By February of 1900, the British imperial force had managed to concentrate approximately 15,000 troops against the Boer army of 4,200 near Paardeberg. The Boer defences, however, were formidable. Moreover, the Boers were well armed with German-made Mauser rifles, weapons that were superior in range and accuracy to the British Lee-Enfields. On 18 February, the first British attack failed, and the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) suffered 18 killed and 63 wounded. A stalemate ensued. For the next seven days, the Boers repulsed every British assault.

On 26 February, Lieutenant-Colonel William Otter prepared the RCR for an attack under cover of darkness on the Boer positions. At 2:00 a.m. the following day, the RCR left the trenches and silently moved forward. The advancing companies were within 60 metres of the enemy lines before the Boers detected them. The Boers fired blindly into the darkness, but the Canadians did not return fire for fear of giving away their positions. Despite the confusion, the RCR managed to scrape out hasty trenches. When the sun rose, the regiment found itself with a commanding view of the main Boer trenches. Having achieved an advantageous position, the regiment delivered a torrent of well-aimed fire, after which the Boer troops raised a number of white flags. The Battle of Paardeberg was at an end. The Canadians had played a decisive role in the first British victory of the Boer War.


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