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Converting a Tank Into a Flame Thrower

Heroes Remember

Converting a Tank Into a Flame Thrower

We knew there was going to be some action in Calais, but by this time we don’t know about the aircraft. There was a pillbox. We heard a lot of noise, we were already set up. Not, not the mortars set up, but waiting, to what our function was going to be. And we heard this, we heard this tank on the ridge heading towards that big pillbox. See those pillbox they couldn’t, the Germans couldn’t fire from the back because these were special guns that they had for long range and could only fire a certain degree. And meant for to fire on England. That tank had a big steel trailer behind it, a Churchill tank. It was the biggest Brit. It was, it was no good for nothing really, it was so slow. And anyhow they found a lot of use for it. And one of them was as a flame thrower. The tank had a gun but besides, besides the gun he wasn’t firing that gun. It was only in emergency, if he got caught with, against an enemy tank or whatever. But they had a large spigot on the turret and it was a fair size. That big shape charge, and they fire. This is what, this was an enclosure weapon, that the Brits thought of. They were using the big tank and well armored and everything. With the flame thrower and the spigot and, and the fifteen, the seventy-five millimeter. And the, the first thing you know, the flame is coming out of that, out of the turret at the front, and he must have been a good fifty yards away. So, they had a powerful motor there that pumped the, but anyway they, they hit that with that flame. The flame thrower, the flame was all over that thing. Then, they stopped that, and they could still see the, whatever that was on the, the flame. Some fire’s still burning. And there was the door was like, like on the ships, the what do you call them? Bulkhead. Closed and very tight and hard to get in. If they don’t want to let you in from the other side you got to have something to break in. So they, they roasted that door first with the, that bomb, that spigot. And then, when they, with the, when the flame was up they fired the spigot and hit that door and by Jesus they got in there.

Mr. Champoux describes how the allies transformed what he considered to be a useless tank (the Churchill) into an efficient flame thrower and shape charge delivery system. The flame thrower was used to penetrate German Pill Boxes that were firing on Dover from Calais.

Robert Arthur Champoux

Mr. Champoux was born in Hull, Québec on March 21st, 1921. He lived there until the age of 8 when his father, a First World War Veteran, moved the family to Ottawa. Mr. Champoux had three brothers and four sisters; he was the third oldest child. When the war broke out he was attending Ottawa Technical High School. He left school, after his first year, to join the Army after failing to join the Navy and the Air Force (who were not yet recruiting). He left for Europe July 17th, 1940 and ended up stopping in Iceland where he remained for the next 10 months. Mr. Champoux’s wartime service saw him fighting on D-Day and in the Falaise Gap. He also fought in Calais and later on in Holland where he was wounded. Mr. Champoux got a job with the Mint upon returning to Canada. He joined the army again in 1948 retiring in 1965.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Robert Arthur Champoux
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
13 Platoon - Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa
Machine Gunner

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