Copyright 2012 The Guild of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, All Rights Reserved
War was declared between Great Britain and the Boer Republics of South Africa in 1899 when the British ignored a Boer ultimatum that they stop concentrating troops near the borders of two Afrikaner republics, the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. The Boer leaders, Kruger and Steyn, ordered their commandos into British territory on October 13.
The Dominion Government brought into being the 1st Battalion Canadian Mounted Rifles (The Royal Canadian Dragoons) and offered their services. The Regiment sailed from Canada 21 Feb 1900 with 18 Officers and 352 Other Ranks along with 368 horses. They arrived on the 21st March 1900 in Capetown.
The Regiment's first action was seen by B Sqn on the 22-24 April 1900. The Regiment was reunited again on the 1st of May and took part in the advance on Pretoria. In July the Regiment escorted 2 R.H.A. guns and became involved again in heavy action.
Around this time came the origin of the Regiment's cap badge. While a troop of the Regiment was on outpost duty in South Africa, all seemed quiet; but a sentry reported to his officer that a number of springboks were bounding frequently into the air as though alarmed. the officer ordered an immediate stand-to in time to drive off an attack by a large party of Boers, who had managed a stealthy approach to the outpost. The Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Lessard, on hearing of this event, requested authority to take the springbok bounding as the Regimental Badge. In 1913 Royal approval was given. The Badge design is a springbok bounding on a veldt, surmounted on a scroll inscribed ROYAL CANADIAN DRAGOONS.
The Regiment saw continued action through August and on 21 Aug 1901 the Regiment assumed the name Royal Canadian Dragoons.
The most noteworthy action of the Boer War which involved the Regiment occurred on the 7 Nov 1900 along the Komati River at Leliefontain. While engaged in a hotly contested withdrawal, the Dragoon’s saved two guns belonging to D Bty, Royal Canadian Field Artillery (now 2 RCHA). On that day three members of the Regiment received Victoria Crosses. Lt. Cockburn (pronounced co-burn), Lt. Turner and Sgt. Holland.
This action was followed by another in Steelport Valley 13 Nov. 1900, which ended the Regiment's stay in South Africa. The Regiment arrived back in Canada in January 1901.
While the Regiment was in South Africa it had marched nearly 2000 miles, had fought for 44 days and had won 13 decorations including 3 VC's.