Shermans of C Squadron, the South Alberta Regiment during heavy fighting in the St. Lambert-Sur-Dives area on the 19th of August 1944. C Squadron formed a battlegroup with B company, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise’s Own) and suffered heavy casualties defending the area against furious assaults by the 2nd Panzer Division attempting to enable a breakout from the Falaise Gap
Photo Credit: Library and Archives Canada PA132192
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.
Another of Currie’s handful of South Alberta Reg’t Sherman tanks moves past the disabled tank during the hard fought battle to take the town from a much bigger force of enemy attackers, August 18-20, 1944 © Lt Donald I. Grant Library and Archives Canada —PA116522
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.
Major David V. Currie (left, wearing binoculars and holding pistol) of The South Alberta Regiment accepting the surrender of German troops of the 2nd Panzer Division at St. Lambert-sur-Dive, France, 19 August 1944. This photo captures the very moment and actions that would lead to Major Currie being awarded the Victoria Cross. Battle Group Commander Major D.V. Currie at left supervises the round up of German prisoners. Reporting to him is trooper R.J. Lowe of *C* Squadron © Lt D Grant- Library and Archives Canada
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.
LCol Currie’s medal group with the Victoria Cross on the left.
Photo: CNW- Canadian War Museum
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.
Another group of the over 2,000 Germans surrender to Currie’’s small force and walk out of St Lambert © Lt ONALD I. GRANT, LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA116583
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.
Portrait of David Vivian Currie Photo: Library and ARchives Canada- mikan-4233303
Victoria Cross Citation (in part)
“In Normandy on 18th August, 1944, Major Currie was in command of a small mixed force of Canadian tanks, self-propelled anti-tank guns and infantry which was ordered to cut one of the main escape routes from the Falaise pocket.
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