A photo of soldiers from the Royal Westminster Regiment in Vimy Ridge in 1917. This unit would have included locals such Arthur Coppen Wardle.

History book marks Westie milestone

The Royal Westminster Regiment celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2013

The Royal Westminster Regiment is producing a pictorial history book to commemorate its 150th anniversary in 2013.

The book is being complied by a volunteer team and will contain a comprehensive collection of photographs, facts, memorabilia and records, many of which are being published for the first time.

“With a fighting Westie spirit and incredible record of duty, tradition and service commencing before Confederation, the book will be of interest to readers of all ages and backgrounds,” said Honorary Colonel Karen Baker-MacGrotty. “As the Royal Westminster Regiment celebrates 150 years of valiant military service of building and protecting our community, our country and on overseas missions, this book is produced as a tribute to all our brave men and women who have served our country with such distinction.”

The Royal Westminster Regiment is the oldest active military unit in British Columbia and serves the County of Westminster, a territory extending from Burnaby to Boston Bar. Its predecessor, the New Westminster Volunteer Rifles, were granted authority by Governor Douglas on November 20, 1863.

The regiment has a long history of community involvement. When the Great Fire swept through New Westminster in 1898 and again when record flooding afflicted the Fraser Valley in 1948, it supported the community through times of crisis. More recently, the regiment helped fight the Okanagan wild fires of 2003 and provided support to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

As a fighting force, the Westies have been involved in every major conflict of the post-Victorian era. The primary reserve light infantry battalion has served in the Boer War as well as the First and Second World Wars. It has also taken part in numerous oversees deployments on UN and NATO missions in Bosnia, Croatia, Cyprus, the Golan Heights, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan. Members are currently serving overseas in Afghanistan and the Sudan.

The regiment is currently looking for support for its book project. Sponsors who contribute over $500 will receive two limited edition numbered volumes with a custom slipcase, while those who donate $150 get one. Baker-MacGrotty and the volunteer book team will present them to sponsors and supporters at a VIP launch in November.

Standard editions can also be pre-ordered for $80 until Sept. 7 at www.vivalogue.ca and will be available before Christmas. Official sales start on January 1.

Local enlisted men in the First World War

Enlisted on:         Name:                          Occupation        Age        Home              Notes

Sept. 1, 1915        John Colin McDonald      Labourer             39          Ruby Creek      • Survived the war

March 6, 1916       Carl Carlson                  Farmer                34          Hope               • Survived the war

March 11, 1916     Arthur Alfred Castle       Labourer              18         Yale                 • Survived the war

March 24, 1916    Samuel John Ryder         Guide                  36         Hope               • Survived the war

April 28, 1916      John Henry Bears           Road foreman       41         Hope              • Died Oct.20,1918

April 28, 1916      Arthur Coppen Wardle     Clerk                   19         Hope              • Died May 15, 1917

April 28, 1916      Samuel Lemuel AW Cox  Carpenter             41        Hope               • Died Nov 1, 1917

April 28, 1916      Stephen Angus Patten     Labourer              17        Hope               • Survived the war

May 13, 1916       Rance Sandstrom           Fireman               33        Hope               • Survived the war

May 15, 1916       William Perry Patten       Labourer              20        Hope               • Survived the war