"But we were warned, don’t stop. You stop, your buddy gets hit, don’t do anything with him, just keep going. Because if you stop, then they’re going to get you."
We [the 5th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Engineers] were stationed down there for pretty well a year, right on the English Channel there, a placed called Christchurch. It was, Highcliffe-on-the-Sea was a summer resort in that area. And our job were making up these plastic explosive charges to slap on the side here. And our job during the invasion was to go in and put these charges on the – you might have seen them things - and then try to weaken them because they were so big that we had one of those bulldozers went in with us. And they had a canopy built around it, half of it was plate, plate steel, to stop and protect him, so they couldn’t get him, where they could put the machine out of commission but they couldn’t get him cause he was down inside the machine.
And I was on that as a matter of fact I was one of the first, when that dozer went off that was there, [on June 6, 1944, during the D-Day landings] I was the first one behind it. And I saw a rope hanging down and I carried that rope and I thought, well, he’s going to make a left hand turn because I couldn’t talk to him. And so sure enough, when we got down there, hit the water, he made a left hand turn, so I put the dozer between me and the beach for protection and I got into the beach. I took a dive for the beach and the three of us, and I was the only that got in, the other two drowned. But the water was up to our, under our armpits. You couldn’t move in it very well
My brother, I had a brother on, my older brother, the same barge, so everybody told me he had been killed and I thought, well they moved her in but it didn’t mean much. At that time, you didn’t have time to think. So after that afternoon, I thought, oh, let me try to swim back to the beach, see if I can find his body. And I did get back to the beach and the bodies were so thick, you had to lower your head down. Because if you looked up, you’re going to walk on them. You had to walk around the bodies.
So I did have a look up there and there he is [his brother], walking up the beach. And what had happened, the guy had his hand on the side of the ship, like that, a shell hit the deck, come up here, it took his whole arm right off. And he was helping this fellow. So the ship had, the landing craft had pulled out before I’d a chance to get off. And, before he gets off, excuse me. They brought him out to the hospital ship and then they brought back some that didn’t get off in the first place. And different ones, they brought them all back, including him, on the hospital ship.
We were advancing continually. As a matter of fact, I was writing them letters and the [Royal] Canadian Engineers went in the furthest on D-Day than any other troops. Which was us; we kept going. But we were warned, don’t stop. You stop, your buddy gets hit, don’t do anything with him, just keep going. Because if you stop, then they’re going to get you.
We were pushed on up to - we went right through Brussels [the capital of Belgium], the city of like that you never seen, it took us a whole day just to drive our convoys through the city and it was only a matter of four or five miles. People were throwing stuff down off the apartment houses, food and stuff and you wouldn’t believe it.
There was a family there in Belgium, I asked the mother - there was five or six kids in the family I think parcels and stuff I’d get in the mail I’d give to them. So one night there, I was in there and I was getting ready to push up to Nijmegen [The Netherlands], I knew that. So I went to visit them and there was a picture taken with me in the background and all seven of them I think. But anyway, I just left there and in about ten minutes buzz bombs [German V-1 Flying Bomb] killed them all in that house. But I already left.