Ottawa – Soldiers of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) were in France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Moreuil Wood on March 30 and 31,2018.
On March 30, a mounted contingent of approximately 20 Strathconas, wearing First World War cavalry uniforms, galloped with swords drawn, alongside members of the Regimental Society of Moreuil, France, to participate in a re-enactment of the famous charge of the Cavalry Squadron that occurred a century earlier at the Battle of Moreuil Wood.
Today, the Mayor of Moreuil, Pierre Boulanger, granted Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) Freedom of the City as a sign of gratitude for their heroic actions in France during the First World War. This ceremony represented an affirmation of the bond between the Regiment and the citizenry of Moreuil.
The Battle of Moreuil Wood is considered to have been a key event of the First World War. It occurred on March 30, 1918 on the banks of the Arve River in France, which saw the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, headed by Lieutenant Gordon Muriel Flowerdew, forced the withdrawal of the 23rd German Division from Moreuil Wood. This victory, however, came at a great price as Lieutenant Flowerdew was wounded and 24 of his troops made the ultimate sacrifice. He later died from his wounds and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
“It is extremely important that we reflect on and commemorate this important milestone in the history of the Strathconas. Those young troopers summoned tremendous courage as metal clashed and they confronted their enemy in hand-to-hand combat. Their valour continues to inspire us today as we enhance the resilience and warrior ethos of our soldiers, and as we prepare for operations in other theatres.”
— Brigadier-General Trevor Cadieu, Commander 3rd Canadian Division, Senior Serving Strathcona
- The Battle of Moreuil Wood is commemorated annually by the Strathconas as a tribute to their fallen comrades, and as a symbol of regimental pride. This year, in addition to the centennial commemorations held in France, commemoration events also took place earlier this month in Canada, notably in Edmonton and Ottawa.
- Lieutenant Gordon Muriel Flowerdew, who led “C” Squadron of the Strathconas in the Battle of Moreuil Wood on March 30, 1918, was honoured with the award of a posthumous Victoria Cross for his leadership. This was the third Victoria Cross awarded to his regiment.
- Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) was founded in 1900, and is a regular force armoured unit based out of Edmonton, Alberta. The Regiment serves Canada in keeping with its motto “Perseverance.”
- One of the highest honours that a municipal authority can bestow upon a military unit is the Freedom of the City – an ancient honour granted to allow a unit the privilege to march into the city “with drums beating, colours flying, and bayonets fixed.” Today’s ceremony saw present-day Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) march into the town of Moreuil a century after their predecessors marched there following the Battle of Moreuil Wood.
- The sacrifices and achievements of Canadians who fought in Europe during two World Wars is a legacy belonging to all Canadians.
Source: National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces