Veteran Stories:
Duncan John Ledwidge

Army

  • Duncan Ledwidge (right) stands with a local resident who remembered his tank driving down her street when the town was liberated. Photo taken in Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands in 2005.

    Duncan Ledwidge
  • Duncan Ledwidge (left) stands next to fellow veteran George Stepa, who was in the same tank crew as Mr. Ledwidge during the war. Photo taken at a reunion for The South Alberta Regiment (29th Armoured Recce Regiment) in Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands in 2005.

    Duncan Ledwidge
  • Duncan Ledwidge (right) with his brother Donald after both men had enlisted in the Canadian Army. Photo taken in their hometown of Goffs, Nova Scotia, February 1943.

    Duncan Ledwidge
  • Duncan Ledwidge (second from left) stands with other tank drivers (from left to right) Bartlett, Shorty Hill and Ed Chadwick, who all volunteered to drive trucks from The Netherlands to Pilsen (Plzeň), Czechoslovakia, 1945.

    Duncan Ledwidge
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"I had the misfortune of getting hit by a sniper on the 27th of September 1944, but I survived that, not too many ever did, but I did."

Transcript

We didn’t go in D-Day [the Allied Normandy landings of June 6, 1944], we went to Normandy in July [1944]. We [The South Alberta Regiment (29th Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment)] landed on the same beaches where they landed D-Day. But we went there in July and we relieved the troops that hit the beaches. No, we had no problem landing. Of course, we had our tanks all waterproofed. And we just landed and went right onshore. We went over on boats and landing barges. But we didn’t have any problem landing.

I drove the tank. We were told where we were going, we had maps and that. That’s all I did was drove the tank. And then I had a co-driver who could take it over if anything happened to me. And we had the gunner and the radio operator and a crew commander up in the turret. They were like a separate place from us.

In the tank, we took our instructions from the crew commander up in the turret. After we left Caen and we hit the Falaise Gap, that was a tough one. That’s where our Major, Dave Currie, he won the Victoria Cross in the Falaise Gap. We closed the Falaise Gap and cut off two armies. And Dave was our commanding officer and we were supporting him with our tanks. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for [his actions at St. Lambert-dur-Dives in August 1944, during] the closing of the Falaise Gap.

I was hit by the sniper after we left Falaise and just across the, when we crossed the Belgian border, I was hit actually in Belgium. I had the misfortune of getting hit by a sniper on the 27th of September 1944, but I survived that, not too many ever did, but I did. He hit me in the back of the head and knocked me out, but I got it patched up there and it bothered me some but they looked after it when I got around to it. But it was just a glancing blow, but it did break the skull bone. I wasn’t evacuated, it just was a paramedic looked after me because we were coming out at that time for a week’s resting, and by the time that was over, I was ready to go again.

So then we went to Germany, it was the Hochwald Forest and I got wounded in the Hochwald Forest on March the 4th, 1945. I went to the hospital in Bruges, Belgium, [No.] 77 British General [Hospital], and when I got out of there, the war was over. Oh yeah, we knew the war was over, everybody was celebrating. Yeah, we knew the war was over. And after we got all fixed up, we went back to our regiments again.

Interview date: 5 October 2010

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