Joseph Larkin's medals (left to right): 1939-45 Star; France and Germany Star; Defence Medal; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal; War Medal (1939-45); Korea Medal; United Nations Service Medal (Korea); Queen's Jubilee Medal.Joseph Larkin
"Still you dream, you’re dreaming and you are lying there at night, just your memories take you back to it. So it’s never over."
On the 17th of June, 1940, I was cultivating summer-fallow and went in for supper and they had turned the news on the radio. And the [Royal] Winnipeg Rifles were being called up. So I said, that’s where I’m going. And so the next day, I rode from Portage la Prairie to Winnipeg on a bicycle. It was about 60 some miles. I went to Fort Osborne Barracks and this is where the Winnipeg Rifles were supposed to be. There was a captain there; I didn’t know what his rank was or who he was. But anyway, he told me that they were recruiting downtown and that’s where they were forming.
So I went down, he gave me a piece of paper and I got down just as they were closing. And I held up my paper and come on in. So I got in and I was sworn in that same afternoon. We went over from England to France on the ship. And from the ship, they’d dumped us into a, what they called a tank carrier, I forget what, but it was for carrying tanks. But this time, they just carried humans. They dumped us in water up to our, just about our neck sticking out and you hold, you’re holding your weapon up in the air.
Well, you were wet and cold and anyway, we were, they put us off in a certain area and people before us had brought in ammunition and they piled, it was all piled up. And anyway, that night, one guy said, “There’s somebody over there!” I said, no, there’s not. “Yes, I can see him!” So anyway, I couldn’t see him so I said, I’ll go over but don’t shoot me. I went over to the dump and there was nothing there. He was just on edge. But anyway, it was nice to see the sun come up.
I guess it was the Scheldt Estuary where they were trying to get Antwerp so they could use Antwerp as a supply centre. Our forces were in water. The Germans had blown up the dam so that the area was flooded. Well, this was where my brother was killed [transporting a load of nitroglycerine]. There was no grave, they were all disintegrated.
The war itself was pretty attaching, you know. There would be German bodies lying around and vehicles running overtop of them and this type of thing. Still you dream, you’re dreaming and you are lying there at night, just your memories take you back to it. So it’s never over.