Cap badge The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's), 4th Canadian Armoured Division

both lugs intact


The men of the 1st Battalion returned to Hamilton in May 1943. In preparation for overseas service, it received a new CO and senior officers, and many warrant officers and NCOs were also replaced. A notable exception was the Regimental Sergeant Major, Peter Caithness McGinlay. By August 1943 the unit had moved to England and joined the l0th Brigade of the 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division. Acting Sergeant John Rennie won a posthumous George Cross in October 1943, dying while shielding others from an exploding grenade during training. Collective training, specialized courses for individuals, and schemes at battalion, brigade and divisional level occupied the unit, now under the command of Lieutenant Colonel J. David Stewart for whom the Argylls' reported a genuine affection. In action, he was described as having an intuitive sense of battle (which could not be taught), cool imperturbability, and a refusal to fight according to preconceived notions.


The unit's first battles in early August 1944 were small successes fought along the road to Falaise. The first major action, Hill 195 on 10 August, was an unorthodox success; Stewart led the Battalion single file through the darkness of night and German lines to capture this hitherto unassailable strong point. It was an act which historian John A. English has called "the single most impressive action of Operation Totalize." Less than ten days later in the Falaise Gap, a battle group of "B" and "C" companies of the Argylls, and a squadron of South Alberta Regiment tanks captured St Lambert-sur-Dives and held it for three days against desperate counter-attacks. The action resulted in Major David Vivian Currie of the South Albertas being awarded the Victoria Cross.

Of the experience of battle, Cpl H. E. Carter wrote to his mother on 13 August:

"That life in the front is not fun, not glamorous — it's dirty, and fierce and anyone that says they're not scared is crazy. But I'm not going to talk much about that. We try and keep our spirits up, joke and enjoy yourself under fire and we do an exceptionally good job of it." That very same day Capt Mac Smith put it best when he wrote to his wife: "The men are simply wonderful. They have done well, and are getting better. They grumble . . . and dig, and advance and dig, and advance. They stand shelling mortaring and occasional bombing, and then stand up in their trenches and ask where the hell the food is."

The Scheldt
The Rhineland
Closing Phases

Canadian Army Historian C.P. Stacey commented that the only time he saw what could be considered a war crime committed by Canadian soldiers was after the very popular Commanding Officer of the Argylls, Lieutenant Colonel F.E. Wigle, was shot dead during the battle of Friesoythe on 14 April 1945, allegedly by a German civilian. Col. Wigle was in fact killed by a German paratrooper at his tactical headquarters located south of Friesoythe.

"Apparently a rumour was going round that Colonel Wigle had been killed by a civilian sniper; as a result a great part of the town of Friesoythe was set on fire in a mistaken reprisal. This unfortunate episode only came to my notice and thus got into the pages of history because I was in Friesoythe at the time and saw people being turned out of their houses and the houses burned. How painfully easy it is for the business of "reprisals" to get out of hand!" 

As a result, Friesoythe was almost totally destroyed or, as G.L. Cassidy put it, “The raging Highlanders cleared the remainder of that town as no town has been cleared for centuries, we venture to say.”  One German source estimates that 300 of 355 houses were totally destroyed, for a percentage rate of 84.5. Another source, the Brockhaus Enzyklopaedie, estimated the destruction as high as 90%.[11] The incident is also recounted in Tony Foster's Meeting of Generals.


Through Moerbrugge, the Scheldt, Kapelsche Veer, and the Hochwald Gap to Friesoythe, the Küsten Canal, and Bad Zwischenahn, the Argylls were successful against the enemy — but there was more. Their losses (267 killed and 808 wounded) were the lowest in the l0th Brigade and their successes constant. Cynicism is a soldier's rightful lot and the Argylls' never lost it. Self-satisfaction came with, and was sustained only by, success — a success sustained despite the successive wholesale turnovers in the rifle companies. Neither quality was lost during ten months of battle. It made them as Capt Claude Bissell once remarked "a happy regiment and a formidable one in action."

The 1st Battalion provided the headquarters and one rifle company for the Canadian Berlin Battalion, a composite battalion which represented the Canadian Armed Forces in the British victory celebrations in Berlin in July 1945. The Battalion returned to Hamilton in January 1946 where it was dismissed.

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