"As I lay there, I felt this stinging in my foot. I hollered to my cousin. I said, Newt, Newt, I’m hit, I’m hit."
I joined, in1942, the Sapper Engineers [Royal Canadian Engineers], and then they put me into artillery. So I ended up in [A1 Canadian Artillery Training Centre] Petawawa after [Camp] Borden. Oh, I went home for Christmas the end of 1942, and we had a Rutter reunion. There my uncle asked me if I wanted to join in the Army Show. I was property manager. I looked after the props. You remember hearing of [Johnny] Wayne and [Frank] Shuster [Canadian comedians]? They were sergeants in the show. Actually, the army had the pick of the crop across Canada. When it broke up into five little shows, they didn’t need me anymore, so back to the training artillery, back where I suppose they wanted me to be. And I think to actually get into action with the artillery, and doing something I’d been trained to do.
When I got into the light anti-aircraft, the gun was self-propelled, so we did a lot of touring around Germany; and eventually, when this plane come over, it was a reconnaissance plane we figured. Anyway, we knew it was German, so we downed him. That was more luck maybe, but it was thrilling just to do that. The middle of the next morning that the aviator’s remains were there. So that was proof that we got him.
I think we were just coming out of the artillery, there was a bunch of us and we had to be dug in because it gets where we figured we were going to be shelled; and we were shelled all right, but sad to say, that it wasn’t the enemy, it was our own. It was [Marshal of the Royal Air Force] Sir Arthur Tedder, air force, that bombed us because, hey, we could almost reach up and touch them. They bombed us overnight. So the next morning, we come out of our dugout and here’s this great big chunk of steel, right near our dugout. That was a close call. I don’t know whether you want to put this down or not, but men were walking down the roads. They were just so disgusted that they were just quitting. That was the end of that because we left that behind us. But that was quite an incident to go through that to realize that here was our own planes going over us.
We were sent to Nijmegen, Holland to join the Queen’s Own Rifles [of Canada] there. That was late in 1944. We were sent to Germany and to the Hochwald Forest. I’m with the Queen’s Own Rifles now as an infantry man; and there I met my cousin. So we were both together there and every so often, we were shelled by the Germans. The shells would hit the trees, the great big forest trees, and the shrapnel would be flying around which I was unlucky enough to have left our foxhole in the calm, but then they started shelling again before I could get back to the foxhole. So with the result, I got down behind a little tree, as close as I could get to, but as I lay there, I felt this stinging in my foot. I hollered to my cousin. I said, "Newt, Newt, I’m hit, I’m hit." They came when there was a lull and they took my boot off, and that was when I found out that I couldn’t go any further. They put me in a dugout, which was terrific, logs over the little of the ground; and I stayed there overnight. To me, it was all over, that was the end of it, sort of thing. I was really happy about that.
I was treated, what really instilled in my mind was how they got me out from the Hochwald Forest, all these different ways of traveling out: hospital ships and hospital plane; and across the [English] Channel, and boy, they really looked after me. I felt like a king [laughs] because I wasn’t with a whole lot of people except on the plane and the ship, and the train. So I actually, I didn’t feel bad. I saw a lot of other fellows in the same shape, the same position, you know, and I think I felt lucky more or less that it could have been a whole lot worse.
It was quite an experience overall. I can think back, there were so many men that I met, but my cousin I was with in the Hochwald Forest, he didn’t fare too well, a sniper got him in the end. I just heard it, but we were waiting to hear, his wife was expecting, we never did hear, but that was something else.