Canada & The South African War, 1899-1902

Canadian South African War Insigna
Canadian War Museum
1 Vimy Place
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0M8
Tel. (819) 776-8600
toll-free 1-800-555-5621


18-27 February 1900

The British forces trapped a Boer army at Paardeberg Drift on the banks of the Modder River. Among the attacking force were 31 officers and 866 other ranks of the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry. This was the first major Canadian action of the South African War and it was the first significant British victory of the war.

Israel's Poort
25 April 1900

The 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry left the Orange Free State capital of Bloemfontein and marched eastwards to take part in a British offensive to cut off Boer forces operating to the south-east. The engagement firmly established the Royal Canadians as a veteran battalion.

Zand River
10 May 1900

On 6 May, a Boer defensive position north of the Zand River was encountered. The British commander planned to envelop the Boer position. The Royal Canadians, despite having been outnumbered by better than ten to one at some stages of the battle, stood fast.

The Relief of Mafeking
17 May 1900

With the Boers in retreat and on the defensive, the British began a major effort to relieve Mafeking, a town besieged by boer forces for eight months. Despite being both outnumbered and outranged, the Canadian gunners succeeded in driving the Boers from the road leading into Mafeking. The next morning Mafeking was relieved.

28-29 May 1900

The action at Doornkop was the only time during the war that units of Canada's first and second contingents fought together.

Faber's Put
30 May 1900

Although the British commander claimed victory, the engagement was, in fact, a defeat. Four Canadian battery played an essential role in supporting British troops.

Honing Spruit
22 June 1900

The action of the Canadians at Honing Spruit prevented the Boers from attacking the station from an unexpected direction.

7 November 1900

Leliefontein was the most desperate situation faced by Canadians during the war. The number of decorations, including Victoria Crosses to Lieutenants H.Z.C. Cockburn and R.E.W. Turner and Sergeant E.J. Holland, all of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, attests to the intensity of the fighting.

Harts River (Boschbult)
31 March 1902

The battle was a British defeat. Canadian casualties were 13 killed and 40 wounded. With the exception of the first engagement at Paardeberg, on 18 February 1900, Harts River was the bloodiest day of the war for Canada.