Veteran Stories:
Charles Solomon

Army

  • Charles Solomon in Fredericton, New Brunswick, July 27th, 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"I was shaking like a leaf; the water was so cold. And they gave me rum. That kind of warmed you up."

Transcript

Well, it was like… Well, you’re going from Southampton, went over [to] Normandy, and, well, I didn’t really hit the land until about twelve o’clock. So I got off the boat, LSDs [Landing Ship, Dock] taking us ashore and then advancing from that. A lot of paratroopers helped us a lot. They really had a foothold as far as D-Day was concerned. Planes, just as far as the eye can see, a lot of planes. They were bombing them pillboxes; they were blowing them right up. And then we had tanks that helped us a lot. Now they raided the [flail] tanks in front, you know, the chains [would] rotate, you know, set them off the teller mines, personnel mines. When you see wires, you tell the next man, watch your step, this is where you had to help one another as far as that his concerned. As far as Germans helping us, what Germany had done when they’d take the small towns, captured all the men, instead of putting them in prison, they put them in their Army and they didn’t want to fight. No, they helped us a lot there. On the side of a mountain, they [the conscripts] even told us how to approach it and so nobody get shot. That helped a lot. Well, all along the coast, Falaise Gap and lot of help came from us, the tanks that we had. One time… Boulogne! We only had three tanks and the Germans were up over the hill. And then from there, tanks were moving about, we only had three tanks, keep going back and forth like that. And they thought we had a whole bunch of tanks. That’s why the Germans, they surrendered. Our officer was able to talk German and then there was a tunnel - that’s where they holed out. Our officer said the words inside, if they didn’t want to surrender, we’d starve them to death. But that’s where they gave up. And then up over the hill, that’s where the Germans had artillery. Rocket 88s; the ones that with the really really, powerful gun. They can use it for anti-aircraft, they can use it for personnel. And there again, our officers told them, if they didn’t want to surrender, we would go and send Typhoons in, rocket launchers, blow up the guns. That’s how Germans surrendered. We didn’t have to go through all that. When they surrendered, it was really, really great. When we got up to Holland area, across the Leopold Canal, we couldn’t cross that. It was too heavily fortified. So we had to take another and make another beachhead. We used amphibious tanks and circled around and then when we landed, six o’clock, they started shelling from six o’clock. There were a lot of dikes all around. They couldn’t hit us. They were firing over our heads. When they stopped about twelve o’clock, that’s when we advanced. And went over a dike, that’s on the other side. We only had two flame-throwers. The one flame-thrower went down like about halfway and the other one just left of us. They fired, burst of PIATS and the Germans came out, they surrendered. And that night, that’s when I got wounded. After we checked the minefield, there was nothing there because it was behind German lines then. And a corporal that was guarding us, he said, you ought to lay down, we was going to try to capture the German patrol that was coming out. And the man that was in front of us, the corporal and I, laying alongside like that, and the other men behind us. And this man, demolition man, was right up front. And I told him, get in the back. When he did go on the back, he went across this little bridge. The noise from the footsteps, heard it, Germans opened up and it was a small machine gun. I got shot in my arm; we had the bullets flying over our head. And then I told corporal, and I said, you’re firing too high. He put another mag on the Sten gun that he had, so there was no more noise then. And then after I got wounded, there was this little bridge, there was water and I jumped in the water, it was way up to my chest. The water was cold. And that’s after I got wounded. I went over, underneath this little bridge over on the other side. When I got over on the other side, I heard footsteps coming. And when I looked, it was one of our boys and I said, hey, hey - and he jumped over the hedge. Took right off and I had to go the same way too. I had to get back to where the officer was, and found out how we made out. And he says, we made out good. Didn’t find no mines, nothing. So that was, we was going to be advance that day. It was two o’clock in the morning is when I got wounded. After I got back, they asked me if I wanted to go out that night, they wanted to take me out. And I said, I just want to wait until morning. I was shaking like a leaf; the water was so cold. And they gave me rum. That kind of warmed you up. And from there, we were able to take over the whole thing and caught the Germans by surprise too, making that other beachhead around.
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