Strathconas on Op LUSTRE – A Squadron
By 2Lt Corey McLean
Members of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) made a 14 hour road move in order to take part in Op LUSTRE. They arrived in the city of Portage la Prairie and almost immediately began efforts setting up Tiger Tubes and Aqua Dams in their efforts to maintain flood protection in the municipality. They worked simultaneously in the north protecting houses in the vicinity of the Portage diversion, and in the south where the intentional breach was planned to occur in the Hoop and Holler Bend of the Assiniboine River.
The Strathcona soldiers were quartered in Southport, but spent little time there with work days that lasted between 16-18 hours. Despite the lack of sleep and heavy workload, the soldiers, many who are natives of Manitoba, remained in good spirits knowing that this was their opportunity to be able to provide assistance to Canadians in need.
Heavy machinery began scraping away a layer of rock on a closed section of Provincial Road 331 - Hoop and Holler Bend - to allow water to flow out of a slow-moving Assiniboine oxbow. The aim of this controlled breach was to move the water to the east and south so that it could be both stored on fields and directed into the Elm River, which eventually empties into the Red River. This effort ultimately succeeded and flood damage was kept to a minimum in the area.
In the end, members of LdSH (RC) managed to provide protection to over 130 houses and established themselves in the eyes of those they helped as honest, hardworking, and professional soldiers worthy of their respect.