Flowerdew’s Charge

On 30 March 1918, during the Battle of Moreuil Wood which helped blunt Ludendorff’s massive Operation Michael spring offensive, the Canadian Cavalry Brigade– which had long been held in strategic reserve in case the Allies were able to break through– galloped into the field.

One of these units, C Sqn of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), commanded by Lt. Gordon Flowerdew, wheeled into line, and “with a wild shout, a hundred yards in front of his men, charged down on the long thin column of Germans.”

Alfred Munnings: Charge of Flowerdew's Squadron, Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Memorial

Alfred Munnings: Charge of Flowerdew’s Squadron, Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Memorial

The horsemen charged through the German lines twice and set them to retreat– but lost 70 percent of their effectives in the process. Nonetheless, they held their captured ground until Canadian infantry arrived to reinforce them. Flowerdew later died of his wounds and his family was presented with the VC in his honor.

The Royal Canadians’ Strathcona Mounted Troop recently recreated the charge in France, sans Germans.

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