Gustave Goulet, corporal with Le régiment de la Chaudière, was awarded the military medal for bravery.Historica Canada
"General Montgomery told us that if one of our men was hit and injured, we had to leave him there and continue with the offensive."
Because there was nothing to be won. There was nothing else. I had always dreamed of one day becoming a soldier. When we [the Régiment de la Chaudière] landed in Normandy at low-tide to see the mines, we landed at Bernières-sur-Mer. The Air Force was hitting hard. I saw one of my fellow soldiers, a guy about my size, step into a depression and fall. Another soldier walked right over him. There were guns going off, mortars – it was hitting pretty hard.
We landed at 7:45 and then we waited for the Queen’s Own Rifles to do what they had to do. We took over from them at Bernières. Then we went to Bény-sur-Mer, and so forth. We waited in Bernières for everything to be done. I received a Military Medal for an act of heroism. There were others who deserved it perhaps some more so than me, but they perished. They died. General [Dwight D.] Eisenhower [Supreme Allied Commander] and General [Bernard] Montgomery [commander of all ground troops taking part in the D-Day landings] had sent us a message, wishing us good luck. General Montgomery told us that if one of our men was hit and injured, we had to leave him there and continue with the offensive. Fortunately, I wasn’t hit. But a lot of others were.
We went through Bény-sur-Mer and Rots. One of the most strongly defended places was the airfield at Carpiquet. You’ve probably heard of it. I saved a man there. Rots, Carpiquet, those places. It’s like everything is shaking inside of you. I received a pension for my anxiety disorder as well as for having been injured. It hits hard. It’s still difficult sometimes. I have panic attacks. I’m followed by a specialist, Dr. François Rousseau at the Roy-Rousseau clinic [in Quebec City]. I’m not ashamed to admit it. He’s wonderful. I’ve always been treated well.
At the time, after the invasion, I continued on to Carpiquet. I went to get him [a wounded man] and I found him some shelter, in a place where he could not be hit. The Germans we faced there were SS, of the 12th Panzer SS Division. At Colombelles, I saved an officer. I went… You’re probably eager for me to stop, aren’t you?
The night after D-Day, we were near Caen, about 18 miles away from Caen. We crossed the bridge they called ‘London Bridge’ [a Bailey bridge over the Caen canal]. We stayed there overnight and then the next day, we attacked. We were the first ones there. The enemy let us advance about 600 yards and then they opened fire, can you believe it. The three officers in our platoon’s chain of command were injured. On top of that, the radio set wasn’t working, it was broken. It was up to us to defend ourselves.
In English it says, “…he dodged fire, managing to guide the officer to safety”. Once they got him out, he would have most certainly died. Imagine, he was wounded, he was all cut open. I gave him First Aid. I had everything I needed on me, but I couldn’t stay there for a long time so I put him in a sheltered place and I went back.
Some [enemy troops] tried to infiltrate our lines. After having saved the officer and brought him to safety, I shot at them with my Sten Carbine [machine gun] and grenades. I cleared them out. I was injured twice; once in the shoulder and in the spine. I received a full pension. Before I was injured, I would take messages to the commander, Colonel [J.E.G. Paul] Mathieu. And then I went back… I often remember that. I brought the message to Colonel Mathieu, all that he wanted to say to Major Sévigny. I was in ‘C’ Company. My commander was Major Georges Sévigny. Unfortunately, he’s deceased now. After I did that, they came to get me and brought me to a big tent. The doctor examined me and then he said, "This man has to go back to England". I had tetanus in my arm. I had lost blood and had difficulty standing up straight.
I got on an American boat with some others and we left for England. I woke up surrounded by nurses all dressed in white. They said to me, "Good morning, French Canadian". When I was injured, I spent three months in the hospital and then I rejoined my unit in Antwerp [Belgium].