Veteran Stories:
Shell Lawr

Army

  • Private M. Bulyea of the Calgary Highlanders cleaning his Bren light machine gun, with his Universal (Bren Carrier) Carrier in the background, Fort de Schooten, Belgium, 4 October 1944.
    Library and Archives Canada / Bell, Ken, 1914-, Photographer / Mikan Number: 3298541

    Library and Archives Canada / Bell, Ken, 1914-, Photographer / Mikan Number: 3298541
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"We got into Germany, I don’t know where, a few miles, I don’t know how many. And I was there when the war finished. The dullest day of the war, nothing to drink, nobody to shoot at and not many to talk to."

Transcript

I joined the army in Brampton in 1942. The first thing, they sent us to Toronto, and from Toronto to [No. 70 Canadian Army (Basic) Training Centre] Fredericton, New Brunswick for basic training. From there, after two months of basic, they split us up. Half went to Camp Borden and I was unlucky or lucky, I went to [Camp] Dundurn, Saskatchewan [A27 Canadian Reconnaissance Training Centre], where I was trained in reconnaissance, which is light armour, [Universal] Bren Gun carriers [light armoured tracked vehicle], truck driving and so on. My favourite vehicle in the army was a Bren Gun carrier. From there, we were shipped off to England, across the ocean and we went to Woking. There, I was trained as a tank driver. I was standing in Woking one day, outside the town down there, when we saw the first buzz bomb [German V-1 flying bomb] to come over England. Nobody knew what it was. A jet with no pilot and it went over our head and then it shut off, and then it come down and exploded, which after that, they sent around 5,000 to England, but 2,500 got through and killed an awful lot of people. I went on to France and, well actually, I was, we were hauling vehicles down for D-Day for a long time. I didn’t go in D-Day, luckily, but when I did go in, we were lined up, I don’t know how many hundred, but we were lined going in and a line coming out. We were going in, German POWs were coming out. They were luckier than us, their war was over. But that’s life. And lucky again, we were in France, as a tank driver, and when they needed some provisions up to the front, they asked a group of us who can drive trucks. Well, I was a good truck driver, so I thought anyway. So we took these trucks, loaded to go up to the front. And I’ll never forget driving through Caen. The city was flat except just enough to drive through. I got about another 10 miles up the road and my truck quit, so I pulled over to the side and stayed there until they come and pick me up from ordnance corps [Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps]. However, I got out of the truck, fixed that, never seen them boys again. I went on up to the front and then I couldn’t get rid of the truck. I finally got somebody to sign for it and then they sent me back down to France again, or way down near Normandy. And they sent me back then to the service corps [Royal Canadian Army Service Corps], which is strictly driving trucks, 64th Armoured Division, or not a division, it’s a grouping [No. 64 Army Transport Company, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps]. I was with them; and we were there driving with them when we were over there so many weeks, or I don’t remember how long it was, but they told us we could have a leave back to London. Good. So another fellow by the name of Baker from Ottawa and I, we headed out to England. And when we got off the boat at France, over onto a train to go to London, we saw our first drive-by shooting. It was a lieutenant and a sergeant just come out from the front and I think they got into the booze; and they were shooting sheep out the window. So that was my first drive-by shooting. Had a leave in England, London, and come back through Dieppe because Dieppe had been cleared by then; and went on into Holland. So anyway, we got the bridging off and from then on, we just trucked stuff up to the front. Then we got into Germany, I don’t know where, a few miles, I don’t know how many. And I was there when the war finished. The dullest day of the war, nothing to drink, nobody to shoot at and not many to talk to.
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