On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland and a few days later, Canada declared war on Nazi Germany. Once again, Canada would send her sons and in some cases her daughters, to fight in another European war. By war’s end, Canada would have over 1 million citizens in uniform.
The Regiment received its call for mobilization on the 27th of May, 1940 for a company of soldiers for local protection duties. This article below from the Windsor Daily Star dated June 4, 1940 announces the mobilization.
Mobilization was short lived as the active service company was stood down in September of 1940. Needless to say, the morale of the Regiment plummeted. The men serving in the company were given a choice; either go back to the Regiment waiting in reserve or go on to serve with another active service Regiment. The split was about even with those opting for active service going to Borden where they became the nucleus (along with members of the Prince Edward Island Light Horse) of the Headquarters Squadron of the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade under then Brigadier F. F. Worthington.
Here is the Ram patch of the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade
On August the 13th, 1940, the Canadian Armoured Corps was created and the Essex Regiment (Tank) was a charter member. We were one of the first six tank regiments and a charter member of the Corps but today, we are the junior member of the Corps because of the date of the formation of our Regiment (1936). Seniority being determined by the unit’s official regimental creation date, not the date they joined the Corps. More information on the Canadian Armoured Corps can be found on this website.
A number of U.S. citizens crossed the border to join the Canadian Army. In the photo below, Trooper Forhen, wears the distinctive U.S.A. patch on his battle dress uniform.
Trooper Forhen and the U.S.A. patch
Training continued for the Regiment while also supplying a steady stream of men for the Canadian Armoured Corps active service units. By August of 1941the Regiment had supplied 47 officers and 500 other ranks for the Corps but still no mobilization for the Regiment proper!
On the 27th of January, 1942 the Regiment’s name and role within the Corps changed. We were now the 30th Reconnaissance Battalion (Essex Regiment) and our role changed from tank to reconnaissance or RECCE as it is commonly known. This is just as well because the Essex Regiment (Tank) never had been equipped with tanks! During the Regiment’s life, its role would flip back and forth between tank and reconnaissance many times.
Below is a photo of Sgt M. N. Hildenbrand with three members of the Regiment. You’ll notice the Sergeant is wearing the new summer khaki uniform with the brass ESSEX REGT, TANK title on his epaulettes while the other men are wearing the standard issue battledress uniform with a slip on title for the epaulette with ESSEX on it.
Here is a close up of the Regimental titles
Here is an example of the early Khaki uniform. This one was issued to Trooper A. J. Cantin who joined the Essex Regiment (Tank) on the 2nd of May, 1940. His original Regimental Number was ERT622 (which is found on the inside flap of the left hand pocket) but it was later changed to A500622.
Army doctrine during the war years called for one RECCE unit per division and since there were 5 divisions overseas, there was no room for the 30th RECCE Regiment, that was until the government decided to to raise three more divisions, namely the 6th, 7th and 8th Divisions for home defence. The 30th RECCE Regiment was pegged to provide the RECCE element for the 7th Division. On the 26th day of May, 1942, Military District Headquarters based in London, Ontario handed Lt Col D. C. Warnica Mobilization Order LS-53 effectively placing the 30th RECCE Regiment on active duty.
This forced the division of the unit into 2 separate parts, the Active Service Battalion under the command of Lt Col D. C. Warnica and the Reserve Battalion under the command of Lt Col Wilton Steward, a Great War veteran who was considered too old for service overseas but was a good choice to command the reserve component at home.
Admin Troop, Dundurn, Saskatchewan
Troopers Sinclair and Fellows with Corporal Dix, Dundurn, Saskatchewan
Trooper Fellows at Dundurn, Saskatchewan.
The Reserve Battalion soldiered on here at home for the duration of the war. In the photo below, RSM Gates, another unknown officer and Lt Col Steward are seen on a filed training exercise during the summer months.
Photo from the Windsor Daily Star
Here is an example of the standard issue pith helmet.
The Regiment was featured in the advertising campaign of G&W Whiskey during the war years.
Many prominent citizens of Windsor served in the reserve component of the Regiment during the war years. Once such person was Paul Martin Senior who served as a trooper from 1942 until 1947. He would go on to become a Senator and serve as Honourary Colonel of the Regiment from December 1964 until December 1980. Other prominent citizens included Arthur J. Reaume who was the mayor of Windsor and Ernest Atkinson who was an alderman on city council.
Here is Company Sergeant-Major Ernest Atkinson, centre, with some of the troops. Ernie Atkinson sat on City Council and there is a park named in his memory on Riverside Drive West in the City of Windsor.
Pay parade has always been a happy time and here is a photo of a pay parade for the reserve battalion.
Here is an example of the battle dress uniform worn by the reserve battalion during the war. Note the “RESERVE ARMY” patch on the lower left sleeve.