"I woke up in the morning and there was a piece of shrapnel laying at the foot of my bunk, not really in the bunk, but the blanket. I picked it up and looked it over, and discovered what the numbers were on it. It had my regimental number on it."
At the age of 18, we were compelled to join anyway and my birthday was in July, so I went with the RCAF [Royal Canadian Air Force] instead of the army. Well, we really didn’t have that much training in Canada. I went into service in June 1943, which carried on roughly until maybe October or November of that year. That’s when I was posted out to [RCAF Station] Debert [Nova Scotia]. Well, from [RCAF Station] Lachine, Quebec, back to [RCAF Station] Halifax, then out to Debert.
Well, we arrived in England on the twentieth of December, four days before Christmas. And went to Bournemouth [RAF Station Hurn], which normally it was a summer resort and large hotels there, this is where we were putting up the personnel at that time. But we had a very good Christmas dinner, and everything there.
Went from there up to Ayr, Scotland. D-Day + 10 [ten days after D-Day] ̶ pretty hot action. Well, this is the same outfit, went right up [No.] 143 Mobile Airfield was formed in Ayr, Scotland, before we ever went to Normandy. The aircraft was doing fighter squadrons with the enemy; and also, helping the army out by dropping rockets or bombs in certain areas. We done repair work on motor vehicles like on motors, driving gear and what have you on a four wheel drive vehicle. There would maybe be six or eight mechanics there, and even sometimes they would pick one of us out to go pick up parts. You’d have to go back down the line somewhere to pick up stuff or maybe it had been shipped in from England and you’d pick it up off a boat. But that was only in a matter of a day’s run maybe with the vehicle. Every time the army went ahead far enough where there was a place they could land, that’s where we were. We moved up, some pretty rough quarters sometimes on that trip.
When we were in Normandy, after we landed, it was quite noisy at night with ack-ack [anti-aircraft] guns going off and shrapnel coming down through the trees into your temporary quarters. Sounded like a snowstorm. [laughs]
My partner and I were sleeping in a little dugout with a tarpaulin over it and we had sleeping bags, but I woke up in the morning and there was a piece of shrapnel laying at the foot of my bunk, not really in the bunk, but the blanket. I picked it up and looked it over, and discovered what the numbers were on it. It had my regimental number on it, so I figured that was getting close enough to start away with.