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The Story of Angel

One day in the beachhead, two Hussars, Joe Ritchie, and Gerry Gooding, were enjoying a rare moment away from the action. They were walking down a lane (possibly looking for a means to “supplement” their meagre combat rations) when at a location no longer remembered, they came upon a small church. Here they encountered an elderly civilian asking for help. Eventually with the aid of a few gestures and some pointing they understood that he wanted their help to ring the Church bells to celebrate the liberation of the town. The bells had apparently not been rung at all during the German occupation and the bell ropes were badly tangled. To his great joy, the troopers freed the ropes and began ringing the bell vigorously. Searching through the debris under the tower, the old gentleman retrieved a metal plaque of an angel and presented it to the troopers in gratitude in gratitude. To the troopers this seemed like an good omen as by coincidence their tank was named “Angel”. Returning to the harbour they adopted the 12 inch by 4 inch angel as a good luck talisman and mounted it on the side of their tank beside the driver’s position. The crew even rigged a “Combat Cover” for the plaque to conceal it when the tank went into action. Apparently, their faith in their new talisman was not misplaced. Angel fought in 17 battles before the end of the war and although the tank itself was destroyed more than once no member of the crew nor the angel itself became a casualty. Angel was the mount for three different Officers Commanding A-Squadron and each of them was awarded a Distinguished Service Order for actions while in her turret. In addition, her driver George Doescher was awarded the American Bronze Star for an action near the town of Falaise.

Angel's Crew

Standing L-R Gerry Gooding Loader/Operator, Major Dudley Brooks O.C. A Squadron,

Art Oke, Joe Ritchie, George Doescher Driver.

The Regiment made several attempts after the war to find the church in Normandy where the angel was acquired and return it but to no avail. A treasured heirloom of the Regiment, a copy may be seen at the Regimental Museum in London Ontario Canada while the original Angel is on display in the museum at Courseulles-sur-Mer.

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