Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians)
The Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) is Canada's Regular Force tank unit. From the Boer War to Afghanistan the "Strathconas" is the only Canadian Armoured unit to fight in all of Canada’s foreign conflicts.
After the outbreak of the Boer War in South Africa in 1899, Donald Smith (Lord Strathcona) offered to raise and equip a mounted regiment at his own expense to serve in the War.
Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians)
Boer War (1899 - 1902)
The Regiment was recruited largely from cowboys and frontiersmen of Western Canada and members of the North West Mounted Police (N.W.M.P.). Lord Strathcona's gift of a horse Regiment was a timely solution to a number of political issues of the day and considered a very patriotic act.
Command of the Regiment was given to Sir Sam Steele, who was Superintendent of the N.W.M.P at the time. Numerous awards for bravery were awarded to these first "Strathconas", including Sgt Arthur Richardson who was awarded the Victoria Cross for rescuing a wounded soldier under a hail of gunfire.
At the end of their service period of one year, King Edward VII presented The King's Colours to the Regiment. The Regiment was disbanded soon after arriving back in Canada, but was reformed again from the Royal Canadian Mounted Rifles in 1909, and named Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians). In 1912, the name changed once more with the addition of the word "Lord" to its current Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians).
First World War
Upon the outbreak of the First World War, the "Strathcona's" were again mobilized and sent to England. They arrived in France in 1915 where they were sent into the trenches to serve as infantry. In February 1916 they were reconstituted as a mounted regiment, where they next saw action as a cavalry unit during the Battle of the Somme in 1917.
During the last German offensive in March 1918, Lt Gordon Flowerdew and his 100 man squadron charged by mounted attack, a superior German force. This action helped to dislodge a large force of the advancing German Army from Moreuil Wood preventing them from threatening the town of Amiens. Flowerdew was mortally wounded and posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his "conspicuous bravery and dash" in reaching his objective.
After the Regiment returned to Canada in 1919, they moved into the Mewata Armoury in Calgary. It was also during the inter-war period that saw the Regiment's inclusion into the Permanent Force when the transition began from horses to mechanized armoured vehicles.
Second World War
Mechanization is the theme of the Second World War for the "Strathcona's". The museum describes the transformation of the regiment from horses to motorcycles to tanks where they saw service in both Italy during the Italian Campaign and North West Europe during the liberation of Holland.
The "Strathcona's" were involved in several important engagements during the Italian Campaign, including the vital Melfa River crossing in the spring of 1944, which the Regiment held against determined German tank and infantry counterattacks until reinforcements arrived. After the Italian Campaign, the unit was sent to North West Europe in February 1945 where they served until the end of the war.
After the Second World War, the Regiment provided armoured support to the Allies during the Korean War as the only Canadian Armour unit to fight in the War.
Strathcona's have also served in all of Canada's peacekeeping missions including major contributions in Egypt, Cyprus and Bosnia. Since the late 1950's until the late 1990's, members of the Strathcona's have participated in virtually all of Canada's Peacekeeping missions, a contribution highlighted in the United Nations area of the museum.
Since 2002 - 2011, the Strathcona's were deployed to Afghanistan in support of the Combined Joint Task Force. The museum highlights the influence of technology on modern warfare and especially the deployment of tanks to Afghanistan in 2006. These displays also include damaged parts of tanks that were deployed there and are now memorials to fallen soldiers.
The Strathcona's have proudly served Canada for over a century, and will continue in their mission to provide tank and reconnaissance forces to the 1st Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in Western Canada, in keeping with their motto, "Perseverance".