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Red Deer’s Boer War Soldiers

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As Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of 41 Signal Regiment, I think it’s important that we learn about our military history, especially one as rich and meaningful as our local military history.  Here in the 2nd of 3 local stories, Michael Dawe tells us about the soldiers from our region who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Boer War.

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Lionel Page and his troop of men after the turn of the last century.

When the Red Deer Hospital opened in 1904, it was dedicated to the memory of three young men from the Balmoral District east of Red Deer who had been killed in the Boer War. They were Angus Jenkins, Archibald McNicoll and Charles Cruickshank.

Angus Jenkins was born in Fredericton New Brunswick in 1877. He moved with his parents, brother and sister to a homestead about three miles east of Red Deer.  A big strapping man, more than 6 feet in height, he became a “cow puncher”.

In February 1900, he went down to Pincher Creek with his friend Charles Cruickshank and enlisted in the Lord Strathcona Horse. He then departed for South African and the Boer War.

On July 1 (Dominion Day) 1900, he was proceeding with an advance party near Waterval, South Africa. They encountered a group of Boers flying a white flag in a farm house.  When the Canadians proceeded closer, they were ambushed by unseen enemies who were hiding in a small orchard. Trooper Jenkins was killed instantly when a Mauser bullet hit his bandolier and two cartridges exploded.

Angus Jenkins was the first member of the Lord Strathcona Horse to be killed in action. He was buried in a garden at Wuuchaut Spruit. The Earl of Dundonald and Colonel Sam Steele attended the funeral.

Charles Cruickshank was born in 1877 in Pembroke Ontario. In 1891, he moved with his family to Red Deer, homesteading in Balmoral.  Charles originally worked in the construction business with his father, but later became a cowboy. In February 1900, he enlisted in the Lord Strathcona Horse with Angus Jenkins.

On September 4th, 1900, near Badfontein, South Africa, he was part of a small group of soldiers sent to assist an observation post which was coming under enemy attack. Trooper Cruickshank and Sergeant Brothers were in the front of the relieving party. When their company was forced to withdraw, they were found to be missing. Later that night, when the observation post was recaptured, the bodies of the two men were found.

Charles Cruickshank was buried by Rev. Webb Peploe, formerly of Calgary, in a grave at the headwaters of the Crocodile River.

Archibald McNicoll was born in 1876 in Bruce County Ontario. He moved with his family to the Balmoral district in the spring of 1891. The McNicolls started Red Deer’s first market garden. Archibald later became a cowboy, In February 1900, he responded to the call to serve “King and Empire” and enlisted in the Lord Strathcona Horse in Calgary.

In June 1900, he became severely ill with enteric (typhoid) fever. He died at Newcastle, South Africa on June 19th. He is buried near the site of the army hospital.

There was a large plaque at the Red Deer Regional Hospital which commemorated the fact that the Red Deer Hospital was originally dedicated to these three young men who lost their lives while serving their country. When Alberta Health Services took over the management of the Regional Hospital, it was taken down. It now resides at the Red Deer Museum.

Read more from Todayville.

President Todayville Inc., Former VP/GM CTV Edmonton, Honorary Lieutenant Colonel 41 Signal Regiment, Board Member Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Award Foundation, Past Board Member United Way of Alberta Capital Region, Musician, Photographer.

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