217 years ago this week: The Battle of Paardeberg Feb. 18-27, 1900.
This photo shows a Canadian soldier firing his Lee-Metford rifle during the Battle of Paardeberg where 31 officers and 866 other ranks of the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry. The battle included “Bloody Sunday ” on Feb. 18 wherein 21 of the 39 RCR soldiers killed in South Africa fell along with 60 to the 123 who were wounded.
The losses came when the regiment launched a frontal assault against the Boer positions in conjunction with the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry–which was also mauled. A siege then followed that ended with the Boer surrender on Feb. 26 and the marching of 4,000 Boers into captivity. On that day Canadian losses were 13 killed and 21 wounded.
This was both the first major Canadian action of the South African War– providing a sense of nationality– and the first significant British victory of the conflict.
Today the RCR endures with the 1st Battalion a regular light infantry unit at Victoria Barracks assigned to the Canadian Division’s 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group alongside the 2nd Battalion at Gregg Barracks which is a mechanized infantry unit in the same brigade. The 3rd Battalion at Foulkes Barracks specializes in airborne, airmobile and amphibious operations, and the 4th is a training unit at Wolseley Barracks, London, ON.