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Princess Louise Dragoon Guards

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 1872 [unknown]
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canadamap
Surnames/tags: Ottawa,_Ontario Canadian_Army Canadian_Military_History
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Princess Louise Dragoon Guards

Ottawa's independent cavalry troop was formed in 1872. It later came under the patronage of the Princess Louise, Marchioness of Lorne, during her time there as vice-regal consort (1878–80), and the troop was expanded to an independent squadron named the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards. During the Second Boer War, volunteers from the squadron fought with the Imperial forces in South Africa. The squadron was again expanded into a regiment in 1903 as the 5th "Princess Louise Dragoon Guards".

The 5th PLDG was not mobilized in the First World War, but it contributed volunteers to and aided in the recruiting of the 8th Regiment, Canadian Mounted Rifles. "A" Squadron was recruited from Ottawa, and likely had most of the 5th PDLG recruits, (such as Sgt Harold Archibald Scott who later commanded A Coy, 4th CMR as Major). The 8th CMR did not enter combat as a unit, its personnel being absorbed by the reserves in England and the 4th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles, in France, but enough of its former members fought at the Battle of Mount Sorrel that the regiment qualified for a battle honour, which the PLDG perpetuates.

In the 1936 reorganization of the Militia, the PLDG and the 4th Hussars were amalgamated as the 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards.

The 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards was a Militia Regiment activated for Wartime Service with the Canadian Army (Active) in 1941. A former cavalry regiment with roots in the Ottawa area that dated back to the late 1800s it was assigned to the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps which itself had been activated in 1940. In 1942 it was redesignated the 4th Reconnaissance Regiment (4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards), the same year the first of its soldiers sailed for the United Kingdom where 4th PLDG joined 1st Canadian Infantry Division at Camp Aldershot.

Though transferred to the infantry in July 1944, 4th PLDG retained the black beret of the Canadian Armoured Corps and continued to refer to its sub-units as "squadrons" and "troops" instead of "companies" and "platoons"; the traditional infantry designation. Its motto was "For Our Altars and Our Homes".

The 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards was moved to the Supplementary Order of Battle of the Canadian Army in 1965.

Battle honours

In the list below, battle honours in small capitals were awarded for participation in large operations and campaigns, while those in lowercase indicate honours granted for more specific battles. The battle honours in bold type are emblazoned on the regimental standard.

South African War

South Africa, 1900

First World War

Mount Sorrel

Second World War

Troina Valley
Sicily, 1943
Landing at Reggio
Motta Montecorvino
Liri Valley
Hitler Line
Melfa Crossing
Gothic Line
Tomba di Pesaro
Sant'Angelo in Salute
Capture of Ravenna
Naviglio Canal
Italy, 1943–1945
North-West Europe, 1945

30 Aug 1930 The Evening Citizen (Ottawa) "Old Time Stuff"

The Princess Louise Dragoons Origin Back In The Year '78'

Was Organized Just Prior to Arrival of the Princess and Received Its Prefix Soon After. Was the Successor to the Capt. Sparks Troop of Cavalry.
The Princess Louise Dragoon Guards is one of the old military organizations of Ottawa. It came officially into existence on the fifteenth of November, the year 1878. There has been a general impression that the PLDG was organized as such. But that is not the case. It was started merely as a troop of dragoons and replaced the old Ottawa troop of cavalry of which Captain Nicholas Sparks (Jr.) had been the captain.
As far as can ascertained the troop was organized in view of the known coming to Rideau Hall of the Marquis of Lorne and the Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria. The statement of pioneer members of the corps is that the militia dept of the day felt that something more spectacular than a cavalry corps was required to act as escort to the Princess Louise.

Gave Her Consent

No doubt those who organized the corps, had in mind, from the start, the name the corps was later to bear. But it was not till after the Princess Louise arrived, and graciously gave her consent to the use of her name, that the name "Princess Louise" was added to the designation of the corps. It was on Jan 3, 1879, that the new name came officially into use.

Made Into Squadron

In 1903 the personnel of the PLDG was added to and received the dignity of a squadron, and at the same time it was given the squadron number of "The Fifth".

Some of Cavalry

It should be told that the best of the men of the old troop of Sparks' cavalry were drafted into the new corps, but a number of the new men (young) who were known to be good horsemen were invited to join, with the result that new corps started off with a personnel capable of making a fine showing in the presence of he Queen's daughter.

All Sorts

The new corps was comprised of various classes. There were more clerks, civil servant clerks, a few local farmers, some contractors, some "gentlemen horsemen", and some merchants.

The Officers

John Stewart, who was a contractor and who had been a lieutenant in the Ottawa Cavalry Corps, was given command of the new dragoons. Under him he had as lieutenants O.A.F. Coleman, V.S. and F.F. Gourdeau, civil servants. The full personnel will be found under the picture herewith.

Like Centaurs

From the start the new corps was a success. It had appearance and "swank". The men all rode their mounts like centaurs, and the uniforms, helmets and equipment generally were the same as the swell Dragoon corps of the motherland. All the equipment came from England.

The Survivors

Only a few of the original personnel remain alive. So far as the OTS can ascertain those who are still alive are T. C. (Tom) Bate, John McGovern, and Peter Thompson (Montreal road). The original officers and all the non-coms have passed.

In Montreal

During the stay of the Princess in Canada, there was staged for her benefit a great sham battle on Fletcher Field at the foot of the mountain. The Dragoon Guards were taken to Montreal for the occasion, and cut quite a swath with the spectators. The Dragoons went down and back on a special train.

The Cavalry

In passing it may be said that the uniform of the old cavalry corps (organized in 1872) was much the same as that of the dragoons except that the cavalry did not wear helmets. They had to be content with forage caps, for ordinary use, and busbies for special occasions.

In 1879

The picture shown herewith was taken on Parliament Hill in 1879, when the new Governor-General and the Princess attended their second opening of parliament. The new Dragoons made a swell escort for Her Royal Highness.

Picture of the Dragoons as they appeared on their second escort to Parliament Hill soon after the organization. The sleigh in which the Princess drove to the "opening" is seen in the foreground. Following is the personnel of the corps, reading from left to right. Those names which have prefixes are troopers. The non-coms and officers are designated: Back row: G. Connors, J. McColl, Corp. R. Brown, --Duncan, J. Langford, A. Scrim, Sgt. D. Gordon, Geo. Howe, R. Gilpin, D. Campbell, J. Skead, Sgt, A. Z. Palmer, Charles Geddes, T.C. Bate, Corp. W. May, E. Rochester, F. Abbott, G. Harris, Corp. Geo. Rogers, J. Scott, John McGowen, -- Donaldson, Corp. Michaelson, F. McCann, -- Hailey, Peter Thompson, Corp. S. Thompson. Front row: Sgt.-Major Heron, Trumpter J. Lambkin, Capt. John Stewart, Lt. O.A.F. Coleman, V.S., Lt. F.F. Gourdeau.


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