Veteran Stories:
Jerry Richards

Army

  • Photo taken in Calgary, Alberta, shortly after Jerry Richards' enlistement in 1940.

    Jerry Richards
  • This photo is taken in the summer of 1943 at the Offícer's Training School in Victoria, British Columbia. Jerry is pictured in the bottom left in the front row.

    Jerry Richards
  • Photo of a Dressing Hospital in San Vito Chietino, Italy, in 1943.

    While Bullets Fly: The Story of a Canadian Field Surgical Unit in the Second World War"
  • Studio Portrait of Jerry Richards shortly after joining in 1939.

    Jerry Richards
  • Photo taken at the Calgary Herald in September 3rd, 1939. Jerry is pictured 3rd from the right. He was one of the reporters.

    The Calgary Herald
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"I worked out some systems of making the mortars go much further...than they ordinarily would."

Transcript

There was an explosion underneath our vehicle. We found my driver out in the bush somewhere with both his legs torn off; and we gave him some kind of crude first aid, which really didn’t affect his survival. I stayed with him until he died, which was about half an hour later, I think. Then I went back to my battalion and went back into being a soldier again. We [The Calgary Regiment] went through all the ordinary mortar drill of course, and I worked out some systems of making the mortars go much further and making the mortar bombs - which were the projectile that we were directing at the enemy - I managed to work out a way of making them go much further than they ordinarily would. I don’t remember the details of that now, but I was just actually putting on an extra bag of explosive. And so I started doing that and I got a little bit of attention from some of the officers; and first thing I knew, everybody else in the division was doing the same thing. They obviously had copied it from my battalion, from me, anyway. And from then on, that’s what we did, we always had much longer range with the bombs. It was an important thing at the time it seemed. We got a lot of shells coming down on us and one of them must have landed quite close to me. I got a hell of a pain in my belly; and I realized I had been hit by some of the shellfire. It was just shrapnel, but that was the usual thing that was thrown about. I was taken to an aid station and got operated on by a couple of surgeons from Toronto, whom I met later on, years later. I found out that he, this surgeon, had never told any of his family members about his career as a doctor, as a surgeon anyway. They didn’t know what he was doing. I wrote an article about it that was printed in, must have been a medical journal, I think. It was from that that his brothers and sisters, of this particular surgeon, found out what he was doing. He was just a surgeon who went off to war and never bothered telling his family what he was up to. So they were all enlightened to a certain extent by getting my letter or reading about their brother.
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