Rare Second World War tank arrives in Canada on its way to Oshawa museum

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Published November 23, 2022 at 9:03 am

The Priest in Halifax. Photo courtesy of Tank Museum Guy

The Ontario Regiment R.C.A.C. Museum will display a very rare WW2 Howitzer Motor Carriage M7B1 – better known as the M7 Priest – at a detailed new exhibit December 3.

The vehicle arrived in Halifax Monday morning after a long journey from the Netherlands where it was restored. It is expected to arrive in Oshawa in the next few days and will be unveiled to the public a week Saturday.

More than 4,000 M7 Priests were built in the US between April 1942 and the end of WW2. Based on the very successful M4A3 Sherman, the turret was replaced by a casement and a 105mm Howitzer. The M7 was used by the Americans, the British, the Canadians, and the Free French.

“Many Canadians landed on Juno Beach in these vehicles during the Second World War” said Jeremy Neal Blowers, Executive Director of the Ontario Regiment Museum; “The 12th, 13th, and 14th Field Regiments of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division landed with their Priests on D-Day. The Canadians later modified many of their Priests into one of the first Armoured Personnel Carriers – the Kangaroo.”

After the war, this Priest was used by the US Army in Korea and then by the French and West German armies up until 1965. The museum’s vehicle was rescued from a German scrap yard in 2005 and expertly restored to a WW2 running condition by BAIV of the Netherlands. It was finished in 2014 before being put up for auction at Tracks & Trade in the Netherlands where it was purchased for the museum with the support of The Dunkley Charitable Foundation.

A new display has been commissioned by the foundation, which will show the M7 Priest along with the story of the vehicle (and the Kangaroos) in Canadian service. The display will be revealed along with the vehicle artifacts during a special ceremony December 3.

The Ontario Regiment R.C.A.C. Museum is home to a historical vehicle collection of more than 120 military vehicles. These vehicles include jeeps, trucks, armoured personnel carriers, and tanks, and are all kept fully operational by museum volunteers. In addition to an extensive static display section with artifacts dating up to 200 years ago, the museum prides itself on making history come alive. Once a month, visitors will have a rare opportunity to experience these historical vehicles in action, as it provides a live display of these vehicles at the Tank Saturday shows.

 

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