Veteran Stories:
Herbert Foss

Army

  • Infantrymen of The Highland Light Infantry of Canada aboard LCI(L) 306 of the 2nd Canadian (262nd RN) Flotilla en route to France on D-Day, 6 June 1944.

    Mr. Foss served in the Highland Light Infantry during and after the D-Day landings

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"Five days ahead of it, they shipped us to a protected area in the southern part of England and there we sat until they boarded us on a ship. And the next thing we know, we’re crossing the English Channel to Normandy."

Transcript

Five of us were standing on a street corner in a place called Hespeler, Ontario. And people were getting in the military all around us - all except us fifteen-year olds. And that day, the Highland Light Infantry of Canada was recruiting. It’s a local from Galt, Ontario, which is now called Cambridge. And we thought, well, everybody is getting in, why not us? They found a slight problem with all five of us so we got mad and we said, what we need to do, we heard if you go to London, Ontario, they’ll take you in the Army. So how do we get to London? Well, one of our friends - one of the five -, his grandfather had an old Touring Ford. And he could take it any time he wanted it.

So the five of us pooled all our money and headed out on the highway for two and a half hours; that’s what it would normally take. It took us much longer, but we finally made it, after many stops. And we went in and they hired us on, so to speak, or enrolled us. And guess where we ended up at? We ended up in the Highland Light Infantry of Canada as the reserves. And they shipped us the next day to a place called Stratford, Ontario, where we joined the main unit. And the question, my service number is A37819, Private Foss, HR.

On my seventeenth birthday, I had left Halifax and was in the middle of the Atlantic. I landed at a place called Gourock, Scotland, where they put us out on a train and sent us to southern England to a place called holding…holding center for all recruits coming into the British Army So there we were. And after three weeks, we got our first move. And I was all over southern England, northern England; went to Scotland and I was all over the place on courses and whatnot. And along came D-Day. Five days ahead of it, they shipped us to a protected area in the southern part of England and there we sat until they boarded us on a ship. And the next thing we know, we’re crossing the English Channel to Normandy.

Our unit, HLI, was First Battalion, 9th Brigade, 3rd Canadian [Infantry] Division. However, the other regiments, of other brigades, went ahead of us. We were held in reserve. When we got off a ship around ten o’clock in the morning, other than the people who died getting off the ships to the land, we never lost it nor did we fire a shot until we come to a place called Buron in France. And the Germans were there and they had dug all the nice trenches and that for us, which was nice of them. And that night, we knew why. Boy, did they ever blanket us with shells and mortars and whatever. And I lost both of my friends that night. So we busted out of there and then went across to Germany, where the war ended.

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