Britannia at War: Proud Home of the 5th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards, D Squadron

How it must have thrilled the stout hearts of Britannia when on May 23rd, 1872, the Dominion of Canada commissioned the raising of the 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards, an Ottawa based Cavalry Troop. How much more so when they learned that D Squadron would be based in Britannia!


Quarterly Militia List of the Dominion of Canada : Apr. 1, 1909

The Cavalry Troop was designated for the then vice-regal consort, the Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyl in 1879.  The uniform was to be blue with white facing. Just imagine how grand that must have looked with the squadron cantering up Main St (now Britannia Rd).


1879 Left Troop sergeant major, the Princess Louise’s Dragoon Guards.

Definitely a sight to remember, except no one remembers it because it never happened.

Quite naturally limited money and resources were allocated to raising the squadrons in order. First priority is Squadron A, then B, and so on. At the time a militia unit’s “headquarters” would be at or near the residence of the Commanding Officer. For D Squadron this meant Britannia Heights as this is where the intended future commanding officer happened to live.

By 1899 D Squadron is still not operational as members of the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards serve in the Second Boer War. In 1903 the unit is designated to expand to become a full regiment, the 5th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards , but still no D Squadron.

By 1904 A and B squadrons are fully operational, and C Squadron is “in formation, although it is now to be headquartered in Prescott rather than Riceville.

In the spring of 1905 there is disappointment that D Squadron has yet to be raised. In Nov Captain L.A. Smith is promoted to Major and commissioned to raise D Squadron.

By 1906 D Squadron has been raised and is drilling at “Mosgrove”, ie on or near the property of Judge William Mosgrove, an important local figure with whom magistrate, now also Major Louis A Smith, lived. This would put it roughly around Richmond Rd and Grenon Ave in Britannia Heights ie where the William Mosgrove Tower now is; i.e. still in Britannia, but barely.

We do not hear about the squadron again until Jan 1913 when Lt. Col. Courtney retires and Major Smith is in line to take command of the regiment. This would mean a new commander for D Squadron, and hence probably a change of headquarters.

In March 1913 we learn that the men of the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards are not pleased that camp (ie sumer training) will be dry (no alcohol). In solidarity the officers, to whom this would not apply, opt to voluntarily go dry for the duration as well. “Camp” would be under canvas at the Connaught Ranges at South March.

The 5th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards were not called up for World War I, but instead contributed men to the 8th Regiment, Canadian Mounted Rifles. 

In 1920 the 5th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards is completely reorganized, as follows:
1. Numerals are no longer to be used in unit designation, thus the 5th PLDG becomes simply the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards
2. The PLDG to be Canada’s second most senior Cavalry Unit, taking precedence over all others except the Governer General’s Body Guard.
3. All Squadrons to be headquartered at the Regimental Headquarters at the corner of Laurier Ave W and Elgin St
4. The regiment to be reduced to only 3 squadrons; D Squadron ceases to exist.

And so Britannia’s association with D Squadron of the elite 5th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards, an affiliation long in theory, but very brief in reality, came to an end.

As for the regiment itself:

In 1931 Lt Colonel E.B. Nelson, who had joined the regiment as a trooper in D Squadron in 1905, assumed full command of the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards. 

In 1936 the 4th Hussars and the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards were amalgamated to form the 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards.” (Wikipedia).

The regiment served with distinction in World War II.  in 1941 it was assigned to the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps In 1942 it was redesignated the 4th Reconnaissance Regiment (4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards). (Wikipedia).

Then in 1965 the regiment was moved to Supplementary Order of Battle  ie “virtually disbanded” (Wikipedia).

Badge of the 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards Source Canadian Forces
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