On 18 October 1899, the Canadian Government raised the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion of the regiment for service in South Africa. The battalion was Canada's first infantry component to serve in the Boer War and it formed the vanguard of a national contribution that would see more than 8000 Canadian troops committed to the conflict. The battalion, comprising eight infantry companies and a small headquarters staff was raised from across the Dominion of Canada and it drew many of its soldiers from existing Militia regiments who re-badged to The Royal Regiment of Canadian Infantry as it was then known. Within sixteen days of the declaration of war, the 2nd Battalion had been formed, equipped and dispatched by steamship from Quebec City for Cape Town. From a Canadian historical perspective the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion represents Canada’s first overseas engagement in a major war, with its 1000 soldiers serving under Canadian officers and NCOs. This was a vitally important step for achieving both a distinct Canadian national identity in the world and increased autonomy for Canada within the British Empire. At the same time, it was in this war that The RCR first established for Canada its international military reputation for producing soldiers who are brave, innovative, tenacious and capable, most notably demonstrated on 26-27 February 1900 at the Battle of Paardeberg Drift – an event which the regiment commemorates annually.
116 years later the 2nd Battalion is a fit and keen mechanized infantry battalion based at Gregg Barracks at 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown, New Brunswick. With one of the largest military training areas in Canada at its backdoor, the 2nd Battalion’s proficiency in the LAV 6 Light Armoured Vehicle is superb while the officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and soldiers of the battalion waste no opportunity to train and hone their professional skills. Cross-postings and tasks to support the Combat Training Centre give the battalion exceptional depth while its location in the Canadian Maritimes contributes to the battalion’s unique character.