Second World War, 1939-1945
The Patricia’s were mobilized for active service on 1 September 1939. Recruiting in Winnipeg and on Vancouver Island, the Battalion was brought up to strength in October and concentrated in Winnipeg under the command of LCol W.G. (Shorty) Colquhoun, MC. The Regiment sailed from Halifax on 21 December 1939, on the S.S. Orama as part of 2nd Brigade, 1st Canadian Infantry Division.
On arrival in England, the Regiment moved to Aldershot Camp and spent New Year’s Eve in Cove, England. Immediately upon arrival in England, LCol Colquhoun reported to the Colonel-in-Chief at Bagshot Park. On 10 February 1940, the Colonel-in-Chief inspected her Regiment for the first time in 21 years.
The Regiment spent three years in the United Kingdom, most of which was spent in coastal defence and training in various parts of the country.
On 10 July 1943, 1st Canadian Infantry Division landed in Sicily as part of the British 8th Army. The Patricia’s were re-indoctrinated to war at Leonforte, the Regiment’s first Battle Honour of the Second World War. Following the capture of Sicily by the Allies, the Regiment landed on Italy’s toe on 4 September 1943. The first two months were spent advancing inland (northward) with the Regiment’s progress slowed by demolished bridges and German rear guards. During December 1943, the Patricia’s were heavily involved in the operations of Villa Rogatti and the Gully, winning many individual and unit honours in the process, and spent Christmas in the Ortona area. The next major offensive came at the Hitler Line, west of Monte Cassino, in late May 1944 during the Allied advance to Rome. The Regiment, the rest of the division and the recently arrived 5th Armoured Division, was now part of the newly formed I Canadian Corps. Towards the end of August, the regiment moved back to the Adriatic coast and took part in the assaults on the Gothic Line, San Fortunato and Rimini. The rugged terrain and seemingly never ending river crossings took their toll, both in men and equipment.
Over the next five months, the Patricia’s campaigned yet further north, in the Romanga, a wide valley crossed by numerous small and medium sized waterways, winning three more Battle Honours in the process. Savio Bridgehead 20-23 September 1944, Naviglio Canal 12-15 December 1944 and Fosso Munio 19-21 December 1944. It was during the Italian Campaign that the Regiment renewed its traditions of professionalism, tenacity and aggressiveness that it demonstrated so aptly in the Second World War.
The Italian Battle Honours on the Colours show proof of the sacrifices made and victories gained by the rank and file of the Regiment. The Patricia’s, along with the rest of the corps, embarked to North-West Europe on 13 March 1945 to join the First Canadian Army already fighting there.
Travelling on a scenic, non-battle scarred route through southern and central France, the Regiment made its way to Boisschot, Belgium.
Following eleven days of light activity, the Regiment was again on the move with 1st Canadian Division to liberate Holland, and on April 11th, co-leading, the division crossed the Ijssel River, and then played an important part in the capture of Apeldoorn. The Patricia’s, having stood fast in Barneveld, were on hand as security and logistical organizers for the historic Achterveld Conference between the Allies and the Germans on 30 April 1945. Victory in Europe (VE) Day was 8 May 1945, and on that same day LCol Clark and his Patricia’s were the first Allies into Amsterdam.
The Regiment had fought throughout the Second World War as part of the 2nd Brigade with its old friends and worthy comrades, The Loyal Edmonton Regiment (formerly 49th Battalion) and the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada from Vancouver, who share many Battle Honours.
On 1 June 1945, a new battalion of the Regiment was authorized as part of the Canadian Pacific Force for the campaign against Japan. Its official designation was 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion, PPCLI, 2nd Canadian Infantry Regiment. They assembled in Camp Shilo but after Japan’s surrender on 15 August, the Pacific Force was disbanded. On 2 September, the new battalion was re-designated 2nd Battalion, PPCLI, Canadian Infantry Corps. In the meantime, the Patricia battalion in Europe returned to Winnipeg in October and was disbanded.