History of the 1st Hussars Association
In the autumn of 1946, some World War II veterans of the 1st Hussars gathered at the London Armories to form a regimental association in which former and serving members of the unit could meet together. With the prime object of "Good and Welfare", the Association has played an increasingly important role in maintaining the morale of both the Old Comrades and their Militia colleagues. It has also provided a continuing link between succeeding generations of the Regiment. In the early fifties, until its discontinuance in 1973, a Toronto branch of the Association existed, strongly supporting its London counterpart.
From the beginning, the ladies of the members have played an active role in enhancing the Association's programs. They were following a splendid tradition. From 1939 to 1945, a very active group of wives and sweethearts, mothers and sisters of the 1st Hussars worked hard to look after the comfort of the overseas troops by sending letters and parcels. After the war, the Ladies Auxiliary of the 1st Hussars continued to assist in and encourage the work of the Association.
The year 1964 saw the beginning of a small periodic production, The Bulletin. Its editor, Sam Pawley, adopted the pen name of the "Wet Bird", and under continuing editorship and the direction of Frank Hull as publisher, it has become the front line of communication to the families of 1st Hussars, their friends and affiliates.
In 1964, members of the Association also helped in the development of the design of the first Regimental Guidon. On July 5, 1967, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II made the presentation to the Regiment in Ottawa. Carrying the Guidon was Warrant Officer Harry Cluff, the last serving wartime member of the 1st Hussars. The current Regimental Guidon was presented to the 1st Hussars in London on 13 June 1993 by Col. H.R. Jackman, Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario.
Over the next few years several important projects occupied the Association: the collection in 1966 of two railway cars full of clothing for native Canadians in the far north; Christmas season visits with treats to veterans at Westminster Hospital; annual awards to the most proficient 1H soldier in both London and Sarnia; the purchase of a memorial stained glass window for the former Ottawa church of Currie Creelman, beloved wartime Padre; and in 1980 the publication of a revised regimental history.
In 1969, fishermen in the harbor of Courselles-sur-Mer in France discovered one of the Regiment's D-Day tanks. With the assistance of a local marine salvage company and the Royal Canadian Dragoons from Lahr, Germany, the tank was recovered from the sea where it had rested for more than twenty-five years. Thanks to an ambitious financial campaign by the Association and the Regiment, this DD tan was restored and dedicated, under the name "Bold", at Juno Beach on June 6, 1971 as a Canadian memorial initially to the 1st Hussars and later to all those units that landed on D-Day.
In 1972 a bronze Honour Roll was installed in the lobby of London's new City Hall where, on D-Day weekend and the Sunday before Remembrance Day, wreaths are laid in memory of fallen comrades.
Various stalwart members each year travel countless miles to visit the sick or bereaved or to offer a helping hand in times of trouble. Other activities have kept the group together. Many members have traveled to France, often with their wives, to take part in D-Day ceremonies there.
Each year on a weekend close to June 6 members of the Association get together in London for a reunion, dance and time of remembering. On Sunday they parade with the Regiment to the Honour Roll at City Hall and then for a drum head service at the wartime 1H Sherman tank "Holy Roller" in Victoria Park. This commemorative gathering, with members attending from all over Canada and parts of the USA, has grown over the years and even with diminishing ranks of veterans, now numbers in the hundreds, and will no doubt continue as long as Hussars survive.
Another important Association event is the Christmas Dinner with the Regiment. Informal gatherings over the summer at the homes of various members also foster the camaraderie which has kept the Hussar family together over the years. Though the world has changed greatly during the last half century, Association members still cherish the bond of friendship forged in war and peace.