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Experts dig up Covenanter tank in English vineyard, a rare piece of Canada’s D-Day history

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Experts dig up Covenanter tank in English vineyard, a rare piece of Canada’s D-Day history

Post by Loader on Mon 05 Jun 2017, 07:58

Tom Blackwell | June 4, 2017 1:11 PM ET

[i]The Canadian Second World War tank unearthed recently at a vineyard south of London, where Canadian infantry soldiers used the vehicle
to train for the D-Day invasion, then buried it as they left for France. Craig Moore,

The Covenanter tank was not exactly a star of the Second World War.

German technological advances and a fickle engine rendered the awkwardly named model obsolete months after it first left an English factory, and none of the
1,700 vehicles built ever actually fired a shot in anger.

But for Canadian troops on the eve of a historic battle, the Covenanter proved indispensable. Converted into a training tool, it helped ready this country’s infantry
forces for their biggest moment of the war, the D-Day invasion, whose 73rd anniversary is Tuesday.

The soldiers from Canada abandoned the tanks as they left their British training grounds for the beaches of Normandy. But now one of only two surviving examples
of the rare war machine has literally been unearthed from the English countryside, where oddly enough the departing infantrymen had buried it seven decades ago.

The Canadians buried the tank deep underground before leaving the English countryside for France Craig Moore,  

“This is a piece of Canadian history,” says Craig Moore, a British tank enthusiast who helped in the excavation late last month. “It’s not often that you get dug up a
tank used by the Canadian army before D-Day.”

The machine came out of the ground at what is now a vineyard rusty and packed with chalky soil, but the military-restoration buff who spearheaded and funded the
dig, Rick Wedlock, plans to bring it back to actual working order.

The project is also to be featured on a History Channel series (though the TV network was not the driving force behind the excavation as British media reports suggested, said Moore).

Canadian tank unearthed south of London recently Craig Moore,  .

Jeff Noakes, a historian at Ottawa’s Canadian War Museum, applauded the salvage, calling it a tangible reminder of the estimated 500,000 Canadian soldiers who
passed through Britain during the war, many of them undergoing advanced training before D-Day.

“This tank being recovered from three or four metres down in a vineyard really helps bring back to life, so to speak, the events of almost three-quarters of a century ago,” he said.

The Covenanter was relatively cutting edge as it started life in 1939: fast and with a gun able to knock out any German opposition. But when the Germans added more armour and bigger guns to their Panzer tanks, it was suddenly an under-performer. An unreliable motor and a design that “stupidly” put the radiator at the front, exposed to enemy fire, sealed its fate, said Moore,
editor of

The Canadian 3rd Infantry Division, training in a rural swath of Surrey, south of London, adopted several to help get ready for the June 6, 1944, invasion of Europe.

They would have been used to practice fighting alongside tanks, and toward the end to learn how to stop enemy tanks. In fact, one side of the excavated Covenanter was badly damaged, apparently hit by an explosive “satchel charge” during an exercise, Moore said.

Used tanks were actually coveted by metal-scrap merchants back then but the visiting troops probably lacked the time or contacts to find one and, “Canadians being nice people,” buried the leftovers so they wouldn’t be a hazard to the local farmer and his cows.

One was later dug up in the 1970s and eventually restored, sitting now in at the U.K.’s Bovington Tank Museum. The other one was more or less forgotten in land that became Denbies Wine Estate, until Wedlock heard about it and went searching with a sophisticated metal detector.

Craig Moore

“It is the second one left in the world, and both were used by Canadian infantry,” said Moore. “This is an incredibly rare and historically valuable World War Two tank.”

Hauling the 16-ton object from its tomb required a tank-recovery vehicle from the period, and a Vietnam-War-era military forklift, he said.

Moore is now asking that Canadians whose family members trained with the 3rd Infantry Division in Surrey lend out photographs they might have of the scene,
to augment the future display of the tank.
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Re: Experts dig up Covenanter tank in English vineyard, a rare piece of Canada’s D-Day history

Post by Teentitan on Mon 05 Jun 2017, 12:34

Question: How can a .22 rifle with a 5 round mag take out a tank?

Answer: The design engineers in England put the radiator on the front of the tank.

The first Darwinian Award recipient wouldn't you say? LOL

All kidding aside I would take a trip to Ottawa to see this WW2 tank at the War Museum. Really hope it ends up there
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Re: Experts dig up Covenanter tank in English vineyard, a rare piece of Canada’s D-Day history

Post by prawnstar on Fri 09 Jun 2017, 11:42

This story reminds me of an similar find at MTSC Meaford a few years ago. A battle school course was digging in and hit a hard object. As it turned out they had hit an APC. After clearing the ground around it there was a complete 1967 APC with the back hatch open and motor plate still on it. No records of this incident were found. The theory was they may have been firing WP mortars, had some kind of accident and the entire vehicle was buried and forgotten. Not sure what they did with it after that.

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Re: Experts dig up Covenanter tank in English vineyard, a rare piece of Canada’s D-Day history

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