HISTORICAL & TRADITIONAL ANECDOTES
of 12 SERVICE BN and PREDEESSORS
By Larry Watkins
INTRODUCTION: Though-out 1992, the unit under command of LCol KA McLeod, planned, prepared and obtained the honour of bestowing the Freedom of the City of Richmond on 12 Service Battalion. The actual ceremonies occurred on 17 April 1993, under command of LCol LAR Watkins, who struck and issued a Presentation Coin to commemorate this occasion.
Following the tradition of Her Majesty’s Canadian Armed Forces to recognize significant events in the history of one of her units; 12 Service Battalion struck a coin to honour the conferment of granting the ancient rights of the Freedom of the City of Richmond to the unit.
The freedom of the City is an ceremonial honour bestowed by the City on a military unit or formation. It is the accepted tradition which provides the means for a city to honour a unit of the Canadian Forces. Russell’s Book of “Customs and Traditions of the Canadian Armed Forces” relates the history of the Freedom of the City and how this ceremony is steeped in English traditions dating from the 1660’s.
In these ancient times cities had walls and gates, which barred friend and foe alike. Armed bodies of troops were always suspect, for obvious reasons, by the city authorities. Therefore today’s ceremony reflects the ritual, which had to take place before the armed troops were permitted to billet in that town for the night.
The Presentation Coin is struck on antique silver, with the unit Badge on the obverse and the Freedom of the City, Richmond, B.C. surrounding 17 April 1993 and the serial number on the reverse.
Each coin is entrusted in care of the holder for as long as the waters of the Fraser River flow alongside of Lulu Island. The coin may be passed on to members of the family but remains the property of 12 Service Battalion with changes registered with the 12 Service Battalion Society.
As with all coins of this nature there are rules that traditionally govern their use. These are:
1. “The Coin” is to be carried at all 12 Service Battalion attended formal or semi-formal functions while in Mess Dress, DEU or appropriate civilian attire;
2. The challenge will be “Duty Above All”, the reply “Child of the Fraser” The Coin is then to be produced by both members. Should one member not be able to produce his/her coin, at the discretion of the coin carrying member a fine of a donation to the Unit Fund (min $2) and a beverage of choice will be levied, at the expense of non-provider.