Veteran Stories:
George Schmitke

Army

  • George Schmitke in New Westminister, British Columbia, April,1943.

    George Schmitke
  • Portrait of George Schmitke and his wife Pauline, April,1943.

    George Schmitke
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"I felt so, so distraught that I couldn’t drive my tractor, and do something; and I had to stay in the army."

Transcript

I did not enlist in the army, I was drafted and had to go: I had no intentions of being a soldier. People are different, and I’m a different person. I had no intentions of being a soldier. We were farm-born children. I have nine family members. The Mennonite Brethren Church was our church in Maidstone, Saskatchewan. We just didn’t want to participate, that’s all. There was no option. I didn’t know that until the fifteenth of October [1942] when I got the call and a ticket to report to Regina. And so I told my wife, I will take this and I will go to Regina, and I’ll tell them I can’t go because I had the threshing machine on the farm ready to take the crop off and I wanted to take that crop off. I was a farmer. But they wouldn’t listen to me in Regina. They said, put these clothes on and we’ll put you where you need to go. I was anti-aircraft. I was with the anti-aircraft guns in Vancouver all the years while Japan was in force. I did my job. I did what I was told. I didn’t want to, I was not a trouble maker and I spent five years in uniform. First posting was in Vancouver at the airport. We lived in tents along the airport runways for two years straight, winter and summer, waiting for the Japanese. And they never did show up. On the fifth of January in 1944, I was sent to England. I went over to England to train for infantry now and because the war was just about to end when I got there, and it did end in May [1945], and so I never did no training at all. I just was in England and I was in Holland. I seen Holland and I was happy to see all that because I couldn’t have made a trip like that. In May, the war ended and, of course, that changed everything. So we were still in England, we were supposed to train for infantry, but we were sent over to Holland to join our regiment [Royal Canadian Artillery, 28th Anti-Aircraft Regiment] to go home to Canada. All the boys had left and dad couldn’t farm no more, so he gave it up. And he bought the south half for me while I was in England. My sister wrote and asked if I would want the south half of that section. It was only rented land and so dad bought the south half; and I wrote back and said, yes, if I come back, I will take it and that’s what I did. I got back and I took that land. We lived there until 1960. Well, this is just life story, our life stories in there. And it’s the time that we spent in the army, it was so different to what it was. We were sitting there doing nothing. I felt so, so distraught that I couldn’t drive my tractor, and do something; and I had to stay in the army.
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