Thursday, May 25, 2023

Canada’s Valentines

Canada was really late to the tank game.  When the war broke out, they had only a handful of ex-British tanks in service.  This was somewhat ameliorated in October 1940, when 236 surplus U.S. M1917 tanks (aka the FT-17) were purchased (for scrap value) and delivered to Camp Borden.  In addition, it was decided to build the British Valentine tank in Canada under the designation Tank, Infantry Mk.III and a contract was awarded to the Canadian Pacific Railway's Angus Shop in Montreal, Quebec.  The first tank rolled out of the production facility in May 1941.

Canada produced 1,420 Valentines during the war, with all but 30 passing to the Soviet Union.  The thirty tanks retained in Canada were used for training with the Canadian War Department numbers CT-138916 to CT-148945.  These were almost exclusively used at Camp Borden.

Not  long after production started, the tanks were renamed as Valentines and the first production model was the Valentine VI based upon the British Valentine IV with a U.S. General Motors 6-cylinder, 2-cycle Diesel Engine.  The first 15 tanks were fitted with a 7.92 mm Besa coaxial machine-gun.  All other Canadian built Valentines used a 0.30-inch Browning machine-gun.  Later modifications included a cast front hull.  The Mk. VII was similar with updated radios.  The Mk. VIIA had provisions for external fuel tanks.

Two Canadian built Valentines survive in Canada.  One was retained at Camp Borden and is now on display at the Base Borden Military Museum.  The second, a Mark VIIA, was recovered from a bog 180 kilometers south of Kiev in 1990 and presented to the Canadian War Museum by the Ukrainian government.  It is on display as recovered.

(All photos courtesy of the Library Archives Canada and Archives of Toronto.)

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