March 30th, 2018, marked the 100th anniversary of the last great “cavalry charge” in Canadian Army history. The Battle of Moreuil Wood was a strategic offensive against German defences advancing in Northern France. The two-day battle, led by Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) Regiment (LdSH(RC)) along with the Fort Gary Horse and the Royal Canadian Dragoons, made up the 3,000-member force known as the Canadian Cavalry Brigade (CCB). The Strathconas led the Easter weekend attack against theGermans in and around the Moreuil Wood in Amiens, France. Galloping courageously into enemy artillery and machine-gun fire, outnumbered three to one, and fighting in dense, corpse covered terrain as artillery shells rained down, many of the Strathconas were forced to dismount and engage in hand-to-hand combat using rifles, fixed bayonets, pistols, and sabres.
Despite several counter-offensives, the Canadian troops gained possession of Moreuil Wood – a key strategic position ceasing the Germans’ advance, halting the enemy’s last offensive push of the Western Front and defeating any hope of victory. Their triumph, however, came at a heavy cost. The CCB suffered 488 casualties, including 157 Strathconas killed or wounded – 70 per cent of the regiment’s total force at the onset of the battle.
Since the end of the First World War, March 30th has been recognized and celebrated as ‘Regimental Day’ by successive generations of Strathconas, both serving and retired.
The Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) Society planned the commemoration of the centennial of this battle in a significant way. The official ceremony was held at the battle site in France March 30 to 31, 2018 and included a delegation of serving soldiers and officers, with representation from the Regimental Veterans Association. Events were also planned throughout Canada, and in various communities around Alberta, where the Regiment resides, throughout 2018.
“The commemoration of the Battle of Moreuil Wood is the key event that our Regimental family honours every year,” said Colonel Greg Hug, Colonel-of-the-Regiment. “It is a time of reflection as we recognize the heroic deeds of our past. This year is special as we mark the 100th anniversary of the battle. I am optimistic that we will have significant participation of our family in the events planned from coast to coast and in France. The comradeship spans the generations and serves to reinforce the strength of our family ties. It is a good opportunity to share a notable event in our history with others. Best wishes to all members and family of the Strathconas on this auspicious occasion.”
Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) was raised and funded by Donald Smith, Lord Strathcona (of CPR fame) in1900 for service in the South African (Boer) War. Original members were drawn from cowboys and former North West Mounted Police within the region that would soon become the Province of Alberta. The Strathconas have been part of Canada’s regular army ever since, as a cavalry and later tank regiment serving in all major wars in the 20th Century, and most recently in Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Latvia. The Regiment was headquartered in Calgary until 1996, when it moved to Steele Barracks, Edmonton.