"The Moyland Woods were the worst. In fact, our regiment lost more men in the Moyland Woods in them two or three days than they did on D-Day and after that."
We were in southern England training the tanks, ready to join a regiment. And then it was up to Helmsley and we were there for four weeks, taking infantry training. And from there we went to Belgium; and in Belgium, we were there two days when I come off the Scheldt and they put us in it and we were shipped. Went in because that’s where we were supposed to go.
I wasn’t in that battle really. I joined them as the boys came out of the lines. And then a few days later, we moved up to Nijmegen in Holland and we were billeted in a monastery. Our section of six or seven men had one room which I presume had belonged to the one monk, about eight by twelve and we slept on a nice soft stone floor. And we were there three or four days before we went into the lines. But they carved out the Nijmegen Salient in the winter and we’d go out for, I don’t know, ten, twelve days and back in for rest for three or four; and we all came back to the same monastery for a rest, but we were in different places in the front lines.
Every time we went back in the lines, they put us in a different place. And we guarded it the whole winter with a few, well, we patrolled, after dark to see who was, what German regiment we were facing, stuff like that. We were sitting outside Cleve, when they bombed it right the next day and I found out afterwards, my brother was the navigator and pathfinder; and his crew dropped the first markers over Cleve for the other guys to bomb. So he was above me and I was down there, which we didn’t know until afterwards. [laughs]
But my second on the Bren [Gun (Universal) Carrier, light armoured vehicle], when he seen me, he said tell your brother pretty nice fireworks over Cleve. I said, okay, I’m writing him a letter that I’m still alive. I got a letter back from him. He said, yes, he said, I thought it was pretty nice myself. So we knew we, but we, that didn’t happen too often. And then from there, we went into the Moyland Woods and that was a rough battle. In fact, my second and I left were left by ourselves. I don’t know why; we had a new lieutenant on, the lieutenant got wounded in Cleve and that’s the only time I seen him. And he pulled everybody else and left my second and I up by ourselves. And I told him, when he seen we were by ourselves, I told him to get and I covered for him because there were three German machine guns above us. And he did. When he got back to safety, I took off myself. And I was lucky to get down there.
The Moyland Woods were the worst. In fact, our regiment lost more men in the Moyland Woods in them two or three days than they did on D-Day and after that. The regiment lost more men in the Moyland Woods than they did on the first couple of days in France.
But why I didn’t get killed, I don’t know. Because there was three machine guns strafing us all the time and how come they missed me, I don’t know. But I think they knew I’d be the only one there and I think they were taken by surprise when I took off. That’s the only thing I could ever figure out. But I lived through it and that was amazing. [laughs]