Fonds MS 190;1999.054;2001.059 - B.C. Dragoons fonds

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B.C. Dragoons fonds

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Fonds

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CA VERN MS 190;1999.054;2001.059

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  • 1914-2000, predominant 1940-1980 (Creation)
    Creator
    Canada. Canadian Army. British Columbia Dragoons

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5.18 m of textual records and other material

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Administrative history

The Okanagan Valley's BC Dragoons' history dates back to 1898, when steps were taken to organize a troop of militia which was to be called the Okanagan Mounted Rifles. J.A. McKelvie, C.F. Costerton and Judge Spinks, prominent citizens of Vernon, were among the leading forces for this organization. Shortly after the OMRs were established, the unit had to disband owing to a change in government policy. In 1908, through the efforts of Mr Copley-Thompson, Price Ellison and J.A. McKelvie, an independent squadron known as the B Squadron Canadian Mounted Rifles was formed. This unit went to camp for the first time in 1908, under the command of Major H.A. Perry. In 1910, authority was granted to form a cavalry regiment in Vernon, to be known as the 30th BC Horse. Command of the unit was given to Lt. Col. C.L. Bott, a veteran of the South African War. This regiment, with headquarters in Vernon, consisted of "A" Squadron from Lumby and Coldstream, "B" Squadron from Vernon, and "C" Squadron from Armstrong and Enderby. Later, "D" Squadron was formed to encompass Penticton and Kelowna. At the outbreak of war in 1914, the 30th BC Horse was mobilized and brought up to strength. Orders were received in November that the 30th BC Horse would amalgamate with an independent Squadron of Horse in Victoria to form an overseas unit, the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles. The 2nd CMR went overseas in June 1915 and to France in September 1915 as part of the Mounted Rifle Brigade in the 2nd Division. In December, the Brigade was converted to Infantry and transferred to the 3rd Division. As infantry, the 2nd CMR fought overseas in every major engagement in which the Canadian Corps took part. The 2nd CMR returned to Canada in 1919 under Lt Col Johnston, (who succeeded Col Bott in 1916) and were immediately demobilized. In 1920, the regiment was reformed as a mounted unit, the 1st BC Mounted Rifles. The name was later revised to the BC Dragoons. Lt Col Bott was given command of the unit, and the headquarters were formed in Vernon. Squadrons were re-formed with "A" Squadron in Vernon, "B" Squadron in Kelowna and "C" Squadron in Penticton. The BC Dragoons trained as a mounted unit from 1920-1939, when armoured car training was introduced. In July 1940, Lt Col Oswell received orders to form the 5th Canadian Motorcycle Regiment from the BC Dragoons. This unit was moved from Vernon to Victoria. In February 1941, the unit was again redesignated and became the 9th Armoured Regiment (BCD), relocating to Camp Borden to join other units of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division. The regiment proceeded overseas in November 1941, where they completed tank training in England. The 9th Armoured Regiment first saw action on May 24, 1944 when it led the 5th Division through the Hitler line. The BCDs played a major role in the breakthrough at Arnhein and pushed through Holland to the Zuider Dee, where they were at the end of the war. The Regiment returned to Canada in January 1946, under the command of Lt Col Angle. During the war, the 9th Reserve Armoured Regiment (BCD) carried on training in the Valley under command of Lt Col Husband. When the active unit was disbanded, a re-organization of the Canadian Militia was in progress, and Col Angle was given command of the 9th Reconnaissance Regiment (BCD) Reserve Force. He retained command for one year and was succeeded by the Lt Col Kinloch. In the spring of 1946, permission was granted to Armoured Corps units to revert to their original titles, and the unit was renamed the BC Dragoons (9th Recee Regt).

Custodial history

The records of the BC Dragoons were collected, arranged and preserved by one of their members, volunteer historian Major Harvey Smerychinski. While acting as the regimental historian, Major Smerychinski arranged the records in manila envelopes by subject and decade, and produced both box file lists and a master file index. Upon his retirement and subsequent move to the coast, Major Smerychinski returned the records to the possession of the BC Dragoons Whizzbang Association. After some deliberation, the Whizzbang Association decided to donate the records to the Vernon Museum and Archives in 1999. Further accrual donated in 2001.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of the records of the BC Dragoons from 1914-2000. Includes war diaries from WWI and WWII, minutes, general administrative records, correspondence, financial and legal documents, personnel records, reports, information about various military exercises and social events, newsletters and circulars, training and technical manuals, maps and architectural drawings, ephemera and photographs. Also included in the fonds are records of the various squadron messes, the Whizzbang Association, the Unit Fund Committee, and the BCD Historical Society. The records document the evolution of the BC Dragoons from a small cavalry unit in World War I, their stint as the 9th Armoured regiment during World War II, to their present position of reserve militia for the Canadian Armed Forces. The records also document the Canadian war efforts both in Canada and overseas, as well as the regiment's activities (military exercises, community activities, the establishment of a museum) during the ensuing years of peace.

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Some restrictions apply. Within certain series, some records are restricted in accordance to federal Privacy Act regulations.

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Sous-fonds and series level descriptions are available. Item level descriptions of the photographs are available.

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BCAUL control number: VERN-168

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