Holy Roller rededication, 1st Hussars 150th anniversary celebration this weekend

The Holy Roller sits on its concrete pad in Victoria Park. (File photo by Craig Needles, Blackburn Media)

A tribute to London’s military history is set for this weekend in Victoria Park.

The 1st Hussars Regiment will mark its 150th anniversary and hold a rededication ceremony for the Holy Roller, London’s newly restored Second World War monument.

Military displays will be set up in the downtown green space from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. There will also be re-enactment groups sharing the history of units that served locally and the Windsor Regiment (RCAC) Band will be on hand playing brass band music.

On Sunday, the annual D-Day memorial parade will take place leaving the Delta Armouries on Dundas Street just before 10:30 a.m. Canadian Army Reservists from the 1st Hussars, members of the 1st Hussars Association, and cadets will march from Dundas Street to Waterloo Street to Dufferin Avenue. There will be a short stop at City Hall where a wreath will be laid on a plaque that lists the names of fallen soldiers from the Second World War. The parade will then continue onto Wellington Street to Central Avenue where it will end at the Holy Roller.

The Canadian Sherman III tank, one of only two to survive from D-Day to VE Day, landed with the 1st Hussars Regiment in Normandy roughly 20 minutes after the first assault troops went in. It survived 14 major battles and outlasted 346 other tanks before being sent back to Canada in May 1946. It had sat in Victoria Park since May 1956 before being removed last year for extensive restoration work. It was returned to its concrete pedestal in the downtown on Tuesday.

“The Holy Roller represents the grit, strength, and sacrifice of our service men and women. It is an honour to have this incredible artifact forever memorialized in our downtown core,” said Retired Lieutenant Colonel Ian Haley, who was also the project director of the Holy Roller Preservation Team. “We are forever grateful for the partnerships that allow us to play host to such an important piece of our collective history and we look forward to gathering to commemorate that history.”

Dignitaries and community members will be treated to a flyover by the Rumbling Radials Harvard Aircraft during the rededication ceremony.

June 6 marks the 78th anniversary of the D-Day landing. The invasion of Nazi-occupied France by Allied forces, including 14,000 Canadians, led to the end of the Second World War. Nearly 360 Canadian soldiers were killed on D-Day.