thomas george prince
As soon as I put on the uniform, I felt myself becoming a better man. Tommy Prince
Thomas George Prince was one of 11 children of Henry and Arabella Prince of the Brokenhead Band in Scanterbury, Manitoba. He was one of the descendants of Peguis, Chief Saulteaux who had led his 200 Ojibwa band from the Sault Ste. Marie area to the Red River in the 1790s, and Chief William Prince, who had led the Ojibwa-Manitoba Nile Traveler Team.
Prince enlisted in June 1940, at the age of 24, and began his service as a sapper in the Royal Canadian Engineers Corps. After two years of service with the Corps, he responded to a call from paratroop volunteers and by the end of 1942 was training with the 1st Canadian Special Service Battalion.
Soon after, this select battalion was merged with an American elite unit to form an advanced battalion of 1,600 men with special skills. It was, officially, the 1st Special Service Brigade; for the Germans it would be the "Devil's Brigade". At the beginning, this brigade was to be composed of paratroopers who would jump behind the enemy lines to sabotage their installations. Instead, she became a versatile assault group and gained a reputation by specializing in reconnaissance and raids. Prince was well prepared to be part of it.
On February 8, 1944, near Littoria, Italy, the reconnaissance sergeant Prince spied on the Germans. An abandoned farm 200 meters from the enemy served as an observation post, and 1,400 meters of telephone wire allowed him to keep in touch with the brigade. He saw very well the locations of the enemy artillery and reported them promptly.
During what would be a 24-hour solo surveillance, Prince's lines of communication were cut off by the bombing. The sergeant did not care for so little and, putting on farm clothes, he took a fork and, in full view of the German soldiers, began to weed his field. Slowly, he walked along the wire until it reached the point where it was damaged. He leaned over as if to fasten his laces, and quickly connected the wire. He then continued to send reports and damage to the enemy continued to accumulate. In all, four German positions were destroyed and Prince won the MM . As the quote explains: "Sergeant Prince's courage and total indifference to his safety were an inspiration to his comrades and a great benefit to his unity."
Six months later, the Devil's Brigade entered the south of France. On September 1, during a reconnaissance tour far behind the German lines near L'Escarène, Sergeant Prince and a soldier spotted the location of the guns and the camp of an enemy reserve battalion. Prince walked a distance of 70 kilometers on rugged and mountainous terrain, to report this information and lead the brigade to the encampment.
Then he took part in the battle.
Subsequently, Prince was recommended to be decorated with the Silver Star , a decoration of the American army granted for bravery in combat.
The quote was very complimentary:
The report of the patrol was so accurate that Sergeant Prince's regiment advanced on September 5, 1944, occupied other heights and succeeded in annihilating the enemy camp. Sen. Prince's high sense of responsibility and duty, in addition to being in keeping with the highest traditions of military service, honors him as well as the Armed Forces of allied nations.
When fighting stopped in the south of France, Prince was commissioned to Buckingham Palace where King George VI decorated him with the Military Medal and, on behalf of the President of the United States, the Silver Star with ribbon. Tommy Prince was one of 59 Canadians to be awarded the Silver Star in the Second World War. Only three members of this group also received the MM .
In December 1944, the Devil's Brigade was abolished and its members were scattered among the other battalions. The war ended in Europe while Prince was in England.
Three of the 11 medals won by Tommy Prince during his military career - the Korea Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal for Korea - were awarded to him for the service. accomplished in United Nations operations in Korea. In August 1950, a week after the government announced its decision to form a special force, Prince, 34, volunteered. He enlisted in the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia 's Canadian Light Infantry ( PPCLI ) , the first Canadian Army unit to arrive in the area.
Prince knew the fight quickly. In February 1951, the PPCLI joined the 27th Commonwealth Brigade on the battlefield. Shortly after arriving in the war zone, the sergeant, who was second in command of a rifle platoon, led eight men from a night "intervention patrol" to an enemy camp. The raid was a success. The group returned before dawn and brought back two enemy machine guns. Other raids followed. However, according to the authors of a biography of Prince, he was assigned to fewer patrols because the commander judged that Prince was taking too many risks that could endanger the lives of the soldiers he commanded.
Prince served with the 2d Battalion PPCLI, who, along with the 3 rd Royal Australian Regiment , received the United States Presidential Unit Citation for Distinguished Service for Success in the Kapyong Valley on April 24 and 25, 1951, during one of the fiercest battles of the war. The Princess Patricia men were to maintain a defensive position at Hill 677 so that a South Korean division could retreat during an attack by Chinese and North Korean forces. Although at some point the battalion was surrounded and ammunition and rescue rations could only be brought in by air, the Princess Patricia battalion held out. The enemy withdrew. Ten PPCLI men were killed and 23 wounded in the two-day battle. This was the first time a Canadian unit received this decoration.
Prince's stay at the front was intense, but brief. He was subject to painful swelling in his knees and was suffering from early arthritis. It was terribly painful to endure the constant ascent of steep slopes characteristic of the landscape of Korea. After undergoing a medical examination in May 1951, he was hospitalized and subsequently assigned administrative duties. He returned to Canada in August.
Prince continued to serve in the active forces as an administrative sergeant at Camp Borden , Ontario. There, the rest was soon due to his knee troubles, then, in March 1952, he volunteered for a second assignment in the Far East. He embarked for Korea in October with the 3rd Battalion PPCLI .
In November 1952, the training of the 3rd Battalion PPCLI in Korea was interrupted by fighting on the "Hook", an important position west of the Sami-chon River from which one could see the largest part of the rear of the UN forces . A Chinese battalion managed to gain a hold on the forward positions of another UN force unit on 18 November. The 3rd PPCLI Battalion was then ordered to defend the area. At the dawn of the 19th, with the help of the PPCLI , the UN unit took the position. Five PPCLI men were killed and nine others were wounded in the Hook fighting, including Sergeant Prince.
Prince recovered from his injury, but he began to experience ongoing troubles with arthritis in his knees. Between January and April, he spent several weeks in the hospital. The armistice was signed in Korea in July 1953, and in the following November Prince returned to Canada. He remained in the army, stationed at a personnel depot in Winnipeg until September 1954.
Tommy Prince died at Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg in November 1977 at the age of 62. At her funeral, members of the Princess Patricia served as porters and covered the coffin with a Canadian flag for the memorial service. It was an impressive tribute:
As the trumpets fell silent, five young men from the Brokenhead Indian Reserve began singing the " Death of a Warrior " chant while the drummers chanted a sad lament. ... The crowd of over 500 people included people from all walks of life: soldiers, veterans, Lieutenant-Governor Jobin of Manitoba, consuls from France, Italy and the United States, farmers , fishermen, trappers, businessmen and many others.