Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute on the 120th anniversary of the battle of Paardeberg. The Boer War marked the first overseas deployment of the Canadian army, specifically the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry, which played an instrumental role in the victory of the battle of Paardeberg Drift.
During the early hours of the 27th of February, 1900, the battalion advanced by night toward the enemy lines, quietly digging trenches on high ground only 65 yards from the Boer lines. The Boers attempted to repel the Canadian advance and fierce fighting began. By 6 a.m. the Boers had surrendered, thus removing the enemy forces blocking the way to the Boer capital.
The colonel of the regiment, the Right Hon. David Johnson, said recently, “This battle represented a turning point in the South African conflict”. He continued, “historians acclaim that this battle, attributed internationally as a Canadian success, led to Canada's first true pangs of nationalism.”
For approximately two decades afterwards, on February 27 Canadians would gather around memorials of the South African War to say prayers and honour veterans. This tradition continued until the day was replaced by Remembrance Day following World War I.
I invite all members of the House to join me in honouring our veterans and celebrating Paardeberg Day. Pro patria.