‘Caroline’ ready to roll for Remembrance Day

A special guest will take her place alongside veterans marching in Chilliwack’s Remembrance Day ceremonies in Chilliwack this year.

A special guest will take her place alongside veterans marching in Chilliwack’s Remembrance Day ceremonies this year.

She never saw combat herself, but others like her were surely a welcome sight to Canadian soldiers fighting in both the Second World War and the Korean War.

“She” is a 35-ton Sherman tank named Caroline.

When Last Post is played at Chilliwack’s Memorial Park this year, and vets bow their heads in honour of the soldiers who didn’t come home, Caroline will lower her gun muzzle in a show of respect.

“The tanks we used during the Korean War were tanks that looked just like Caroline, but they had a different engine in them,” said Rollie Keith, a veteran tank driver and instructor, who named Caroline after his daughter.

Keith will be sitting in Caroline’s “commander’s” turret during the parade.

The Sherman tank is an “iconic” image of Canada’s military past, and for more than 30 years Caroline sat near the cenotaph at Sappers Park in Chilliwack where it was climbed on, photographed, researched and written about.

Technically, she belongs to the 39 Combat Engineers Regiment, and she is “on loan” to the Canadian Military Education Centre museum in Chilliwack.

But in every other way she belongs to Chilliwack.

When it appeared Caroline was heading for the scrap heap — where most of the 49,000 tanks like her ended up — Chilliwack citizens rose up and came to her rescue.

Caroline is probably one of the few Sherman tanks bought by Canada in 1945/46 still in running order.

Gord Wozencroft and Brooke Quam are the men principally responsible for restoring Caroline as a “moving monument” to Canada’s military history.

It was Wozencroft’s idea to include Caroline in this year’s Remembrance

Day ceremonies.

“I thought it would be a great way of giving back to the community,” he said.

An honour guard from the 39 CER and two cadets each from the army, air force, and navy will accompany Caroline during the march to the cenotaph in downtown Chilliwack.

Warner Hockin, an air force vet, said he thinks it’s a “great idea” to include Caroline in the Remembrance Day ceremonies.

“The kids go crazy when they see something like this,” he added.

Wozencroft pointed out that Caroline will roll on rubber tracks so she doesn’t tear up city streets.

“Only the German and Russian tanks had steel tracks,” he said. “The British found that steel on cobblestones made for hazardous driving.”

rfreeman@theprogress.com

twitter.com/paperboy2