The 12e Regiment Blindé du Canada has been known by many titles. The traditions of the Regiment are traced back to 24 March 1891 when the 86th Provisional Battalion of Infantry was organised from four companies of the Quebec provincial militia. The position of the 86th Battalion was confirmed in 1880 when its title was changed to the 86th Three Rivers Battalion of Infantry. It was renamed as a Regiment in 1900.
First World War
Mobilisation for the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1914 meant the formation of new active force units for war service rather than the mobilisation of militia units, which remained as a reserve cadre. In 1916 the Regiment contributed to the mobilisation of 178 Battalion, CEF.
The militia played a subordinate role to the overseas army during the war and when peace returned and the CEF was demobilised the Three Rivers Regiment was selected to perpetuate the 178th Battalion and carry its battle honour Amiens.
Second World War
In 1936 the Three Rivers Regiment was selected for conversion to armour; but no tanks were available and training had to be improvised in other vehicles until some Vickers Mark VI light tanks arrived in 1938. The Regiment was ordered to mobilise in September 1939.
Late in 1940 the Regiment formed part of the 1st Armoured Brigade under the new title of the 12th Army Tank Battalion (the Three Rivers Regiment (Tank)) and sailed for England in June 1941. On arrival in England it was equipped with Churchill tanks, taking up position in Sussex with the Canadian Corps on the 'invasion coast'.
In April 1943, and in preparation for the invasion of Sicily, the Regiment was re-equipped with Shermans.
Having landed on the Pachino peninsula on 10 July the Regiment was in almost continuous action throughout the campaign until landing on the Adriatic coast of Italy on 24 September where it immediately went into action under command of 78 Division. During October it was involved in the heavy fighting of Termoli where it earned high praise for its work from the Corps Commander and was presented with a brigade emblem by 38 (Irish) Brigade which it supported in the attack. In December, the three Rivers Regiment returned to the 1st Canadian Division to take part in the battle for Ortona where it released 44 RTR, which had been supporting the 1st Canadian Division.
In March 1944 the Three Rivers Regiment (also known as the 12th Canadian Armoured Regiment) moved West to take part in operations near Cassino and for the main offensive against the Gustav Line, which opened on 11 May. From that date and until the end of July the Regiment was rarely out of action until the final assault to clear the South bank of the river Arno.
In February 1945 orders were received to concentrate all Canadian Forces in North West Europe and by the end of March the Regiment had concentrated in the Reichswald in Germany. Shortly the rejoined the 1st Canadian Division to take part in the assault across the Ijssel, striking westwards to clear central Holland between Apeldoorn and Amersfoort, and by 19 April offensive operations had virtually ceased. For the Three Rivers Regiment this was the end of a period of almost continuous operational duty lasting nearly two years, during which the Regiment had earned 23 battle honours and claimed to be the only commonwealth unit to have fought side by side with all Allied armies in Europe.
The active part of the three Rivers Regiment was demobilised in November 1945 and in the following year the militia unit reverted to its pre-war role as a cadre for expansion and as an emergency force in aid of the civil power.
In 1949 the Regiment adopted its French title as Le Regiment de Trois Rivieres, thus acknowledging its origin in French speaking Quebec.
In September 1963 the alliance between the Royal Tank Regiment and Le Regiment de Trois Rivieres was approved by Her Majesty The Queen. As a mark of esteem Le Regiment was invited to adopt the tank arm badge as a distinction. 'My Boy Willie' was also adopted as Le Regiment's March until in 1976 when Le Regiment adopted 'Quand Marianne S'En Va-T-Au Moulin'.
During the unification and reorganisation of the entire Canadian Armed Forces in 1968, a francophone brigade was formed, based in Valcartier, near the City of Quebec. The armour component of the newly formed 5e Groupement de Combat was founded on the regimental structure of the former Three Rivers Regiment. At the same time, the older regiment, whose customs and traditions were being adopted by the regular unit, was renamed the 12e Régiment blindé du Canada (Milice). The new unit, 12e Régiment blindé du Canada formed quickly, drawing its personnel from across the Corps, and from members of an infantry battalion, the Royal 22e Régiment. It adopted the history, customs and traditions and the 12th Canadian Armour Regiment (TRR) and perpetuated the 178e Bataillon canadien-français.
Since 1973, the 12e Régiment blindé du Canada or one of its sub-units has served on nine occasions with the United Nations and on five occasions with NATO. The unit was deployed four times to Cyprus (1973, 1977, 1983 and 1990). A composite squadron was deployed to Cambodia in 1992. The Regiment deployed squadrons to the Former Yugoslavia on three occasions with the United Nations Protection Force (1992, Croatia; 1993, Bosnia; and 1995 Bosnia) and a Battle Group from Nov 1993 to May 1994. Since the replacement of UN troops in Bosnia by NATO forces in 1996, the Regiment was provided squadrons on five occasions (1996, 1999 - twice, 2001, 2002). In addition to unit and sub-unit contributions, small groups and/or individuals have participated in international operations world-wide, including Indochina, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Pakistan, the Western Sahara, Nicaragua, Iraq, Kuwait, Zaire, Haiti, Sierra Leone, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Ethiopia-Eritrea.
The Regiment has also participated in several domestic and internal security operations, including: the October Crisis (Montreal, 1970), security for prisons (Montreal, 1975), security for the Olympic Games (Montreal, 1976), the Oka Crisis (Kanawake, 1990), the Saguenay floods (Saguenay-Lac St-Jean, 1996) and the largest domestic operation ever mounted in Canada, the Ottawa-Montreal ice storm on 1998.
The 12e Régiment blindé du Canada has been affiliated with the Royal Tank Regiment (Bovington, UK) since 23 September 1963. In additional, the Regiment was affiliated with the 12e Régiment de Chasseurs (Sedan, France) from 1972 to 1984 and the 8e Régiment de Hussards (Altkirch, France) from 1984 to 1993. Since 1984 the Regiment has bee affiliated with the 2e Régiment de Hussards (Sourdun, France).