by Capt (ret) the Reverend Chevalier Gord Barrett
Cascadia Priory, the Order of St George
On Tuesday, August 9, members of the British Columbia Regiment (BCRs) met at the Beatty St Drill Hall in Vancouver for their annual ceremony of remembrance forthe WWII Battle of Hill 140.The battle took place right after the Normandy Landing and was the precursor to the closing of the Falaise Gap.155 soldiers of the BCRs died in the fighting on 9th August or from their wounds shortly afterwards.
Lt-Col Chevalier Jim Barrett, was the Master of Ceremony and Parade Marshall for the 28th Armoured Regiment (British Columbia Regiment) and his brother Capt (ret) the Reverend Chevalier Gord Barrett delivered the sermon, asked for the final blessing and gave the dismissal.
Prior to the dismissal, Lieutenant-Colonel (Ret’d) Dave Sproule,on behalf of the Regiment, presented Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel Bill Diamond with a beautiful painting entitled “The Hill”.He had commissioned this wonderful piece of art from Ken Hughes, M. Des (RCA), Artist/Designer. It was a very fitting and poignant gift for the Regimental Family on this special day of Remembrance from our good friend and colleague, Colonel Sproule.
Lt-Col Barrett’s Speech
I am Lt-Col Jim Barrett, your Master of Ceremony and Parade Marshall for the 28th Armoured Regiment (British Columbia Regiment) Hill 140 Commemorative Service, in which we annually remember those soldiers from our Regiment who served gallantly overseas with the Regiment during World War II through Normandy, OPERATION TOTALIZE, and into Northwest Europe participating in the liberation of Holland and then into Germany.
Seventy-Eight years ago on the morning of the 9th of August 1944, our Regiment, as part of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division in Normandy, led the first attempt to break through the German Defenses and link up with the Americans closing the Falaise Gap and destroying the German Army in Normandy. Called OPERATION TOTALIZE The BCR and the Algonquin Regiment, travelling on the backs of our Sherman Tanks, were tasked as part of a Battle Group known as Worthington Force to lead a night assault and advance to our objective at Hill 140.
The Polish, who were supposed to advance on our left flank, were delayed when they were hit hard in error by American Bombers just prior to the launch of the assault. So we were to go it alone under the command of our Commanding Officer, Lt-Col Don Worthington. Our tanks were to know our direction by the illumination from Canadian Searchlights to our rear. Yet another innovation of our Corps Commander, Gen Guy Simmonds.
A town on the route which had not been taken as planned forced Worthington Force off to their left flank and with the subsequent dawn came under heavy fire from German 88s and headed to the high ground almost two miles from their objective and wound up on Hill 140, engaged with the Headquarters and tanks from Kurt Meyer’s 12th SS Panzer Division.
Fighting all day, 48 out of 52 tanks were lost in the battle, and the survivors fought throughout the day supported by Typhoons.
Both CO’s all Majors and many senior Officers and Senior NCOs were lost in the fighting, with the survivors escaping back to our own lines at night, leaving the seriously wounded behind to be cared for by the Germans. A captured German Officer had guaranteed their safety, and many survived because of the subsequent medical care they received. This in the face of earlier murders of Canadian Prisoners by the same SS Unit.
Following the battle, the Regiment was rebuilt and participated in the closure of the Falaise Gap prior to operations in Belgium, Holland, and into Germany by the end of the War in Europe on 8th May 1945.
155 soldiers of our regiment died in the fighting on 9th August or shortly afterwards from wounds. Today by this service we commemorate and remember them and our 28th Armoured Regiment (BCR) comrades.