Veteran Stories:
Reg Cooper

Army

  • Canadians captured during the raid on Dieppe.

    Photo acquired by G.R. Cooper.
  • Photo taken by German soldiers after the raid on Dieppe.

    Photo acquired by G.R. Cooper.
  • Canadian Army World War II pay book.

    Reg Cooper
  • Photo taken after the raid of Dieppe.

    G.R. Cooper
  • Photo taken by German soldiers after the raid on Dieppe.

    Photo acquired by G.R. Cooper
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"Some of them have a red M on their forehead, put on there with lipstick. That means that that fellow would be under the influence of morphine and so he might have more pain than he shows."

Transcript

George Reginald Cooper. Regimental number B19671. I served with the 10th Canadian General Hospital in the field. Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps.

The Army always called me, "George." (laughter) But I never went by that name, really my name... by Reg. But that was my first name and that's what the Army says, "That's your name." Shortly after we got set up in France, and I think it was quite remarkable, because we landed in the American sector. 'Cause that was nearer where our hospital was going to be. That was Omaha Beach. They moved us up under cover of darkness and we went to this field where we were going to be and we just flopped on the ground there until it got light. And by six o'clock that night, we had 500 beds set up under canvas and a cookhouse. The beds made up and this is... we really worked out fingers to the bone because we had those 500 beds set up with bedside tables, in double-walled, floored, canvas tents.

I was then to work in triage, which is examining the fellows as they came and decided which ones needed immediate attention. And I can see them now laying on their stretchers. And some of them have a red M on their forehead, put on there with lipstick. That means that that fellow would be under the influence of morphine and so he might have more pain than he shows. Really, I was looking for the... to be very brash about it, the ones who were dripping blood or had bones which were out through the flesh. They got first treatment. We started to get patients around six o'clock and by dawn we had the hospital full and we started to evacuate those that couldn't go back to the lines in 24 hours were evacuated then to England. So I think that was pretty good. And we continued to get a lot of patients since we did a lot of good work there. In retrospect, I'm proud of what we did. At the time I thought this wasn't very much, but I know that we saved a lot of lives. A great credit to our surgeons. They worked four hours on and four hours off for days on end. We stayed in that hospital until the end of August. And I left the unit then because there was no more triage. We were really taking people who were sick more than hurt.

So I went to the holding unit and they assigned me to a post north of Nijmegen. Now Montgomery had turned the Canadians around. They were advancing towards Germany but he turned them all around. And they were to go back to free Rotterdam. Because that was a deep water port that the Allies wanted. I think there were about 40,000 Germans in there. And some of the Germans escaped but we captured most of them and captured the port. But it was cold. It was wet and not very pleasant. However, war is not very pleasant.

And I never did anything very brave. And I wasn't much... I was frisking a German to make sure he didn't have any weapons on him and I came across this package of photographs. So I looked at them and I.... I wanted (laughter) to smash him in the mouth. But I didn't because we didn't do that. But I took them away from him and I brought them home. And I've had them ever since.

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