July 16th 2006 a section of the Diehard Company, along with a Naval attachment, several established ladies and one representative of her Majesty’s government, embarked to Nova Scotia to help garrison the Citadel in Halifax. The Citadel is normally garrisoned by the 78th Highlanders but our section was invited to assist with duties during the celebration known as the ‘Changing of the Guard’.
The event was organised by the Changing of the Guard Society to commemorate the 100th year since the last British garrison withdrew form Halifax in 1906. This event ended over one and a half centuries of British military presence in North America.
The event began on Tuesday 18th July and finished on Sunday 23rd July 2006. Around a 1000 re-enactors took part in the event travelling from all around Canada and parts of the USA. The Diehard Company were the only participates to travel from the UK. The participating groups represented British units from the various periods of the British occupation of North America, with our own unit being the historically latest with our representation of an infantry company of 1886.
The Section quartered themselves in one of the barrack block rooms and generally stationed ourselves outside our home for the week. The unit took part in drill exercises on the forts parade ground and participated in field exercises with the other Victorian era units. The 78th were also kind enough to allow us to perform guard duty on the main gate and to allow to take part in the Sunset Ceremony which occurred on the Saturday night (the Friday night event was cancelled due to poor weather).
On the last day the Changing of the Guard commemoration took place where the 78th Highlanders acting as the last garrison handed over the keys to the Fort to the modern Canadian Army, which was represented by the same unit that took the keys to the Citadel in 1906.
The finale of the event was a final parade which marched down Sackville Street to the awaiting HMS Scott with flags flying, bands playing, and bayonets gleaming. A few members of each historical group embarked onto HMS Scott to the tune “Will Ye No Come Back Again“, which was the tune played 100 years ago when the RE garrison embarked for their journey home.