Veteran Stories:
Adalbert Augustin Robillard

Army

  • Adalbert Robillard (middle, back row) with fellow comrades on the shores of the Atlantic in Chebucto Head, Nova Scotia, April 1944.

    Adalbert Robillard
  • Adalbert Robillard (left) and his younger brother, René, also in the army, on leave at their parent's place in Ramore, Ontario, 1944.

    Adalbert Robillard
  • Adalbert Robillard (2nd from the left) stands with his cousins, brother and mother while on leave in Ramore, Ontario, 1944.

    Adalbert Robillard
  • Adalbert Robillard's Discharge Certificate issued by the Canadian Army on March 27, 1946 in Toronto, Ontario.

    Adalbert Robillard
  • Adalbert Robillard's service medals, War Medal (1939-45) and Canadian Volunteer Service Medal.

    Adalbert Robillard
Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"They were less disciplined; they got up when they liked, they were free to do as they wanted. I can't blame them, after having been prisoners for so many years."

Transcript

When you changed clothing, your civilian clothes were sent back to your parents. I remember, my mother had written to me because of how it affected her, receiving my civilian clothes. They gave us a bag, I don’t know what king of bag it was. You had to change your clothes, put on your military uniform and put your civvies in the bag, and they sent it home, to your parents. I was with my brother – I think we were leaving at that time. We were at the train station. My parents were there, and we left. They weren't the happiest of days. One or two more platoons [boarded] in Newfoundland, at Botwood; we patrolled here and there, 24 hours a day. We were monitoring the ocean in case a submarine approached the coast. I don’t recall the ship’s port, but the ship we sailed on was called the [RMS] Aquitania, or something like that. . We crossed the Atlantic. I remember, in the middle of the Atlantic, they gave us a small pocket lamp that we could attach to […], in case we were sunk by a submarine or something; it was for recovering our bodies, because you’d be dead after only five minutes in water that cold. That was in April. We arrived in Aldershot, England – the same training camp that my father had been posted to during World War I. That was etched into my memory. Then we went to Brighton, a small town in England, on the coast, along the Channel. It was around that time that the war ended. My brother was in Holland when it ended. Later, he came to meet me in England. For my part, Iwould have really like to have visited him in Holland, but that wasn't allowed, there weren’t enough ships for that, for a trip to Holland. Training is training – since the war was over, they didn’t quite know what to do with us. They had to keep us busy. We were at a depot, and from there it took a year to get back to Canada, a year before we returned. I did many things [in that time], I don’t remember precisely what anymore. Oh yes, a [film] studio contacted us – I remember, it was still the blackout, and we went to a studio to make a film. A lot of us were applauding. It was raining quite a bit, England is known for its rain. The title of the film was "Canadians at War," if I’m not mistaken. . I never saw it, but it was another thing that I enjoyed. There were quite a few of us. It was to show moviegoers the arrival of the Canadian soldiers in England. We had to bring something waterproof, since they made fake rain fall during the shooting of the film. It wasn't real rain, it was to show how rainy it was at times. It only took a day, just one day. We were paid to do it. They gave us money, but I can't remember how much. It wasn't a lot. Oh, we were always in uniform, those were the rules. It wasn't a military camp, but we had to follow orders. We had to get up at a specific hour in the morning, just like in the army, to show that discipline still existed. We could see – well, we weren't far from a place where [Canadian] prisoners of war were arriving. They were less disciplined; they got up when they liked, they were free to do as they wanted. I can't blame them, after having been prisoners for so many years. They weren't there for very long. They dispersed quickly, sent here and there. If a ship was available, then for sure they were the first to return to Canada.
Follow us