Veteran Stories:
Robert Cormier

Army

  • Gunners of the 2nd Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, pushing a 3.7-inch anti-aircraft gun through mud, Dunkirk, France, February 1, 1945.
    Gunner Robert Cormier served with the 6th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery throughout his service.


    Credit: Library and Archives Canada / Bell, Ken., Photographer / Mikan Number: 3211345

    Credit: Library and Archives Canada / Bell, Ken., Photographer / Mikan Number: 3211345
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"It just goes to show that our destiny isn’t our own… Like so many others, we wonder, where did those years go?"

Transcript

Honestly, in 1941 and 1942, the majority of people in general here, because the percentage of Gaspésiens was very high with respect to participation in the armed forces. Like others, I joined the army for four years and a few months. It was a good thing that I was sent to Goose Bay, Labrador; a remote location. We were sent there to defend the buildings, such as the hangars. The air force was there because Canada and the United States, if I'm not mistaken, had a joint program. Our regiment was part of the air defence, 6th Heavy Ack-Ack [Anti-Aircraft] Regiment; that was heavy artillery. It’s a bit hard to explain because it involved knowing the target height and timing to create a barrage that would make it difficult for attacking aircraft. That was our main goal. One thing that is dangerous about being in a remote location is that people, for the tiniest thing, they’ll get upset. I saw it sometimes; especially with the guys who were married, for example. We were young and there was always someone playing a prank. He’d say, "I wonder who’s sleeping on your pillow?” Sometimes, you don't realize it at the time, but those kinds of things can be touchy. It wasn’t mean-spirited, but it would hit a sore spot… The last two or three months were... Personally, that's just my opinion. Maybe others would not agree at all. The worst thing I saw while I was there, we were asked if…. A number of us were going home. The married men had priority… Anyway, most of the single men said no. So it was decided that they would return. We weren't far from the airport in Goose Bay. They left. Before reaching the end of the runway, the plane crashed and they burned alive. It was incredible. All those men so eager to get home… It just goes to show that our destiny isn’t our own… Like so many others, we wonder, where did those years go? If that world conflict had not happened, maybe… I would say that the majority of people who were in the armed forces would have maybe followed a different path.
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