The Royal Canadian Dragoons

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Royal Canadian Dragoons
RCD cap badge.jpg
Cap badge of The Royal Canadian Dragoons
Active 1883–present
Country Canada Canada
Branch  Canadian Army
Type Line cavalry
Role Armoured
Armoured reconnaissance
Size One regiment
Part of 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group
Garrison/HQ Petawawa
Motto(s) Audax et celer (Bold and swift)
March "Monsieur Beaucaire"
"Light of Foot" (Dismounted)
Mascot(s) Springbok
Anniversaries Leeuwarden
Equipment See equipment (below)
Engagements Leliefontein
Battle honours See Battle honours (below)
Colonel-in-chief Charles, Prince of Wales
Colonel of the regiment Major-General M. Macdonald, OMM, MBE, CD
56th Commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel Fraser Auld, CD
Regiment sergeant major Chief Warrant Officer James Hebert, MMM, CD

The Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD) is an armoured regiment of the Canadian Army. It is one of three armoured regiments in the Regular Force and forms part of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps.

The colonel-in-chief of the RCD is Charles, Prince of Wales. The current Commanding Officer is Lieutenant-Colonel Auld, and the current Regimental Sergeant Major is Chief Warrant Officer Hebert.

The regiment is made up of Headquarters, "A", "B", "C" and "D" Squadrons. "A", "B" and "D" Squadrons, based at CFB Petawawa, are reconnaissance squadrons. Each have Coyote Reconnaissance Vehicles. "C" Squadron, based at CFB Gagetown, is equipped with 21 Leopard 2 tanks (A4's, A4M's and A6M's) and the squadron consists of both Dragoons and members of 12e Régiment blindé du Canada.


The Royal Canadian Dragoons[edit]

  • Originated 21 December 1883 in Quebec City, Quebec as the Cavalry School Corps
  • Redesignated 14 May 1892 as the Canadian Dragoons
  • Amalgamated 27 June 1892 with the Canadian Mounted Rifle Corps, retaining its designation
  • Redesignated 24 May 1893 as The Royal Canadian Dragoons
  • Redesignated 16 October 1946 as the 1st Armoured Regiment (Royal Canadian Dragoons), RCAC
  • Redesignated 2 March 1949 as the Royal Canadian Dragoons (1st Armoured Regiment)
  • Redesignated 19 May 1958 as Royal Canadian Dragoons
  • Redesignated 12 January 1959 as The Royal Canadian Dragoons[1]

The Canadian Mounted Rifle Corps[edit]

  • Originated 20 July 1885 in Winnipeg, Manitoba as the School of Mounted Infantry
  • Redesignated 7 August 1891 as the Canadian Mounted Rifle Corps
  • Amalgamated 27 June 1892 with the Canadian Dragoons[1]


Lineage of the Royal Canadian Dragoons:[2]

Operational history[edit]

The North-West Rebellion[edit]

The Cavalry School Corps mobilized A Troop on 10 April 1885 for active service. It served with the Alberta Column of the North-West Field Force until it was removed from active service on 18 September 1885.[1]

South African War[edit]

Royal Canadian Dragoons, Boer War Sculpture by renowned sculptor Hamilton MacCarthy (1903), Halifax Public Gardens

The Canadian Mounted Rifles were authorized on 20 December 1899. On 28 December 1899 it was reorganized as two separate battalions, designated as the 1st and 2nd Battalions, Canadian Mounted Rifles. The 1st Battalion was redesignated as The Royal Canadian Dragoons (Special Service Force) on 1 August 1900. The battalion embarked for South Africa on 21 February 1900, where it fought as part of the 1st Brigade, 1st Mounted Infantry Corps and as part of Maj.-Gen. Smith-Dorrien's column until its departure from the theatre of operations on 13 December 1900. The overseas regiment was disbanded on 21 January 1901.[1]

The Great War[edit]

The regiment was placed on active service on 6 August 1914 for instructional and camp administration duties. On 14 September 1914 the regiment mobilized The Royal Canadian Dragoons, CEF, which embarked for England on 3 October 1914. On 5 May 1915 it disembarked in France, where it fought dismounted in an infantry role as part of Seely's Detachment (really the Canadian Cavalry Brigade), 1st Canadian Division. On 24 January 1916, it remounted and resumed its cavalry role as part of the 1st Canadian Cavalry Brigade with whom it continued to fight in France and Flanders until the end of the war. The overseas regiment disbanded on 6 November 1920.[1]

The Second World War[edit]

The camp flag of The Royal Canadian Dragoons.

On 24 May 1940, the regimental headquarters and one squadron mobilized together with the headquarters and one squadron of Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) to form the short-lived 1st Canadian Motorcycle Regiment, CASF (RCD/LSH (RC)). On 21 September 1940, this regiment was redesignated as Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) CASF. The regiment subsequently mobilized The Royal Canadian Dragoons (Armoured Car Regiment), CASF, on 21 September 1940. It was redesignated as the 1st Armoured Car Regiment (The Royal Canadian Dragoons), CAC, CASF, on 11 February 1941; as the 1st Armoured Car Regiment (The Royal Canadian Dragoons), CAC, CASF, on 15 October 1943; and as the 1st Armoured Car Regiment (The Royal Canadian Dragoons), RCAC, CASF, on 2 August 1945. It embarked for Britain on 13 November 1941, landed in Sicily on 8 November 1943 and in Italy on 5 January 1944. There it fought as I Canadian Corps troops and eventually as a part of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division. Due to the mountainous terrain of Italy, the regiment fought much of its time there in a dismounted role as infantry. In March 1945 the regiment moved with the I Canadian Corps to North-West Europe as part of OPERATION GOLDFLAKE where it fought until the end of the war. The overseas regiment disbanded on 1 March 1946.[1]

On 1 September 1945 a second Active Force component of the regiment mobilized for service in the Pacific theatre of operations designated as the 2nd-1st Armoured Car Regiment (The Royal Canadian Dragoons), RCAC, CASF. It was redesignated as the 2nd-1st Armoured Regiment (The Royal Canadian Dragoons), RCAC, CASF, on 15 November 1945; and as the 1st Armoured Regiment (The Royal Canadian Dragoons), RCAC, CASF, on 1 March 1946. On 27 June 1946 the regiment was embodied in the Permanent Force.[1]

Korea, the UN and NATO[edit]

D Squadron, equipped with M4A3E8 Sherman tanks, served in Korea following the armistice in 1954 and 1955. Lieut Frank Sidney Stilwell died while deployed to Korea on 25 January 1954.[3]

The Royal Canadian Dragoons, along with Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians), contributed troops to 56 Reconnaissance Squadron for duty with the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) from March 1957 to January 1959, equipped with Ferret scout cars. The Officer Commanding, Maj. R. Barry Tackaberry, the Second-in-Command, Capt. J.A. Beament, the 2nd Troop Leader, Lt J.G.H. Ferguson, and the 4th Troop Leader, Lt J.B. Long, as well as half of the NCOs and soldiers, were Dragoons.[4] Other squadrons of the regiment served there and in Cyprus. Two members of 56 Recce Squadron died: Lt Charles C. Van Straubenzee on 10 May 1957 and Tpr George E. McDavid on 29 November 1957. The regiment contributed several other recce squadrons to UNEF until its demise in 1967. Tpr Ronald H. Allan was killed by Egyptian machine gun fire on 28 November 1959.[3]

The regiment was part of the initial deployment to Cyprus as part of OPERATION SNOW GOOSE, Canada's long contribution to UNFICYP, and conducted other squadron-sized tours as well as a regimental deployment from March to September 1989. Tpr. Joseph H. "Fess" Campbell died in Cyprus on 31 July 1964.[3]

The regiment served at Fort Beausejour, Iserlohn, Germany from November 1957 - November 1959

The regiment served at CFB Lahr, West Germany, as part of 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group from 1970 to 1987 equipped with Centurion, rented German Leopard 1 and Leopard C1 tanks and Lynx tracked reconnaissance vehicles. During this time, the Canadian Army ceased conducting regimental rotations to 4 CMBG, going instead to a man-for-man individual rotation system.

During the 1990s, the regiment conducted deployments to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia with the UN as part of UNPROFOR, and with NATO as part of IFOR, SFOR and in Kosovo with KFOR. Cpl James Ogilvie died in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on 30 August 1998.[3]


The Royal Canadian Dragoons contributed both reconnaissance and tank crews to the Canadian task forces that served in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2014.

The following Dragoons fell in Afghanistan:

  • Sgt Craig Paul Gillam, 3 October 2006
  • Cpl Robert Thomas Mitchell, 3 October 2006
  • Tpr.Mark Andrew Wilson, 7 October 2006
  • MCpl Allan Stewart, 11 April 2007
  • Tpr Patrick James Pentland, 11 April 2007
  • Tpr Darryl Caswell, 11 June 2007
  • Maj Raymond Ruckpaul, 22 August 2007
  • Tpr Brian Richard Good, 7 January 2009
  • Tpr Marc Diab, 8 March 2009
  • Tpr Jack Bouthillier, 20 March 2009
  • Tpr Corey Joseph Hayes, 20 March 2009
  • Tpr Larry John Zuidemer Rudd, 24 May 2010


Operation UNIFIER is Canada's military mission to provide assistance to the training and professionalization of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The Royal Canadian Dragoons contributed officers and soldiers to Rotation 4, and are currently leading and contributing a significant component of Rotation 5.


Escorting the Prince of Wales (1919)

The Royal Canadian Dragoons is the most senior cavalry regiment in Canada, having been formed on December 21, 1883, 3:03 pm, as the Cavalry School Corps, as a result of the Militia Act of 1883, which also created the Infantry School Corps (now The Royal Canadian Regiment). The Militia Act of 1883 emphasized the need for a fully trained army to defend Canada, as its defences had been pierced during the Fenian raids. In 1887 it was renamed the Royal School of Cavalry. In 1892 the regiment was renamed as the Canadian Dragoons and in 1893 it became The Royal Canadian Dragoons.

It served in the North-West campaign of 1885, the Second Boer War, First World War, Second World War, past peacekeeping (such as Somalia, Korea, and Kosovo among others) and Afghanistan with distinction.

During the Boer War, the unit originally raised was named the 1st Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles, and comprised a total of 19 officers and 371 men and their horses, organized into two squadrons. The most famous casualty of the 1st Battalion was Harold Lothrop Borden. The core of each squadron was provided by experienced regular officers and men from the Royal Canadian Dragoons, the cavalry unit of the Canadian Permanent Force. For this reason, in August 1900, at the unit's own request, the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles were renamed the Royal Canadian Dragoons.[5]

Royal Canadian Dragoons Memorial 1883 - 1983 at Royal Military College Saint-Jean; Dragoons garrisoned at Fort Saint-Jean 1901-1940

A memorial at Royal Military College Saint-Jean commemorates the centennial of The Royal Canadian Dragoons (1883 - 1983); it was erected by The Royal Canadian Dragoons who garrisoned at Fort Saint-Jean 1901-1940. To commemorate Royal Canadian Dragoons who won the Victoria Cross in the Battle of Leliefontein during the Boer War, a three-figure bronze sculptural grouping (1999) by André Gauthier (sculptor) was commissioned.

The regiment currently serves as part of 4th Canadian Division's 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group based at CFB Petawawa, Ontario, and is a dedicated reconnaissance regiment. It converted to this role in April 2003, and was equipped solely with Coyote light armoured reconnaissance vehicles.

In late 2006 the regiment was once again equipped with the Leopard tank. In March 2007, a Tank Troop was stood up and attached to C Squadron Lord Strathcona's Horse Royal Canadians for service on deployed operations in Afghanistan Roto 4 with the Leopard 2A6M. C Squadron was reformed and stationed in CFB Gagetown with the promise of tank capability in 2012.


On 10 November 1983 Canada Post issued 'The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, The Royal Canadian Dragoons as part of the Canadian Forces, Regiments, 1883-1983 series. The stamps were designed by Ralph Tibbles, based on a painting by William Southern. The 32¢ stamps are perforated 13.5 x 13 and were printed by Canadian Bank Note Company, Limited.[6]

The springbok cap badge[edit]

The cap badge of The Royal Canadian Dragoons features a springbok.

During the Second Boer War (1899–1902), during the advance to Pretoria, the RCD set up camp in a field. Regimental legend has it that one of the sentries noticed that some springbok were behaving erratically, and alerted the officers, who ordered a stand-to. This resulted in the defeat of Boer forces that had been trying to sneak up through the fields to attack the Canadian force. However, there is no documentary evidence of this incident. The Commanding Officer at that time, Lt.-Col. Louis Lessard, makes no mention of it in his personal papers or his official reports. It is more accurate to state that the RCD wear the springbok as a recognition for the regiment's sterling service in South Africa. The commander of the RCD then put a request to King Edward VII, the reigning monarch, to officially have their cap badge changed to the springbok, which was finally accepted in 1913.

Battle honours[edit]

The guidon of The Royal Canadian Dragoons.

In the list below, battle honours in capitals were awarded for participation in large operations and campaigns, while those in lowercase indicate honours granted for more specific battles. Those battle honours in bold type are emblazoned on the regimental guidon.

North-West Rebellion[edit]

South African War[edit]

Great War[edit]

Second World War[edit]


Victoria Crosses[edit]

Lieutenant Cockburn's VC

On November 7, 1900, during the Second Boer War, the Royal Canadian Dragoons engaged enemy Boers in the Battle of Leliefontein, where they rescued a minimum of three British guns from capture during a retreat from the banks of the Komati River.

Three Victoria Crosses were later awarded to men of The Royal Canadian Dragoons for their actions during the course of the day:

Regimental alliances[edit]

Order of precedence[edit]

Preceded by
First in order of precedence of Canadian armoured regiments
The Royal Canadian Dragoons Succeeded by
Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians)

See also[edit]


  • The Royal Canadian Dragoons: Pictorial history, 1883-2000 by David A Muralt (2000)
  • Dragoon: The Centennial History of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, 1883-1983 by Brereton; Guild of the Royal Canadian Dragoons Greenhous (1983)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "The Royal Canadian Dragoons". Official Lineages Volume 3, Part 1: Armour, Artillery and Field Engineer Regiments – Armour Regiments. Directorate of History and Heritage. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "The Royal Canadian Dragoons". Official Lineages Volume 3, Part 1: Armour, Artillery and Field Engineer Regiments – Armour Regiments. Directorate of History and Heritage. Retrieved 13 January 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d Canadian Peacekeepers Honour Roll accessed 8 August 2014
  4. ^ "The 56th Reconnaissance Squadron in the Sinai" by 2Lt Bradley Shoebottom, The Armour Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 1, 1995
  5. ^ Canadian War Museum
  6. ^ Canada Post stamp[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-05-12. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 

External links[edit]