Canadian Mounted Rifles - Other Units

The Canadian Mounted Rifles (1-13) were raised under two Mounted Rifle Brigades, plus additional unabridged units, from existing Militia Cavalry Regiments from coast to coast.

When first recruited as mounted rifles, all units were known as numbered Regiments of Canadian Mounted Rifles. The name change, for all CMR units came at the end of  December 1915 when these units were redesignated as infantry, which meant the number of men was increased to that of an infantry battalion. Accordingly, two CMR Regiments were dissolved (3rd and 6th), the men being separated between units. The 1st CMR and 2nd CMR received men from the 3rd CMR; the 6th CMR was absorbed into the 4th and 5th CMR.

The 1st Regiment CMR was raised in Brandon, Manitoba from the 5th Princess Louise's Dragoon Guards, the 22nd Saskatchewan Light Horse, the 12th Manitoba Dragoons and six other mounted regiments in Military District 10.

The 2nd Regiment CMR was raised in Victoria from the 30th Regiment, British Columbia Horse.The regiment was mobilized at Willows Camp, Victoria and recruited from 30th B.C. Horse (Vernon) and Victoria Squadron of Horse.

The 3rd Regiment CMR was raised on the 15th March in Medicine Hat and Edmonton, Alberta from the 21st Alberta Hussars and 19th Dragoons.

These three Regiments served in France and Flanders with the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles Brigade from the 21st September 1915 until the 1st January 1916, when they were reorganized and redesignated the 1st and 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifle Battalions of the 8th Infantry Brigade.

The 4th Regiment CMR was raised in Toronto from the Governor General's Body Guard and the 9th Mississauga Horse. 

The 5th Regiment CMR was raised in Sherbrooke from the 7th Hussars and the 11th Hussars.

The 6th Regiment CMR was raised in Amherst and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

These three Regiments served with the 2nd Mounted Rifle Brigade from the 21st September 1915 until the 1st January 1916 when they were reorganized and redesignated the 4th and 5th Canadian Mounted Rifle Battalions of the 8th Infantry Brigade. (The 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles along with the 8th Trench Mortar Battery and the 8th Machine Gun Company, formed the 8th Infantry Brigade of the 3rd Canadian Division).

To clarify:

In 1915 the 1st Regiment CMR was part of the 1st CMR Brigade (with the 2nd and 3rd Regiments), in the 2nd Canadian Division. (The 1st and 2nd CMR Brigades were attached to the Canadian Cavalry Brigade for the period September to December 1915).

From 1916 the 1st CMR Battalion was part of the 8th Infantry Brigade, in the 3rd Canadian Division.

Other Canadian Mounted Rifle Units:

7th CMR: Raised in London, Ontario from the Governor General's Body Guard, the 9th Mississauga Horse and the
1st Hussars. The battalion (less 'A' Squadron) formed the Canadian Mounted Rifle Depot in England.  'A' Squadron
was reorganized in Canada as the 2nd Divisional Cavalry Squadron.

All of the following battalions were
raised on the 15th March 1915 and disbanded on the 15th November 1920, and
were broken up to provide for reinforcements in the field. 

8th CMR: Raised in Ottawa from the 4th Hussars.

9th CMR: Raised in Lloydminster from the 22nd Saskatchewan Light Horse.

10th CMR: Raised in Regina and Portage La Prairie from the 22nd Saskatchewan Light Horse. 

11th CMR: Raised in Vancouver from the 30th Regiment, British Columbia Horse.

12th CMR: Raised in Calgary from the 15th Light Horse. 

13th CMR: Raised in Pincher Creek from the 21st Alberta Hussars. 

Link to Mounted Rifle Cap Badges -

Sources: C.H.Stewart "Overseas" 1970, and D.W.Love "A Call To Arms" 1999 via the Canadian Expeditionary
Force Study Group and the 'Matrix' resource. Bruce Tascona 'The XII Manitoba Dragoons'

These don't appear to be on the 'Matrix': (Last two pages of 3rd's diaries detail how the squadrons were reallocated)
Link to War Diaries of 3rd CMR -

Link to War Diaries of 6th CMR -

Extracts from 3rd and 6th CMR War Diaries held by Library and Archives Canada for 31st December 1915:-

(3rd CMR)
"...Instructions received that the three Regts 1st CMR Brigade would be formed into two Battalions to be known as the
1st & 2nd Battalions CMR. The 3rd Regt. CMR would be absorbed and cease to exist.                                                                                                              WM [Lieut. William McIntosh]

"A" Squadron under Major A.J.MORT        }  To be transferred to 1st Regt CMR.
"C"        "              "     Capt. J.C.BIGGS        }  the whole to be known as First Battn
M.G.S.                 "     Lieut.T.H.FENNELL }  CMR.

"B" Squadron under Major BATY with H.Q. Staff to be transferred to 2nd CMR. the whole to be known as 2nd Battn
The 3rd Regiment CMRs ceased to exist as a Regiment at midnight, after twelve months service, three months of
were spent on the Western Front.
The total casualties amount to
                                                   Killed    Wounded
                                    Officers      3.              4.
                            Other Ranks     11.            22.                                                                ..."

(6th CMR)
"...Meteren 31/12/15

Regiment started infantry training.
Weather Fine.
"Morning" Infantry training
"Afternoon" Infantry training
Weather:- Rainy..."

Banner Image:
Copyright All rights reserved by David W. Lacey shows 2nd & 3rd CMR Originals in France 1919. His Grandfather, Thomas Love (3rd & 2nd CMR) posed for the photos for this statue:-

The Edge Of Hell (from Legion magazine)

March 1, 2007 by Tim Cook

Dear old Governor,
This is Good Friday, and I am spending the day girding myself for action. For our Easter Sunday, with peace on earth and good will towards men, I take part in the greatest battle in Canada’s history and perhaps in the history of the world. So this is to say farewell in case I go down.

This ‘last letter’ was posted on April 7, 1917, by Lieutenant Gregory Clark to his father, only a few days before he was about to go into his first battle. It was at Vimy Ridge, a name that he could not mention to his kin at home for security reasons, but also one that they would not have recognized either. That would change in the months and years ahead as Vimy took an epic place in Canada’s pantheon of national signposts and historical events.

In April 1917, however, Clark and his companions in the Canadian Corps only saw the ridge as a hulking obstacle, heavily fortified and nearly impregnable. Previous offensives against the seven-kilometre ridge by French and British troops had failed. The attempt by the French occurred in the early summer of 1915 while the Canadians were at Festubert and Givenchy. The French threw many divisions at the ridge and were repulsed in a bloody slaughter that saw the loss of more than 100,000 French and approximately 80,000 German soldiers.

Clark well understood the magnitude of the task facing the Canadians, and that there was a good chance they would be defeated and that he might not come home.

He was 24 when Canada went to war in August 1914. At the time, he was at his cottage with his girlfriend, Helen. They had been courting for about a year and cared deeply for one another. Gregory and Helen returned to Toronto on Aug. 15, and were more than a little surprised to find that the Dominion had been at war for almost two weeks. But they were nonplussed by the event and Clark, an inveterate writer and outdoorsman, returned to his post at the Toronto Star newspaper. He penned in his private diary: “The war is still raging. It does not stir us at all deeply…. It seems so far away.”

Clark worked on the newspaper’s crime beat throughout 1914, but increasingly he was interested in the families of soldiers. Toronto was rocked by terrible casualty figures after the titanic battle of Ypres in April 1915, where the Germans unleashed chlorine gas for the first time in the history of warfare and more than 6,000 Canadians were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. Clark interviewed family members and publicized their stories through his articles. The war was coming home. His father and brother were deeply patriotic; brother Joe soon enlisted, while his father urged able-bodied men to do their duty in widely published newspaper editorials. Clark increasingly felt pressure to serve his country, but his love for Helen was strong, and he could not bear to leave her.

The strain of knowing that others were fighting on his behalf eventually drove Clark to make the gut-wrenching decision; he enlisted as a private in the 170th Battalion on March 27, 1916. Standing a mere five feet, two and a half inches, and weighing 110 pounds, he nonetheless had the education and bearing to be an officer. He was quickly promoted, then commissioned, and spent much of 1916 in officer training schools in Canada. He also married his beloved Helen. For a couple that had barely been apart longer than a day, he would ship out to England four days after the wedding, and not see her again for another 1,039 days.


By the end of 1916, Clark was transferred to the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, a former light cavalry unit that had been converted to gravel-crunches, as the Western Front proved that horsemen had little chance against high explosives, shrapnel and deadly small arms fire. Clark arrived in France at the end of 1916, immediately joining his unit in the strange, desolate, troglodyte world of the trenches.

Like most soldiers, Clark found the fighting on the Western Front alien and threatening. Throughout the winter of 1916-17, his trench experience consisted largely of dullness and drudgery, but he suffered through some of the terrible artillery bombardments that left men quaking and hugging the mud. “I had seen something of the terror,” he wrote in his diary, “the vast, paralyzing, terrific tumult of battle: a thing so beyond humanity, as if all the gods and all the devils had gone mad and were battling, forgetful of poor, frail mortals that they tramped upon.” But word came down that an offensive would be planned against Vimy, and all knew that the fighting there would be even more intense and lethal.

The 4th CMRs spent months preparing, planning and training for their role as one of the lead attacking infantry battalions in the forthcoming Vimy show. Clark would command 15 Platoon–about 45 men–in the battle. On the night of April 7, the Canadians began to form up in the rear trenches. For the last five days, shells had shrieked overhead, day and night, from the guns that pounded the enemy positions.

On Easter Sunday, April 8, 1917, the lead elements of the 4th CMRs set off for the front at midnight, moving through one of the engineering marvels of thebattle, Goodman Tunnel. During the long preparatory phase, the Canadians had built more than a dozen underground tunnels to bring troops close to the front for zero hour. Most were several hundred metres long, but Goodman was over a kilometre in length. It was tall enough for men to stand upright in, although it was not for the faint of heart or the claustrophobic.

In the cold, dark hours of April 9, Clark assembled his platoon in what were called the “jumping off trenches” outside of Goodman Tunnel. Every man was left alone with his thoughts. Would this be his last day on Earth? Prayers were said, lucky talismans fingered, last letters written for loved ones at home. Above them the shells hurtled over their heads towards the German lines, bursting in massive explosions. The minutes ticked down painfully slowly to zero hour.

Then, at 5:30 a.m. on Easter Monday, the full might of the artillery hammer crashed down on the German lines with 983 guns, howitzers and mortars unloading a continuous stream of death and destruction. The Canadians, who had rehearsed for weeks before the battle, would follow a creeping artillery barrage into the enemy lines. This moving wall of shells and explosions rent the air, as it slowly crawled over the battlefield. But there was a big difference from the pre-battle practice assaults where officers had carried flags to signify the barrage, moving forward a hundred yards every three minutes, and the reality of following an ear-shattering barrage that was tearing up the earth.

At three minutes past zero hour, Clark rose from the trench, shouting, “Come on, boys,” even though most of his words were lost in the cacophony of explosions. His platoon followed his lead, along with dozens of others within sight, and hundreds of others along the ridge. The Canadians were off, and chasing their creeping barrage.

Gregory Clark recounted the sensation: “In one sense, it was a beautiful sight. It was still quite dark. Sleet was falling. There before us, frightfully close, was the edge of hell. It blazed, flashed and flickered, the bursting shells; white and coloured flares were fired frantically by a distracted enemy. And the flashing, flickering lights showed an infernal wall of twisting, boiling smoke and flame, against which stood out the distorted silhouettes of men advancing into it.”

Forward they went in a measured walk, behind their creeping barrage that was tearing up the enemy lines. They passed craters the size of houses; barbed wire had been torn apart; dead Germans lay splayed out in grisly poses of death. All were passed in the steady march up the ridge. The iron discipline of the troops took over. Every three minutes they halted, lying down–waiting for the barrage to jump another hundred yards. Forward they went through more than a dozen jumps, and each time they lay tense under the umbrella of fire. Occasionally, the sound of the heavy German MG-08 could be heard firing above the din, but on Clark’s front they encountered no Germans except those prisoners fleeing back, hands in the air.

But men were killed all around Clark, as bullets and shrapnel whirled over the battlefield. For 35 minutes they continued this advance until they hit the main enemy reserve trench. Here, the artillery barrage paused for 45 minutes, raking the enemy lines, but allowing straggler units to catch up. There was not much for the infantry to do, and so they dug in to the craters, smoked cigarettes, and relieved heavy bladders. The entire front continued to be obscured by the hurtling artillery shells.

During this wait, Clark and a small group of men were in a crater, studying the front, eyeing their watches for when to move off again. Without warning, an enemy shell landed in the bottom of the crater–putting paid to the superstition among soldiers that a shell never landed in the same hole twice. In Clark’s words, it “blew us all in the air, smashing the cigarette case Sergeant Windsor had in his hand, cutting Bertrand’s rifle in two at the breech and heaving us in all directions.” Stunned and shaken, Clark’s small group patted frantically at arms and legs to make sure everything was still attached. Almost miraculously, no one was hurt.

After checking on his platoon, Clark heard the change in the sound of the barrage, and off it went again, like some fiery rake tearing through the enemy lines. Clark scrambled forward, slithering over the muddy, cratered ground, following the barrage. By 7:05 a.m. they were on their final objectives, with neither Clark nor any of his men firing a single shot. That was not the case for other platoons in his company, nor with the other 22 attacking battalions along the line in the first wave. Yet it was far from over. Capturing the ridge was only half the battle; the Canadians had all been trained to prepare for the expected German counter-attack to recover the important terrain.

Clark and his men dug in on their lines, creating a series of strongpoints to hold off a German attack. On top of the ridge, they could look down on the Douai Plain below and see the Germans frantically pulling back their artillery units. The forward line was established on the eastern slope of the ridge, which gave them good fields of fire. But not all Germans had yet been cleared from the front, and the battle still raged on the far left where the 4th Division was in a desperate engagement to capture the highpoint of Vimy around Hill 145. Even on the 4th CMR’s front, German troops were dug in and hidden on the lower slope, where the Canadian guns had been unable to bombard.

Throughout the day, Clark’s platoon and several others kept up a firefight with these Germans. Artillery fire had also begun to slam into the ridge, both from the enemy and from Canadian shells firing short. In the early afternoon, his friend and fellow officer, Lieut. W.G. Butson, was about 20 yards from Clark trying to organize his men into rifle pits, when he fell to the ground. Clark raced over to help him and saw to his horror that a bullet had passed through his head, ripping out both of his eyes. Clark nearly vomited. As one of the men wrapped Butson’s head in bandages, Clark held his friend’s hand as he cried out deliriously for his mother.

Now, all of his superior officers had been wounded or killed, and he was left to co-ordinate the defence. The rest of the day was spent digging in and dodging enemy shells. There were a few random enemy counter-attacks down the line, but Canadian gunners, directed by their forward observers on the ridge, rained down punishing fire. A few German planes flew low over the hill, sweeping it with machine-gun fire, but there was no attack.

After being subjected to artillery fire for much of the 10th, the CMRs were desperate for a relief on the 11th, with Clark and most of his men now having gone without sleep for three days. Snow fell heavily. Exhausted, hungry and with bloodshot eyes, Clark continued to visit the men in their shallow trenches and gun pits, reassuring them that relief was coming soon.

A fellow officer, Lieut. L.C. Johnston, invited him to come out of the muck and share lunch in the cellar of a ruined building on the hill called Cable House. Clark thought it too dangerous since the Germans had been shelling around it all day, so he went back to his muddy trench after failing to convince Johnston to join him. He was sitting there munching on cold canned meat with one of his trusted sergeants, too tired to speak, when they heard a shell strike the Cable House.

“Then Johnston’s leg, severed at the hip, landed in the trench, striking Mackie’s helmet and my feet,” wrote Clark. “I do not remember a more horrible moment. Then over our heads sailed the rest of Johnston, landing 40 yards from where he was first hit.” In shock, they tossed Johnston’s leg out of the trench, but when they got their nerves back, they retrieved it and laid it beside Johnston, who was “mutilated beyond recognition.”

This was the start of an inferno of enemy shelling, which fell all along the front. Clark and his men tensed for the counter-attack. Cries of pain and shouts for stretcher-bearers could be heard in between the shelling. No attack came, although the CMRs lost a considerable number of men as their bunched troops–ready to repel an attack–provided greater targets during the saturation bombing. The shelling ceased around dusk, and Clark remembered the eerie sight of a padre making his way along the front, stopping at mass graves full of bodies where he gave a communal set of last rites.

At sundown on the 11th, the 4th CMRs were finally relieved. Clark and his men stumbled to the rear. Although some men were cheering and singing about the victory, many more were silent with tears in their eyes. They had left behind too many friends on the ridge. Battlefield reports note that the 4th CMRs lost 43 men killed, 118 wounded and 18 missing. “I fell asleep that night hardly caring if I ever woke up, yet my spirit filled with a far, faint exultation. I was alive.”


Lieut. Gregory Clark was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery and inspirational leadership during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. His citation read: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He assumed command of and led his company with great ability, gained his objective, and consolidated the position. He set a fine example of courage and initiative.” Indeed he did, but the battle nearly used him up, and he admitted that his nerves were badly shaken and he was suffering from a hacking cough from breathing poison gas. A sympathetic commanding officer sent him to the rear to rest for a few weeks, but he returned to the front, serving until the beginning of August. He was again pulled back to a “bomb-proof” job at battalion headquarters, but returned to the front as a major and company commander for the devastating series of battles that were known as Canada’s Hundred Days, which lasted from August to November 1918. Several times he avoided death only by inches, and, during those grim hours, “I had my mind fully made ready to meet my maker and was feeling very sad for Helen and Mother and Dad.” But he survived and was sent back to Canada in September 1918, where he was to be a war journalist. The Armistice was struck before he had a chance to write in an official capacity, and so he was demobilized, beginning his life again with Helen.

But the war had changed him. Gregory Clark returned to his job at the Toronto Star, but then moved to the newspaper’s Star Weekly. He was no longer content with the crime beat, and instead turned towards humour. Clark and his lifelong cartoonist partner Jimmie Frise–another veteran of the war–began to tell stories about Canadians. They were good-humoured, gentle tales of human foibles, and they appealed to Canadians across the country. He also indulged in his passion for fishing and the outdoor life. Clark would become one of the best-loved writers of his generation before his death in 1977.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge had been the defining moment in his young life, as it was for Canada up to that point in its young history. Speaking years after the war, Clark reflected on his experience: “I got back greatly enlarged by the war in mind and in spirit and in personality. I was a bookworm, a quiet little bookworm when I went, and I came home a rather tough character.” The same might be said for Canada as a whole. The “tough” Dominion would never be the same after being forged in the fire of the First World War.


Morning Glory: Canada's own WWI war horse

Posted: Nov 10, 2012 4:27 PM ET

Morning Glory lived on a farm in Brome County, Que., after she was returned to Canada at the end of World War One.
Morning Glory lived on a farm in Brome County, Que., after she was returned to Canada at the end of World War One.
The novel and stage play War Horse, also a Steven Spielberg film, is the story of a horse from Devon that goes to France

during the First World War. There is an equally moving but little known true story about a Canadian horse and her rider

who took part in the "war to end all wars." That horse, Morning Glory, was shipped to France from Brome County in

Quebec’s Eastern Townships in 1915. Her owner was Lt.-Col. George Harold Baker, known to friends and family as Harry.

Baker was a lawyer in the small town of Sweetsburg (now part of Cowansville, Que.) and Montreal. He was also the

member of Parliament for Brome, and a part-time soldier in the equivalent of what today would be called the reserves.

By the end of the World War One, Canada had provided well over 10 per cent of the horses used on

Europe's Western Front. Every year at least a quarter of them were killed in battle.

Baker commanded the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles. He and his men practised charges and shooting from the saddle

when they were on manoeuvres in Canada, mostly on parade grounds and playing fields near Sherbrooke, Que.

At the age of 38 he could easily have stayed home or worked behind the lines, but Baker volunteered to go overseas.

When he went to France in 1915 he took Morning Glory with him.

Horses on the battlefield

Unfortunately, there was little glory for the millions of warhorses in the First World War.

There were few cavalry charges on the Western Front — the machine gun changed the way wars were fought, and the

rapid fire kept men pinned down in trenches. Mounted soldiers couldn't charge machine guns, so horses were used behind

the lines and to haul equipment.

This statue in the House of Commons in Ottawa honours Lieut.-Col. Harry Baker, the only MP killed in action in the First World War. He was the member of Parliament for Brome, Que.This statue in the House of Commons in Ottawa honours Lieut.-Col.
Harry Baker, the only MP killed in action in the First World War. He was the Member of Parliament for Brome, Quebec.

Canada sent about 130,000 horses overseas during the First World War, according to Steve Harris, chief historian of the

directorate of history and heritage at the Department of National Defence. By the end of the war, Canada had provided

well over 10 per cent of the horses used on Western Front. Every year at least a quarter of them were killed in battle.

“Eight thousand horses went overseas with the first contingent of Canadians in the fall of 1914. As of July 1917, about

82,000 horses [had been] shipped overseas — 42,000 to the British Army, 15,000 to the French and 25,000 to the

Canadians,” Harris said.

Going separate ways

When Baker and his Mounted Rifles arrived in England they were reclassified as infantry and sent to the trenches.

The men were separated from their horses, which were also sent to France.

Morning Glory was lucky, avoiding the fate of so many of the other horses, such as dragging guns under fire through the

mud. She caught the eye of a battalion commander who took her for his personal mount.

Baker was separated from Morning Glory, but he saw his horse from time to time. He mentioned her in a letter home from

Belgium dated May 5, 1916.

“I saw Morning Glory day before yesterday; she is in the pink of condition. I hope some day to have her back.” It was to be

his last visit with her. Baker was killed around 8:30 p.m. on June 2, 1916, at Maple Copse in Sanctuary Wood during the

battle of Ypres.

German artillery started shelling the Canadian trenches around eight that morning. It continued non-stop for more than

12 hours. A slight man of about five foot eight, Baker reportedly moved along the trenches trying to keep his soldiers calm.

"Colonel Baker had just fallen mortally wounded while walking up and down behind a new trench his men were digging

under heavy fire and encouraging them by his coolness and example," wrote Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook) in his book,

Canada in Flanders. The man who went to war thinking he would be leading the charge on his horse died instead in the

mud in Flanders under unrelenting shellfire.

Lt.-Col. John McCrae, the Canadian doctor who wrote In Flanders Fields, manned the medical station nearby. He survived

the battle, but died of influenza in 1918. Baker was one of the many men whose deaths inspired the poem every Canadian

knows, and he is buried in a military cemetery in Flanders.

There is a statue to Baker in the House of Commons in Ottawa, because the MP for Brome was the only member killed in

action in the First World War of the more than 50 MPs and senators who enlisted.

Return of the war horse

Morning Glory came home to Canada in 1918 at the end of war, even though it was unusual for a horse to be shipped

back from overseas. General Dennis Draper, a friend of Baker's, brought Morning Glory back to Quebec. "The horse never

went into battle, which is why he came back to Canada," says Arlene Royea, managing director of the Brome County

Historical Society, which operates a museum in Knowlton, Que. Morning Glory initially lived on Draper's farm at Sutton

Junction in Brome county.

The plaque honouring the Canadian war horse Morning Glory, placed on her grave near Baker Pond, Que.The plaque honouring the Canadian war horse Morning Glory, placed on her
grave near Baker Pond, Que.

"General Draper made sure Morning Glory came back," said Arlene Royea. "Eventually she was with Bill Coughtry, who

used her on his mail route to give her a bit of exercise." She added there is little other information about Morning Glory in

local historical records. "We don't know as much as we would like to about the horse— we cared more about the men at

the time," Royea said. "But we do know she was cared for on local farms after she came home."

What is known is that the horse lived out the rest of her life peacefully in Quebec. Morning Glory is buried behind Glenmere,

the house at the family’s summer home at Baker Pond, where a large bronze plaque is attached to a rock on a hill. The

inscription is blackened in places and hard to read: "Here lies Morning Glory, a faithful charger who served overseas

1915-1918. Died 1936 aged 26 years."

Second and Third Contingents for the Boer War

The 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles and 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles were raised, as part of the second contingent  for the war, although they were rebadged in August 1900 after arrival in South Africa as The Royal Canadian Dragoons, and the Canadian Mounted Rifles, respectively, and numbered 371 men each, divided into two squadrons and a headquarters staff.

The unit arrived at Cape Town on 27 February 1900, the day that the Boers surrendered at Paardeberg. Despite concerns that the war would end before the unit saw action, in March and April, it took part in the expedition to suppress a rebellion by Boers in the western Cape Colony before joining the march to Pretoria and beyond. While the battalion did well, it was hampered to a certain extent by changes in the ranks of its senior officers caused by battle casualties and the departure of the commanding officer, North-West Mounted Police Commissioner L.W. Herchmer, whose health broke down. He was replaced by Lieutenant-Colonel T.D.B. Evans, an officer from the Royal Canadian Dragoons. The battalion nonetheless distinguished itself on a number of occasions, and earned a reputation for aggressive scouting. 

These units served throughout 1900, with the Second Contingent leaving South Africa on 12th December 1900. 

In Jan 1902, a Second 2nd Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles, paid for by the British, would serve briefly in South Africa. 

When the unit sailed from Canada in January 1902 it was a six-squadron regiment of 901 officers and men. Together with the 10th Canadian Field Hospital, it formed the third Canadian contingent.

Appointed to command the new unit was Lieutenant-Colonel T.D.B. Evans, who had earlier earned a reputation as the best Canadian leader of mounted troops while in command of the Canadian Mounted Rifles in the second contingent. The majority of the officers and at least a quarter of the men had previously served in South Africa.

The mounted rifles participated in a number of major drives that resulted in the destruction of at least twenty percent of the Boer forces in the western Transvaal, most of these being captured. It was not all one sided, however. On 31 March the unit fought as part of an outnumbered British force at the Battle of Harts River (Boschbult). Casualties were heavy, including 13 Canadians killed, 40 wounded, and seven missing. With the exception of the first engagement at Paardeberg on 18 February 1900, Harts River was the bloodiest day of the war for Canada.

The unit participated in a number of other drives to round up Boers before the war ended on 31 May 1902. It returned to Canada at the end of June. 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.

In total, from 1900 to 1902, 7,368 men would serve in all of the different Canadian units in South Africa, of whom 89 were killed or died of wounds. Some 252 were wounded, 135 more died by accident and disease. 

3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th Regiments, Canadian Mounted Rifles

In April 1902, the British requested from Canada a fourth contingent of 2,000 men recruited and funded on the same basis as the 2nd Regiment. The contingent was recruited in April 1902 and organized into four regiments of Canadian Mounted Rifles. Each regiment had 26 officers, 483 men and 539 horses, organized into a headquarters and four squadrons. The contingent therefore could field 16 squadrons, three more than the combined strengths of the second and third contingents, and Strathcona's Horse.  

Each regiment was commanded by a veteran of previous service in South Africa, and included a large number of veterans in both its commissioned and non-commissioned ranks. These units arrived in South Africa after the war had ended, however, and returned to Canada in July 1902 at which time they disbanded.

Sources: / Canadian War Museum

Unit Listings - 1902

This is part of a listing of the units of the Canadian Army in 1902.

Permanent Active Militia (Permanent Force)


  • "A" Squadron, Canadian Mounted Rifles

Non-Permanent Active Militia

Canadian Mounted Rifles

Independent Militia squadrons located across Canada.

Lt.-Col. John Poyntz French

4th April 1876 - 2nd October 1954.

Lt.-Col. John Poyntz French was born on 4th April 1876. He married Effie Laura Fenwick, daughter of Kenneth N. Fenwick, on 22nd December 1906. He died on 2nd October 1954 at the age of 78. He was the son of John French and Frances Mary Judge. He was with the Canadian North-West  Mounted Police between 1894 and 1899. He fought in the Boer War between 1899 and 1901, with the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles. He gained the rank of Lieutenant between 1901 and 1906 in the service of the South African Constabulary. He was in the Zululand Rebellion as Captain, Johannesburg Mounted Rifles in 1906. He fought in the First World War, where he was mentioned in despatches four times. He gained the rank of Lieutenant in the service of the P.P.C.L.I. and Major with the 1st Mounted Rifles. He was decorated with the award of Companion, Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.) in 1917. He gained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the service of the Canadian Army. He lived at Fort Qu'Appelle.                                                                                        Source:

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