Dragoons mark centennial

The British Columbia Dragoons are celebrating their 100th anniversary Saturday,

Originally known as The British Columbia Horse, the regiment was formed in Vernon in 1911 as a cavalry regiment. There were also squadrons from Lumby, Kelowna and Armstrong.

“Dragoons from the Okanagan have served in almost every Canadian Forces operation,” said Lt.-Col. Nigel Whittaker, commanding officer.

“Both overseas and at home since 1911, and this our centennial year, we commemorate the sacrifices our comrades have made for freedom.”

After the start of the First World War, the majority of the members were activated in Nov. 1914 under the  2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles. They served in France where the regiment took part in most battles, with more than 600 killed in action and 16 battle honours won.

The 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles returned to Canada after the armistice and disbanded in April 1919.

The regiment’s history and traditions were carried on with the formation of the British Columbia Mounted Rifles in 1920 and the unit was renamed the British Columbia Dragoons in 1929 to reflect its cavalry heritage.

By 1940, events in the Second World War had made it apparent that mechanized forces had made cavalry obsolete.

The unit was re-designated the 9th Canadian Armoured Regiment and re-trained in Canada and England with tanks. In 1944, the regiment deployed to Italy and played a prominent part in the northward advance.

In February 1945, the unit re-deployed to north-west Europe to join the 2nd Canadian Corps and take part in the liberation of the Netherlands.

After garrison duty in Europe, the regiment came back to Canada in 1946 where it resumed the status of a primary reserve armoured reconnaissance regiment.

The Dragoons remained an armoured reconnaissance unit until 1980 when it became a tank regiment and trained with Cougar Armoured Fighting Vehicles. In 2004, the BCDs returned to reconnaissance, training with G-wagons, Milcots, MSVs and LSVWs.

Since the Second World War members of the regiment have served on United Nations and NATO missions including: Kashmir, Korea, Cypress, Bosnia, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan. One member of the regiment, Brigadier Harry Angle, died in Kashmir, becoming Canada’s first UN fatality.

In 2003, during the Okanagan Mountain Park fire, the regiment formed the headquarters of Task Force 2 to defend Kelowna. Members of the regiment also served on other task forces during that hot summer and provided soldiers for security at the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games in Vancouver. The regiment has members serving in Afghanistan today.

“Our soldiers have always stepped up to the plate when called upon,” said chief warrant officer Alan Dadds.

“I am proud of the work they’ve done and the service they’ve given Canada. We have an exceptional group of men and women from our community serving here.”


The Dragoons will take part in a centennial celebration and Freedom of the city parade at Kelowna city hall Saturday at 1 p.m.