Veteran Stories:
George Whatley

Army

  • George Whatley in Chilliwack, British Columbia, October 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"The training was tough, but it was good."

Transcript

It was tough, but it was good. You had to be in top shape, and I mean top shape. But you know, you go and I’m, physically, I was fine. So we’d go out on a route march and some of them, when they first went out on the first route march for over an hour. We had an instructor, he didn’t believe in just walking. It was tough going right down, which was right, I could see that. So we went out on that for over an hour, walking. The guys were sweating. I had one officer with us and another buddy that I had, and they were going to fall out, they couldn’t make it. I just said, grab on, both sides, one on either side and hang on, I’ve got you, I’ll keep you. It gave them enough to get their wind back and they made it. The training was tough, but it was good. I was interested in it and we went through. We had good instructors and tough ones, which they had to be. But we really got in good shape. About four, I guess, four days before we went overseas is when I was the landing swing in a dish and the guy made a mistake and tripped me at the wrong time. I landed flat on my back and it shook me up real bad. So anyway, I didn’t report it in medical, for the simple reason I felt they would wash me out [be removed from active training]. So I kept on and worked hard at it, stayed with it, bared the pain. We got on the boat, went to England, landed at Aldershot, England [Canadian Army Headquarters in England]. We spent 10 days there. Then they shipped us to the 1st Canadian Parachute [Battalion] training area up in the interior. And that’s where we took over and I was able to do all the training in tough shape until this one day, it caught up with me; and I couldn’t move, my legs just, it locked them up. I couldn’t even walk. And we’d been running for hours and different things, and it didn’t bother. But it caught up to me and that was it; and I said, do something about it, I don’t want to leave the outfit because pride, I guess, and the fact of it was something super in [which] we were training. But anyway, they said, no, that’s it, shipped me back to Aldershot; and I went into an office training in records and eventually into another shop or place that got all the mail from Canada for the whole battalion. Then the [Normandy] invasion, of course, took place. I, by this time, was in an office in Aldershot; and I’d go to a show maybe and they would show certain parts of the Canadian Army, what was going on. I looked up and here’s my brother, and his stick of 12 guys, in his usual position, I knew right where he was. And [he was] going in a sunken road in France. And it was the last I saw of anything, like where they were headed there. They eventually came to me and I found out that he had been killed by sniper, shot through the chest. But at least I spent a good many times with him and war is war. Yeah, it was rough. Tears.
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