"you couldn’t believe how the people would just stand up for one another. Yeah. I don’t know if the other regiments are like that or not but that Lake Superior Regiment was just terrific"
I was kind of tall and I’d be walking down the street and somebody would say, how come you’re not in the Army? I said, I’m not old enough. Well, you’re big enough, they used to say. It was a reconnaissance regiment that I joined in Windsor. The guys were all about my same age. And there was a lot of larking and going on and we were getting a $1.50 a day. And I’m trying to think of this - Smith, he was from the Ottawa area, way over there. And he said, what do you think about this? He said, they can shoot at you for $1.50 a day?
They came along one day and of course, this is after D-Day now [the Normandy invasion, June 6, 1944]. And they were losing fellows in the infantry. So they weren’t losing as many in the armoured corps and they needed the reinforcements in the infantry. So that’s why they reallocated us. And the brigadier - I forget his last name - came to Woking [England] and said that we were going to be reallocated to the infantry and there was nothing wrong with the infantry. And you would enjoy it and they booed him because they were trained for another thing. So we had to go through all the training. We went from there to Helmsley, up in Yorkshire for thirty days’ training and then we were sent across [to Normandy, France].
When we got over there, the funny thing about it; we had to walk in, they pulled along that pontoon bridge that they had. And we had to walk in and it was going up and down. And it was a hot, hot July day, and we had full marching order. Everything we owned, we had on our back. And there’s the Jerry [German] prisoners riding in the trucks. And we said, who the hell is winning this war, you know?
We went from there to another holding unit and then we were designated to this regiment. And all the, I think everybody that went to the Lake Superior Regiment, their names started with S. I don’t know why. We had half-tracks and Bren Gun Carriers, see, which was better than straight infantry. We were with the Armoured Corps, so we could move with the tanks and that.
The first thing that I - I had never been in a regiment other than when I joined up. And they said, like I never heard of the Lake Superior Regiment. And so we went there and like I’d said, I went from Woking to Helmsley, in Yorkshire, so right away, mail and everything is behind you and I’d ordered -they had a cigarette bank in London that you could send the money and they’d send you back cigarettes in a carton, three hundred in a carton. And when I got to the regiment, I said, where’s the canteen or the Sally Ann [Salvation Army] or the Knights of Columbus so I could go and buy some cigarettes? Everything was … So the guy threw me three hundred, he said, when you get yours, he said, he give me them, I’ll take them back. I never had been involved with this type of friendship, because I was just new, you know.
And so that really struck me. And it was always that way. The regiment came first and the people in the regiment. And it was really strong. And the officers didn’t wear any rank - or the sergeants -because the snipers were looking for leaders and so this guy come up to me one day and he said, go over there and give them a hand on that truck. I said, who’s that guy? He said, that’s the lieutenant, you’d better do what you’re told. But they were just close; just real close, the guys. And most of them came from up around northern Ontario, there was Swedes and Fins and Aboriginals. And, but they all worked together, just close. I never saw it.
And October the 20th , I got hit. When we were clearing this little town in Belgium, we’d just come off the Leopold Canal and we were clearing this town. They mortared us that night and I wound up back in England. It was close, just, you couldn’t believe how the people would just stand up for one another. Yeah. I don’t know if the other regiments are like that or not but that Lake Superior Regiment was just terrific, yeah.