They knew we had fought in the war. They knew that we had both of our arms and legs. We were supposed to be fine. I have been depressed ever since then.
- For more information on the Régiment de la Chaudière, please visit the regiment’s official website, and click on “History”
- For Canada’s involvement in the Normany Landings, please visit the Veterans’ Affairs Website “Normandy Landings”
- As well as their site “Normandy, 1944: Canada Remembers”
- For more information on the Bren Gun and the Bren Gun Carrier, see the information sheet “Bren Gun” at the Juno Beach Centre
Transcript / ShowHide
Two or three years in England. We got on ship at Southampton. Boarding took about two or three weeks. We [Le Régiment de la Chaudière] were on the extreme left [in preparation for the Allied D-Day Normandy landings of June 6, 1944]. The others were Americans who were going all the way to Cherbourg. I think someone was waiting for us. They had landed not far from Calais. We had about sixty miles or so to cross, I think. They told us that we would be landing on French soil the next day. Once all the ships were lined up, they told us we were landing on French soil tomorrow. In other words, we boarded on the 5th to land on the 6th, around 6 o’clock in the morning – I can’t say the exact time, maybe 7-8 o'clock. I landed with my Bren Gun Carrier [a light armoured vehicle]. I landed on the French soil in about 6 feet of water. We had worked on water-proofing; the sides of the Carrier had been raised, so we could land in about 6 feet of water without taking any on. Even if the water had gotten in, there were flexible pipes on the carburetor, etc., so it could go in the water. The motor could withstand water without any problem.
We landed in Bernières-sur-Mer. Once there, it took until about 3 o’clock – I didn't really know what to do. We were stuck on the shore, with our backs to the water. There was a small brick wall that afforded us some protection. On the ship that I was on, there were two, four, six; six Bren Gun Carriers. There was one in the front, I think it was a little larger. In any case, I thought it was taking a lot of time, since they wanted to get off two at a time and they were attached to each other, I thought it was taking a long time. Me, I was seated in the back, I couldn't see anything. I only had a small 2x5 or 2x6 window through which to see. The guy to my left crossed over a mine and his Bren Gun Carrier flipped over. I saw his arm sticking out of the Carrier, he was dead. There was a “DM”, a “driver/mechanic”, we had all sorts of people, of mechanics. Me, I kept going. I didn't hit any mines. I landed. It took until 3 o'clock in the afternoon for the brigadier to tell us that we had to make 5 miles. He called together his officers and we had to advance.
Then we came to Carpiquet. We called it hell in Carpiquet, it was being bombarded, there was heavy fire. The evening before we took Carpiquet, we travelled on open land. We said, there’s 45 of us […] and we wondered who would still be there the following evening. We had to take the airfield. We had to deal with the [12th] SS [Panzer Division]. The Régiment de la Chaudière, 3rd [Canaidan Infantry] Division, was making its way along the coast. It wasn't the best place. We often met with SS. We spent six days in Carpiquet. I was injured in Carpiquet. My Carrier exploded. I never found out why, but I think I was hit by a German 88 gun in one of my fuel tanks, and it probably started a fire. Well, not probably, it did start a fire. The fire took a second, a fraction of a second. I didn't see anything. In any case, even if I was injured, I had both of my arms and both of my legs and at that time, the inside wasn't looked at too closely. I felt sort of at home in my Bren Gun Carrier. So they gave me a pill at night. I went to sleep in the basement. I slept and the next day, I had a brand-new, fully-equipped Carrier.
The war ended and we were in Kleve [Cleves], Germany. We suspected it on the 7th, and on the 8th [of May, 1945], they marched us out to tell us that the Armistice had been signed. I didn't feel good. You can never be happy after something like that. I went to the Îles-de-la-Madeleine after the war. Nobody knew anything about that [the experience of war]. There was no doctor for that. They knew we had fought in the war. They knew that we had both of our arms and legs. We were supposed to be fine. I have been depressed ever since then. I have never been able to be happy since those days, but I'm still alive and I'm 93 years old.