Veteran Stories:
Ken Greves

Army

  • Ken Greves in Army Medical Corps uniform and Horace Payne in Navy uniform, September 8, 1939. Both are WWI uniforms as the Canadian Armed Forces had minimal equipment for their service personnel when WWII began.

  • The father of Ken Greves was wounded by shrapnel inside these army barracks in Aldershot, England on May 31, 1940.

  • Ken Greves beside front line supply truck, Italy in May 1944. For days he remained pinned to this position while a battle waged.

  • A German Infantry Assault Badge obtained November 1943 while transporting German prisoners to Kiel, Germany. This medal was traded in return for two cigarettes provided by Ken Greves.

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"I was with the 41st General Transport Company in 1943. We supplied everything and anything, including bridges, for the front lines."

Transcript

My name's Ken Greves. I enlisted in Toronto. I was seventeen years old and my father lied and got me in saying I was eighteen. I joined the medical corps.... a 15 general hospital unit because there was no... other openings. They were all filled. And I went to Brampton on a cooking course for the army hospital. I opened up old Grace Hospital on Huron Street. They were going to tear it down but they made it into an army hospital and I was the first one in there and I had to sleep on the floor 'til the next day when everything came in. I didn't care too much for it so I asked to get transferred. And I got transferred to Stanley Barracks, waiting for an outfit to go overseas. In the meantime, my father joined and he ended up beating me over there. In Manchester, England - I went there - and when I was there my father got transferred from Epsom back to Aldershot. And on a Saturday afternoon a German plane got through and, by flying low they were able to get through to miss the radar and, they dropped a bomb on my dad's barracks in Aldershot and it blew him right out of the building - as the picture will show - and he was lucky that he didn't get killed. He was full of shrapnel though. They were taking shrapnel out of him even after the war. I was with the 41st General Transport Company in 1943. We supplied everything and anything, including bridges, for the front lines. And when we went up through Italy and I almost died twice in Italy. Once in Sicily I got... I was only there two days and I got malaria... almost died. Anyway, we got up through the leghorn and it was a real bad fight through Orotono and seeing that we were a front line service corps outfit, we transported everybody to the landing crafts. And we went across to France and we landed at Marseilles and from there we started transporting guys up through France. And our destination was the Netherlands and my father was stationed in Ghent. He was the Sergeant Major of the camp there in Ghent. And he went back to Canada in and around September but I had to stay in Europe and transport German prisoners back up to the Kiel, through the south of Hamburg. And two Germans wanted cigarettes - they could speak a little bit of English - and I didn't smoke but I had cigarettes sent over to me because I could barter with them for eggs and chickens and stuff. And I told them that, "What have they got to give for cigarettes?" And the one showed me a Nazi badge and I said, "Well, I'll give you two cigarettes for it." So he did. And another guy, I presumed he was either a rifleman or a sniper, and he wanted to trade his badge for two cigarettes so I said, "Fine." So I gave them both two cigarettes. And we transferred them up to the Kiel. Going through Hamburg, Germany, it was flat…
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