Veteran Stories:
Frank Lee

Army

  • Troopers of The Fort Garry Horse marching past the reviewing stand during a church parade, Breda, Netherlands, 5 November 1944.
    Dubervill, Frank L., Photographer
    Mikan Number: 3199238

    Mr. Lee was also part of The Fort Garry Horse Regiment.

    Library and Archives Canada / Dubervill, Frank L., Photographer / Mikan Number: 3199238
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"While we were there, the rocket bombs [V-2 long-range ballistic missile] and buzz bombs [V-1 flying bombs] landed in London; and, of course, we were supposed to go into the underground bunkers, bomb shelters, but we didn’t bother with that. We just kept on going around, even though these bombs made quite a bang."

Transcript

I enlisted after I graduated from high school in 1944, in summer. I fooled around for a little while and then I joined up, enlisted in Winnipeg at Fort Garry [Horse Armoured Regiment] and took my basic training at Fort Osborne [Barracks]. And then after completing that, I was shipped to Camp Shilo for advanced training; and while taking advanced training, a British captain from the British Intelligence Force 136 [Special Operations Executive] came and he was recruiting for Canadian Chinese soldiers for the Burma campaign. So five of us from Camp Shilo joined that group and then in, it was January-February, we were shipped from Camp Shilo to [CFB] Ottawa. And we were in Ottawa and that’s where they gathered the Chinese Canadian soldiers, volunteers for that campaign together. And I remember, I believe there was about 80 of us who then boarded the train in the middle of the night; and went on the train to [CFB] Halifax. And we marched off the train onto the ship, called the [SS] Nieuw Amsterdam.

And this Nieuw Amsterdam was quite a big troop ship. I remember the hammocks; there were about eight layers of bunkers. It was really something being at the top of that, but I think I was close to the bottom. Anyway, they took us seven days to cross and the first few days, most of us were pretty seasick. But after three days, we got over it. We landed at Liverpool, England and then we stayed there, I think, just overnight at Aldershot [the Canadian army’s permanent base in Britain] and then we were shipped from there, we went by train to London. Our group stayed at the 32 Weymouth Street which is the doctor’s area in London. And we did some training there.

We were there, I guess, approximately three weeks; and while we were there, I remember that one of our group, got five of us land army nurses, so we went out together at night. Oh, we just had fun going from here to there, going to dances. And, of course, we couldn’t dance very well, but we had dinners and so on. While we were there, the rocket bombs [V-2 long-range ballistic missile] and buzz bombs [V-1 flying bombs] landed in London; and, of course, we were supposed to go into the underground bunkers, bomb shelters, but we didn’t bother with that. We just kept on going around, even though these bombs made quite a bang.

I remember then going back one night, back to our barracks at 32 Weymouth Street and, of course, everything was locked, so I pried open the window and climbed into the dining room there to get up to my room. Our captain heard this, wondering who had broken in; and he came out with a pistol in his hand. He said, oh, you, I’m going to put you “on the peg” [under arrest] for being out late. I didn’t know what happened to the other guys.

But, anyway, we were there in training in Morse code and so on for several weeks. And then at that completion of several weeks, we then went to Liverpool and we boarded the ship called the [SS] Strathcona. It was a small ship; and we joined a convoy of ships to go to India.

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