In 1990, the municipality of Eeklo ordered a Sherman tank to be placed next to the lock of Balgerhoeke in honor of our Canadian liberators. During the SAR Battlefield tour of that year, the South Alberta Regiment was given the honor of receiving a tank monument which was dedicated to the Canadian Liberators, namely the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, all Canadian units involved and the South Alberta Regiment which was the RECCE Regiment, commanded by Colonel Gordon D. de S. "Swatty" Wotherspoon and was the eyes, ears and nose for the 4th Armoured Division.
It was a fact that during all their Battlefield Tours since 1990, our Canadian friends were not sure whether or not this was a Canadian tank and they felt proper Canadian markings should be applied to the tank, which would be acceptable to the Canadian Armoured Corps.
Very recently, two friends have put their shoulders under a praiseworthy initiative. This Canadian – Belgian idea was completely historical substantiated and thoroughly elaborated by Major (Ret’d) Danny McLeod, former tank commander of the South Alberta Regiment and Mr. Walter Cami, Honorary Member of the S.A.R. Their idea was having affixed the correct markings on the Sherman tank of Balgerhoeke, so as from today, it will be clear why exactly this tank was actually founded as a memorial. The strictly motivated information which was provided by them is extremely valuable, not only for Eeklo, for Belgium or Canada, but for the entire Canadian Liberation Route from 1944 to 1945, through North West Europe.
Given the historical accuracy of all this, first and foremost every old marking of the tank had to be removed. Subsequently, at the right location the Unit Serial and Arm of Service Sign "45" has been applied, as well as the Formation Sign of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, to which the South Alberta Regiment at that time has served. On the turret, a white circle was provided, namely the Tactical Signs from the C squadron of the South Alberta Regiment. To be precise, on September 15, 1944, the first tanks which drove into Eeklo were a section of the RECCE troop and C squadron of the South Alberta Regiment, this as a harbinger of the imminent liberation of Eeklo and surroundings. In the white circle, the number "19" was placed, referring to the Officer Commanding, namely none other than Major David Currie ; who above all that is the only Canadian soldier to whom a "Victoria Cross" was awarded during the Normandy campaign and the only Victoria Cross ever awarded to a member of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps. To complete this amazing initiative, on the tank of Balgerhoeke, the name was provided of Dave Currie’s memorable Sherman tank…
On Monday, July 29, 2013, a large Canadian delegation with several representatives of the SARVA, SALHRA and SALH was officially welcomed at the City Hall of Eeklo, Belgium. For this event the Mayor of Eeklo, Mr. Koen Loete, had the privilege to announce that the tank of Balgerhoeke, in accordance to all the mentioned grounds, as from today always will be known as " CLANKY ".
Picture 5 shows the tank on May 2, 1992 when it was dedicated. The 3 men are Sgt Adrian Berry, MWO John Szram and WO Gregory Menuz (all were members of the SALH); the latter 2 men are deceased.
Do you have more information about this location? Inform us!
- Text: Walter Cami
- Photos: Peer Franken (1,2,3,4) & Adrian Berry (5)