Photo of the hospital ship Lady Nelson. Date unknown.Earl Zwicker
The New Testament Earl Zwicker carried with him throughout his service.Earl Zwicker
Bible carried by Earl Zwicker throught his service.Earl Zwicker
Photograph of Earl Zwicker, 1940.Earl Zwicker
"I was sort of disappointed because I went with all the intentions of going further and doing more. I was just a little bit disappointed."
When I got on the ship in Halifax, and was sailed out the harbor, it was 5:00 in the morning, just at daybreak, and I was on the deck; and I felt that that was the last time I would see Nova Scotia. We sailed in November and the weather was the worst that you could possibly ask for. I guess November is one of the worst months. The old [SS] Louis Pasteur that we sailed on was a ship built for traveling between England and France, just across the coast. She was very narrow and I was sick from the time I got onto her until I got off.
We started off with just ordinary basic rifle training and all that, and marching and so on; and then I got sent on a commando course and I spent a few months there. Some of the things we were put through were terrific because this, it was in the fall of the year at that time, and a lot of the training we took was in swamps and brooks, and so on like that; and usually the first guy in the water in the morning broke the ice. Through that course, I got recommended for officer training. I was spending six months in the field when I had an accident and broke my right leg, crushed my right leg.
I had a convoy and I was driving a motorcycle; and a little English car tried to push me off the road and the bumper of the car crushed my leg. I was section leader and where we were delivering food supplies, ammunition, gasoline and so on to troops. We would take a convoy of all those items and we had to drop them off at their different points so the people from that regiment could meet us and pick them up. So we would, it was called a, oh, some sort of a drop off, I forget the term now, but what we would do is start maybe with 10 vehicles, all loaded with different materials for different companies. We’d drop so many off at one point, a petrol point, and maybe another one off for food products, to another one and so on like that. And this is when the accident happened. I had a convoy going out; and I was sort of controlling it from each intersection to get it in the right place. There was planes overhead and I don’t know if the driver got distracted by the noise of the planes flying over, figuring it was enemy planes. But anyway, and I don’t even know if it was enemy planes because I would pretty well fly in it myself at the time. I ended up in the hospital. I was there for a year in the hospital before I got shipped back to Canada, Halifax.
The first I’d seen Nova Scotia was when they hauled me off the boat in a stretcher. I was happy and I was sort of disappointed because I went with all the intentions of going further and doing more. I was just a little bit disappointed. Well, immediately, the war’s over, then the whole world tries to put everything back together the way it had been. And a soldier is, all the years he’s in the service, he’s taught to hate an enemy. And you’re sort of turned off and on, like you know. It took a little adjustment because a lot of us, we were put on the parade square and we were taught that we had to command people to do things. The minute you hit civilian life, you realized that that wasn’t the way you went about it. A lot of my life after the war was sales and I know some of the conversations that I had at that time wasn’t the type of oh, sweetness that catches flies. You can’t use that type of command-type conversation. And it takes you a while to get over that.