Veteran Stories:
Stanley Herbert Williams

Army

  • Personnel of the 9th Field Squadron, Royal Canadian Engineers (RCE), staging a bridging demonstration for British journalists, Wallingford, England, January 26, 1943. Stanley Williams performed similar work during his service.

    Sgt. Jack E. Stollery / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-177143
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"Then they started sending the big rocket over. And you never heard that one. You only heard it when it went off."

Transcript

We volunteered three times. They wouldn’t take us, so I said to Henry, if you don’t want us, I’m staying here in England, you know. And there was a lot of troops that didn’t go to the front. And don’t get the recognition that they should do, I don’t think. Because I spent four and a half years in England. So I was 20, 21 when we went over, so about 26 when I come back. So about 22 I guess, I sat on the boat in Halifax, I celebrated my 22nd birthday in Halifax on the boat, waiting to sail for England. And it was just like that eight days, it took us over, it was just like going on a cruise. The water almost as smooth as this table. Waves weren’t any bigger than you get on Lake Ontario. And we never saw a U-boat or anything. And we had Canadian corvettes took us out. There was five ships in a convoy. And we were in the middle because we had children, women and children on board, that were being picked up in Crete, just out before the Germans overran it. So we were taking them back to England. So we ended in the middle though, we were safe but we never saw… and we had, I think it went ahead of us, a Free French submarine went ahead of us and then there was a big battleship from the Royal Navy. I think it was the, it was His Majesty’s Ship Bermuda. I forget what it was. But it had taken on what they call a fish, it was a torpedo. And it hadn’t exploded. I guess it was a dud but it went in, they had the hole patched up with a big piece of steel so they could sail it. It was going to go in the dry dock and get repaired. Well as I say, we used to see the fighting, there was a bit of bombing, we’ve had bombs and all this stuff. And then they used to send the doodlebug, a bomb I guess about as big as, a little longer than that but with a flame, sort of like jet-propelled. And as long as the flame, you could see the flame coming out of the rear end, you were alright. The minute that, that flame stopped, then you ran for cover because it was going to come down. It might glide in a… But it did some damage. But people got used to it. As soon as they see it coming, they’d run like Henry, even get into… pretty sure it wouldn’t hurt them. Then they started sending the big rocket over, great big sized, big one. And you never heard that one. You only heard it when it went off. The girl I married, she lived in a little town in Althorne in Essex. And one fell in the river. And there was mud and fish all over the place when it went off. They said it was… but it didn’t kill anybody. People had to go and... The worst they had was the last in Haslemere where I finished up my time, a doodlebug did land, fall in the yard up there’s the High Street, and it fell on a lady’s house the next couple of streets over. And all it did was it, one woman got cut with flying glass in her face and that and it blew a pile of windows out of the main street stores. But it didn’t kill anybody. No, other than that, it was a good war. It, ah, I don’t know, if I had to do it, I’d do it over again I think.
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