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

Canadian Units

The 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment
The 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry was Canada's first volunteer unit sent to South Africa. The Battalion played an essential role in defeating the Boer force at Paardeberg in February 1900. Paardeberg was the first major British victory of the war.

The Royal Canadian Dragoons
Canada's first contingent had barely sailed for South Africa when the Canadian government offered a second contingent consisting of horse-mounted infantry and field artillery, organized into two squadrons. The core of each squadron was men from the Royal Canadian Dragoons.

1st Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles
The commissioner of the North-West Mounted Police raised a unit of 'picked police, ex-police and cowboys' to fight in South Africa. The battalion distinguished itself and earned a reputation for aggressive scouting.

Brigade Division, Royal Canadian Field Artillery
The brigade division of artillery in Canada's second contingent grouped together three batteries. Each battery consisted of three sections, each of two 12-pounder breech-loading guns. Although usually out of the limelight, the three batteries saw much action.

Strathcona's Horse
Lord Strathcona offered to raise a regiment at his own expense for service in the British Army in South Africa. A cadre of mounted police joined Strathcona's Horse, among them the legendary Superintendent Sam Steele.

2nd Regiment, Canadian Mounted Rifles
The mounted rifles participated in a number of major drives that resulted in the destruction of the Boer forces in the western Transvaal. While its tour of operations had not been long, the 2nd Regiment, Canadian Mounted Rifles had proven to be a worthy successor to the units of the first and second contingents.

10th Canadian Field Hospital
The third Canadian contingent was the only one to take a field hospital with it to South Africa. The 10th Canadian Field Hospital provided outstanding medical services during its stint in South Africa.

3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th Regiments, Canadian Mounted Rifles
In April 1902, the British requested a fourth contingent of 2,000 men from Canada. These units arrived in South Africa after the war had ended, however, and returned to Canada in July 1902 at which time they disbanded.

The Canadian Scouts
The Canadian Scouts gained a reputation as a group of hard-riding, implacable, and death-defying soldiers. While not officially a Canadian unit, the Scouts never fully lost their Canadian character.

The South African Constabulary
British planning for the postwar period included a para-military force to police the conquered Boer republics. The South African Constabulary took part in many campaigns and experienced some hard fighting. At least 57 Canadians died and six won decorations while serving in its ranks.

3rd (Special Service) Battalion
Canada replaced the British regiment in Halifax for the duration of the war with a Canadian unit, the 3rd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry. While the unit served exclusively in Canada, its strength is included in the overall number of Canadians raised for service during the South African War.