Veteran Stories:
John Harry “TQ” Quarton

Army

  • Personal Christmas Message to the troops from First Canadian Army GOC-in-C General H.D.G. Crerar, December 1944.

    Harry Quarton
  • Technical troops from the headquarters of 4th Canadian Armoured Division, Germany, 1945. Technical Quartermaster Harry Quarton is kneeling in the centre of the photo.

    Harry Quarton
  • Comrades of Harry Quarton at a Warrant Officers and Sergeants Rest and Recreation Centre, somewhere in The Netherlands, October 1945.

    Harry Quarton
  • Roll call aboard a troopship bound for Britain, August 1942. Technical Quartermaster Harry Quarton is to the right of the sergeant taking roll.

    Harry Quarton
  • Comrades of Harry Quarton, somewhere in The Netherlands or Germany, 1945.

    Harry Quarton
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"I had the points to go home early because I’d been in the Army since 1940 but I was young and I had a high rank so we became what was known as the 'Frozen Few.'"

Transcript

We got our first tanks that early spring [of 1942]. We had a few Valentines and I think we got the first Rams, with no guns on them. And we trained on those and that type of training, because we all had our armoured training at [Camp] Borden, most of us had or most of us senior NCO [non-commissioned] officers. And that summer, as a matter of fact, we were on the water when the Dieppe raid took place in August of 1942. We went into barracks in Aldershot [England] which my, I was in the same barracks as my father had been in before 1900 on his way to Africa. So that shows you the age of some of those buildings that we were in.

So when our turn came, and that’s, and when the push actually started, once they got armour built up, then the generals could move forward. But it was to try to get the land and hold it and get enough troops onshore so’s you could put in a proper attack. So it wasn’t until actually we got into the early part of August [1944] when the breakout from Caen south took place, heading down towards Falaise and Trun and places like that. But it took all that time to build up the strength of the troops and the types of troops.

But I think I had the best job in the Army. I worked with some wonderful people and mind you, I worked under a lot of things that other TQs [Technical Quartermasters] never had to put up with. I had a general to put up with all the time. Some of these that were demanding, particularly, well, right from the days of [Major-]General [Frederic Franklin] Worthington, because General Worthington was a very imaginative inventor of all kinds of things. He invented more things for the Army than anybody I know of. And he was always wanting tanks and vehicles and so on to go out and do some experiment and so on, so he always made life interesting. But you know, at the headquarters, of course, we had a huge headquarters with all the heads of all the different arms at the headquarters and they all had to be looked after and equipped with their proper equipment. They were all looking out for their own like the commander, artillery commander of all the different divisions, not the divisions but the different sections and then we had the liaison officers that had their jobs to do, keeping in touch with the regiments and so on. And I had to keep these people all equipped and armed and ready to go at any time. So it made life interesting.

I had the points to go home early because I’d been in the Army since 1940 but I was young and I had a high rank so we became what was known as the "Frozen Few." And we had to stay behind and see the other units out, take their; they would turn in their equipment on their own or the biggest portion of it and then we would take their final equipment away from them and they would go into repat [repatriation] depot and head for the ships to take them to England. And so we had to gather up all this material at the Arnhem air base and so on for disposal and vehicles had to be categorized, we had our own mechanic, we had a huge section of mechanics that went over all the vehicles and they were categorized A, B and C. Some vehicles, they had hardly any miles were cleaned up and repaired and sent back to Canada for – or prepared to go back to Canada and we never did see them off - for training vehicles for the Army after the war. The second-class vehicles were turned over to UNRRA, United Nations [Relief and] Rehabilitation [Administration] and were given to all the occupied countries to get them started again in their different departments and cities and things like that. And then the C vehicles, they were just scrap.

So we had to look after all this sort of stuff and get the vehicles and equipment away from the troops so they could go home. And so that lasted into I think it was February of 1946. Yeah, I think it was February. As a matter of fact, the day I arrived home, I arrived home in Edmonton on the train and I’d had a telegram from my father, a quick telegram from my father, get home, your regiment’s going to have its first reunion. So I quickly got the train back to Edmonton and I arrived at the Macdonald Hotel and here the regiment was having their first get-together and I was the only one in uniform. Everybody else of course has been discharged and were in civilian life. So, yeah, that was the end.

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