On a hot summer day near Caen in 1944, "A" Squadron of the 6th Armoured Regiment (First Hussars) was moving forward through a village. At the badly damaged church, an elderly man dressed in a black suit but without a clerical collar, waved his arms and called "aidez-moi!" A tank halted; the crew went to his aid.
They soon understood that, the town being liberated, he wished to ring the church bells in celebration. The bell ropes were tangled; he lacked the strength to untangle them. To his great joy, the troopers freed the ropes and began ringing the bell vigorously.
Searching through the débris under the tower, he retrieved a "gold" statuette of an angel and presented it to the crew in gratitude.
The angel was later mounted on the tank, which by chance was named Angel. Although Angel tanks were damaged or destroyed, no member of a crew serving in an Angel tank, or the Angel itself, became a casualty.
The regiment earned twenty battle honours during the Second World War. The Angel protected her tank and crew through 17 of those battles. Three commanders of Angel were awarded the Distinguished Service Order. The driver, Sgt. G. Doescher, who drove for all three commanders, received the United States Bronze Star.
The Angel was considered to be a miraculous guardian by her crews.
Several attempts were made to return the Angel. Colonel AB Conron, DSO, CD and CWO J Tuffin, CD, made the last such effort. Despite the aid of the Canadian Embassy, the Caen newspapers and the fading memories of former troopers, they were unable to find the church.
The Angel is on display in the museum at Courseulles-sur-Mer.