"All tanks were turned in at the end of hostilities except the Sherman tank named Bomb, which was the only Canadian Sherman Tank in action from “D-Day to VE-Day.” When the Regiment embarked to return to Canada the tank Bomb was aboard with us all"
My name is James V. Love. I enlisted in the Canadian Armoured Corps on June 4, 1942 at the Toronto Exhibition. I was there a few days to get my uniform and I slept in a bed in the Horse Palace. I was then taken to a camp in the town of Orillia, north of Toronto, for basic training, and then to Camp Borden for tank training in gunnery, and to Meaford for firing the Sherman Tanks guns. In 1943, I left Borden by train to Halifax to go overseas on the Ile de France Troop Transport, landed in Scotland and was entrained down to Blackdown, England, to a holding camp for armoured reinforcements and training.
There were a lot of trained gunners, radio operators and tank drivers in our hut in Blackdown ready to go into Regiments. A few of us picked the Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment, but a couple of weeks before D-Day, June 6, 1944, one of the soldiers came down with the mumps and we were quarantined and I did not get over the Normandy until four to five days after D-Day. The reinforcements were sent over to Normandy at night. We went to the Sherbrooke Fusilier headquarters and we were formed into tank crews. Sergeant Reits was our tank crew commander in "A" Squadron under Major Radley-Walters. In our first operation against the enemy Sergeant Reits and crew knocked out two enemy tanks. The next important battle I was in was the night attack operation called Totalise. This was an attack south to Falaise under cover of darkness guided by wireless signals to tanks, Bofors guns firing tracer shells and search lights reflecting off the cloud cover. "A" Squadron was point tanks under Major Radley-Walters of the Sherbrookes of the Second Armoured Brigade with Kangaroos carrying infantry. Bomber aircraft began dropping bombs at 21:00 hours and artillery support protected the flanks. Our tank rolled through the night and I did not shoot at anything. At first light we were knocked out. It must have been an 88 because the shot went through the back of the tank, two diesel motors and hit the tank beside us. No one was hurt; we got out and ran like hell back to the Canadian lines. I never saw the city of Falaise.
I was at headquarters for awhile and then was sent to be a gunner for "Corporal Sergeant" Peter Hart. He was a very good tank crew commander. His tank was a 17 pounder FireFly (German tanks fired at it because of its distance capability). I was with him through part of France and Belgium and was knocked out; Peter Hart and another crew man were wounded. Serving with Peter Hart I had knocked out two enemy tanks. Then it was back to headquarters where I was having a smoke and sandwich when the second in command said: "Jim Love, you're a gunner, hop into the jeep, "A" Squadron needs a gunner." I was surprised when I arrived there that it was to be with Major S.V. Radley-Walters. His gunner had been wounded when they were all outside of the tank and he had been sitting on the motor behind the turret as the crew was making food.
A few days after "A" Squadron took 200 prisoners, they were near the Turnhout Canal between Belgium and Holland. Sherbrooke Fusiliers on November the 2nd were at Breda for a few days, then moved on the Nijemegen. The Sherbrookes helped to break through to the 101st and the 82nd Airborne Divisions at the "Bridge too Far" and they were, after, camped very close to us. In fact I had U.S. Thanksgiving November 24, 1944 with the 101st Airborne, which was delicious. The second of December 1944 the enemy breached the dykes of Neder Rijn at Arnhem thereby flooding much of the island north of the Waal between Nijmegen and Arnhem creating a flood.
All squadrons of the Sherbrookes moved back to get out of the waterlogged are. "A" Squadron moved to a town, Wejehan, and helped the Dutch forces guarding the Grave Bridge on the 24th of December. On Christmas Day it was dinner as usual, but the Officers and Sergeants served the men. Lt-Col Gordon's message to them commended their loyalty and gallantry since operations began, "Every one of you has been magnificent in battle," he declared, "Our tank crews have always outfought the enemy."
On December 29th the Regiment moved to the Boxtel area and moved to Tilburg to provide protection for headquarters, 1st Canadian Army. Major Radley-Walters was away from the Sherbrooke Fusiliers and Captain Garry Gould took over "A" Squadron, Rad's tank and crew. Once again, on the 26th of February, the Regiment was engaged in a night push to break through the Siegfried Line in an angled attack with "A" Squadron being the outside squadron going the greatest distance. We were knocked out, as the squadron going the greatest distance. We were knocked unconscious and were shot several times. One of the crew was killed two others were wounded and I had a broken nose from fragments of a shot that had hit the tank and caused my bleeding, as the Germans were shooting at us as we got out of the tank. I ran out and waved down one of the now empty infantry Kangaroos. I had help for the wounded infantry soldiers to get all of them back to the Medical Field Doctors.
I had knocked out four enemy tanks and Radley-Walters' other gunner had knocked out 14. Therefore, Lt-Col Radley-Walters had credit for 18 German tanks and SP's. He was 24 years old when promoted to command the Regiment.
All tanks were turned in at the end of hostilities except the Sherman tank named Bomb, which was the only Canadian Sherman Tank in action from "D-Day to VE-Day." When the Regiment embarked to return to Canada the tank Bomb was aboard with us all.
In the summer of 1945, Canada wanted to send transport trucks to Poland and Czechoslovakia to get the economy moving. To assist, the Sherbrooke Fusiliers established a campsite on the Autobahn, between Cologne and Bonn. The Officer in charge was J.W. Neil and I was his driver. The drivers and trucks arrived coming up from Holland, stopped overnight, had dinner and breakfast, trucks repaired and fuelled, ready for departure. We had our tents and mess tents on the other side of the Autobahn.
Afterwards we were called back to the Regiment transferred from Holland to Dover, to repatriation camp, from there to Liverpool on the night of the 9th of January 1946 and the next day we sailed on the Lady Rodney for Canada. After 11 days at sea we debarked at Halifax on the 21st after a rough journey.
A train waiting at Halifax took the Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment home to Sherbrooke Quebec. We had a parade to William Street Armoury and a great welcome home. I stayed in Sherbrooke for a few days then I headed to Toronto, to my family home.