Veteran Stories:
William “Bill” Capek

Army

  • William Capek in Winnipeg, Manitoba, shortly after enlistment in The Lake Superior Regiment, 1942.

    William Capek
  • William Capek and his brother Andrew, reunited on leave in England, 1945.

    William Capek
  • Corporal William Capek in Germany, 1945.

    William Capek
  • William Capek (centre) and his brothers Andrew and John outside the family farm near Neepewa, Manitoba, shortly before William went overseas in 1942.

    William Capek
  • William Capek in Victoria, British Columbia, 2007.

    William Capek
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"We ran into a blacksmith’s building and before we realized, we had our arms around each other, crying and saying the Lord’s Prayer. Because we didn’t think we were going to make it from there on."

Transcript

I was in Dryden, Ontario, in a bush camp. So from there, we joined but they sent us out to Winnipeg to sign up. We were put into anti-tank company [of The Lake Superior Regiment]. We had to learn how to drive and then we used to take our guns on a firing range and practice with them. There was four of us to a gun and I was the driver and the other three had to leap out of the carrier and set up the gun and then it would be all ready for me to fire. When we left Halifax, we got attacked by German U-boats and one of the troopships was hit but it made it back to Halifax. And I saw three tankers blown up, but it took us 15 days, 16 nights to cross the Atlantic. Because they couldn’t move all of us on D-Day and that’s where I was introduced to the war, the real war. Of course, when we were in England, we used to watch the bombing going on and the [German] V1s [unmanned flying bombs] and V2s [long-range ballistic missiles], which I suppose is part of the war…. It was very very scary to start with. I recall, we were in this farmhouse complex, when this other kid from Kenora, Ontario and myself decided to investigate the rest of the building. We got caught in the middle of the building by the Germans shelling us. We ran into a blacksmith’s building and before we realized, we had our arms around each other, crying and saying the Lord’s Prayer. Because we didn’t think we were going to make it from there on. Well, the big Falaise drive and we were going in it and all of a sudden, we were being hit by the RCAF [Royal Canadian Air Force] pilots, fighters. Because someone behind us set off the wrong smoke signals so anything ahead of those smoke signals was [thought to be] enemy territory. And this is where a lot of Canadians got killed, by our own Air Force. I think I managed to get one shot off at a German tank and this was our orders, you get one shot out, you pack up and leave because they’ll use their 88s [anti-tank guns] and they’ll blow you sky high. So we fired one shot and I don’t think it hit the tank and we took off. That’s the only time I shot at an enemy tank. I had a brother over there with me. But he wasn’t in the same regiment as me. And then we made some friends in Holland, which we’ve been back there to see them about three times. And we correspond with them, which is very nice.
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