Veteran Stories:
Harold Prior

Air Force

  • Medals earned by Harold Prior for his service on D-Day, in France and Germany and for volunteering with the Air Force in Winnipeg.

  • A photo taken of Harold Prior while he was in Toronto for training for the Air Force. Photograph taken at Ingelwood Drive, Toronto in 1943.

  • Repacking a parachute at 419 Repair and Salvage Unit Tactical Air Force on B-9 airstrip in Normandy, July 1944.

  • French citizens on a Normandy village street about four miles from Juno Beach. Leaving with all they have, June, 1944.

  • Harold Prior sitting on German anti-personnel bomb at Rhine, Germany, April 1945.

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"We saw an airplane, an ME 109, German, it was stood up with its nose in the mud and its tail was high in the sky."

Transcript

My name is Harold Prior. I joined the Air Force in 1942 in Winnipeg. Then I went to Toronto for military training and then I came back to Winnipeg for what they referred to number 8 repair depot. We used to work on Merlin engines there. Heaven forbid, we got to England and we got organized with what we referred to as repair and salvage units. We were put in a field there, a waiting field, just outside of Portsmouth. The first thing we knew, we got orders to go to Normandy. We stayed there for quite sometime until the military moved the Germans back a bit. Then we started to move ahead into every country. We went as far as Brussels, Belgium. We went out of Brussels, to an airstrip just outside of Brussels. Boy oh boy, that surprised me! We saw an airplane, an ME 109, German, it was stood up with its nose in the mud and its tail was high in the sky. It was just stationary. Our Commanding Officer said “Now don’t pull that machine down. Leave it there, don’t touch it!” So we had to obey the law and we didn’t bother. But heaven forbid, we stayed one night there in tents. The next morning they said we’d be leaving for Amsterdam. Well, I’ll tell you, we just left and hated to leave that airplane hanging that way. But shortly after we left, two American military guys came in and that was the first they did, they pulled it down and they blew up and killed them all. That was quite a surprise. After we got to Antwerp, we were there for a short while and we were shelled of course. Then we moved to Volkhelm in the Netherlands right near the Rhine River. It was quite a big airstrip, the Germans had made it. We stayed there for quite sometime, we had military operations too, they came over some days and shot at the airstrips and so on. But then we ended up moving across the Rhine River into Germany to what they called “Rhiney,” a little airstrip there. Then we moved on further into Germany and finally on May 15 I think…I was sent to Copenhagen, Denmark to get a Spitfire going. Heaven forbid, I got back and then all of a sudden they sent me back again to get something going. The Germans were starting to march out of Denmark. They were marching all the way out from Copenhagen to Germany. They were all over the road. We had to be very careful passing them. We did anyway and we eventually got back into Germany where we stopped and then we were told that that was it, the Germans were finished and we were finished. Then we came back to Portsmouth and finally got a boat back into Halifax.
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