The Royal Canadian Dragoons marked the 117th anniversary of the Battle of Leliefontein, a pivotal and proud moment in the history of the Dragoons, on Saturday, Nov. 4 with a commemorative parade.
The Battle of Leliefontein took place during the Second Boer War on Nov. 7, 1900. The battle comprised of British and Canadian forces engaging with the Boer forces at the Komati River, 30 kilometres south of Belfast at the present day Nooitgedacht Dam, South Africa.
The Royal Canadian Dragoons made up a significant portion of the troops who represented Canada during the war.
In the midst of heavy enemy fire, members of the Dragoons showed exemplary bravery. Notably, Sergeant Edward James Gibson Holland, Lieutenant Richard Ernest William Turner, and Lieutenant Hampden Zane Churchill Cockburn risked their lives to not only prevent the artillery guns from being captured by the Boers, but continue to use them in the face of heavy fire.
Because of their heroism, these three Dragoons were awarded with the Victoria Cross.
In honour of these gallant efforts of these brave men, the Royal Canadian Dragoons annually commemorate the Battle of Leliefontein on the first Saturday of November.
As part of the commemoration on Saturday, the Dragoons displayed the original artillery guns in the parade square.
Additionally, the three Victoria Crosses, which are now owned by the Dragoons, will also be part of the ceremony.
“As the gun parades through the parade square, we have each of the Victoria Crosses slow-marched through the ranks so that each of the soldiers can see the medal for themselves,” said Capt. Marsha Dunn, Adjutant, The Royal Canadian Dragoons.
In the months leading up to the parade, each of the squadrons within the Dragoons competes with one another through a series of competitions of sports, fitness, knowledge and tactical skills. These squadrons are fighting for the Right of Line, the honour of having precedence over other units on a parade.
The competition culminated on Saturday at the parade with the announcement that D Squadron took over from the reigning champions, B Squadron.
“We try to place some camaraderie, esprit de corps, within the squadron and that warrior spirit to try to win. Everybody likes a good competition, and you get the chirping rights for the year as well,” added Dunn.