Veteran Stories:
John Byron Stewart

Army

  • British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery inspecting troops.

    John Stewart
  • A photograph of John Stewart at a Memory Project event.

    John Stewart
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"We were sent to Chilliwack because those of us that joined up to go to the other war, in other words, what we called it, the Japanese, we joined up to go there. And when we got to Chilliwack, we were getting ready to get on a train to go down to the States, and it was over. So now it was over for us. So we couldn’t go anywhere."

Transcript

I was working in a hard rock mine, Copper Mountain, outside of Princeton [British Columbia]. And there were two or three of us went downtown one night and we decided that it was time that we, because we were all basically the same age, knowing that we were going to get called up when our birthday came, so we just did it ahead of time. And so we did. And then we were sent to a place called Jordan River, which is east of Sook on the island. We were out there on U-boat [Unterseeboot: German submarine] submarine patrol sort of thing, not a patrol, it was just like on lookout. We had, there were submarines around Vancouver Island at that time, so we were out there to, I don’t know what for, all we had was rifles, so we couldn’t hurt too many people. But we were there for quite a little while too. We were sent to a place called Tofino; have you ever heard of Tofino? Well, we were sent there, but I was on, fortunately or unfortunately, whichever, Alberni, between Port Alberni and Alberni, they had an army camp. And that’s where there were six of us put there to look after the luggage and the baggage, and what have you because there was no way we could get to Tofino from Port Alberni without, by boat. And consequently, they couldn’t get all the stuff on the boat at the same as the guys, so the guys that went, all their stuff was left behind. and we were on guard duty for it. And they never did, that didn’t go any further. They came back and we got on the train, and went back to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, where we were getting ready to go overseas. The war was just about finished and they knew it was finished, so we were sent to [Camp] Chilliwack [No. 112 Canadian Army (Basic) Training Centre]. [laughs] Kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? [laughs] Yeah, we were sent to Chilliwack because those of us that joined up to go to the other war, in other words, what we called it, the Japanese, we joined up to go there. And when we got to Chilliwack, we were getting ready to get on a train to go down to the States, and it was over. So now it was over for us. So we couldn’t go anywhere. We ended up joining up because we had to; otherwise we were going to get called up. So consequently, we received nothing out of it. I think the idea was when you did go in, you thought that you were going to go overseas and you were going to do this, and you were going to see that, and what have you. And none of us did. So there was quite a number that rejoined or volunteered, one or the other, to go to Korea to get that experience that we didn’t get in the Second World War, I think. I know I’ve, I haven’t convinced myself what was all that. There was a lot to do with no work and all that. But I think the big thing was the lack of what you were looking for when you went in in the Second World War. I really do.
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