment evolved from the British occupation of the New Brunswick area beginning in the late 1700s. The population of the region grew significantly with the influx of British Loyalists fleeing New England following the American Revolution (1775–83). Colonial militias participated in military action during the War of 1812, the American Civil War (1861–65), and the Fenian Raids (1866–71).

73rd Northumberland

The predecessor of the regiment was the 73rd Northumberland New Brunswick Battalion of Infantry. It was created in Chatham, New Brunswick, on 25 February 1870 by absorbing the local militias. In 1900, the unit was renamed the 73rd Northumberland Regiment.

Members of the regiment volunteered in the South African War (Boer War) in 1899–1902. More than 560 New Brunswickers served in the war, out of a total of about 7,000 Canadians. It was Canada’s first overseas fighting force.

First World War

During the First World War, the 73rd Northumberland Regiment did not fight as a unit. Instead, individual members were transferred to other battalions as reinforcements. Efforts were made to create a North Shore battalion that would serve as a single fighting unit. However, a resulting 132nd North Shore Battalion was broken up in England and its men dispersed to other units. Many North Shore men were casualties in the battles of Arras, Hill 70, Passchendaele, Amiens, the Hindenburg Line and the Pursuit to Mons. Following the war, the regiment was renamed the Northumberland (New Brunswick) Regiment.

North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment

On 1 April 1922, the unit was reorganized and renamed the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment (NS(NB)R). The name North Shore appears to have originated from the regiment’s location in the north of New Brunswick. Early lists of volunteers show that most of them lived in the counties of Restigouche, Gloucester, Northumberland and Kent, which border Baie des Chaleurs (Chaleur Bay) and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Four years later, the regimental cap badge was also created. It includes the name North Shore New Brunswick, the image of a stag to represent the regiment’s fighting spirit, and their motto “Pro Jure Constans” (Steadfast for the Right).

The regimental badge includes the name North Shore New Brunswick, the image of a stag to represent the regiment’s fighting spirit, and their motto “Pro Jure Constans” (Steadfast for the Right).

(Courtesy North Shore (NB) Regiment HQ, Bathurst, New Brunswick)

Second World War

When the Second World War broke out in September 1939, volunteers flocked to recruiting stations. By June 1940, the NS(NB)R was at full strength with 948 troops and 24 officers and began training at Woodstock. This group was designated as the 1st Battalion and became part of the Canadian Active Service Force (CASF). About 35 per cent of the group were francophone, while 60 per cent were anglophone and 5 per cent were Indigenous. About half of the regiment was Roman Catholic.

In June 1940, a 2nd Battalion was created as a reserve force for home defense. Individuals could, however, transfer to the CASF. Over the next two years, approximately 1,000 men made this transition.

On 5 December 1940, the NS(NB)R (1st Battalion) relocated to Sussex, New Brunswick. There they joined with the Queen's Own Rifles and Le Régiment de la Chaudière to form the 8th Infantry Brigade. These three regiments fought side by side through most of the war. The 8th Brigade, in turn, was part of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, which also included the 7th and 9th Infantry Brigades as well as units of the Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA).

On 21 July 1941, the regiment sailed for Liverpool on the Duchess of York. It spent almost three years in intensive physical training and rehearsing beach landings throughout England and Scotland. When off duty, the NS(NB)R men played hockey and baseball, winning several Canadian Army championships. Their exceptional performance during evaluations and competitions soon positioned them as one of the top regiments in the Canadian Army. As a result, the NS(NB)R was chosen to be part of the first wave of the Normandy invasion.

On D-Day (6 June 1944), the NS(NB)R landed on Juno Beach at about 8 AM under the command of Lt Col Donald B. Buell. They eliminated a German strongpoint (artillery position) defended with 50mm and 75mm guns and mortars and captured the villages of Saint Aubin-sur-Mer and Tailleville. The Canadian Army also advanced the farthest inland of the Allied forces on D-Day. The large number of bilingual men in the regiment was a significant asset during the invasion. They quickly earned the trust of the local French inhabitants and learned valuable information about German forces in the area.

2019 Canadian Silver Dollar

The 2019 silver dollar commemorates the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day with the image of Private George Baker landing on Juno Beach with the North Shore (NB) Regiment.

(Courtesy Royal Canadian Mint)

Following the breakout from Normandy, the NS(NB)R was part of the Canadian effort to capture the French ports along the English Channel. In October, the 3rd Canadian Division, which included the NS(NB)R, earned the nickname “The Water Rats” while fighting in the brutal month-long battle of the Scheldt in the Netherlands. The fighting resulted in 6,367 Canadian casualties. (See Liberation of the Netherlands.)

In February 1945, the Canadians invaded Germany and in March, they crossed the River Rhine into the heart of Germany. In April, the NS(NB)R and other Canadian units turned northwest and completed the liberation of the Netherlands. The war in Europe ended on 7 May 1945, when Germany surrendered unconditionally to the Allies. Over the course of the war, approximately 2,300 men served overseas with the NS(NB)R. Of this number, 375 were killed. It was a significant contribution from one of Canada’s smallest provinces.

George Baker landing on Juno Beach

Private George Baker of A Company, North Shore (NB) Regiment, landing on Juno Beach on D-Day. This image was taken from the only surviving film footage of Canadians landing on D-Day.

(Courtesy North Shore (NB) Regiment HQ, Bathurst, New Brunswick)

Reorganization and Reinstatement

On 15 January 1946, the overseas battalion was disbanded. In 1954, the North Shore (NB) Regiment 2nd (Reserve) Battalion amalgamated with the 28th Field Battery, RCA, and was redesignated the 2nd Battalion, The New Brunswick Regiment (North Shore). Two other New Brunswick regiments, the Carleton and York Regiment and the New Brunswick Scottish, were amalgamated and formed the 1st Battalion, The New Brunswick Regiment (Carleton and York). In 1956, the regiment was redesignated “2nd Battalion, The Royal New Brunswick Regiment (North Shore).”

However, the changes were never accepted by NS(NB)R veterans or their families or by many New Brunswick residents. A committee was assembled with the goal of re-establishing these battalions as distinct and separate regiments and restoring the name The North Shore (NB) Regiment. In 2012, the 2nd Battalion was reorganized as a separate regiment and the name was reinstated. The regiment is now based in Bathurst with companies in Campbellton, Miramichi and Moncton.

Missions Since 1945

Members of the North Shore (NB) Regiment and associated units have served with NATO-led forces in Afghanistan and as part of peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Regimental Colours

The Regimental Colours refer to two flags, the Regimental Colour (regimental flag) and Queen’s Colour (Queen’s flag). They are frequently displayed together and are symbols of pride, honour and devotion to the regiment. To complete the reinstatement of the regiment’s name, a ceremony was held in May 2019 to receive colours. The Regimental Colour displays an image similar to the famous regimental badge with a stag and the regimental motto. This badge was worn by all ranks in the Second World War. The Regimental Colour also includes 18 battle honours.

North Shore (New Brunswick) Regimental Colours

The Regimental Colours refer to two flags, the Regimental Colour (regimental flag) and Queen’s Colour (Queen’s flag). The Regimental Colour displays an image with a stag and the regimental motto. It also includes 18 battle honours.

(Courtesy North Shore (NB) Regiment HQ, Bathurst, New Brunswick)

Battle Honours

Further Reading

  • R.M. Hickey, The Scarlet Dawn (1949)

  • Marc Milner, D-Day to Carpiquet (2007)

  • War Diaries of the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment, Library and Archives Canada

  • Ken Smith, Fields of Valour, The North Shore (NB) Regiment in Europe, June 6, 1944 – May 5, 1945 (2011)

  • Will R. Bird, North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment (1963)

  • C.P. Stacey, The Victory Campaign, The Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War, Vol III, The Operations in North-West Europe (1960)

  • Bruce Morton, A Brief History of the North Shore (NB) Regiment (2016, 2019)