More than 10,000 Ordnance QF 18-pounder MkI&II field guns were made by Armstrong, Vickers and the Royal Arsenal between 1903 and 1940 until they were phased out by the 25-pounder, though they remained in operation throughout WWII and in far-flung Commonwealth countries as late as the 1970s. The 2,800-pound light gun, with its 84mm 18.5-pound shell, could be fired 20 rounds per minute by a very well-trained crew out to about 6,500-yards and could be towed by a limber and six vanner draft horses.
Each British and Canadian division had 54 guns in 1914, but this one is special.
From the Canadian Army:
The City of Mons, in collaboration with the Government of Belgium, is sending an irreplaceable military artifact back to Canada in a gesture aimed at commemorating Canada’s role in the First World War.
The artifact is an 18-pound field gun which fired the last shots of the First World War in the region of the City of Mons as Canadian troops that liberated that city on 11 November 1918.
The gun is one of two given by Canadians to the City of Mons following the 1918 armistice; the second remains on display at the Mons Memorial Museum.
It is a symbol of the sacrifices and victories of Canadians during the First World War; a legacy that continues today with Canada’s participation in NATO and peace and security in Europe. It will be transported to Ottawa where King Philippe of Belgium will present it to the people of Canada in March during a ceremony at its future home, the Canadian War Museum.
The gun took the first step of its transatlantic journey on Friday, January 26th when it was prepared for transport before departing a local casern.
Today the Canadian Army rocks some gently used (mainly former Dutch Army) Leopard 2A4+/2A4M/2A6M main battle tanks but their armored tradition goes way back. In the 1930s, the branch trained with early US M1917 tanks and Vickers MKVI light tanks than by 1941 was using MkIV Churchills.
In World War II, Canada actually rolled their own tanks, producing 1,420 locally-built Valentines at the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Angus Shop in Montreal. While most of the V’s went to the Soviet Union for use on the Eastern Front, the Montreal Locomotive Works built a modified version of the M3 Lee medium tank as the Ram to equip Canuck units in Northern Africa early in the war.
In 1943, MLW switched from the Lee/Ram to the Sherman (called “Grizzly” in Canadian service), which included British radio gear, a 2-inch smoke mortar mounted on the turret, and a cast hull as opposed to the more common welded-hull version.
The 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade was equipped with Grizzlies in time for the invasion of Sicily in July 1943.
A Sherman V (M4A4) of the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade passes through Regalbuto Sicily during the Allied Drive for Messina – August 1943 IWM – Rooke (Sgt) Photographer
The novice Canadian Armored Corps in Italy caught hell from both the terrain and German PzKpfw IV’s when 36 Shermans from the Three Rivers Regiment (Tank), CASF (now the 12e Régiment blindé du Canada) took on the brunt of the veteran German 16th Panzer Corps near Termoli in one of the most epic armored engagements of Canadian military history.
Tank Crew Italy 1944 with their Sherman M4 Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) plates done for Straths by R. Marriou in the mid-1970s
Canadian Armour (M4 Sherman) Passing Through Ortona, by Dr. Charles Comfort. Canadian War Museum (CN 12245).
The 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, and the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, training in Britain for Operation Overlord, had their Ram tanks swapped out with the new tank just before D-Day.
Maj Gen. Bert Hoffmeister, 36, commander of the Canadian 5th Armoured Division, in front of his M4 Sherman command tank, “Vancouver” May 1944. MIKAN ID number 4233102
They also caught hell in Northwestern Europe.
M4A2(75) Sherman 10th Canadian Armoured Regiment Vaucelles, France June, 1944 Kodachrome LAC
A rare color chrome of a Sherman V of the Canadian 29th Reconnaissance Regiment (The South Alberta Regiment). The Tank was commanded by Major David Currie (VC), and the tank was named ‘Clanky’. This photo was taken in Normandy around Arromanches in July of 1944. Photo via TheShermanTank.com
A pair of burnt-out Canadian M4A2 Shermans of the 10th Armored Regiment (The Fort Garry Horse) at the foot of the church at Rots – June 1944
Color photo of a Canadian Sherman Firefly tank in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, 1945, assigned to the Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD)
M4 Sherman with add-on armor via spare treads to help give a talisman against Tigers in NW Europe, 1944-45. Canadian Governor General’s Horse Guards (GGHG)
M4 Sherman of the 1st Canadian Army liberating the city of Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, on April 17 1945
Some Grizzlies were converted into the Skink anti-aircraft tank with a turret mounting four 20 mm Polsten guns– a very effective anti-personnel and AAA platform.
“Tank AA, 20 mm Quad,” better known as the Skink was a Canadian self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, developed in 1943-44 fully enclosed mounting on the chassis of the Grizzly Canadian-built M4A1 Sherman
Other variants included the Badger flame tank and Kangaroo APC, both made from Sherman hulls.
When Hitler was vanquished, the Canadians left their Grizzlies/Shermans in Europe while in 1946 they picked up 294 “Easy Eight” M4A2(76)W HVSS Shermans cheap– just $1,460 each (Late model Shermans cost $200,000 to make in 1945). They were leftovers from Lend Lease production meant for Uncle Joe in Moscow but by that stage of the 1940s, the U.S. would rather sell them at scrap prices than give them to the Soviets.
The batch of M4A2(76)W’s (M4A3E8’s) were kept in Canada proper for training purposes, even though they were different from the Shermans forward deployed along the Rhine.
Trooper Andy Parenteau of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) sleeps on the back of a Canadian Sherman M4A3(76)W HVSS tank, Korea. Note the American ration box and United Nations/Canada crest on the tail
1952- Canadian Sherman tanks of ‘B’ Squadron, Lord Strathcona’s Horse, completing a tour of front-line duty in Korea, 16 July. Note name “Catherine” on the lead tank
British forces used Centurions in the conflict– speaking of which…
In 1952, the Canadian Army bought the first of what would be 274 Centurion Mk 3 Tanks and split these MBTs between the active units in Germany (with their Grizzles being passed on to Portugal) and at home, later adding 120 Mk 5’s to the arsenal– while transferring the Easy Eight Shermans to reserve units.
They remained in service until 1978 when Canada replaced their aging Centurions with 127 new German-built Leopard C1 (equivalent to Leopard 1A3 with laser rangefinder) MBTs and, as the buy was limited and 114 were based in West Germany, just a handful were sent home to Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, New Brunswick for training.
The days of large tank lots in Canada had come to an end.
This led to the retirement of the last Canadian reserve force Shermans in the 1970s, one of the last Western countries to do so.
Canadian Easy Eight Shermans in reserve units 1970s out for a Sunday drive
You have to admit, the camo scheme looks good on these tanks…and they were an instant WWII veterans parade every time they left the armory
After retirement, many Canadian Shermans remained in use well into the 1980s– as targets and gate guards.
The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own) is a Primary Reserve armored reconnaissance (recce) regiment of the Canadian Forces that still has a vintage Sherman M4 as a gate guard
Ex-Canadian M4 Sherman used for target practice with anti-tank weapons, 1986
It should be noted that as late as 1989, the Finning Tank Drill, a rock drill used in logging road construction, was produced in British Columbia from Sherman hulls while BC’s Morpac Industries, Inc., still produces heavy-duty, off-road load crawlers based on Sherman components. It is very likely these civilian mods will be in the wilds of Canada’s western forests for decades to come.
Here is a Finning caught in its natural state:
Today some 60~ intact models are thought to still exist in the country as gate guards and museum pieces and they pop up from time to time in both their Grizzly and later Easy Eight variants for sale at reasonable prices.
The Ontario Regiment (RCAC) Museum in Oshawa, Ontario has a pair of great working Shermans, (“Bart” #78-904 and “Billy #78-856).
Overall, not a bad track record for the often derided Sherman.
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. 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 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…
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.
Infantry Sgt. Tatyana Danylyshyn of the Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s) picked up top honors in international shooting competitions in both the U.S. and the UK in recent months.
Danylyshyn, a reservist from Victoria, British Columbia who joined the Canadian Forces in 2002, won the Hager Hollon Trophy for Top Rifle Shooting earlier this year at the 24th Armed Forces Skill at Arms Match hosted by the U.S. Army National Guard Marksmanship Training Center in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
THEN, last month she traveled to the land of warm beer to compete in the annual Bisley shooting competition held in Bisley, England, in a field with 700 competitors. There, she competed in two of the three weapons categories: operational service rifle and service pistol, winning top shot in the former.
Her “competition” gun is her field standard Colt Canada C7A2 rifle with 3.4x28mm C79A2 optic. Lovers of marksmanship, the C7 is a Canadian-built M16A2 but with a hammer-forged heavy barrel. She augments this with the standard Browning Hi-Power, which hasn’t let Canada down in over 70 years.