Westmount, Quebec – 25 April 2016: The Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess of The Royal Montreal Regiment held their 100th annual Ypres Mess Dinner on Saturday evening. The RSM, CWO David Cochrane, CD., and the PMC, WO Brent McNair, welcomed their guests on the parade square where a special cocktail reception had been arranged to allow the guests to visit the Souterrain Impressions exhibit and the RMR Museum.
The guest of honour for the evening was CWO J.B.M. Colbert, the formation CWO for the CAF Health Services who used the opportunity to highlight the improvements being made to the Health Services offered to serving members, particularly with regards to mental health. He also highlighted the importance of remembering our history and said that he was honoured to participate in such a long-standing commemorative tradition.
The tradition of this customary RMR mess dinner dates back to the First World War, where a year after the horrific losses stemming from the first major engagement that the RMR participated in was officially commemorated by the NCO’s of the RMR. The engagement came to be known to history as the Second Battle of Ypres which took place towards the end of April 1915. This battle was a desperate affair that saw the first employment of gas warfare on the Western Front, and the first Victoria Crosses being awarded to Canadians in this war (including one to the RMR’s own medical officer, Captain Francis Scrimger).
The RMR NCO’s played a vital leadership role during the battle (and subsequent battles), with numerous battlefield commissions being awarded in the immediate aftermath, along with many Private soldiers being elevated in rank to replenish the ranks of the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess. Thus, a year after the battle in 1916 it was fitting for to hold a commemorative mess dinner to mark the sacrifice made the year prior – and the NCO’s of the RMR have continued to hold a commemorative dinner ever since.
It is heartwarming to see that the RMR NCO’s have not forgotten their fallen comrades nor the sacrifices made to ensure victory. After 100 years they can say with pride “Lest We Forget” – for they certainly have not.