Canada & The South African War, 1899-1902

Canadian South African War Insigna
Canadian War Museum
1 Vimy Place
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0M8
Tel. (819) 776-8600
toll-free 1-800-555-5621

Awards

Canadian Victoria Cross Winners

Boer War Picture, Victoria Cross Medal. 20020208-001
Victoria Cross

Four members of Canadian units won the Victoria Cross (VC) during the South African War. This award was the British Empire's highest military decoration for gallantry.

The first winner of the Victoria Cross by a member of a Canadian unit was Sergeant A.H.L. Richardson of Strathcona's Horse. At Wolve Spruit on 5 July 1900, despite being mounted on a wounded horse himself, Richardson rode back through very heavy enemy fire to rescue a fellow Canadian who had been unhorsed and wounded.

Three members of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, Lieutenants H.Z.C. Cockburn and R.E.W. Turner and Sergeant E.J. Holland, won the Victoria Cross during the desperate rear-guard action at Leliefontein on 7 November 1900. Both Cockburn and Turner had held off large groups of Boers at close range, allowing two Canadian field guns to escape capture. In the process, both officers were wounded, and Cockburn was captured. Sergeant Holland kept several parties of Boers at bay with the fire from his Colt machine gun. With his gun jammed and in imminent danger of capture, he detached it from its carriage and carried it off to safety.

Two other Victoria Crosses were awarded to Canadians serving in Britain's Royal Army Medical Corps: Lieutenant H.E.M. Douglas for his conduct during the battle of Magersfontein in December 1899 and Lieutenant W.H.S. Nickerson for going to the assistance of a wounded comrade under fire at Wakkerstroom in April 1900.


Boer War Picture, Sergeant Arthur H.L. Richardson, Strathcona's Horse, winner of the Victoria Cross for bravery at Wolve Spruit, 5 July 1900. Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) Museum Sergeant Arthur H.L. Richardson, Strathcona's Horse, winner of the Victoria Cross for bravery at Wolve Spruit, 5 July 1900.
Boer War Photo, Lieutenant H.Z.C. Cockburn, Royal Canadian Dragoons, winner of the Victoria Cross for bravery at Leliefontein, 7 November 1900. Royal Canadian Dragoons Archives Lieutenant H.Z.C. Cockburn, Royal Canadian Dragoons, winner of the Victoria Cross for bravery at Leliefontein, 7 November 1900.
Boer War Picture, Lieutenant Richard W. Turner, Royal Canadian Dragoons, winner of the Victoria Cross for bravery at Leliefontein, 7 November 1900. Lieutenant Richard W. Turner, Royal Canadian Dragoons, winner of the Victoria Cross for bravery at Leliefontein, 7 November 1900.
Boer War Photo, Sergeant Edward J. Holland, Royal Canadian Dragoons, winner of the Victoria Cross for bravery at Leliefontein, 7 November 1900. Royal Canadian Dragoons Archives Sergeant Edward J. Holland, Royal Canadian Dragoons, winner of the Victoria Cross for bravery at Leliefontein, 7 November 1900.