Veteran Stories:
Valmont Bouchard

Army

  • Valmont Bouchard (right) and comrade at Camp Borden, May 7, 1945.

  • Valmont Bouchard (right) and his friend dressed in their army uniforms at Camp Borden. May,1945.

  • Valmont Bouchard's Discharge Certificate dated April 9th, 1946.

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"If I am in the Royal Canadian Legion it's because there are some people who need to talk. There are many who do not want to talk about what happened."

Transcript

My enlistment happened by conscription. If you weren’t there on the day you were called up, you were considered a deserter. I enlisted on January 7, 1944. They assigned me to the Medical Corps. The war was going well in 1945, but the soldiers were coming home. We had to retrieve their documents at the train station; that was the first thing we had to do. The trains full of healthy soldiers would arrive during the day and the wounded would arrive at night. A train of injured soldiers would hold about a thousand people. We would get the documents and put them in a secure location, and after that, we would get to work. It was strange; when the trains arrived there would be nobody in the station whereas when the trains left the platform would be full of people. People had to go to the exhibition grounds to pick up their children. The trucks would take the children there. An intense joy could be felt when an entire family turned out to welcome the child home. They had come home, even if they were wounded. After locating their child, then they would assess what state he was in. Some of them had several injuries, or just one. Some were missing a foot, but the foot was attached to the leg. Or they were missing fingers. That’s just to give you a few examples. They had bandages all over. We knew the injuries hidden underneath. Within seconds, joy turned to sadness. Tears followed for the loss of freedom linked to that, for the parents. The mother would become the home-nurse for her child who could not eat or dress himself. There were no courses to take; you just took him home. The family doctor could help a little, but there was no other assistance. They would practically become slaves. We didn’t talk about that a lot. It resulted in families that completely changed. There were new responsibilities. Many had to give up their dreams to take care of the children of the war. To them this was sacred; they had to take care and look after him. Finding work when you are handicapped was even more difficult, especially in those days of economic crisis. I experienced all of those changes. That was my life as a soldier. There were some difficult moments. The families weren’t rich. That’s often why they enlisted, those men who brought home the bacon. It was the mother who bore the brunt of the burden. If I’m in the Royal Canadian Legion, it’s because there are still people who need to talk. A lot of them don’t want to talk about what happened. They remember for a long time. They go for weeks without a proper sleep. They don’t want to talk about it. There was a man from Brittany who came to work in Rimouski after his retirement. He was shot down twice by plane and was taken prisoner. He had been a wireless operator.. They tortured him, believing that he held secret information. He wouldn’t talk. Finally, he showed me his scars. They had burned him with cigarettes. There are a lot of secrets that have remained in the shadows like that. People often talk about the good things that happened. The war wasn’t all bad but they only talk about the positive aspects. That’s how it happened.
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