Man, 44, charged in Holy Roller vandalism as police detail damage estimate

A man is charged with mischief after London’s Second World War icon, the Holy Roller tank, was vandalized mere days after being returned to Victoria Park following a year-long restoration.

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A man is charged with mischief after London’s Second World War icon, the Holy Roller tank, was vandalized mere days after being returned to Victoria Park following a year-long restoration.

Police responded just before 5 p.m. Saturday to reports of a man using a grinder to deface its exterior, police said. When officers arrived, they found the man standing on top of the tank and arrested him, police said.

Part of the freshly painted Holy Roller, which returned to its place of honour in Victoria Park on May 31 following a $160,000 restoration, had been deeply scratched to the bare metal. Damage was pegged at $6,000, police said Monday.

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Two members of the First Hussars regiment told The Free Press they had caught the vandal when they were in the park to prepare for a memorial on Sunday. The man, who was later caught and arrested with the help of police, had ground through about five coats of paint on the tank’s engine deck before reaching the metal.

The regiment and restoration team are expected to repair the paint on Tuesday.

Grant MacDonald makes a daily visit to the Holy Roller. His grandfather Fred H. MacDonald fought on D-Day, he said. On Sunday, upon learning of the damage, he realized he’d witnessed the arrest one day prior.

The damage left him angry. “If anyone vandalizes this tank, I blow up,” he said.

The Holy Roller tank, used by the First Hussars during the Second World War, was brought to London in 1945 and displayed at the armouries and the Western Fair before making the move to Victoria Park five years later.

It was the only one of two Canadian D-Day tanks to survive through to Victory in Europe Day, May 8, 1945. But after decades as London’s best-known military monument, the tank required a full restoration. Volunteers spent more than 8,000 hours disassembling and rebuilding the body at Fanshawe College.

Shaun Alfred Collins, 44, is charged with mischief to a war memorial.

With files from Jane Sims and Dale Carruthers 

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