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Old 29-08-13, 18:34
David Dunlop David Dunlop is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Winnipeg, MB
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Default XII Manitoba Dragoons Reunion 1987

Back on the August long weekend in 1987, the XII Manitoba Dragoons held a big reunion here in Winnipeg. Jim Fitzgerald and Reg Hodgson were kind enough to bring their recently restored Staghound into Winnipeg for the reunion from their home in Edmonton. They had taken great pains in doing a detailed restoration of their vehicle to represent one that served with the Dragoons during the war. They arrived on the Thursday, July 30th and proceeded to check in at the hotel and get the Staghound display set up outside the front entrance. The first picture is of Jim standing beside the Staghound. Jim has, sadly, since passed on, but he was one of the principle handful of military vehicle collectors who organized and founded what has now become known as the MVPA. Reg was also in on the ground floor of that club.

The following Friday evening of July 31, 1987 was a tense one to say the least for the group from Edmonton. That was the night the tornado devastated much of Edmonton. At one point, it had actually passed across the highway from Jim's business, tossing freight trucks around like matchsticks. After several nervous hours, families and friends were successfully contacted, we learned all was OK back home and killed several bottles of single malt scotch!

My wife's Father served with the XII Manitoba Dragoons postwar and his two older brothers served during the war. On the Saturday afternoon, Reg told Debbie to climb into the Gunners seat and I followed in the Commander's hatch behind her, while Reg took over the co-drivers seat up front. It is absolutely amazing the close quarters these crews worked under during the war! In today's world, it puts a really amazing perspective and appreciation to the word "Teamwork" !

We were next aware that Jim was helping a very elderly, frail gentleman into the driver's seat, and the sparkle in this man's eyes was a complete give away that he was clearly familiar with where he was sitting. Reg asking him if he would like to start the Staghound up, and faster than you could snap your fingers, he had set the controls and brought both engines to a delightful purr in the rear compartment.

Reg then asked Debbie if she would mind traversing the turret 360 clockwise, for the people to see how it worked outside. This she more than willingly did, and I was both proud of her and green with envy! What we did not realize at the time, was a Filipino couple were having their wedding reception at the hotel, and their limo had pulled into the driveway, from left to right, timed at the right speed that Deb had the main gun locked on the centre of the right rear door of the limo as it passed by. The poor bride looked quite startled when she got out. It did not help at all that at that exact time in the Phillipines, there was great political upheaval going on in the news!

When we shut the Staghound down and climbed out, we met the elderly gentleman who had started it up for us. Turned out, he was the original driver of the Staghound Reg and Jim had done their vehicle up to represent and had operated it throughout it's service with the Dragoons. It was the first time he had seen or been in one since he walked away at the end of the war. The tears welled up in his eyes and he was so grateful to Reg and Jim for taking such an interest in the vehicle, the people who operated them and their accomplishments so many years ago. As much as we all love to tinker and restore this equipment, nothing compares or comes close to the feeling you get when you see how much these small things we do are appreciated, by the people who truly did all the hard work on our behalf!

David
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 1987 A.jpg (52.4 KB, 20 views)
File Type: jpg 1987 B.jpg (54.0 KB, 19 views)
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