"She took a shovel that was in the backyard and she dug up a bottle of champagne, and brought it in, sat it on the table and that was a good thing."
[I enlisted,] I would say because my brothers were all gone and I thought I wanted to do the same thing. My mother was, well, she had four of us over there and she used to write every week. We’d write back and forth. But my three brothers all went to Italy before Holland.
They were in about two miles or so from the beach when we landed because we were behind. And I was on the same duty right through from there to the end. Driving troops, we would take troops in; and they would go in and take over from the others to give them a rest. And if there was prisoners, we would bring prisoners back and that was our job, really.
We didn’t have a problem with them. Well, they knew they were finished and, of course, their weapons were all taken away from them; and we’d load them on the back of our trucks; and we have a guard watching them and the driver. And we’d bring them back to the compound, and then somebody else would deliver them from there.
We just brought them back to the nearest place. We weren’t under fire all the time, naturally, but we would go in and mostly we’d get under fire when we were taking troops in to take over from the others.
In France, we went in with two friends one day into a house; and there was a man in the house and two women. I would think his wife and his mother or his mother-in-law. And he was wounded when the barrage was on and he couldn’t get out of bed. They had no food, so we went and scrounged some food, and took it into them. And the man said something to his wife, we couldn’t understand French at that time, but he said something to his wife. She took a shovel that was in the backyard and she dug up a bottle of champagne, and brought it in, sat it on the table and that was a good thing. [laughs]
Well, they had to hide everything actually. She got the shovel from a cupboard in the kitchen. They had to hide everything, not only food or drink or, but apparently, they had to hide all their tools.
Actually, we were following the [battle] front; and if they moved back, we would move ahead. And sometimes they would counterattack and we would have to move back too. That did happen. We weren’t moving ahead all the time. But that’s the way it worked; usually there would be a big barrage and they would retreat, and we would move in. And that’s the way it went all the way right through. Holland was the big holdup. We were in Holland around Nijmegen for a long time.
It was a big difference in France, Belgium and Holland. The people were very friendly. They were glad to see us. But once we got in Germany, it was a different thing. The people were, the civilians were ready to kill somebody, the same as the army. Actually, they did kill a couple of our people, [the German] civilians.
We did go in with a bunch of troops one night, I think it was from the Algonquin Regiment [Reserve Infantry Regiment], because we had three regiments that we used to move around. And we went in one night and the Germans, they used to catch us going in and, which was usually a mortar fire, and one night, we went in and they caught us before we had them unloaded and there was a mortar landed in the back of one of our trucks. They killed 17 men, just like that. They were all blown up. But that’s what used to happen. We weren’t in the trenches, but we would get fired on in that way when we went in.
Actually, I did have a lot of nightmares for years after I came back. I used to dream things, you know, and I was always in trouble. But I finally got over that, now I don’t.