Named by the Enemy:
A History of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles
Brian A. Reid
The Royal Winnipeg Rifles regiment holds a special honour – a second official name first bestowed by the enemy: Little Black Devils. During the 1885 North West Rebellion, the rebels, used to the traditional army red-coats, were awed by the determination of these soldiers in dark green rifles uniforms. They asked who were these little black devils. The name stuck: General Middleton used it in dispatches to Ottawa. This second name later was made official, and the regimental cap badge became the rampant devil bearing the Latin inscription Hosti Acie Nominati (Named By The Enemy).
The regiment was prominent during the four-year horror of the First World War, including the critical Second Battle of Ypres in 1915, when it alone withstood a poison gas attack and assault that caused troops on both sides to fall back. This achievement prompted British Prime Minister Lloyd George to state that the regiment “by steadiness under strain was the focal point in saving the Channel ports and removing the danger to England of invasion.” For its attacks along the Western front, the regiment was renowned among the French and Belgians as “les petits diables noirs.”
Under the badge of the rampant devil in the Second World War the regiment was in the spearhead of the seaborne assault in Normandy and was the first of all Allied units (closely followed by its sister rifle regiment from Regina) to reach its D-Day-plus-one objective. It fought its way across Northwest Europe into Germany, taking part in such major operations as the capture of Calais, the liberation of the Netherlands and the advance across the Rhine into Germany.
Its entire history is one of major events. It was involved in the 1884 Nile campaign to relieve Khartoum; it fought in 1885 to help ensure Canada remained a Dominion from sea to sea; it served in the South African War (1899-1902) and in the two world wars. More recently it has provided a company for NATO service in Germany and another for service in Korea. As well, unit members have undertaken peacekeeping duties, primarily in the Balkans and currently in Afghanistan.
Hostie Acie Nominati – Named By The Enemy: a proud insignia for a proud regiment that holds a special place in the history of Winnipeg and Manitoba.