Sackville’s Memorial Park will soon be home to a new armoured military vehicle, a monument that will serve as a tribute to the fallen members of the 8th Canadian Hussars from the local area.
James Lockyer, honourary colonel of the 8th Canadian Hussars, announced to members of town council at their meeting last week that the regiment would like to donate a retired Cougar to the town as a way to recognize the close ties it has had with the community.
“We’re very proud of the relationship we had with Sackville and we would like to memorialize that relationship,” said Lockyer.
“And the memorial we can provide is an AVGP, which is an Armoured Vehicle General Purpose. This is called a Cougar,” he said.
Sackville has had a strong association with the 8th Canadian Hussars since its formation in 1848; the local armoury served as home base for the regiment’s C Squadron from its early years until the building was demolished in the late 1990s.
Lockyer himself trained with the C Squadron at the Sackville armoury while he was a student at Mount Allison University in the early 1970s and said the unit here was always a “very strong component” of the 8th Canadian Hussars.
He said it’s unfortunate the presence the regiment had in Sackville dissipated because “C Squadron had always been a mainstay of recruiting for the regiment and always provided over and above its established strengths for other squadrons in the regiment that needed recruits.”
The 8th Canadian Hussars regimental band was also based in Sackville throughout its life, under the guidance of local bandmaster, the late Charlie Estabrooks.
Lockyer said the regiment’s commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Tom Peppard, hopes to re-connect with Sackville through this gift and has even stated his wishes to re-establish a C Squadron in Sackville again someday, although that comes with its challenges without a suitable training location to replace the armoury.
The Cougars, which had the unique ability of being able to travel on water, were in service from 1976 until 2005 as an armed reconnaissance vehicle.
The Cougar that the 8th Canadian Hussars is gifting to the town is currently in storage at CFB Gagetown. It is expected to be transported and installed by the regiment this spring at Memorial Park. The Hussars will also provide a plaque, highlighting the vehicle’s significance.
“We have the Cougar and we’re quite happy to move it to Sackville,” said Lockyer. “We would like to donate that to Sackville as a memorial to the 8th Hussars and to all soldiers who lost their lives from this community.”
The town accepted the gift during its monthly meeting Monday evening and will be responsible for building a concrete pad on which the Cougar will sit so the vehicle doesn’t sink in the mud. It will also be required to paint the Cougar on a regular basis and will be signing an agreement exempting the Department of National Defence from liability for any injuries associated with the display.
A dedication ceremony for the new vehicle will likely be held sometime in June.
The Ferret, another armoured military vehicle that sits in Memorial Park, was also dedicated to the community from the 8th Canadian Hussars – a gift presented in 1994.