When Canadians came home from the wars of the 20th century, they brought home trophies of war.
Artillery pieces (sometimes German) and tanks sprouted in parks and in front of Legion branches and armouries, where many remain.
This year, battle-worn trophies of this century’s wars are starting to join them.
In June, a modern light armoured vehicle (LAV) was unveiled as an Afghan war memorial in Oromocto, N.B., beside the sprawling base in Gagetown.
WATCH: Canada’s first Light Armoured Vehicle monument is now in place in one of the country’s strongest military communities, Oromocto. Global’s Jeremy Keefe reports.
On Sunday afternoon, Canada’s second will be dedicated in Cambridge, Ont., in a city-owned park near the armoury of the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada, an army reserve unit.
LAVs were part of the Canadian experience of the Afghan war, explains the regiment’s honorary colonel, Brian Rainville.
“The LAV was essentially the protection and home of the soldiers once they went outside the wire,” he says.
“They lived out of it for weeks on end, chasing the Taliban wherever they were located. They provided a home where they could store all their weapons and ammunition, their food, their sleeping bags, their extra kit.”
About 40,000 Canadians fought in Afghanistan, of which 158 died.
Ironically, although some are being retired as monuments, other LAVs are being upgraded and kept in service. The LAVs being offered to communities are put together from old hulls and spare parts that come out of the upgrade process. All possible parts are stripped out.
Communities that want a LAV memorial have to come up with the money themselves.
“It would have been about $50,000, but we were very fortunate to have support from the community,” Rainville says. “The cost to us was $15,000 plus HST for the vehicle itself, plus another $2,500 for the plaque.”
“There have been a lot of people in the construction trades that have provided service in kind with materials and labour, transportation and landscaping.”
The vehicle’s tires would eventually have deflated under the weight of the armour, so it’s supported from below, with just enough weight on the tires to stop them from being turned.
Over 40 members of the regiment volunteered to fight in Afghanistan, Rainville says. All came home:
“We were very fortunate, though we had near misses. One of our junior officers was on a helicopter that was shot down, and successfully escaped. We did have one of our soldiers wounded in the leg – he was part of an American strafing incident. He was one of the survivors.”
WATCH: There may still questions about whether there will be lasting peace in Afghanistan, but the conclusion of Canada’s 12-year mission is a huge relief to the families of those who served. Mike Le Couteur reports.
On Sept. 24, similar LAV memorials will be unveiled in Bowmanville, Ont., and Trenton, Ont., followed by another on Oct. 1 in Goderich, Ont.
Another 10 Canadian communities will follow:
- Airdrie, Alta.
- Waterloo, Ont.
- Kitchener, Ont.
- Sarnia, Ont.
- Aurora, Ont.
- Wellington, P.E.I.
- Bouctouche, N.B.
- RMC Kingston
- Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls, Ont.