Gerald Huffman stationed in Billingshurst, West Sussex, United Kingdom in 1943.Gerald Huffman
Document that entitles Gerald Huffman to wear War Service Badge.Gerald Huffman
From L-R: Peter Anderson, President of RCL Branch 117; Norman Miller, MPP Parry Sound-Muskoka; Gerald Huffman, RCA, 13th Field Regiment; Douglas Wellington, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada; and Allan Holmes, Royal Navy, at the 60th anniversary of D-Day in Parry Sound, Ontario, on June 6, 2004.Gerald Huffman
Gerald Huffman's service medals awarded in 1946. From L-R: 1939-45 Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal, War Medal (1939-45).Gerald Huffman
"they couldn’t stop to see how many were hurt or killed, so had to go around them. Went up into our position inland. That was our first day, D-Day."
I was a gunner in the field artillery. A gunner is, you operate a 25-pounder gun. The shell was 25 pounds. That’s what we learned on but when we went, made the invasion in France, we went to the self-propelled guns, which was mounted on Sherman tanks with the turrets cut off and we had the 105-millimetre gun which weighed 32 pounds. It was on a barge and there was four guns on a barge.
When we got over near France, the morning of D-Day, we started to fire the guns at half past four in the morning, ahead of the infantry, to clear the mines and shoot any Germans that got in the way, I guess. But they had the mines, covered the beach with all kinds of mines. Teller mines they called them, they were about a foot wide and about three inches thick. There was about 900 soldiers got killed that day on D-Day and there were hundreds of them floating in the water.
When we went on the beach, there was a Bren Gun Carrier … ran over a Teller mine and they couldn’t stop to see how many were hurt or killed, so had to go around them. Went up into our position inland. That was our first day, D-Day.
The third night, the Germans brought in what they called a Panzer Division to try to push us back into the sea, into the [English] Channel rather. It didn’t pan out; we beat them back. We stayed around Caen there for about pretty near three months, fighting, and we had the Germans cornered at Falaise Gap, that’s south of Caen. Air Force came over with the four-engine bombers and the first wave went in good. And the second wave, there was one bomber let his bombs go and I counted them, there was eighteen 500-pound bombs to a plane. And the bombs missed [landing instead on Allied positions]. It was the worst day of my life, it was an awful experience. There was three waves, there was about between nine hundred and a thousand airplanes altogether. The third wave... the flying officer was an observations officer, small plane, he went back to the coast and led the third bunch in or else we wouldn’t have been here today I guess. That was our own planes and it was terrifying; they were flying so low that we could see the pilot sitting in the cockpit. And we made signs and everything but it didn’t make no difference.
Anyway, we got through it. And then that night, the Germans came over and gave us another going over with the airplanes and bombs. All of us had to learn to do every job on that gun crew. We had to learn to take orders, had to learn how to shoot and where to shoot. We had to learn all that. Every man on the gun crew had to go through the same thing and learn everything about it, just in case three or four got killed or all of them got killed except one man and he would still be able to operate the gun. Oh, it was just like a bunch of brothers. Yep.
Yeah, after the war was over, it was time to come home, it was kind of disappointing that you had to leave your friends behind and come home. But it was nice to come home. That’s for sure.