Veteran Stories:
Strome Galloway

Army

  • 2nd Lt. Strome Galloway served overseas with the Royal Canadian Regiment in the theatres of U.K., Tunisia, Sicily, Italy, NW Europe. This picture was taken in England in 1940 at the beginning of his extensive military career.

  • Captain Strome Galloway of the Royal Canadian Regiment while serving in Regalbuto Sicily in August 1943.

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"I personally enjoyed being an officer, being a leader of men, making tactical decisions, being in command."

Transcript

My name is Strome Galloway. I was always interested in soldiering. I remember when my uncle came back from the First World War. I was then four years old - not quite. I somehow or other took to the idea of being a soldier, and I joined the militia - they now call it the Reserve Force - in 1932. I was in it until the war broke out, and then, of course, there I was, and I went overseas at the outbreak of war. And I was overseas for five years.

I was in the infantry. I went to the war as a Lieutenant. I was an acting Lieutenant Colonel for a short period of time, and my permanent rank was Major. I returned from the war as a Major. I'd been wounded once, and I had served in North Africa with the British on exchange for battle experience before we went to Sicily a couple of months later. And then I fought through Sicily and Italy, and in Holland. And I ended the war in the Reichwald Forest in Germany. So I had some twenty-five and a half active service in an infantry battalion.

The reason why we had been with the British - we got an idea in 1942 that since the Canadian Army had been sitting in England for so long and training, with no real battle experience, they made arrangements with the War Office, and certain officers were selected, and certain senior NCOs, to go out on attachment to the British Army for three months of active fighting service. I was one of those selected.

I was in Africa about two weeks when the Germans attacked us. And as a result of this battle that took place, I did something that very few people have ever done. I led a bayonet charge. But it was rather funny, because we were supposed to drive the Germans out of this Arab farm, and they weren't in it. So we were lying there, being heavily shelled and mortared and machine-gunned, and we were in a position where if we went forward, we'd be shot, and if we went back, we'd be shot, and if we lay there, we'd be shot. So I yelled out, "Fix Bayonets!" They fixed bayonets. Then I said, "Charge!" And nobody moved. And I suddenly realized that I was the leader, and they were looking to me. I got up, and as soon as I got up, they all got up - the other seventeen or eighteen men - which showed me one thing that I learned: Where one will lead, the others will follow.

I personally enjoyed being an officer, being a leader of men, making tactical decisions, being in command. But I often thought about the private soldier. I admired him greatly. He had nothing to gain... to occupy his mind. He was lying there with his own vulnerability. He had so much to lose, and yet he went so bravely into battle. And that was the fellows from Ontario that I was a commanding officer of - farm boys, village boys, townsmen, young fellows. I would say the average age was twenty-two or twenty-three. We had seventeen year olds who said they were eighteen when they enlisted.

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