Veteran Stories:
Sylvio “JC Ross” Ross

Army

  • Military parade near the University of Montreal in 1943. That picture was taken by Mr. Ross' brother who screamed his name and Sylvio turned his head towards the camera.

    Sylvio Ross
  • Sylvio Ross (on the left) visiting his brother in Montreal. 1943.

    Sylvio Ross
  • Sylvio Ross (second from left) and his men at Petawawa military base. 1943.

    Sylvio Ross
  • Mr. Sylvio Ross (2010).

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"In these groups, your platoon, you know everybody, they’re like brothers. We helped each other."

Transcript

I went to visit my brother in Montréal. I was working at the United Shipyard. I visited my brother – I lived on Sherbrooke Street, he was living on Plessis Street. I went to visit him, and he told me that somebody had come to his house, and that they were looking for me to join the army. I said “really?” and he said, “Really – you have to go check it out.” I asked where I’d have to go, and he gave me an address – I think it was Sherbrooke street, I’m not certain – and I went to report to the person who had come looking for me. He didn’t know anything about it – I wasn’t on his list. I told him that I was there to report, that my brother told me someone had come looking for me. He told me fine, give us your number, give us your name…and I filled out my name and my address, and signed the form. He said that I could report at Longueuil, along with some others, but if I signed the form I could go to Sherbrooke, or to Saint-Jérôme – Longueuil, report to Longueuil.

I didn’t have a problem with that, so that’s where I reported. They gave me a date – I think it was the next day, or maybe the day after that. I went the next morning and reported at Longueuil. Once I was there, it was pretty much the same as…I kept…From Longueuil, I want to Saint-Jérôme, and from Saint-Jérôme I went to [CFB] Petawawa. It was advanced training there. We did a week of pack drill [drill in full kit], We marched and slept outdoors. We dug trenches and we slept in them under canvases. We did a week of that. Then I developed sinusitis; they kept me for treatment, and finally I had to be operated on. That’s what ruined my career as a soldier. They operated on me at the Queen Mary hospital, I had to go down there I received four surgeries for my sinusitis.

We had to train with gases: chlorine gas, and another one, I’m not quite sure – OC gas [pepper spray] or something like that. We underwent at least three different tests like that. During one of our tests or attacks that we underwent at night, I was so tired that I collapsed. They found me during the night suffocating. It was the others who took care of me; they cleaned me up and put on my gas mask. We had a gas mask, we were supposed to put it on, but I hadn’t. It was the sergeant who took care of me. They told me the next morning that if it hadn’t been for the sergeant, I would be dead. I still have sinus after-effects from the incident, an inflammation that stayed with me and that I’ll have for the rest of my days.

I think that’s what killed my chances of going overseas. I wasn’t sent overseas because of that. It affected me – it affected me because of the friends that I’d made, I wanted… It becomes like a family. In these groups, your platoon, you know everybody, they’re like brothers. We helped each other. We wouldn’t have let someone leave without boots. We would have given him shoes. We made sure that everybody was alright, that their harnesses were on correctly, that there were no buckles missing. we looked out for one another, we worked together. What happened is that I stayed behind, and they left. I joined another group and then they left for Europe as well. I went to see the Captain to ask what was going on. He told me that they’d send me when they were done with me, but that there was so much work to do at the moment. The parcel post was bogged down with packages in Ottawa. All of Canada was sending packages overseas and they all went through Ottawa. It was completely jammed; there were wagons and trainloads filled with parcels for overseas, all jammed.. We set up sorting tables and they sent us out into it. […] Once the pile had diminished, and we could kind of see things, the Captain called me. I’d gotten married in the meantime, and he asked if my wife was still in Montréal. I said that she was, and he wondered whether it would be a help for me to be transferred to Montréal, since they needed a postal sorter at the Place d’Armes.

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