James Evans at an event for The Memory Project, in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, April 27, 2010.Historica Canada
James Evans' Regimental Cap and Badge.James Evans
"And this guy came and jumped in on my back. I thought a mortar bomb hit me. I said, what are you doing? He said, I’m scared of the bombs. I said, well get up, go dig your own trench."
We had good leaders. We had one good sergeant and an officer, and he was the best. There was corporals were good; and we had good leadership as far as that went, right through, right from day one I went in, and the day when I come out. I went through it pretty good, without getting “bomb-wacky” and everything.
One time, we cut across this field where we had wiped them out and I dug a slit trench, and it was like a big mound like across where they dug out this drain for the water to go down through. And mortar bombs land all around us, they were wiping their guys out. And I dug a slit trench and this guy came and he, I didn’t know this, the bullets were flying, the mortars were landing all around us.
And this guy came and jumped in on my back. I thought a mortar bomb hit me. I said, what are you doing? He said, I’m scared of the bombs. I said, well get up, go dig your own trench. [laughs] I kept him there until the bombs stopped. And then, he got out then. But oh my, what a scare I got. Can you imagine you’re laying like this way down there and these big army boots land on your back. [laughs] I’m telling you, it was pretty weird.
Yeah, I saw a lot of guys hit that day. They were going over this mound of dirt and they were trying to get over it and once they got up, the Germans had machine guns, knocking our boys off. We lost about half the regiment that day. You’re ducking bullets, I mean, as long as you didn’t see somebody killed, and you had the air behind you, it wasn’t too bad. But we just kept going and going.
We captured a bunch of Germans at nighttime that night, and my Bren Gunner said, Jim, you carry the Bren [light machine gun] for a while. So he captured this German, we all did, and he had this little Belgian machine gun. So he carried that for a while. I said, what did you do with my rifle? He said, I don’t know what I did with it. The next day, I had to go up, I had to take… Actually, it was an Italian Beretta gun [semi-automatic pistol]. He gave it to me, one bullet left in it. And then the officer would say, come on, we’ve got to go in there. We had flame throwers ahead of us, shooting in at this bunch of German paratroopers and they were bad. They never run at all, they just stayed there with all the flames coming out of the flame throwers at them in the woods. They were sniping us.
This major from PEI, I saw him get hit: a bullet went right through that leg, right through one leg to the other. He was standing in front a Bren Gun Carrier [light armoured tracked vehicle], he just come up to look after us. And I was in the slit trench. I just popped my head up watching this stuff going on. And he said, come on, let’s go boys. And bingo. He just stepped out in front of the Bren Gun Carrier and I saw, zoop, like that, down he went. Fellow dragged him over (he was in the slit trench behind him), dragged him in and fixed him up. I saw the man afterwards, after the war was over, he was selling stuff from the island here, butter and eggs and stuff like that to my dad’s store and I saw him. He come in and he had two canes, because he got shot in both legs, I guess the bones were bad. And I said, my God. I said, I saw you get hit. [laughs] You know, down he went.