British Columbia is now home to the last surviving Centurion tank with proven combat experience in the Korean War.
“Tina the tank,” as coined by a CN Rail employee, lived on the opposite coast at Nova Scotia’s Cornwallis Military Museum from 1988 until its recent closure in 2019, due to a lack of volunteers.
On Oct. 30, the nearly 50-ton tank was loaded onto a CN Railway car in Dartmouth, N.S.
It arrived in Surrey on Sunday morning to a host of eager witnesses from Langley, just in time for Remembrance Day. CN’s Thorton Yard saw the tank arrive after a more than 4,500- kilometre journey due to generous multimodal supply chain providers.
Initially, the tank was offered through the Organization of Military Museums of Canada to any member museum that was able to transport it, explained CN public affairs manager Josyln Young.
Aldergrove’s Museum of the Armed Forces director retired Major CF Ian Newby jumped at the chance to bring her “home” after almost 40 years.
“It has always been my passion to conserve and save as much of Canada’s military as humanly possible, so I appealed to save at least one for the future,” he said.
Newby, along with Langley Township Coun. Bob Long, made a request in September for the tank that served on the front lines of battle for the Commonwealth.
In 1979, Newby was stationed at an Alberta training base for deployment to Europe later that summer. He found himself enamoured by several Centurions that were parked along the range road, ultimately destined for destruction.
“Canada fielded Centurions as our main battle tank well into the 1970s,” explained retired Major Ken Hynes, curator of the Army Museum Halifax Citadel.
“In Korea, Canadians fought from 1950 to 1953. Their service and sacrifice is an honoured chapter of our country’s military heritage.”
The conflict, originally between North and South Korea, saw more than 26,000 Canadian soldiers battle on land, at sea, and in the air and cost 516 of them their lives.
Aldergrove-based Quiring Towing and Heavy Duty Recovery hauled the tank its final leg of its journey on Nov. 11. The hefty piece of history will be stationed in front of the Aldergrove’s Royal Canadian Legion before its Remembrance Day service at 10:50 a.m.
Others involved in the coast-to-coast tank transfer include A.W. Liel Cranes, Brent Hill from Lumpy’s Lowbed Service in Surrey, John Hunter Trucking Co., and Total Transport and Rigging.
Newby emphasized “his dream has now become a reality” due to the help of Long, the Canadian National Railway, and other devoted truckers and tradespeople.
The tank was welcomed to B.C. by Newby, Coun. Bob Long, Aldergrove legion president Doug Hadley, and vice president Karen Hobbis.
“This project epitomizes what we Canadians can accomplish if we all pull together,” Newby said.
“Perhaps one hundred years from now this will be remembered as our finest hour?”