Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians)
The original Strathcona's Horse regiment was one of the last in the British Empire to be created and raised by a private individual. During the Boer War, Donald Alexander Smith, 1st Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, recruited and equipped the regiment at his own expense for service in South Africa, where it served with distinction. On its return to Canada on 9 Mar 1901, the regiment was disbanded.
A regular force cavalry unit was created by the redesignation of "A" Squadron of the Canadian Mounted Rifles (a Militia unit). "The Canadian Mounted Rifles" were thus designated on 1 Jul 1901, and redesignated "The Royal Canadian Mounted Rifles" on 1 Oct 1903. On 1 Oct 1909, the unit was redesignated "Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians)" in recognition of the Honorary Colonel, Lord Strathcona, who had raised the original contingent for South Africa. His title was added to the regiment's name in 1911.
At the outbreak of the First World War, the Regiment was mobilized and sent to the UK. In 1915, the regiment served as dismounted infantry in France. The regiment was reorganized as a mounted regiment once more on 16 Feb 1916, and placed under command of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, attached to the 2nd Indian Cavalry Division, with was itself redesignated in Nov 1916 as the British 5th Cavalry Division.
The regiment saw action as cavalry in Mar 1917 on the Somme front, where Lieutenant Frederick Harvey's actions in an attack earned him the Victoria Cross. During 1918, the Canadian Cavalry Brigade was under the command of the Canadian Corps. A Victoria Cross was earned by Lieutenant G.M. Flowerdew on 30 Mar 1918 at Moreuil Wood, where he led his squadron against superior numbers and heavy machine gun fire.
Mechanization occurred slowly between the war; in Jul 1940 headquarters and one squadron of the regiment were mobilized, to form the "1st Canadian Motorcycle Regiment (RCD/LSH(RC)). The unit was redesignated "Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians)" on 21 Sep 1940, and allocated to the Canadian Armoured Corps upon conversion to an Armoured Regiment on 15 Nov 1940. The newly designated "2nd Armoured Regiment (Lord Strathcona's Horse) (Royal Canadians)" served with the 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division for the remainder of the war.
The regiment moved to the UK in November 1941. During an inspection there, King George VI noticed that the divisional patches on the sleeves of the troopers bore the legend "LSH". He remarked to a Strathcona's officer that he had always thought the proper abbreviation of "Lord" was "Ld". The regiment promptly changed its formation patches and have used that abbreviation ever since.
The Regiment trained in England with Canadian built Ram tanks, and moved to the Mediterranean for service in the Italian Campaign in November 1943.
One of the Regiment's most noteworthy battles in Italy was at the Melfa Crossing, where the reconnaissance troop established a bridgehead on the Melfa River and held it against determined German tank and infantry attacks until reinforcements could arrive. Lieutenant Edward Perkins was nominated for a Victoria Cross for this action. The Regiment left Italy in Feb 1945 as part of Operation GOLDFLAKE, and moved to North-West Europe.
The regiment returned to Canada in Jan 1946. With the exception of two operational tours in West Germany, the regiment resided in the Calgary garrison at Harvey Barracks until the late 1990s when it was moved to Edmonton.
Three squadrons were raised for service in the Korean War.
Later deployments included two six-month missions in Bosnia in 1994 (under United Nations command) and 1997 (as part of the NATO forces there).
Field Force Contributions
Battle Honours in bold were selected for emblazonment:
Cap Badges: Lord Strathcona's Coat of Arms, without supporters, being a shield surmounted by a maple tree inclined to the left, and cut through by a beaver working at the base; in the chief a demi-lion rampant; in the centre a railroad spike and hammer crossed; in the base a canoe bearing a flag inscribed NW and containing four men; the whole surrounded by a riband which is encircled by a wreath of roses, thistles, shamrocks and maple leaves, and inscribed LORD STRATHCONA'S HORSE, ROYAL CANADIANS, surmounted by a scroll bearing the motto PERSEVERANCE, and the whole surmounted by the Crown.
The crest commemorated Lord Strathcona's role in the fur trade and in the settlement of North West Canada (as the province of Alberta was called prior to 1905) by its representation of a Hudson's Bay Company trade canoe, the flag 'NW' (for "North West"), and the representation of the railway construction tools. The latter mark Lord Strathcona's direct role in the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Lord Strathcona personally drove the last spike marking the end of construction of Canada's first trans-national rail line in Nov 1885.