Veteran Stories:
Howard Cameron

Army

  • Members of the 26th Field Battery, RCA, in Sarnia en route to Guelph, Ontario, October 1939.

    Howard Cameron
  • Headline from The Maple Leaf, May 5, 1945, declaring that the German's had surrendered in Northern Europe.

    Howard Cameron
  • A 1941 military Christmas menu, featuring items such as Camouflage (salad), Anti-Freeze (soup) and Ground Anchor (pudding).

    Howard Cameron
  • Message from the B. L. Montgomery, Commander in Chief, to the 21st Army Group. "The enemy has in fact been driven into a corner, and he cannot escape. Events are moving rapidly. The complete and decisive defeat of the Germans is certain…". March, 1945.

    Howard Cameron
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"We crossed the Rhine River on Easter Sunday of 1945"

Transcript

My name is Howard Cameron. I enlisted in the Royal Canadian Artillery in September of 1939 and served during the Second World War.

The country was still in the throes of the depression and jobs were hard to obtain. There was a local artillery unit in Sarnia, Ontario, my hometown, and some of my friends had been in the Militia and had gone active and I thought I'd like to be with them. But, I think like many young men in their late teens or their early twenties, the real reason we joined was because we felt it was our duty.

Our unit went overseas in June of 1940 and we were introduced to blackouts, air raids, air raid sirens and so on. I attended a British Officer Cadet Training Unit and received my commission as a Lieutenant in the Artillery.

I finally entered a theatre of operation after five years of service joining the 19th Field Regiment, The Royal Canadian Artillery stationed at that time in Holland. We spent a very quiet winter in Holland, but I remember on Christmas day of 1944 the drone of a squadron of airplanes flying at low level and they flew over our little town and strafed the airport at Breda. This was sort of a... not really cricket because there had been a gentleman's agreement that hostilities ceased on Christmas day.

Moving through the Hochwald Forest, things were moving rather rapidly. The roads were in terrible condition and we were running out of ammunition. Out of the woods a little English Corporal appeared with a map in his hand and said, "Sir, where would you like the ammunition dumped?" I said, "How the heck did you get up here?" and saw the 350- hundredweights of ammunition behind him. He casually said, "You know how it is sir, somebody has to get through."

We crossed the Rhine River on Easter Sunday of 1945. A city by the name of Kleve on the other side of the Rhine had been strafed, bombed, shelled and was nothing but a mass of rubble. We were grinding our way through this rubble and I looked and there was a little patch of green grass about three feet square with yellow daffodils in full bloom. And to this day, I never look at yellow daffodils that I don't think of that.

We moved into a position in a German farmyard. I went into the farmhouse and the family was still there. There was a large cupboard in the kitchen and I opened the door and noticed some wine on the shelves, went back to my vehicle and a message came over the wireless saying that, "For all practical purposes the war was over. We could stand down from our guns." I went back into the farmhouse, the family had gone, the cupboard was now locked. I didn't want to shoot the lock off and I remembered that one of the signallers had told me long away that on "civie street" he was a burglar. I called him in, said, "Can you pick this lock?" He said, "Easily." And pretty soon the boys were whooping and singing and the war was over.

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