"We would enter a town at night and we’d find the Dutch people standing outside their homes watching what’s going on, overjoyed to welcome their liberators."
My name is Bruce Evans. I joined the Canadian Army in 1942 and at that time I asked to go into the Armoured Corps or Tank Regiment.
I went overseas to England in 1943 and I became a member of the First Hussars Armoured Tank Regiment and took my training as a gunner, a wireless operator, which put me in the position of being part of a crew of tank. When we were preparing to go to Normandy, we received extensive training with the infantry. The role of the tank is to assist the infantry onto its objective and this makes it easier for them if we can give them that added fire power. So we prepared and were trained thoroughly to go into Normandy or France. D-Day was supposed to have been on June the 5th, delayed for 24 hours. We sailed out on the afternoon of the 5th, along with thousands and thousands of other ships. I was on a landing craft with four tanks and a Jeep and another vehicle. And the objective was to get to Normandy and land on those beaches ahead of the infantry. And, due to the treacherous, terrible weather on the way over that night, everyone was sick and, actually we were looking forward to getting onto some land, regardless of whether somebody was going to shoot at us or not. We had two squadrons that were known as DD or Dual Drive tanks, means they were amphibious tanks, they floated in. They were discharged off landing craft at some distance out, they would then float towards shore with a propeller-driven mechanism and this made them a much smaller target than taking a landing craft right up to the beach. We had two squadrons that were designated for that. And then in my squadron, C Squadron, we landed right on the beach, just a little behind the other squadrons into the centre. We did fairly well there. There was a lot of traffic on the beach by this time, and there was a lot of dead soldiers around. Some dead Canadians which were… had been taken aways out. Very shortly after that, I was actually in command of a Jeep that day with two wireless sets. One set was netted into the infantry, The Winnipeg Rifles, and one to my tank squadron. Although it wasn't very effective, that was my job for that day. Well, two mortars landed very close to the Jeep and my driver was severely wounded and I couldn't do much for him. I was hit in the back and in the hip with pieces of shrapnel which put me out of action for quite awhile until I could sort of recover myself from the shock of it. And then, I proceeded on. But, by nightfall, I was so sore that I had to report to a First-Aid station and I was sent back to England the next day.
Then, I came back to the regiment. They had gone on to Nijmegen. The Canadians relieved the Americans around the Arnhem Nijmegan area in that winter. We came up, then, straight north into Holland. But, all of a sudden I hear a, sort of a tapping on the outside of my tank. And I'm the tank commander, we've got three people in the tank as well as myself - the gunner, the wireless operator and the driver. And I look out over the side of my hatch and here's a Dutch family standing there handing us up some fruit. Now they didn't have very much, but what they did have, they were prepared to share that with us. This happened many, many times with Dutch people. We would enter a town at night and we'd find the Dutch people standing outside their homes watching what's going on, overjoyed to welcome their liberators.