London·Photos

Here's a look at why some want to restore London's Holy Roller

A $250-thouasand fund-raising campaign has been launched to restore London’s best known military monument, the Holy Roller, a tank brought back from the Second World War that has stood for decades in Victoria Park.

The tank, which sits in Victoria Park, was used by Canadian forces to help liberate Europe in 1944.

A look inside the tank shows rust, garbage and general wear. (Provided by the 1st Hussars)

A $250,000 fundraising campaign has been launched to restore London's best known military monument, the Holy Roller, a tank brought back from the Second World War that has stood for decades in Victoria Park.

The Sherman tank landed with London's 1st Hussars regiment at Juno Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944 and assisted in the Allies liberation of France, Belgium and Holland.

It has been on display in Victoria Park since 1956 but has fallen into serious disrepair due to sustained exposure to the elements and the passage of time, the 1st Hussars say.

"It's rusting from the inside out," says Lt. Col. Alan Finney. "Funds are needed to preserve the tank and fix the base."

The plan is to remove the tank from its pad in Victoria Park in June, 2021 for a complete overhaul. It would be returned to the park the following year. (Allison Devereaux/CBC)

Money from the project will also support an educational campaign to raise awareness of the historical significance of the tank and the 1st Hussars to London.

Finney says the Holy Roller is a big part of the city's history. 

"It fought through the war, it protected its crews, it helped them survive, and now that it's in its time of need, it's our turn to help protect it."

The restoration plan would see the tank stripped down, sandblasted, with new parts installed. (Provided by the 1st Hussars)

Some people have suggested that the 1st Hussars turn the tank into a living monument by re-installing an engine, so that it could be used in parades and other special occasions.

But Finney says they couldn't justify the estimated $500,000 cost. 

Five crewmen in front of the tank in France. The photo was taken between June 6 - 11 1944. (Provided by the 1st Hussars)

"Where do we keep it, where do we use it, will we really get the bang for the buck? And in working with the city, we decided the best thing to do was to preserve it and keep it as a monument."

The Restoration Plan

The plan is to have teams remove the Holy Roller from its pad in Victoria Park after D-Day ceremonies in June, 2021 and take it to a workshop for a complete restoration.

It will be stripped down, sandblasted, new parts will be installed, repainted and then put back on the pad in Victoria time in time for D-Day ceremonies in 2022, which is the 150th anniversary of the regiment.

The plans include a new pad for the tank, gardens, benches and a plaque in Victoria Park identifying the towns and villages liberated by the 1st Hussars during the Second World War.

More information about the fundraising campaign can be found at holyrollermemorial.ca

Daneille Pletch helps her two-year-old-son, Andrew, step down from the Holy Roller, a tank used in the liberation of Europe in the Second World War. The First Hussars, the regiment that landed with the tank in France, has launched a $250 thousand campaign to preserve it as a memorial in Victoria Park. (Allison Devereaux/CBC)

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