Veteran Stories:
William A. Bush

Army

  • William A. Bush, leaving for Aldershot, England, to give a performance for the Army Show, 1944. The Army Show gave over two-hundred performances in 1944 and 1945.

    William A. Bush
  • Canadian soldiers eating American rations in a shell hole, Kiska, Aleutian Islands, 1943.

    William A. Bush
  • Christmas Eve service, 1944.

    William A. Bush
  • Canadians landing on Green Beach, Kiska, Aleutian Islands. One hundred thousand troops, American and Canadian, landed on Kiska in 1943.

    William A. Bush
  • Funeral service for Lieutenant Sid Vessey at Kiska, Aleutian Islands, 1943. Lt. Vessey was killed by a Japanese land mine.

    William A. Bush
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"...we nearly got blown up by an SS Trooper left behind in the theatre to blow the theatre up when the performance began"

Transcript

William Bush, Company Sergeant Major, Royal Canadian Medical Corps. And I trained at Camp Borden, Vancouver, Vernon, Courtenay and Nanaimo. When we prepared to go to the Aleutian Islands we left ... BC and we were escorted by two Corvettes. Aleutian Islands, the part we were going to, is twenty-nine hundred miles from Vancouver and we were nine days on the ship going there. We landed on the island. A group was at the Green Beach, Kiska. We landed on the island with 5,500 Canadians and 45,000 American troops. No Japanese were discovered. We spent six months on the island. General Perks was the Commanding Officer of the operation. He gathered us all together and said that he'd get us off the island as soon as possible. Six months later we were still on the island. This whole six months was a very bad experience for us. The winds are up to a hundred and twenty miles an hour and just blew the tents right away. The tents were square and they had to be sunk into a little basement, at least four feet deep. It was easy digging because the island is a solid volcanic rock so it was just a sandy soil. The Americans were taking off within a month after arriving. Later, I transferred to the Army show. So the last year of the war I did a tour of Belgium, Holland and Germany and part of the British Isles. I was the singer. We had 27 men and 8 girls. We did over 200 performances to entertain the troops. When we were in Holland we entertained in Arnhem in Holland. We had an experience there, we nearly got blown up by an SS trooper left behind in the theatre to blow the theatre up when the performance began. He had the roof all dynamited so he could let the roof right down on 750 soldiers. That's what the theatre held. And he was seen by one of the members of the show and the military police searched the place and couldn't locate him. And then we went on to Rotterdam and gave a performance there. The Mayor of Rotterdam presented flowers to all the girls. And then we came back to Arnhem to do another performance and the theatre was condemned and the SS trooper had given himself up. And when asked why, he said, "I just felt we were losing the war and I thought it was useless to take any more lives." So he didn't push the plunger on the explosives. That was one little adventure we had. And then when we gave our performance in Rotterdam, we were warned not to drink the water. Everybody came down with dysentery, but the show carried on. They had pails in behind the flies on the stage so we could perform and then run to the pail. And that was not a very good experience. That's what we got for drinking the water.
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