Vandals damaged the Sherman 'Holy Roller' tank in Victoria Park, May 2019. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

Vandals target monument to fallen soldiers

With less than a month before the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the vandalism of a Second World War tank is a “disheartening” sight to the local Canadian reserve regiment.

A Sherman tank located in Victoria Park was damaged by vandals who broke into the Second World War vehicle earlier this week.  The vandals created a hole underneath the tank, which is known as the Holy Roller, by prying open a piece of metal that created a hole large enough for someone to climb inside.  Police have since been notified of the incident.

Allan Finney, a lieutenant colonel and commanding officer with the 1st Hussars, compared the vandalism of the tank to desecrating the headstone of a gravesite.

Vandals damaged the Sherman 'Holy Roller' tank in Victoria Park, May 2019. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

Vandals damaged the Sherman ‘Holy Roller’ tank in Victoria Park, May 2019. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

“There are only two tanks in Canada that survived the [D-Day] conflict like that and, to us, it’s not just a symbol of the war, it’s more of a memorial of those that lost their lives,” he said. “It’s very, very disheartening.”

The Holy Roller landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day around an hour and a half after the initial wave of Allied forces. Finney said the tank stayed in combat up until the end of the war before it was returned to Canada. The tank was placed in Victoria Park where it has remained since the 1950s.

Finney added that the regiment was hopeful about having the tank fixed on Tuesday, with the cost of the damages estimated at around $500 to $1,000.

“[The cost] is not significant. What’s more significant is it gave them access to the interior of the vehicle itself and also it shows to us that there are parts of the armour that are degrading rapidly than we had actually anticipated,” he said. “We’re actually in the process of trying to find a solution to that.”

Finney said the 1st Hussars hold an annual regimental service in remembrance of D-Day and those who died overseas, on the Sunday prior to the June 6 anniversary.  This year will hold even more significance as it marks the 75th milestone of the battle.