Restored M7 Priest tank on its way from Holland to Oshawa’s Ontario Regiment Museum

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Published October 27, 2022 at 11:35 am

The M7 Priest leaving Holland on its way to Oshawa via Antwerp and Halifax

A rare M7 ‘Priest’ tank that took many Canadians ashore at Juno Beach on D-Day is on its way home to Oshawa after it was acquired by the Ontario Regiment Museum.

The WW2 Howitzer Motor Carriage M7B1 (better known as the M7 Priest) is one of only about ten surviving tanks that were built in the U.S. between April 1942 and the end of the war. The tank, restored by BAIV B.V. for the Museum Collection ’39-’45 in the Netherlands, was sold to the Oshawa museum with a donation from The Dunkley Charitable Foundation.

More than 4,000 M7 Priests were built (based on the very successful M4A3 Sherman, with the turret replaced by a casement and a 105mm Howitzer), with this tank rumbling off the assembly line in December 1944.

“Many Canadians landed on Juno Beach in these vehicles during the Second World War” Ontario Regiment Museum Executive Director Jeremy Blowers said after the purchase was finalized in July. “The 12th, 13th, and 14th Field Regiments of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division landed with their Priests on D-Day. The Canadians later modified many of their Priests into one of the first Armoured Personnel Carriers – the Kangaroo.”

In addition to the Normandy beaches, the armoured vehicle also saw action in Korea with the U.S. Army as well as with the French and West German Armies until 1965. It was rescued from a German scrap yard in 2005 and expertly restored to a WW2 running condition by BAIV B.V., with the work completed in 2014.

It was on display in Holland before being put up for auction at Tracks and Trade in the Netherlands where it was purchased for the Oshawa museum.

The ’39-’45 Collection in Holland was sorry to see the tank go but is already getting the space set for a new vehicle.

“And then the time has come, the M7 Priest is on transport to the ports of Antwerp with the destination Ontario Regiment Museum Oshawa, Canada. The end of a beautiful era with a restoration of almost 2 years and 10 years of beautiful events. But a new adventure is coming, soon we will announce what the successor will be.

The Oshawa Regiment Museum has commissioned a new display which will show the M7 Priest along with the story of the vehicle (and later Kangaroos) in Canadian service. The display will be in place for public viewing when the vehicle arrives at the Museum from overseas.

The Ontario Regiment R.C.A.C. Museum is home to a historical vehicle collection of more than 130 military vehicles, including jeeps, trucks, armoured personnel carriers, and tanks, and are all kept fully operational by the museum’s volunteers. In addition to an extensive static display section with artifacts dating up to 200 years ago, the Museum prides itself on making history come alive. Once a month, visitors have a rare opportunity to experience these historical vehicles in action, as it provides a live display of these vehicles at the Tank Saturday shows.

The museum will remain open seven days a week from noon to 4 p.m. until Remembrance Day.

A stylized photo of the M7 Priest in action

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