"When we arrived there, the train had been loaded with the anti-aircraft guns and all the equipment"
My name is Victor Bulger. I had joined the militia battery in Cobourg pre-1939, and had gone to Petawawa summer camp for a week. A week before the war, the Colonel from Kingston came up to Cobourg because they were recruiting for the 4th Anti-Aircraft Battery, which was being shipped to Halifax, and they were shipping this anti-aircraft battery there to beef up the coast defence. So ten of us, we heard of it and went to the armouries, so they lined us up and questioned us, and anyway, it ended up we were told to be at the bus station and we'd go to Kingston. I was seventeen at the time. So I went home and told my mother I was going on a course to Kingston with the militia, and my mother said, "Make sure you're back in time for school in September."
We arrived in Kingston and were given a medical, and signed on, and then we were told to be at the station at eleven o'clock. When we arrived there, the train had been loaded with the anti-aircraft guns and all the equipment. We arrived in Halifax a couple of days later, and we set up our anti-aircraft guns, and then we trained as anti-aircraft gunners.
In 1940, the battery went overseas and converted to light anti-aircraft, and then in April1941, we were put on gun sites just south of London. We were involved in the last few raids of April and May 1941 – the last few raids on London. We were with light anti-aircraft guns, and the bombing planes were out of range, but they dropped a lot of flares, and we were able to knock down a few of them.
In October 1941, I transferred to the 1st Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, and they belonged in the 1st Canadian Division. My oldest brother Tom was in that regiment. Of course, the British Army had been forced out of France, and for the next couple of years we trained in England with the Field Artillery. Then in July 1943, our regiment, with the 1st Canadian Division, joined up with the 8th British Army and invaded Sicily, and they drove the Germans out of Sicily. On September the 3rd, 1943, we were in on the invasion of Italy.
The first really big battle was at Ortona. As I said, we were in the Field Artillery, and our job was to support the infantry, and we always had what they called 'Forward Observing Officers'. They called them 'FOOs'. They went in with the infantry, and they would direct artillery fire as required. At the battle for Ortona, we lost seven Captains in seven days. These were forward observers that went in with the infantry.