Service with the NATO Brigade 1951-1992
In 1951, 79th Field Regiment RCA joined the newly formed 27th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group (CIBG) in Northern Germany under command of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR). Instead of the 25 Pdr, which was still the standard field artillery weapon in Canada, the Regiment was initially issued the American 105mm towed howitzer – the standard NATO gun at that time. Shortly thereafter, however, the regiment reverted to the 25 Pdr in order to solve problems with supply and a lack of uniformity with its sister British units. The Regiment was first quartered at Hohne, and then later at Fort Prince of Wales, near Soest in the Upper Ruhr Valley. Re-named 3rd Regiment RCHA in 1953, the Regiment was replaced in November 1953 by 2 RCHA during the changeover of 27 CIBG with 1 CIBG.
Over the next thirteen years, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Regiments RCHA would rotate to Germany. In 1967, 1 RCHA became the permanent artillery regiment in Germany as part of 4 CIBG (later – 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (CMBG)). The Regiment moved south to the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) with the rest of the brigade group in 1970, to become Central Army Group’s reserve force, and was based in Lahr, Germany. It would remain there until 1992, when the brigade group began pulling out of Europe.
The Gunner contribution to NATO also included 1st Surface-to-Surface Missile Battery (1 SSM Bty) equipped with Honest John tactical nuclear rockets from 1960-70. The warheads were held by the United States to be released to Canada in the event of a Soviet attack. 2 SSM Bty was stationed at CFB Shilo to train Canada’s nuclear Gunners.
In 1975, 128 and 129 AD batteries were re-formed to protect Canadian airfields in Germany. From 1987 to 1992, the Batteries were under command of the 4th AD Regiment, which also included 127 AD Battery to provide air defence to 4 CMBG. 4 AD Regt was reduced to nil strength in 1992 as part of the closure of 4 CMBG at the end of the Cold War.