Strathconas Celebrate the Battle of Moreuil WoodBy: MCpl Mathieu Dubé
30 April 2010
Most units amongst the professional armed forces of the world have events and feats of arms dear to their soldiers. Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), based out of Edmonton, Alberta is no exception. Amongst numerous battle honours and achievements the Regiment has accrued, the Battle of Moreuil Wood stands as one of the greatest examples of the Regimental motto: “Perseverance”.
The year is 1918. During what would be the last great German offensive of the First World War, the Regiment fought both mounted and dismounted in rear-guard actions to relieve our hard-pressed infantry. On 30 March the whole brigade attacked the advancing Germans at Moreuil Wood. Lieutenant G.M. Flowerdew, at the head of C Squadron, led a cavalry charge against an enemy 300 strong, supported by machine guns. Yelling the words “It’s a charge boys! It’s a charge!” he rallied his men and initiated an assault so aggressive and overwhelming the German troops thought themselves surrounded and surrendered to the attacking cavalry. The victory, however, came at a great price. Lieutenant Flowerdew was wounded and 24 of his troops fell dead on the field of battle. He later died from the wounds he received that day and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. The Battle of Moreuil Wood was a key event of the war, which stopped the German offensive. The Battle of Moreuil Wood is commemorated annually by Strathconas as a tribute to Fallen Comrades, and as a great symbol of Regimental pride.
The Regiment commemorates the Battle of Moreuil Wood annually on the weekend nearest to 30 March, however training or operational commitments often force a slightly earlier or later date. This year was no exception. With most of the Regiment tasked with either combat operations in Afghanistan or to provide a secure environment for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, the Regiment still found time to show its dedication to commemorating the battle. As it is customary, the remembrance parade was preceded by a full day of sports competitions pitting the different messes against each other. At the end of the adrenaline filled day, the young Troopers and Corporals emerged victorious in the day’s competitions. As per tradition, the following day saw the Regiment united on the parade square to remember their fallen and the events involved in the famous Battle of Moreuil Wood. The parade is usually a great opportunity to recognize the performance and accomplishments of the soldiers of the Regiment. This year, no less than 52 Troopers were promoted to Corporals in front of friends and family of the Regiment. A number of soldiers also received awards for service rendered overseas and for their outstanding performance throughout the year. That night the Officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers were invited to a Combined Mess Dinner. Ending in the early hours of the morning, it brought a fitting end to two days of fierce competition, heartfelt remembrance and poignant Regimental pride.
The year 2009 and early 2010 were busy for the soldiers of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians). During training exercises and career progression courses, successive and continuous Tank Squadron deployments to Afghanistan, and security duties at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, the dedicated soldiers of the Regiment often did not have the luxury of rest. The intent of the Battle of Moreuil Wood celebrations has always been a time to stop, take a well deserved break to enjoy the spirit of friendly competition and take time to reflect upon the sacrifice so many comrades before us made in order for us to enjoy such a rewarding life. Without doubt or reservation we can say that this year’s celebrations accomplished that intent and that the spirit of unrelenting perseverance displayed by the soldiers who fought at the Battle of Moreuil Wood is alive and well in the hearts of current day Strathconas.