Canada's Missing V-2 Rocket

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V-2 Rocket in Canada

While researching the locations of surviving war trophies brought to Canada in 1945, the author spoke with retired Captain Farley M. Mowat about his post war task of collecting German weapons and equipment that was of interest to Canada.  He was very detailed in his response.

When the war ended in Europe in May 1945, Captain Mowat was serving with the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment in the Netherlands.  He was assigned to Intelligence duties, and eventually succeeded in locating, identifying and collecting over 700 tons of German equipment, documents and material which he then shipped from Antwerp back to Montreal.[1]

Captain Mowat ‘s five-man team gathered up major examples of German armour, artillery, support weapons and equipment from a variety of locations in Western Europe and he arranged for their transport back to Canada on an American Liberty ship, the SS Blommersdyke.  The majority of this shipment was sent to the Canadian Armament Research and Development Establishment (CARDE) based at Valcartier, Québec.  After examination, some of the kit was moved Camp Borden, Ontario, where a few of the larger armour and artillery pieces remain on display, while a number of other pieces were dispersed around the country.

The team collected a significant number of large scale weapons that made it back to Canada which have since disappeared, including Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks.  A Sturmgeschütz III they recovered was used (briefly) as a target on the ranges at CFB Petawawa, but was later salvaged and is now on display in the Canadian War Museum (CWM) in its heavily damaged state.  The Wirbelwind self-propelled four-barrelled Anti-Aircraft (SP AAA) gun system mounted on a Panzer IV chassis currently displayed at the Base Borden Military Museum was included in his list, but the Panther that was on display at CFB Borden (now restored in the CWM) was not.  The Panzer V came up from the USA in time to be placed on display on Parliament hill on Victory in Europe (VE) Day.

Other German equipment brought back by Captain Mowat’s Intelligence Collection Team included one 8.8-cm FlaK 37 AA Gun, now on display in the Canadian War Museum (CWM) in Ottawa, and one 8.8-cm PaK 43 AT Gun, which is now on display on the grounds of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario.  Other Canadian units managed to bring back significant items as well, likely including an 8.8-cm PaK 43/41 AT Gun on display at Lisle, Ontario, and a second 8.8-cm FlaK 37 now on display on the grounds of the Royal Military College and a third on display at CFB Petawawa.

A good number of German artillery pieces captured or collected by Canadian military units overseas can be found on display at CFB Borden, Ontario, CFB Shilo, Manitoba and the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.  A few pieces may also be found at CFB Petawawa, Ontario, CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick, and CFB Valcartier, Québec.

One of two Sturmgeschütz III tracked self-propelled tank hunters that were on display at Shilo has recently been relocated to England, while another went back to Germany.  One of the most interesting items from Captain Mowat’s SS Blommersdyke shipment that is presently being restored in the CWM is a very rare Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg IV piloted version of the V-1 cruise missile.  In 1945 Captain Mowat visited a firing range near Meppen, Germany, which had been used by the Krupp arms manufacturer as an experimental gun establishment to test new guns, shells and projectiles.  “At least a hundred huge steel tubes were on the firing line, many mounted on railroad carriages.  One...was a 60-cm siege howitzer...estimated to have weighed a hundred tons.”  The Intelligence Collection Team “took samples of everything”, including a 12-cm tank gun meant to arm the gigantic 90-ton German tank nick-named the “Maus” (Mouse).  The gun was brought back towed on a flatbed trailer by a 60-cwt truck.[2]

The 1944 Molch (Newt) one-man submarine as well as two Enigma encryption machines has also survived intact from the SS Blommersdyke shipment.  Not all of the Serial Numbers of the equipment found on Captain Mowat’s list match items with a similar description found in the CWM, so there are likely a number of other sources of origin for some of the items listed here.

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