Veteran Stories:
Peter Paul Hires

Army

  • Peter Hires present day.

    Peter Hires
  • Peter Hires soon after his training in London, Ontario, 1942.

    Peter Hires
  • This tank was used by drivers in the medical corps to pick up the wounded during the Italian campaign.

    Peter Hires
  • Peter Hires' discharge certificate.

    Peter Hires
Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"At Monte Cassino, just at the bottom of Monte Cassino, I would say that was the roughest session that we had."

Transcript

When we were finally on the move from England, we went, well, I was on the advance party of course. Medical’s always with the advance party. We left and went like to [Northern] Ireland and across over to Algiers, [French North] Africa. The tanks and the heavy equipment stayed behind in Algiers and we on the advance party, we went to Naples and from Naples we headed down to a place called Matera in Italy. This was the mustering place when we went over there to Italy. After the settlement and everything was all arranged, then the tank squadrons and all that finally come and joined us down in Italy around Matera. And there, again, another case of training and mustering and assembling the regiment as a fighting unit. Getting into action was just a little north of Naples, by the time we got in and straight up through the Liri Valley in Italy. We were in full battle conditions there; everything was pretty hot from there on. At Monte Cassino, just at the bottom of Monte Cassino, I would say that was the roughest session that we had. I learned how to handle a lot of sick people and it takes a choice to say which is the worst but burying people from around there was the most noted experience that I had there because we were in the slit trenches for overnight and then get up in the morning and everything and going around, checking who were sick or dying or people that needed to be buried and marked and everything. That’s quite, that was quite a session. That was I would say the most grueling part of that campaign through Italy, right up the whole Liri Valley and all the different things, I would say that would be the most significant initiation to the living and dying and fixing and all that of the human body. I was so busy, I didn’t know whether I was coming or going but I was going alright. It soon got you so busy that you didn’t have time to think about yourself at all. You were just trying to do whatever you can to everybody that you’re in touch with. On one occasion, I was sent up personally - they gave me a driver and a tank - to go up on lookups. And I brought back about eleven wounded and one prisoner of war. That was all of us, about twelve people including myself. The wounded I looked after and all that and I came back with this load of sick and wounded and also a nice German prisoner of war; it looked like he’d just came out of the showroom, with beautiful clothes and everything, he never even had a chance to get them dirty. He came back nice and clean, he was very happy. I just pinned him on the top of my tank and I says, I said, driver, get her going. And the rest of the people sort of crowded into the tank that they gave me, the big gun turret and everything had been removed and I was able to pile all the bandages and everything else, people inside and a couple on stretchers across the back of the engine and that was quite an experience.
Follow us