Veteran Stories:
Paul-Émile Lamouche

Army

  • Paul Emile Lamouche (on left), Italy, May 1944

    Paul-Émile Lamouche
  • Paul Emile Lamouche in "weekly" Hospital, England, 1945

    Paul-Émile Lamouche
  • Telegraph to Ludger Lamouche, father of Paul Emile.
    Telegraph of notification of Prisoner of War Release.

    Paul-Émile Lamouche
  • Register forms for recovered Allied prisoners of war, 1945

  • Christmas and New Year card, 1945-46. Christmas and New Year card received after the war.

    Paul-Émile Lamouche
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"So we grabbed a branch and then we put a white towel or cloth on it so that they wouldn’t shoot at us ... Then we heard the pow, pow, pow of shots but they weren’t shooting at us."

Transcript

My name is Paul-Émile Lamouche, but in the army they called me Joseph Paul-Émile Lamouche. They said: “Are we going to Italy?” “It won’t be long, in a week’s time”, he said, “Get ready; get your machine gun ready, your stand ready and your rifle”. He said, “we’ll let you know when we’re going to come and pick you up and everything”, and he came and we got in a Corvette they called it, a boat, fast, there were about 10 of them, 10 Corvettes, and that was a real good ride on the ocean to go to Naples, Italy.

And when we got there, and we were surrounded by small boats and everything in case the enemy attacked us or something with small mines in the ocean. But it didn’t happen. And when we got to Italy, oh, what a mess it was there! We were told not to give nothing, to keep the food for ourselves because we were going to need it. And when we got there, there was an Italian woman with a pail and coming down, they wanted food and everything. And the guy said, “It’s tough but don’t do it because you’re going to need it yourself you’re going on the front to fight”. He said, “You know, think of yourself, don’t think of the other ones. Think of yourself, OK?” It was tough!

Platoon 1, 2, 3 and we got in all together with the chaplain, the priest there, he blessed us and everything, “Go to peace, and good luck, all of you”, and he said, “It won’t be long, you’ll be fighting pretty soon.” And he said: “God bless you all!” We started fighting and all that, I was all alone with another guy, 22, I don’t know his name because I can’t remember, he had a machine gun stand...Thank God for that since my rifle wasn’t even worth 5 cents.

So we got there, it was a Sunday morning and we were all alone on the battle field. He said, “Damn! How come we’re all alone, where is everybody?” Then all of a sudden, it was a Sunday morning, we heard a group approaching and they were singing in German. There was a road not far from where we were set up. There were 6 of them lined up single file, and there was a sergeant next to them with their rifles. They were snipers and they were getting in position to shoot at us. Anyway, they didn’t have the chance because when they finished singing, they got closer but they didn’t see us. So the other guy with his stand says to me, “OK Lamouche, are you ready?” But I only had my rifle and I couldn’t do much of anything since there were 7 of them. So he said, “Forget about it, I’ll do it!”

And so when they got closer, crraacckkkk, they were all shot down! One of them tried to push himself back, he tried to go back over the hill, but we shot him anyway, we couldn’t take any chances. However, it wasn’t me who did the shooting. It was the other guy with his machine gun. Me, with my rifle, well with my rifle I wouldn’t be here today! “Let’s go see the other guys”, he said.

We were ready for tomorrow morning and we waited until the evening, it was pretty uncommon to fight at night. It usually happened during the day. So that morning once the sun came up, he came out and he said, “Ok boys, let’s go!” We moved forward, that’s it, and when we got there, the General Allard was in a “casa,” a house, was what they called it in Italian. He was higher up and he said the line was clear. We were all set up there and we had cannons, and machine guns and all that, and that was that.

Then I saw a captain who got too close and he was shot down, and he fell, his head flying. We had a tank, an attack tank with two people inside and then the Germans fired a cannon and they were caught inside. They tried to get out. One of them almost got out and then he fell back into the tank. We couldn’t do anything since we would just be shot at, so we just stayed there. And he said, “Stay there! Don’t move!” And then he gave the order to the artillery to fire, our artillery, two hundred yards, a hundred and fifty yards. As for me, I was hidden behind a pile of hay. So he yelled at me, the Sergeant Major, he said, “Lamouche, come to the shed! Don’t stay there!” As I was moving, a shell, one of ours, hit the hay and I would have been blown to pieces. I thanked Sam over and over again for having gotten me out of there!

After then, we went inside and the lieutenant Barry Pope, he was the lieutenant, he was 20 years old and I was 19, he came over and he asked the Sergeant Major for help. Two of my men were hit during the fight and I want to go get them. So he said “Laframboise, Edward La framboise and Lamoche, go see those men and they’ll help you” and he said, “Certainly, no problem”. So I gave him my rifle, and the other guy gave him his machine gun, and then we went with Lieutenant Pope. Lieutenant Pope he had his steel tank and it was hit by a bullet but it just grazed the top and I said, “You’re lucky!” and he said “Yeah, I know!” So we grabbed a branch and then we put a white towel or cloth on it so that they wouldn’t shoot at us. Then we went out to get our men. We took the road where we knew they had fallen. Then we heard the pow, pow, pow of shots but they weren’t shooting at us. You know, they wanted to warn us, the Germans. When we got there, Collasse, Corporal Collasse, was spread out on the ground with a bullet in his thigh. And then the other guy, Simard, his name is in the book anyway, well he was finished!

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