Canadian Victoria Cross Recipients
Four members of Canadian units earned the Victoria Cross (VC) during the South African War. This award was the British Empire's highest military decoration for gallantry.
The first member of a Canadian unit to be awarded the Victoria Cross was Sergeant A.H.L. Richardson of Strathcona's Horse. At Wolve Spruit on 5 July 1900, despite being mounted on a wounded horse himself, Richardson rode back through very heavy enemy fire to rescue a fellow Canadian who had been unhorsed and wounded.
Three members of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, Lieutenants H.Z.C. Cockburn and R.E.W. Turner and Sergeant E.J. Holland, were awarded the Victoria Cross during the desperate rear-guard action at Leliefontein on 7 November 1900. Both Cockburn and Turner had held off large groups of Boers at close range, allowing two Canadian field guns to escape capture. In the process, both officers were wounded, and Cockburn was captured. Sergeant Holland kept several parties of Boers at bay with the fire from his Colt machine gun. With his gun jammed and in imminent danger of capture, he detached it from its carriage and carried it off to safety.
Two other Victoria Crosses were awarded to Canadians serving in Britain's Royal Army Medical Corps: Lieutenant H.E.M. Douglas for his conduct during the battle of Magersfontein in December 1899 and Lieutenant W.H.S. Nickerson for going to the assistance of a wounded comrade under fire at Wakkerstroom in April 1900.