Veteran Stories:
Lionel Meunier

Army

  • Lionel Meunier with two comrades. Place and date unknown.

    Lionel Meunier
  • Lionel Meunier in his Royal Canadian Legion uniform.

    Lionel Meunier
  • Lionel Meunier at the Royal Canadian Legion in Chandler, Quebec, July 13th, 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"I would have spent twenty years in the army but it would have killed my mother. She was happy when I came home. It eased her nerves."

Transcript

I enjoyed military life. I was drawn to it. I made my adoptive mother sick. When I was called up in 1942, I was working in the forest, for the Boos company. The foreman told me he would ask that I be exempt. I told him no, that I wanted to go. I passed my exams, I was accepted and I stayed in the army. I did my basic training at Montmagny [Quebec]. I did my advanced training as a gunner in Petawawa [Ontario]. In July 1943, I was sent west to Terrace, British Columbia. It was quite far. After that, I was transferred to Wainwright, Alberta. When I arrived in Wainwright, Alberta, I was issued a machine gun; a Bren gun. Meanwhile, my mother was working to get me out of the army. She was afraid of losing me. That’s why I hadn’t volunteered; I knew it would hurt her. My superior told me that she was trying to get me out of Alberta and out of the army. I told him that if he helped me with my parents, I would commit to staying in the army. Three weeks later, I was granted a 30-day leave. Thirty days to travel from Alberta to the Gaspésie. I didn’t have any money to get there. I called my parents. They sent me money and I went home. When I arrived, I told her that I could only stay for 30 days. Lord, the pain that caused her. I promised to stay, that I would wait until they came to get me. They came to get me quite a while later. They took me to Quebec City... I spent 18 days in New Carlisle. At Quebec City, they told me I could be charged with desertion. I told them that I wouldn’t accept that. I don’t know any deserter who would give their address. I presented copies of telegrams and put them on the table. [The officer] told me I could choose a court martial. I told him I trusted his judgment. Fifteen days “CB” [confined to barracks]. Afterwards, I was transferred to the Medical Corps in Peterborough [Ontario]. It wasn’t too hard. If I had chosen the court martial, I would have certainly gone to jail. I had spent 18 days in New Carlisle, so I had already paid a high price. I wasn’t treated poorly. I was regarded rather well by army. In Peterborough, someone with a higher rank than me called me to his office one morning to tell me I had blown my chance to become a lance corporal; had I only shown more respect for the rank of the officer who had come to deliver the news. But I wasn’t a commander; I prefer to do it myself than to give orders. I liked military life. I would have spent twenty years in the army but it would have killed my mother. She was happy when I came home. It eased her nerves.
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