Veteran Stories:
Robert Gurney

Army

  • Robert Gurney on leave. 1942.

  • Robert Gurney's Record of Service. 16 April 1948.

  • Robert Gurney's Soldier's Service and Pay Book. This book carried all of Mr. Gurney's personal information and he carried it with him at all times.

  • Photo of Regimental Guard taken in Newmarket, Ontario, in 1946. Robert Gurney is the in the centre.

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"When I landed in Normandy, we spent hours waterproofing this truck so it could go through the water."

Transcript

I joined the army when I was seventeen. I joined the Queen's York Rangers, and I was sent down for training up at Camp Borden. From Camp Borden I was shipped down to Niagara Falls for guard duty, because they had the power canal down there and we had to make sure nobody stole the water! I was down there for about a year and then I was shipped back up to Camp Borden for more training, and then I was sent overseas.

I was in England for about six to eight months, and then the invasions of Normandy started. I did land in Normandy but not on D-Day. It was some time in July, but hey, we were still just hanging on by our toenails. When I landed in Normandy, we spent hours waterproofing this truck so it could go through the water. They put us on this boat and took us over to the beaches of Normandy, and then they sent out these two LSTs (Landing Ship Tank) to take the trucks into the shore. Our truck was great – nothing the matter with it. The only thing is, the driver of the truck had the key in his pocket, and he was on another boat about a mile off shore. So they had to give us a complete dry landing. We didn't get our feet wet. That scared the pants off of us because it was quite lively over there at that time. Shellfire and stuff like that. We were all open and thinking, "Good God, I hope they don't hit this thing because it will go down like a rock.

The German army retreated and I was sent up to Le Havre. I was in Le Havre for a short time and I got thrown out of a jeep, and I was put in hospital for a couple months. I never did recover from the accident. I was sent back up to Holland, and from there I ended up down in Caen right after they'd finished bombing it. And the stench from that bombing and the bodies under the rubble, it comes back and haunts me, and still does to this day.

I was in a place called Ghent in Belgium. This was around Christmas time. The troops had decided to give our sugar ration to the kids because it was Christmas day. They had a big party for all these kids that lived around the barracks. Then we found out after we had the Christmas party for the kids, the Germans, before they left, they had a party for the kids. I thought that was funny.

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