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'Symbol of Charleswood': Winnipeg legion raising funds to conserve iconic tank

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Charleswood Legion 100 is raising money to maintain an iconic symbol of its neighbourhood, while honouring Canadian veterans.

The legion is home to a Second World War-era Sherman tank that was built in 1945 by the Fisher Tank Division of General Motors in Detroit, Mich.

"It's probably the symbol of Charleswood that most people would recognize first,” said Tom Crew, chairman of the Charleswood Legion.

It was refurbished in 2021, and sits in front of the legion on Roblin Boulevard.

To raise funds for the tank's conservation, as well as a nearby war memorial, the legion is building a memorial wall.

Crew says it will be covered with plaques bearing the rank, name, unit and years of service of someone who served in the Canadian Armed Forces.

"A number of people from the legion and the community have asked for us to come up with a way that we could honour our fathers, grandfathers, other people that served in the military,” Crew said.

“We came up with the idea of having a memorial wall where they could memorialize their relatives, friends, etcetera and at the same time, raise money for the maintenance of the tank."

Charleswood Legion 100 chairman Tom Crew is pictured with the organization's Sherman tank on Feb. 20, 2024. (Source: Jamie Dowsett/CTV News Winnipeg)

The legion plans to sell 100 memorial plaques at $125 a pop. They will be attached to a large, wall-mounted stainless steel plate.

Crew says although the tank is a symbol of the Second World War, veterans from many different eras and conflicts can be honoured on the wall.

Tank bears marking of Fort Garry Horse

The tank has particular significance, Crew says, as it came from the Fort Garry Horse, a unit formed in Winnipeg in 1912. The regiment was mobilized in the First World War, going east to Quebec, and eventually to France and Belgium.

During the Second World War, the unit trained in England and was among the first to land in Normandy on D-Day in 1944.

Len Van Roon, who at 102 years old is the Charleswood Legion’s oldest living veteran, served in the Second World War and has distinct memories of Sherman tanks.

“He used to sleep in that tank in the evenings, not during the day when it was being used, but it was the safest place to be at night,” Crew said.

“It’s stories like that that sort of bring home the meaning of the tank for a lot of people.”

Anyone interested in contributing to the memorial wall is asked to contact the Charleswood Legion.

The Second World War-era Sherman tank is pictured on Feb. 20, 2024. It bears the marking of the Fort Garry Horse, a unit formed in Winnipeg in 1912. (Source: Jamie Dowsett/CTV News Winnipeg)

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