Harcus Strachan

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Harcus Strachan
Harcus Strachan.jpg
Born 7 November 1884
Bo'ness, Scotland
Died 1 May 1982 (1982-06) (aged 97)
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Allegiance  Canada
Service/branch Canadian Expeditionary Force
Rank Lieutenant-Colonel
Unit The Fort Garry Horse
Commands held 1st Battalion, Edmonton Fusiliers
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Victoria Cross
Military Cross

Henry Mareus "Harcus" Strachan VC, MC (/ˈstrɔːn/; 7 November 1884 – 1 May 1982) was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Early life[edit]

Strachan was born in Bo'ness, Scotland and attended the Royal High School, Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh before emigrating to Canada. He joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force in July 1915.[1]

World War I[edit]

Strachan was 33 years of age, and serving in the First World War with the Canadian Cavalry Brigade as a lieutenant in The Fort Garry Horse, when he performed the action for which he was awarded the VC. It has become traditional for the Garrys to hold a parade every year on the anniversary of Strachan's unlikely cavalry exploit.

During the Battle of Cambrai on 20 November 1917 at Masnières, France, Lieutenant Strachan took command of a mounted squadron of Garrys when the squadron leader, approaching the German front line at a gallop, was killed. Lieutenant Strachan led the squadron through the enemy line of machine-gun posts and then, with the surviving men, led the charge on the German battery, killing seven of the gunners with his sword. When all the gunners were killed and the battery silenced, he rallied his men and fought his way back at night on foot through the enemy's lines, bringing all unwounded men safely in, together with 15 prisoners.[2]

Strachan, having been promoted to captain, received his VC from King George V on January 6, 1918.

Later life[edit]

After the war, he farmed in Edmonton before going into banking. By 1930, he had moved to Calgary.[3] Strachan later commanded the 1st Battalion, Edmonton Fusiliers during the Second World War. After the war he retired and moved to Vancouver. Strachan eventually attained the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Strachan died on 1 May 1982, at the age of 97 years and 175 days, the record longest-lived recipient of the Victoria Cross.[4] Strachan's ashes were scattered near the Rose Garden Columbarium at Boal Chapel Memorial Gardens in North Vancouver, BC on 5 May.

In September 2013 a lake in Manitoba was named "Harcus Strachan Lake" to commemorate his award of the Victoria Cross. (Winnipeg Free Press, January 15, 2014).


  1. ^ Canadian Great War Project
  2. ^ "No. 30433". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 December 1917. p. 13222. 
  3. ^ Private records indicating membership in Calgary organizations, with his address at the time listed as 2114 - 7 Ave SW, Calgary.
  4. ^ [1] Article on ww1.canada.com.

External links[edit]