The Royal 22e Régiment (R22eR) is one of the three infantry regiments of the Canadian Regular Force (see Canadian Armed Forces). It is a francophone regiment made up of five battalions, of which three belong to the Regular Force and two to the Reserve Force. In 2014, the R22eR celebrated its 100th anniversary. Its headquarters are at the Citadelle de Québec. The regiment has participated in all of Canada’s major military engagements since the First World War, including the United Nations peace missions and the campaign in Afghanistan.
Regiment's Role and Mission
The regiment is made up of soldiers from Quebec who serve Canada on a variety of domestic and foreign operations. The first three battalions of the regiment fall under the Regular Force and are made up of mechanized infantry units (1st and 2nd) and light infantry (3rd). The 1st and 3rd battalions are stationed at CFB Valcartier while the 2nd battalion is stationed in Quebec City. The 4th and 6th battalions are comprised of militia members stationed in Laval (4th) and Saint-Hyacinthe (6th). The primary working language of the regiment is French.
The R22eR plays an important role in Canadian heritage. It is the most significant regiment in Quebec in terms of numbers and also the best organized in operational terms. Thousands of Québécois have served in its ranks since its inception in 1914, in combat operations as well as on peacekeeping and peacebuilding missions.
First World War: The First French-Canadian Regiment
When it was raised in October 1914 at the beginning of the First World War, the R22eR was known as the 22nd Battalion (French-Canadian). The unit was created in response to popular demand for a regiment in which French-Canadians could serve in their mother tongue. The 22nd was the only francophone infantry unit in the Canadian Expeditionary Force that was active on the front. The Battalion arrived at the front in Belgium in September 1915.
The 22nd participated in several operations between 1915 and 1918. Its first major attack took place at Courcelette, France, in September 1916. The French-Canadian soldiers, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas-Louis Tremblay, pushed back repeated enemy assaults and held the village while surrounded on all sides for three days and three nights. Of the 800 men who took part in the initial assault, 118 were left three days later. Reinforced more than 10 times during the war, the 22nd fought until the end of the conflict in November 1918. The battalion was dissolved in May 1919.
In 1920, the French-Canadian battalion was reactivated as part of the formation of a new active militia under the name of the 22nd Regiment. In June 1921, the unit received the “Royal” title from King George V in recognition of its military accomplishments in Belgium and France during the Great War. In 1928, the regiment adopted the name that it is known by today, the Royal 22e Régiment; its commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Georges Vanier, was the driving force behind the change.
Pte. P. Jacques of Le Royal 22e Regiment looking at his shrapnel-riddled backpack, near Campobasso, Italy, October 1943.
(photo by Lieut. Alexander M. Stirton, courtesy Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-115196)
Second World War
When the Second World War broke out in September 1939, the R22eR was mobilized and sailed to England at the end of the year. The regiment spent nearly the entire conflict on the Italian front. It disembarked in Sicily in July 1943 and withdrew from northern Italy in February 1945. (See Italian Campaign.) From March to May 1945, the regiment was part of the First Canadian Army, which was fighting in the Netherlands and Germany at the time.
With the Korean War, the R22eR increased in size from one to three battalions. These battalions took turns serving on the Korean peninsula between 1951 and 1953.
Personnel of Baker Company, 3rd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment (R22eR) manning machine gun, Korea, 18 June 1953. (L-R): Lt. Jean Riffou, Ptes. Fernand Boucher, Normand Dufresne.
(courtesy Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-132636)
In the decades that have followed, the regiment has carried out peacekeeping and peacebuilding missions for the United Nations. The most significant of these include Cyprus from 1964 to 1992, a number of missions in the Former Yugoslavia (from 1992 to 2001 under the UN and NATO), and Haiti in the mid-1990s. An entire battalion was also sent to Haiti in 2010 after the earthquake.
In 2007, members of a number of units from the 3rd Battalion of the R22eR were deployed to Afghanistan as part of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in the Kandahar region. In 2009, members of the 2nd Battalion of the R22eR served in the same region. Troops belonging to the 1st Battalion carried out a similar mission in 2010, while other members began training the Afghan police and army in 2011. Canadian forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 2014.
The R22eR monument located at Place George-V in the city of Quebec illustrates the strength of regimental tradition in the area and promotes military heritage outside military institutions as such. Inaugurated in 1989, it lists the names of soldiers who lost their lives in the line of duty.
The specific symbols and traditions of the R22eR are displayed in detail at the museum of the Royal 22e Régiment, which has been located at the Citadelle de Québec since it was founded in 1950. The regimental museum plays a significant role in spreading knowledge and making the public aware of military traditions.
The regimental Colour of the Royal 22eRégiment (R22eR) includes the regiment’s battle honours.
(courtesy Department of National Defence)
First World War: MOUNT SORREL, SOMME, 1916, ’18; Flers-Courcelette; Thiepval; Ancre Heights, ARRAS, 1917, ’18; Vimy, 1917; Arleux, Scarpe, 1917, ’18; HILL 70, YPRES, 1917; Passchendaele; AMIENS; HINDENBURG LINE; Canal du Nord; Cambrai, 1918; PURSUIT TO MONS; FRANCE AND FLANDERS, 1915–18
Second World War: LANDING IN SICILY; Valguarnera; ADRANO; Catenuova; SICILY, 1943; Landing at Reggio; Potenza; THE SANGRO; Casa Berardi; Torre Mucchio; CASSINO II; Gustav Line; LIRI VALLEY; Hitler Line; GOTHIC LINE; Borgo Santa Maria; LAMONE CROSSING; RIMINI LINE; San Martino-San Lorenzo; San Fortunato; Cesena; ITALY, 1943–45; Apeldoorn; NORTHWEST EUROPE, 1945
Korean War: KOREA, 1951–53
Southwest Asia: AFGHANISTAN
Note: Battle honours in upper case indicate those awarded for participation in large operations and campaigns, while those in bold type are approved for emblazonment on regimental Colours.
The badge of the Royal 22eRégiment (R22eR).
(courtesy Department of National Defence)
Regimental Traditions and Insignia
Badge: A beaver surmounted by a Crown standing on a log inscribed “JE ME SOUVIENS,” superimposed on the side of the beaver a circle inscribed “REGIMENT CANADIEN FRANCAIS,” within the circle a shield bearing the coat of arms of the Province of Quebec and below the shield the number “22.”
Motto: Je me souviens (“I Remember”)
Mascot: The regimental mascot, Batisse the goat, is a direct descendant of a white goat given to the regiment by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 1 October 1955. It parades daily during the summer at the Quebec Citadel with the Garde en rouge (ceremonial guard) to the accompaniment of the Musique du R22eR (regimental band).
Regimental Celebrations: Vimy Day (9 April 1917), Freedom of the City of Quebec (granted 3 October 1975, celebrated 3 July), Korean Armistice (27 July 1953)
Histories: Serge Bernier, The Van Doos (2013)