Lieutenant Cockburn VC, Lieutenant Turner VC, and Sergeant Holland VC
The Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD), formed on 21 December 1883, were sent to South Africa in 1900 to fight in the Boer War. On 7 November of that year, while acting as the rearguard for a column of troops, the Dragoons found themselves under fire from an overwhelming number of Boers. During a hectic running battle over many hours, the Dragoons twice prevented the capture of the artillery pieces under their protection, as well as preventing the Boers from engaging the escorted troops. For their gallant actions in this battle, the Victoria Cross was awarded to Lieutenant Cockburn, Lieutenant Turner and Sergeant Holland, while Trooper W.A. Knisley was awarded the Distinguish Conduct Medal, “the poor man’s Victoria Cross”. To this day, the Battle at Leliefontein remains the most meritorious single action in the Regiment’s history. Each year, commemorative activities are held to honour the actions of these men and all Dragoons that fought at Leliefontein. Their courage and gallantry in the face of adversity established a tradition of service that continues to this day.
from the files of the Royal Canadian Dragoons