Veteran Stories:
Wilbert Francis Dean

Army

  • Dishes listed on the Chirstmas menu seved to Mr. Dean while aboard the Queen Elizabeth (pictured) on his way home.

  • A menu for Chistmas dinner which Mr. Dean received while on board the Queen Elizabeth, December 25, 1945. Everyone from Cabin B-102 had signed the menu.

  • Right from photograph: Photo of Wilbert Dean in uniform, age 22, hat badge, poppy medal, campaign medals, dog tags and shoulder flash.

  • The Velp bij Grave Monestary, Holland. Mr. Dean was billited here during the Winter of 1944-1945.

  • Mr. Dean was issued this razor and brush kit on May 28, 1942, his first day in the army.

Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"Some of the fellows were ready to shoot and the man gave up, he wasn’t armed, why shoot him? He wasn’t going to hurt anybody anymore. We took him in and gave him breakfast. Treated him like a human being."

Transcript

I was very lucky. I was never wounded; I never even broke a fingernail. The Lord looked after me and he still does. I have two brothers and a brother-in-law who were overseas and there was none of us wounded or hurt in any way.

Two months before we went to France, we had to waterproof our vehicles. We spent most of our time working on that because we drove off the landing craft or whatever you want to call it, into the water. And if our vehicle didn’t run when we got into the water, then that was our lookout. We were responsible for that. We had no one else to blame but ourselves, so we had to make sure that all the ignition and everything on the vehicle was waterproofed so that it wouldn’t be affected by the water.

We drove off into possibly, I don’t know, just four to six feet of water when we went onto the beach. We couldn’t go too far because this waterproofing had to be taken off before the vehicle was driven too far.

It was a scary feeling because, pardon me, but there were some bodies laying around. We just didn’t know what was about to take place. Everything was strange. We were just going kind of, no, we were only kids, we didn’t know what to expect. Our tank corps and everything went in ahead of us; and they had pretty cleared the way. They had enough supplies to last them for two days and we weren’t necessary for two days, so we took our time to do what had to be done. It was a weird situation, driving across that beach.

One morning, at breakfast, we had our cook truck that traveled with us when we were out. And we were having breakfast and someone noticed over in the bushes, away from us, that there was something there. And all at once, a white flag went up and this young fellow walked out, he was in a German uniform. Of course, we kept the gun on him until he showed us or proved to us that he wasn’t armed. And he told us that he was fed up, he didn’t want to fight anymore; he gave himself up to us. I believe he was back here in Canada before we were. He told us that he couldn’t see any more reason to fight, so he just gave himself up.

Some of the fellows were ready to shoot and the man gave up, he wasn’t armed, why shoot him? He wasn’t going to hurt anybody anymore. We took him in and gave him breakfast. Treated him like a human being. That was, I’m not sure, I think it was in Belgium somewhere, I’m not sure. But it stands out in my mind that he was only a young fellow. He was, I would say, between 20 and 25. Just like one of ourselves. He was doing what he was ordered to do and he got fed up with it, and didn’t want to do it anymore. So he quit.

We were in Apeldoorn [Holland] when the war was over and I think you’ve seen the celebrations that went on. When it was over, we were right in the midst of it, just as exuberant as anybody. And when that happened, our eyes turned west, hoping, wondering when we’d get home. We got into New York Harbour on the twenty-seventh of December, we traveled by train to Toronto on the night of the twenty-seventh and twenty-eigth. We arrived at the exhibition grounds about 4:00 in the afternoon on the twenty-eighth of December. We went in the coliseum and it was packed with people waiting for us. There was a lot of tears shed. My mother and dad were there, my wife and her parents. We had a great reunion.

Interview date: 19 August 2010

Follow us