Veteran Stories:
Terence “Terry” Downie

Army

  • Private Terry Downie in Glasgow, Scotland about three weeks into his training with The Higland Light Infantry, March 1945.

    Terry Downie
  • The banner headline of the London Daily Mirror on V-J Day, August 15, 1945.

    Terry Downie
  • A wartime field dressing (bandage) in its original package.

    Terry Downie
  • A brass pull ignitor issued to Sapper Terry Downie and other Royal Engineers (Downie served with No. 603 Railway Construction Company) for minefield clearance and similar tasks.

    Terry Downie
  • Terry Downie's service medals (Mr. Downie served in the British Army from 1945-48 and in the Canadian Army from 1954-1968), left to right: 1939-45 War Medal; Palestine Medal; Canadian Peackeeping Medal; UN Cyprus Peacekeeping Medal; Queen's Jubilee Medal; Canadian Decoration.

    Terry Downie
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"But we enjoyed ourselves. I mean, we had a sense of humour and we weren’t going to let this war pull us down."

Transcript

I went through five and a half years of war before I went into the [British] Army. And so which is, it wasn’t a very pleasant time. The Blitz [sustained German aerial bombing of Britain] itself was not very nice. We grew accustomed to seeing the big old buildings that were destroyed and the shattered remains of people under, in those houses being brought out: not sights that children should see. We had some fun time as well. There weren’t too many, but we enjoyed ourselves. I mean, we had a sense of humour and we weren’t going to let this war pull us down. In fact, the whole idea of the Luftwaffe [German air force] was to kill Terry Downie as quickly as they could because they were trying to destroy our morale, which was just as important to the Germans as war factories and ships, and so on. So we took the brunt of that. But then in 1944, we had, I was just coming to the end of my training as an army cadet. I was in the 61st Middlesex Ack-Ack [Anti-Aircraft Cadet] Regiment. I was a battery sergeant at 16. When I was 17 and a half, I was ordered to Glasgow [Scotland] in the training battalion of the Highland Light Infantry for infantry training. Even though I had established myself with a War Certificate "A’" [certificate of service], prior to this, nevertheless, I still had to go through basic training. And so I did in Glasgow. And we’re the first training battalion, the Highland Light Infantry. After spending six weeks in training there, I was moved to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Engineers in a place called Clitheroe in Lincolnshire, and while I was in training there, I caught scarlet fever, which is not a good thing to catch when you’re 17 years old. And so I was in therapeutic situations until, actually, I was still in, yeah. The war had already ended in 1945 when I was in convalescence in Coventry, and elsewhere. And then I was, having gone through convalescence, I was recalled into the Royal Engineers. It was a training unit, training me to serve in Japan, a combat engineer squadron. And we were taught to lay mines and fight for the home bank and that sort of thing, of a bridge building unit. So that’s what I was in when the war ended. So we didn’t go to it in Japan because the end came with the advent of the nuclear bomb.
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