Veteran Stories:
Walter Joseph LaPierre

Army

  • Trooper Walter LaPierre's Canadian Army Tradesman's Qualification form, identifying him as a trained Driver/Mechanic in the Canadian Armoured Corps.

    Walter LaPierre
  • Driver's Certificate earned by Trooper Walter LaPierre while he was serving with The Halifax Rifles, December 10, 1942.

    Walter LaPierre
  • Opening page from Trooper Walter LaPierre's Service Book, 1943.

    Walter LaPierre
  • Walter LaPierre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, September 27, 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"When they finally found me, I was bleeding from the ears, eyes, nose and any opening in my body."

Transcript

Everybody was going in the service at that time. All your friends; everybody. And of course, it was during the Depression and I was not going to school no longer. So I decided that I’d go and join the forces, which I did, I joined the Halifax Rifles. I joined at the age of seventeen; three weeks before my eighteenth birthday. And we were told the regiment was being turned over to armour. Those with enough education were kept on to go to the armoured regiment, those who didn’t, they had the option of staying infantry. From there, we were sent to Camp Borden [Ontario], where we started our tank training. I went to a place called Headley in England and after arriving there, we were there approximately a week, we were notified the regiment was being broken up to supply reserve for the other brigades and regiments, because we were a fully trained regiment. And I was informed that I would be leaving at eleven o’clock that night to go to Aldershot, me and another chap by the name of Reed; that we were going to Italy as reinforcements for the 12th Canadian Armoured [Tank] Regiment, which was the Three Rivers [Regiment]. I was sent out to the 273 Corps [British Tank] Delivery, English. My job was to deliver tanks to the men at the front when they were [in need of] any type of vehicle, because I was qualified to drive all types of vehicles made during the war. I stayed with them at the Battle of [Monte] Cassino, that’s where I started with them. Badly shot up at the Battle of Cassino - not with wounds but I got caught up there the night of the actual attack, a successful attack - delivering an armoured car to the ANZACS [as members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps were known during the First World War] or New Zealanders as you call them. And I mistakenly decided to leave the railway cut where I had protection to go on the road to find my drive back and the barrage opened. When they finally found me, I was bleeding from the ears, eyes, nose and any opening in my body. When I got back, our little commander we had there said, oh, you’ll wear that off, go have some rest. That’s what we were told. So I never did even get any medical treatment for it. I stayed with them until we got to the Arno River in Florence. Then I was sent in the mountains to join my regiment, the Three Rivers Regiment, looking down on the plains of Bologna. The Germans were walking around in their short sleeves and the Canadians were up there freezing to death up to their ass in snow. And then they wouldn’t let us fire a gun at them. Then they notified us that we were leaving: take off all badges, take off everything, all markings on the tanks and we come down the mountain and it was 75 miles by road; three miles as the crow flies. And ice, tanks with treads on them. That was a nice hair-raising night that night. Then we went across, past the Leaning Tower of Pisa to a city known as Livorno in Italy but known as Leghorn in English. From there, they dispatched us across the Sardinian Sea to Marseille, France, we had to load our tanks on flat cars, 30 cars to a train, and dispatched us across France with no place to sleep but under the tanks, as they bounced up and down, to a town called Menen in Belgium. Once we got there, then we had to gear up for the attack on the Maas River. And from there on, it was from one place to the other, until we reached the town of Amersfoort in Holland, where we took a bad licking there from the Germans who said they were going to give up and trapped us against a roadblock. Lost some men there. And then they turned around and next day we were going to blow the Amersfoort tower down, it was 500 years old and the word come through, ceasefire, unload, the war was over.
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