Veteran Stories:
John Gay

Army

  • John Gay in Fredericton, New Brunswick, July 27th, 2010.

    Historica Canada
  • Letter issued by the Minister of Defence awarding the HM Armed Forces Veteran's Badge to Mr. John Gay in reocognition of his service to his country.

    John Gay
  • John Gay (right) in The Netherlands, 2009.

    John Gay
  • John Gay with Dutch children in The Netherlands, 2005.

    John Gay
  • John Gay was part of the Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA), 3rd Anti-Tank Regiment. Photo taken in 1940.

    John Gay
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"what we had in our quartermaster storage was dehydrated potatoes and dehydrated cabbage; and powdered eggs and powdered milk. So we did have meat called Spam"

Transcript

We just trained in England. I was cooking at that time; and we had quite a lot of vegetables, and most of our meats were mutton. And so it was quite easy to make a pretty good meal for the members. So come 6 June in 1944, we were on ship again to cross the English Channel. At that time, I was detailed back into the kitchen on the boat, going from England to France. The journey took us nine hours before we were in sight of our Juno Beach, or Normandy. So at that time, the infantry had gone in on Normandy Beach. The German tanks were coming in, so we had to go ashore also, and look after what we could of the German tanks. So that was my start. The most terrifying things was the German planes would come over at night and bomb the Canadians and the allies; and they would set the wheat fields on fire and we were again detailed to go out and put the fires out in the fields. We fought our way through France. We went in by Beny-sur-Mer. There was another town called Bayeux, there’s a whole lot of towns in Bayeux. Caen was the biggest city; and we were quite a long time in freeing Caen, but eventually it was done. We went on through Caen and then it took a lot more time to go down. The Falaise Gap was another place that we had a lot of trouble with. And so in the third week of August, we were able to free up the Falaise Gap. So once that was done, we moved on into Belgium, a town called Ghent. And we were given a couple days rest there at that time. We had been in our clothes continually from June, July and part of August. The cooking was altogether different once we went into Normandy, France. There was no vegetables, no fresh vegetables, and no meat, no eggs, no milk. And what we had in our quartermaster [food supply] storage was dehydrated potatoes and dehydrated cabbage; and powdered eggs and powdered milk. So we did have meat called Spam; we had meat called Bully Beef [canned boiled beef]; and we had canned stew which on the field kitchen, which I was cooking on, we would be able to boil six gallon containers with water to make six gallons at a tea. And then we would have this canned stew in the cans that we were able to heat and give out to the soldiers that I was cooking for.
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