Veteran Stories:
Romeo Joseph Emile Duperré

Army

  • Roméo Dupperré (on left) with Italian civilians, Summer of 1943.

    Roméo Duperré
  • Roméo Dupperré with a Dutch girl, in Utrecht, The Netherlands, at the end of the war.

    Roméo Dupperré
  • Roméo Duperré saw a concentration camp in northern Germany after the war ended and took this picture. (the camp was not identified.)

    Roméo Dupperré
  • Roméo Duperré in Quebec City, Quebec, on June 3rd, 2010.

    Historica Canada
  • Souvenir album of Firenze, in Northern Italy where Roméo Duperré served with the Royal canadian army service corps.

    Roméo Dupperré
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"People like me adapt to any situation, whether it’s in the woods or elsewhere; you just have to sort yourself out."

Transcript

The 83 Company, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps. I went down one before to ask about enlisting and they didn’t classify me; they didn’t call me back. Then at one point you had to prove that you had requested to sign on to a trade. That’s why I enlisted. I always wanted an adventure. Mainly I enlisted so that I would be done with it. They put me down as Class “A”. I worked a lot. When they saw me coming… I came from Montmagny. So they sent me to Quebec City. I had worked on tractors. They wanted me to work on tanks. I was glad I hadn’t asked to work on the tanks. It got hot in there in the summer. In Europe, in Italy, it was hot. Some guys got hit in spite of the armour-plating because the Germans had the [88-millimetre] gun which was very powerful. That’s what got me. Sometimes they would fire and damage the plating on the forward hull. Those who were inside, in the tank, were trapped. That’s what I was told. They were ahead of me, but we would meet up. I was lucky, I had my truck. In the fall, in Italy, it went on for a while. We sailed to… we didn’t know it, but we started out for Africa. We were going with the British 10th [Infantry Brigade]. They continued to fight with the French in Tunisia. When we arrived, we dropped anchor for a few days in Algiers but we didn’t get off the ship. After we’d passed Tunisia, they fired a depth charge. The ship had detected something but it was a sunken boat. It was a Sunday morning during church service; everyone turned around. There was water on the lower deck. Even the priest turned his head! Then we went to Sicily. We entered the port. They made us transfer onto a barge. The Germans began their attack. We had [barrage] balloons above; they were high enough that aircraft could not get too close. We were lucky; they fired at a couple near the ship. One guy had got onto the landing craft, the barge, and the barge went like this… We were lucky… before landing we inflated our Mae Wests as they called them, and then we jumped in the water to make our way to the front. We were close to shore but Syracuse was a beautiful seaport. I saw a woman hanging by her feet, wide open and she… it’s hard. The Germans… there are good people among them but there were some… I’m a guy who is used to working hard physically. People who grew up in cities didn’t know anything. I worked in the woods. There was always a way to make a shelter, that kind of thing. We put up a tent with pegs and it stayed there, if you used enough pegs. I remember one place, I think it was Campobasso; it was fall and the church was in ruins. It had nice big planks. It was perfect for putting up my tent. There was a lot of wind and the guys were trying to put up their tents. They were swearing. My tent didn’t move. They said, Duperré knows what he’s doing. People like me adapt to any situation, whether it’s in the woods or elsewhere; you just have to sort yourself out.
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