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The birth date of The Royal Canadian Dragoons, Canada’s senior cavalry regiment, is 21 December 1883; however, the traditions of The Regiment can be traced back to approximately 1759, when two troops of volunteer cavalry were raised from among the young gentlemen of Quebec. As late as 1809, this Corps of Volunteer Cavalry still carried on the traditions established by their predecessors 50 years earlier. Through successive name changes the unit was designated as the Quebec Volunteer Cavalry and the Queen’s Own Canadian Hussars until, in 1883 a Permanent Force Unit was established as the Cavalry School Corps. Finally, in 1895, the Cavalry School Corps was combined with the Mounted Infantry School and under the command of LCol J.F. Turnbull was designated “The Royal Canadian Dragoons”.
The Regiment took part in the campaign in Northwest Canada in 1885, and in 1896 a detachment served as part of the Yukon Field Force. During the South African War (1899 – 1902), Lieutenant H.Z.C. Cockburn, Lieutenant R.E.W. Turner, and Sergeant E.J. Holland were each awarded the Victoria Cross. The battle honours of North West Canada and South Africa are emblazoned on the Guidon.
During World War I, The Regiment served in France with the 1st Canadian Division and in the Canadian Cavalry Brigade. Ten battle honours are carried on the Guidon out of thirteen earned by The Regiment between 1914 and 1918.
During World War II, the Dragoons served in Sicily in 1943 and Italy in 1944 with the 1st Canadian Corps. In late 1944, the unit became the Reconnaissance Regiment of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division. In January 1945, The Regiment moved to Northwest Europe and in April of that year, Dragoons liberated the town of Leeuwarden, Holland. Another six out of a total of ten World War II battle honours were added to the Guidon for recognition of outstanding service.
Since World War II, The Regiment has served in Germany, Cyprus, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Afghanistan. The Regiment has also had independent squadrons in Korea, Cyprus, Egypt, Germany, Bosnia and Gagetown. In 1970, The Royal Canadian Dragoons moved from CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick to Fort Beausejour, in Iserlohn, Germany. Shortly thereafter, The Regiment moved south to Lahr/Schwarzwald, and became part of NATO’s Central Army Group. 17 years later, in 1987, The Regiment returned to its current home at Worthington Barracks, Garrison Petawawa. In more recent years, The Regiment has been active on several peacekeeping and international emergency force operations. These have seen The Royal Canadian Dragoons deployed as a Battle Group to Bosnia in both 1995 and 2003. In addition, several squadrons have deployed as integral components of other Battle Groups in Bosnia and Kosovo.
Since 2003, The Regiment has deployed eight reconnaissance squadrons to Afghanistan, as well as several tank troops. Dragoons deployed as part of the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team and Headquarters 5-10 in Kandahar Province. In addition, members of C Squadron deployed on Op ATTENTION, the training mission in Afghanistan, in February of 2012.
The Royal Canadian Dragoons are allied with The Household Cavalry Regiment of the British Army and affiliated with the Governor General’s Horse Guards, Toronto. In 1985, His Royal Highness Charles, Prince of Wales, accepted the appointment of Colonel-In-Chief, The Royal Canadian Dragoons. He takes a continuing and active interest in all aspects of Regimental life.