Cap badge The 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards WW2

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The 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards is an inactive armoured regiment of the Canadian militia

The 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards was a Militia Regiment activated for Wartime Service with the Canadian Army (Active) in 1941. A former cavalry regiment with roots in the Ottawa area that dated back to the late 1800s it was assigned to the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps which itself had been activated in 1940. In 1942 it was redesignated the 4th Reconnaissance Regiment (4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards), the same year the first of its soldiers sailed for the United Kingdom where 4th PLDG joined 1st Canadian Infantry Division at Camp Aldershot.

4th Recce immediately began expanding its ranks, taking volunteers from infantry regiments serving in the United Kingdom and a steady flow of reinforcements from Canada. Four squadrons were eventually raised in addition to the Regimental HQ Squadron. A reserve squadron, based in Ottawa continued to provide reinforcements throughout the war as well.

"A" Squadron of 4th PLDG landed in Sicily on July 13, 1943, as part of the Follow Up Forces. Only "A" Squadron, commanded by Major Duck actually took part in the Sicily fighting. B and C Squadrons were not fully equipped with the requisite number of reconnaissance cars and carriers until October, while the regiment was serving on mainland Italy. D Squadron was raised that winter when heavy rains and freezing temperatures rendered the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards' vehicles all but useless. The scouts patrolled their sector on horseback instead.

4th PLDG took part in virtually all of the major actions in the campaign, which lasted just 38 days. The regiment landed at Reggio di Calabria, on the Italian mainland on September 3, 1943, on the heels of 3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade and immediately began providing 1st Canadian Infantry Division Headquarters with information with regard to the ground to the north including the condition of roads and bridges and the location and strength of enemy forces. Each of the squadrons was composed of three scout troops and assault troop, equipped with a combination of (Otter Light Reconnaissance Cars)and the Fox. The Fox had a revolving turret fitted with a .50 calibre Browning machine gun as well as a Bren. 303 calibre light machine gun. The Otter mounted a single Bren as did the Universal Carriers used to transport the Scout and Assault Troops.

When a reporter asked squadron commander Major Harold Parker as to what he and his men did in Italy he replied: "We keep driving until the enemy shoots at us. Then we know he is there".Template:Days of Victory - Barris Parker was doing just that when his armoured car was struck by a 75mm shell on the Torella-Duronia road. The major was killed and his crew badly wounded. The scouts, frequently operated well behind enemy lines: During the Hitler Line battles in May 1944Sergeant Hubert Ditner, a farmer from Petersburg, Ontario, and his men took the opportunity to catch a few hours sleep in a roadside ditch. He awoke to find that his section was sharing a ditch with panzer grenadiers from 44th Hoch und Deutschmeister Division. Ditner, who spoke fluent German managed to get all ten to surrender without firing a shot.In a letter to his younger brother Ditner confessed that he "didn't know who was shaking more, Jerry or me.

One of the most notable engagements fought by 4th PLDG took place at Miglionico. A pair of scout troops used a rail tunnel to infiltrate the positions of the elite 3rd Fallschirmjager Regiment and launch an attack that killed an estimated 50 paratroopers and destroyed several trucks and a large quantity of ammunition.

All three squadrons were active by the time 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards was transferred to the Infantry Corps. The regiment was assigned to 12th Infantry Brigade of the recently arrived 5th Armoured Division on July 13, 1944. The decision was the result of 8th Army commander General Montgomery's concern that the division lacked the sufficient number of infantry battalions for operations in Italy. The regiment, having established a reputation for courage and tenacity while operating as scouts, soon distinguished itself as infantry. It was ordered to take Monte Peloso on September 1, 1944, also known as Point 253. The hill, part of the enemy's Gothic Line was targeted by 1st Division's gunners for the better part of an hour before 4th PLDG attacked. C-Squadron began closing on the hill at 13:10. The Princess Louise ran headlong into patatroopers from 3rd Fallschirmjager Regiment, preparing to mount their own attack and there was a furious, close-quarters gun battle prior to Lord Strathcona's Horse joining 4th PLDG in the assault on the main German defences, a handful of farm buildings midway up the slope. The Shermans blasted the startled paratroopers from the buildings and the waiting Princess Louise cut them down with small arms fire. By last light Point 253 was in Canadian hands. The first battle as infantry had cost the regiment dearly: 35 men were dead and another 94 wounded.

A message penned by 8th Army's commander, General Leese, congratulated the Princess Louise for their victory, made that much more remarkable based on the unit's very brief training as infantry.

On a humorous note, members of the unit were once urged by General Simonds (GOC 1st Canadian Infantry Division) to beat a U.S. Army unit into the Sicilian village of Enna and thus take credit for its capture. A mixed bag of NCO's and troopers mounted their armoured cars and headed for the town only to be halted by a demolished culvert. Not to be denied, the soldiers commandeered a mule and continued the race arriving in the village just as troops from 1st Infantry Division did so. Though the weary Canadians were only too happy to clamber aboard one of the latter unit's jeeps and ride the rest of the way into town, the regimental history of the 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards maintains that Corporal Jackson was first to dismount in Enna's piazza rendering the Canadian Army as the rightful liberators of the town.

The regiment was returned to its reconnaissance role, and Armoured Corps status on 15 March 1945 and finished the war in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, after being transferred to the theatre as part of Operation Goldflake. Fighting in a number of engagements with the heavily armoured German divisions as they fled, a role the unit had performed with some distinction in Italy, 4th PLDG suffered heavy losses. Battlefield deaths, all ranks, for the entire year of 1944 were 150. In the four months 4th Recce fought in North West Europe, a third of the time it was in Italy, it lost some 187 men 

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