Portrait of Jack Dolson during the war.Jack Dolson
Document indicates Mr. Jack Dolson's employment while serving in the war.Jack Dolson
Mr. Jack Dolson (on left in front) with fellow comrades from The Calgary Regiment (14th Armoured Regiment).Jack Dolson
"The mud would be like slop soup, six to eight inches deep and you’re trying to move from point to point with this stuff all around us, to wade through it. And the Germans let you know, they know where you are every foot of the way, they could watch us because we can’t move without them watching us."
I was stationed in Canada for a while, went on training up at North Bay [Ontario] and places like that. Camp Borden was where we learned to drive big trucks and little trucks and tanks and stuff like that. Because it was an army tank regiment, OntarioTanks. So they moved us around every so many months, from one place to another. And so I spent quite a long time in Seaford and also in Brighton and Worthing. But then they signed up, sent me to a build gunnery range down in Minehead in Somerset. I never did get back to that regiment. Got sent to another one, I got hurt and I was sent to another outfit after I got out of the hospital. And wound up in, on a boat, we wound up in Sicily. And that was wild.
Then we crossed the Messina Strait, about a month or so later and wasn’t much fighting to that, where they blew the roads up on us all the time and we had to keep fixing roads and getting our vehicles in and it worked up. We cut a bunch of Germans off though, around the tip of the peninsula. Weren’t able to connect back to their own outfit, so we finally took them prisoners. And that went on up the east coast of Italy and that, we were there 21 months actually and we wound up, up near a city called Bologna. And the one winter we spent was really wild, it was a place called Ortona, where we lost a lot of guys, a lot more Canadians were killed there.
Up at Ortona, that’s the plateau area that’s about seven, eight, nine hundred feet higher than the Adriatic. And it’s flat across the top was very steep gullies running from the centre, which is the mountainous area, the Appennines, which the Italians called the Appennini, run through to the Adriatic and of course, the water rushes down there when the wintertime comes, there mainly is not as much snow as it is rain, rain, rain. And the mud, you can’t believe the mud. When we were on top of this one ridge, the mud would be like slop soup, six to eight inches deep and you’re trying to move from point to point with this stuff all around us, to wade through it. And the Germans let you know, they know where you are every foot of the way, they could watch us because we can’t move without them watching us.
But we were at, at that point, we were at a static during the war; it became static when we were at Ortona and San Vito, nobody was moving because it’s all mud. [At Campobasso] we captured it kind of foolishly but, or accidentally I should say because the Germans, a whole bunch of them were in a theatre, watching a movie. And we come zooming in with our armoured vehicles and rounded up any Germans on the street and the rest were in the theatre. And we barreled into the theatre and where all the lights were down and they were watching a movie and I don’t remember what movie it was of course but anyway, I remember flipping all the lights on and I took a hold of the microphone which was in an office like where they had a projection unit, and took a hold of it. And I promptly said, you know, Alle deutsche Soldaten, you know, [all German soldiers] Kommen sie hier [come here] and you’re now prisoners, or Gefangeners, that’s what the German for that is. You’re now our prisoners, we’ve just captured you all. So they all file out of the theatre and we will run our own movies. So we captured about 300 of them in the theatre, captured the whole darn shebang of them in one, without firing a shot.
In the afternoon, the sun came out and I had been detailed to take a truck from where we were, up by the Biferno River to come back to Campobasso for this, to a movie -another movie, not the same one - and the sun came out. And I stand apart on this piazza, which is a brick parking lot basically, and I parked the truck and looked up at the light blue sky for once in a long month I h adn’t see any and that’s the last thing I knew for a good while. I don’t know what happened. And then when I came to, it was a week later and I was in a hospital, which was run by the Poles, a Polish hospital. And I had infectious hepatitis. So I was there for, I don’t know how long. And then they put me in an ambulance truck and sent me back several hundred miles to another, real hospital. That takes a while. Then when you get out, you go back up to the front again. But you go back to fighting.
Interview date: 24 August 2010