It was an epic battle of the Second World War. A critical battle, and a furious and heroic effort by Canadians beyond any Hollywood blockbuster. And, as is typical, not really remembered, commemorated, or celebrated by Canadians, or others.
For three days and nights of ferocious fighting in August 1944, a small force of Canadians was ordered to cut off the escape route of a large German battle group attempting to break out of the Falaise pocket.
At the village of St Lambert-sur-Dives in Normandy, his tiny force succeeded against the vastly superior enemy force, and captured over 2,000 soldiers, along with their artillery and other weapons.
For his skill and leadership Canadian Major David Vivian Currie of the South Alberta Regiment was awarded the highest honour for valour, the Victoria Cross. Later promoted to LCol, Currie always siad he was simply doing his job and the medal wasn’t for him, but rather an honour to all those who didn’t come back.
He died in Owen Sound, Ontario in 1986 and the medal was sold by his widow in 1989. It was again auctioned to a British buyer last year for $550,000, plus a $110,000 auction house fee.
Held up by Canadian laws regarding export of heritage items, that historic medal has just been purchased back from the buyer and will now remain in Canada.
The medals will be on display at the Canadian War Museum.
Victoria Cross Citation (in part)
Early the following morning, without any previous artillery bombardment, Major Currie personally led an attack on the village in the face of fierce opposition from enemy tanks, guns and infantry and by noon had succeeded in seizing and consolidating a position half-way inside the village.
During the next 36 hours the Germans hurled one counter-attack after another against the Canadian force but so skilfully had Major Currie organised his defensive position that these attacks were repulsed with severe casualties to the enemy after heavy fighting. At dusk on 20th August the Germans attempted to mount a final assault on the Canadian positions, but the attacking force was routed before it could even be deployed……
.There can be no doubt that the success of the attack on and stand against the enemy at St. Lambert sur Dives can largely be attributed to this officer’s coolness, inspired leadership and skilful use of the limited weapons at his disposal”
The purchase price to ensure the medal remained in Canada was not revealed, but was made possible by the generous support of the Movable Cultural Property Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Museum’s donor-supported National Collection Fund, and generous contributions from the Brownlee Family Foundation, as well as the following honorary members of the North Saskatchewan Regiment and their families: Heather Ryan and L. David Dube, Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel; Sandra Howe and Dallas Howe, Honorary Colonel; Sandra Stromberg and Robert Stromberg, former Honorary Colonel. The Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board deemed the medal to be “of outstanding significance and national importance,” helping to pave the way for the Museum’s acquisition
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