Veteran Stories:
Morley Chesher

Army

  • Private Morley Chesher, 1940.

    Morley Chesher
  • Morley Chesher at the barracks in Prince Rupert Harbour, British Columbia, 1942.

    Morley Chesher
  • Serviceman Morley Chesher and his girlfriend Ruby, 1942.

    Morley Chesher
  • Canadian Veteran Morley Chesher on his way to speak to a class, 2000.

    Morley Chesher
  • L-R: Dutch Thank You Canada medal; 1939-1945 Star; Italy Star; France/Germany Star; Canadian Volunteer Medal; World War II Medal 1939-1945.

    Morley Chesher
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"It was generally some ups and downs, but it's just a privilege now to be able to speak on behalf of those guys that died in the mud of Italy."

Transcript

Morley Chesher, 1st Midland Regiment in Canada, and then from there I was transferred to 1st Canadian Corps headquarters in the Mediterranean campaign. Commando training was quite an eye opener. There are things that one would not want to use in civilian life that we were trained to do, not in self-defence but aggressively, if we were in contact with an enemy. There's ways of disconnecting a man with your knee or your foot or whatever. You pretty well put a man out of commission very quickly. And then, of course, with firearms, the butt of your rifle or whatever. But, with commando training it was more scaling walls and trying to keep absolutely still because an object in motion is much more visible than an object that's still. And, of course, with some camouflage and with our khaki uniforms we wouldn't be as noticeable as a moving object. With commando training we went to Prince Rupert and, at that time of course, the Japanese aggression was quite positive and we felt we were much better prepared to handle these Japanese soldiers. After a few months on the Pacific coast, groups of our regiment would go overseas or at least would join other regiments. Every few weeks there would be a few more hundred leave the regiment to go overseas. And of course, we had no choice on that. It was just when our number was up we joined with other groups. So I went with Canadian Corps headquarters to Sicily and we supported the 1st Division and from Sicily we went into Italy where we had our more difficult fighting with the Germans. It was so hilly in Italy and the Germans were so well prepared, they would be dug in and... Up through Italy it was very difficult. The mud was terrible. The winter was terrible. We often joked about sunny Italy because it was just terrible. But, that's where we saw most of the action where people would be blown apart. And of course we saw a great deal of dead German bodies lying around. In retreat they did not retrieve their dead. Also, we learned not to touch a German officer to get his Luger because so often under his Luger revolver there'd be a booby trap and if you'd lifted the revolver the booby trap would explode. The enemy preferred that man just be injured because that way he required another, I believe, ten people, what with stretcher bearers, a hospital attendant and all, that it was better to have a man seriously injured than to have a dead man who could be disposed of quickly. You just keep his dog tags and dispose of the body in a shallow grave. So through the five years that I was in active service, it was generally some ups and downs, but it's just a privilege now to be able to speak on behalf of those guys that died in the mud of Italy. It was a pretty sad situation when there was no help available and people would be lying with their legs or arms or part of their chest blasted off. And so there are some pretty rough memories. And, of course, we're so glad that we did fight because we certainly wouldn't want to be under Nazi occupation.
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