14 November 2006
McNorgan and Lock's "Black Beret"
Today I had a chance to finish reading Major (ret'd) Michael R. McNorgan and Lieutenant-Colonel Douglas A. Lock's Black Beret: A History of The Windsor Regiment (RCAC) 1936-2006. You might not have even been aware that a history of the Windsors was underway. I admit to having advance knowledge as Mike McNorgan is a friend and former co-worker of mine and I was fortunate to get ahold of the copy from work that Mike gave our library. This regimental history was privately published by The Windsor Regiment Association and I'm really not sure how it's being sold, but anyone interested could contact them through the association's website. Update: Mike McNorgan sent me an e-mail with details on how to purchase the book. You can send a cheque to the WR Association - Kit Shop, Major F.A. Tilston, VC Armoury, 4007 Sandwich Street, Windsor, ON, N9C 1C3. You can also e-mail the association directly at email@example.com. The cost of the book is Cdn$ 50.00, tax included, plus Cdn$ 15.00 for shipping and handling in Canada. Foreign sales are also possible - send the association an e-mail message.
That said, and my connection to Mike announced, I'd like to give a bit of a book review on this history. My first thought, and I'll admit this might not sound all that charitable, is how interesting would a regimental history be of a (honour bearing) regiment which has no battle honours? Mike and LCol Lock, fortunately, proved my initial thought wrong, for which I am mightily glad. After all, in my own work on The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa, I duly noted that for most of the regiment's history, the officers and soldiers were involved in peacetime activities. It's just that wartime is easier to write (in my opinion) and, well, more intriguing and exciting to most readers. This history of the Windsors is an interesting mix of the regiment's wartime and peacetime roles. Operations, training, the ups and downs of militia life (for individuals and the regiment itself), the regimental family, and ties to the community all tie together to provide an interesting story. Almost as interesting as the narrative are the abundant number of appendices covering everything from prominent members to buttons and bows to short memoirs. The book is also well-illustrated and obviously the product of a regimental family willing and able to spend money to have the job done right.