Norman K. Beanland at age 17, Glasgow, Scotland.Norman K. Beanland
Dinner offered to the personnel of 10 Canadian Repatriation Depot by the Canadian Army Overseas and held at Fairmile on Christmas Day 1945.Norman K. Beanland
Norman K. Beanland at age 18, Italy, 1944.Norman K. Beanland
Canadian veterans from the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) re-united in Holland.Norman K. Beanland
Norman and Alec Beanland, 1942. Norman is sixteen years of age in this photograph. Photo in memory of Alec Beanland, who was shot down over Poland in August, 1944.Norman K. Beanland
"A few minutes after, the firing stops. It went real quiet. Then you could smell the cordite from the bullets that were fired"
My name is Norman Beanland. I am now 77 years old [Interview conducted in 2003]. But when I was in the army I was underage at the age of 16. And I was in the Infantry. I belonged to the Royal Canadian Regiment, the RCRs from London, Ontario. We were fighting in Italy, up on the Adriatic coast, near the Rimini Airport. The story is, there was always two companies up forward and there was one company held back for a reserve in case one of them gets in trouble. So we're walking along the road and it's pitch black at night. And all of a sudden, about two or three hundred yards, I guess down the road, all hell broke lose. And this is dark at night. Machines guns were going off. There was German weapons being fired. Canadian weapons being fired. You could tell by the sound of them. And we figured, "What the heck are we doing here? We're supposed to be in reserve." And all these bullets are flying around. So we're laying on our bellies, keeping out of the way. And a few minutes after, the firing stops. It went real quiet. Then you could smell the cordite from the bullets that were fired, drifting back toward us.
So we laid there and nobody knew what was going on, what... what happened. And then in a few minutes, there was footsteps. Somebody running down the road toward us. So I was closest up in the front where we were. And I think the sergeant or somebody said to me, "Stop that guy that's coming down the road and find out what outfit he's with." So I did... you could barely see. And I looked. I just made out a form. So I said to him, I said, "Hey, buddy, what outfit you with?" He went right on by. Same thing, another one come along. Same thing. "Hey buddy, what outfit you with?" Right on by. So the sergeant, he's getting a little bit mad and he says, "The next guy that comes by," he says, "you jump up and grab him and find out what outfit he's with." So I laid down my weapon, took off my steel helmet and got in a football crouch. And I could just barely make out this form and I jumped up and I grabbed him by the front of his tunic. And I hollered right in his face, "Hey, buddy, what outfit you with?" And he starts screaming in German, "Don't shoot. Don't shoot. Don't shoot." He was a German solider. And the sergeant said, "What's all the noise, Norm? What's he doing? So what outfits he with?" I said, "He's with the bloody German Army." (laughter) So the poor guy, I think he was scared right out of his boots. But he was given to somebody and taken back to a POW cage. And now talking about it after, I thought, "Huh. That poor guy, he isn't poor now. He's going to be back in Canada before I am. So that's the end of that story. I wonder how many times he's told that story. I'd like to meet him.