Archive Logo.jpg

May 26, 2004

Instead of abused prisoners and a$$holes sawing off heads...

Let's have a little conventional military heroism. This time, Canadian. In fact, in some respects, today will be "All Canada, all day" just to annoy people still pissy over the fact that Canada declined to participate in Iraq (but are still in Afghanistan).

The motto of Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) is "Perseverance."

Lt. Edward Perkins "Persevered". After making the initial crossing of the river, he returned to the far bank "after an extremely eventful 24 hours."

Crossing the Melfa River

Lieutenant Edward J. Perkins, DSO

The recce troop of an armoured regiment consists of eleven light American General Stuart or "Honey" tanks. From these the turrets have been removed and instead a .50 Browning machine gun is mounted. The vehicle carries a crew of five and its fire power besides the .50 includes a .30 Browning, a Bren gun, a PIAT and four Tommies. We also carry prepared charges and grenades. In small arms weapons, our fire power per man is a as large as any force in the army. Our job is close recce both of the ground and of the enemy which we are prepared to do either from our vehicles or on foot.

For the Melfa crossing, six of my tanks were taken for use by engineers who were travelling with us and my troop consisted of only five tanks. As a matter of fact, my own tank had a mechanical failure soon after we crossed the start line and I had to switch to my sergeant's tank. At no time during the operation did the troop consist of more than four tanks carrying in all twenty men.

The plan of the operation was that a force commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Vokes of the British Columbia Dragoons (BCD) and including the Irish Regiment of Canada, was to push through the gap in the Adolf Hitler Line which had been made by 1st Canadian Division. They were to advance about 8000 yards and then form a strong point or "firm base." My regiment was to go through this strong point and advance the remaining 4000 yards to the Melfa. We were then to seize a crossing and to hold it while other troops passed over and continued the advance. My job was to lead the regiment during the advance to get to the river as quickly as possible, find a crossing and get over. The Commanding Officer (CO) would then push over "A" Company of the motor battalion who were under his command, and if possible, get a tank squadron over, although whether this last would be possible, was not certain.

The Vokes force pushed over the start line at 0600 hours. At 0800 hours, the CO sent me forward to liaise with them and to find out what was happening. I found that while the preceding units were not encountering great opposition from the enemy, they were having considerable difficulty in getting their tanks forward over many obstacles and the rate of advance was consequently slow. I spent most of the morning reporting progress to my CO who was impatiently waiting in the assembly area two or three thousand yards back.

Read the rest here.