Veteran Stories:
Fernand Roy

Army

  • Private Fernand Roy during the war. He did most of his military service in Canada with the 1st Battalion of Les Fusiliers du Saint-Laurent from 1942 to 1945.

    Fernand Roy
  • Private Fernand Roy (right) with two comrades during his wartime service, 1942-1945.

    Fernand Roy
  • Private Fernand Roy (standing center) posing with some comrades during a training with a 3 inches mortar that he's carrying on his back.

    Fernand Roy
  • Certificate of Appreciation awarded by the Department of National Defence to Mr. Fernand Roy on February 19, 2004 in recognition of his participation in secret experiments involving chemical weapons of war.

    Fernand Roy
  • Mr. Fernand Roy.

    Fernand Roy
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"The difference with the Army was that I learned to live with a lot of people. We learned things we didn’t know, things that we couldn’t have learned at home."

Transcript

All the young people were being asked to serve in those days. You had to join the Army – that’s how I got in. I did my basic training in Rimouski and then I went to Valcartier, where I trained with 7th infantry. I came back to the Fusiliers du St-Laurent. I spent the rest of the war with them: we went to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and British Columbia. Some [units] went overseas and some stayed here. No one ever forced us to go. I wasn’t interested in going overseas, but we did go to Japan. We went to the islands. It was a good spot to do surveillance. I joined the Army out of obligation. My father was all alone on his farm and he wanted me to help him. He managed to keep me for one summer. I worked for him. In the fall, I wanted to stay on with him but I couldn’t. They told me that I had to return to the Army. So I went back to Covefield [Barracks] in Québec City. By then my regiment was in Sussex, New Brunswick. I preferred to stay in Quebec City and the surrounding area. They asked some of the men to go to Ottawa to take part in gas testing. The tests were for the purpose of developing treatments for people who had been affected by mustard gas in the First World War. They were looking for treatments for that. So they sent me there. We went to the laboratory and they’d put a drop of gas on my left arm and leave it for a day. The following morning, we would go back and show them. They would look at it and apply a bandage. It went on like that for five days. In the end, I was fine. It made sores but they healed well enough. However, some of the men were really messed up by the whole thing and had to be hospitalized. Some even died. It could have happened to me too, but I’m still here. In Nova Scotia, we trained a lot with the three-inch mortar. We launched a lot of rounds. We fired ten-dollar rounds. At the time, they said that a round cost ten dollars. I was very young when I joined the Army, I was 21 years old. Before that I had been at home like all young people back in those days. I learned what you learned at home and a little bit at elementary school. The difference with the Army was that I learned to live with a lot of people. We learned things we didn’t know, things that we couldn’t have learned at home. We learned about them in the Army. We received good direction. I don’t have anything bad to say about what we were taught.
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