Peacekeeping Ferrets

Here we see a beautifully restored Ferret Scout Car of the Ontario Regiment RCAC Museum in their typical UN livery.

preserved UN marked Canadian ferret

Note how much lower to the ground it is compared to the LAV (Canadian Kodiak) following behind it

Note how much lower to the ground it is compared to the LAV (Canadian Kodiak) following behind it

Some 4,409 Ferrets of all kinds were made between 1952 and 1971 by the UK company, Daimler, and widely used not only by the British Army but also that of the Commonwealth. This included some 124 by the Canadian Forces, first acquired in 1954 to replace the Otter and Staghound armored cars of the WWII era.

The first armored unit used in UN peacekeeping was made of Canadian Ferrets.

Assembled from components of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps the unit was dubbed the light-armored 56th Reconnaissance Squadron (56 RECCE), named for the year they were founded. They were outfitted with 23 Ferrets (seen below in a National Defence photo from the Canadian War Museum) as part of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF).

Almost looks like a recruiting poster

Almost looks like a recruiting poster. Note the WWII era Bren and U.S. tanker goggles, afterall, the war had just ended 12 years before.

The 105 officers and men drawn from the Royal Canadian Dragoons and Lord Strathcona’s Horse arrived in Egypt in March 1957 and set up their base in Rafah, from where they patrolled the northern section of the 130-mile long demarcation line between Egypt and Israel. They were armed for self-defense (mounted .303 Bren guns; Sterling SMGs and Browning-Inglis Hi Powers for dismounts) but patrolled in the middle of an uneasy truce, with undisciplined soldiers on each side of the boundary, and unmarked minefields.

While firefights were slim, the ever present danger of mines– often moved by local Bedouins directly in the path along the line in the hopes of knockin out vehicles they could salvage for scrap– was not. In the first year, Lieut. Charles Van Straubenzee was killed when his Ferret rolled over, and Trooper George McDavid when his Ferret struck a buried mine. 56 RECCE was disbanded in 1959 but the use of the Ferret by Canadians in peacekeeping did not.

By 1964, they were in Cyprus.

RCD Ferret on patrol in Cyprus. (Library and Archives Canada Photos) Note the Browning M1919 7.62x51mm LMGs and how the Ferret's small signature made for easy movement along ancient Mediterranean streets

RCD Ferret on patrol in Cyprus as part of UNFICYP. (Library and Archives Canada Photos) Note the Browning M1919 7.62x51mm LMGs and how the Ferret’s small signature made for easy movement along ancient Mediterranean streets. You just can’t get that out of a LAV, Stryker or Bradley today…

RCD Ferret on patrol in Cyprus. (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235955) RCD Ferret on patrol in Cyprus. note WWII era M1919
The Canadians were one of the last Western users of the Ferret, with some seeing extended use in West Germany before hanging them up in 1981.

Their final disposition included 23 used as targets, 14 donated to museums or converted to monuments, and 84 sold (unarmed) as surplus.

As for the Ferret in general, they are still used in Pakistan, Nepal and a few other countries friendly to the UK in the 1960s including the former colony of Saint Kitts and Nevis, where three vintage Ferrets form the entire armored corps of the Carribean islands’ defense force.

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