Veteran Stories:
John Chandler Alexander “Jack” Mahar

Army

  • John Mahar in Fredericton, New Brunswick, July 27, 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"They said I wasn’t old enough and I said, 'well, take me while you can get me.' So the corporal said, 'well, get in there.'"

Transcript

Oh, I was just young and working around in the woods and things like that. And we decided, my cousin and I, we decided that we’d go join up in the Army. We’d tried to get, before that, we’d tried to get in the Air Force; we were too young, so then we went and got in the Army and then they said I wasn’t old enough and I said, "well, take me while you can get me." So the corporal said, "well, get in there." So that’s how I started out. Well, I was thinking about [joining the] Armoured Division but instead of going there, I had to come home [for] a funeral and when I went back, they put me in the [Royal Canadian Army] Service Corps, which I’m glad that happened that way. When I looked at the tanks and when they caught fire and stuff like that, it wasn’t very great to see, so. We built bridges, I was in the bridge company, No. 86 Bridge Company and we built Bailey bridges. And we trained a lot to build them and it came in real handy when we got overseas. It was very good to be able to know what to do. On the Seine River in France, and then on the big one there, on the Rhine River in Germany, we built Bailey bridges there; we built the ones with the pontoon - pontoon Baileys. And we were able to build the bridge right on the water, like go across that way too. Yeah, we maybe would have five or six trucks and load and then the other fellows would help to unload it and different things like that. And then we had someone in the platoon, we’d have cooks and everything like that and so we could go out on our own. I would help to drive in with a load and then I’d help to do them too because we were also with the engineers and we had engineers with us too at that time. There was ten-wheelers and they were all ten-wheel drive. And there were Diamond Ts [heavy trucks]. They had big motors in them, air brakes and everything. They were real good. Oh, we had some other ones too that wasn’t so good but those were the best. We got shelled quite a bit with the bridges because we were building right up front all the time. And we got shelled with 88-[millimeter canons], German 88s shelled us quite a bit that way. I always say I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, so.
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