Veteran Stories:
Arnold Edward McDonell

Army

  • Andy McDonell's Certificate of Service, from March 29th, 1941.

    Arnold McDonell
  • Arnold McDonell in Brandon, Manitoba, on May 26th, 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"And then another one, whiz-bang, and I was out on the ground. And my Jeep had a few holes in it; it hit this tree and exploded up in the air. So I don’t know just how high."

Transcript

And I wanted to go to Europe so they shipped me over there, sat on the beach for a week I think, and raining all the time, cold. And living in water. Dig a trench and it would fill up, we were right on the shore. And then I went to II [Canadian] Corps headquarters. And I drove for a little while there, the truck, and we were moving all the time. And then they asked me to take the job as pilot, pilot car driver for General Simonds [commander of II Canadian Corps]. And I did that until the end of the war. We were in the Reichswald Forest just outside of Kleve, Germany. And one afternoon, I took the DAG [Deputy Adjutant-General] into Kleve and he was inside and I was talking to another fellow parked behind me and I was just in the line between the two houses. And there was a tree there. And all of a sudden, there was a whiz-bang and they used to come in threes, German shells. And it landed somewhere away, it wasn’t near us. And then another one, whiz-bang, and I was out on the ground. And my Jeep had a few holes in it; it hit this tree and exploded up in the air. So I don’t know just how high. And then all the force of the explosion come out like between the brick buildings and got me. But I never got hurt. We did see some things like that, you know, getting shelled at night and stuff. You’d hear the planes coming over, bombs dropping around. I was one of the lucky ones and I come home in one piece. In winter of 1944, we were outside of Nijmegen in Holland, just outside of there. That’s when I got the job of driving the pilot car for General Simonds. He come out and I was escorting him someplace. He’d come out and walk across the road and come and say good morning and how are you today, Mac, yeah. He was very, very nice. A great man. We took over an English hospital there. And she had been working there and I met her there when we first went in. We got going together and ended up getting married. Got married in 1943. My first daughter was born there in 1944. I was over in Germany. I was one day late. The baby was born the day before I got back there. And she had her first birthday on the train between Halifax and Winnipeg. That was quite a trip for them, that long boat trip, the girls [war brides]. Didn’t know where they were going, they didn’t know anything. And coming to a new country with little kids, babies and that. But they made it.
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