Tommy Prince – Legendary Indigenous Soldier
Tommy Prince was an Indigenous Canadian and a soldier enlisted to the notorious "Devil's Brigade." Prince was so deadly that Germans believed he was some kind of evil spirit. He was one of the most legendary soldiers of WWII, and an absolute badass!
Prince was Indigenous and part of the Brokenhead Ojibway nation. Born in Winnipeg in 1916, he was one of eleven children as well as a descendant of the famous chief Peguis of the Saulteaux tribe.
As a young boy, Tommy was a rascal who often skipped school to go exploring and hunting. After being turned down several times to serve in the war, Prince finally enlisted in 1940. He was first stationed in England as an engineer where he famously said that he didn't come to England just to sit around and drink tea, but to fight.
Prince was eventually enlisted in a Commando group, and was sent into Italy. All his fellow soldiers knew was that he always carried a pair of moccasins in his bag. Tommy relied on skills he learned as a young boy in Manitoba to stay invisible on the battlefield.
On February 8, 1944, near Littoria, Italy, Reconnaissance Sergeant Prince was spying on the Germans. An abandoned farmhouse some 200 metres from the enemy served as his observation post, and 1,400 metres of telephone wire connected him to the force. He had a clear view of the enemy's artillery emplacements and promptly reported them.
During what would become a 24-hour solo watch, Prince's communication line was severed by shelling. Unfazed, the sergeant donned civilian clothing, grabbed a hoe and, in full view of German soldiers, acted like an Italian farmer weeding his crops. He slowly inched his way along the line till he found where it was damaged, then, pretending to tie his shoelaces, quickly rejoined the wires. His reporting continued and so did the damage to enemy artillery posts. His commander, Lieutenant Colonel Gilday, immediately recommended him to be awarded the Military Medal.
Six months later, the Devil's Brigade entered southern France. On September 1, Sergeant Prince and a private, scouting deep behind German lines near L'Escarène, located the gun sites and encampment area of an enemy reserve battalion. Prince walked 70 kilometres across the rugged, mountainous terrain to report the information and led the brigade to the encampment.
Tommy was summoned to Buckingham Palace, where King George VI decorated him with both the Military Medal for his service to the Crown and the Silver Star on behalf of the President of the United States of America.
In August 1950, Tommy Prince volunteered to fight in Korea. Serving in the elite Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, Tommy did two tours in Korea but was injured and honorably discharged from the military.
Civilian life was difficult for Tommy. He suffered greatly from his war wounds, both physical and emotional. Nonetheless In June 1955 Tommy Prince made the news for his heroism in saving a man from drowning at the Alexander Docks in Winnipeg. He struggled to support himself, selling off his medals and staying in a hostel. He struggled with alcoholism which eventually led to his death in 1977.
Tommy Prince was a legendary war hero.
Conservative Party members of parliament are now calling for Tommy Prince to be on the $5 Canadian bill.
What do you think?