Veteran Stories:
Nelson C. Hillborn

Army

  • Nelson C. Hillborn in 1939 as part of the Thames Valley Militia. Mr. Hillborn served in the reserves from July 8, 1939 to May 20, 1941. He was in active service from May 21, 1941 to January 8, 1946.

  • Mr. Hillborn's driving permit, issued in 1941, that allowed him to drive a Bren Gun Carrier

  • Mr. Hillborn received these landing instructions before arriving at the beaches of Normandy

  • Soldiers from the Galt, Cambridge Ontario, in 1942

  • Mr. Hillborn at the London Memory Project Roadshow holding a photograph of his reserve unit, the Highland Light Infantry in 1940

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"Well, I was mistaken. They did, but they wanted a last kick at the kitty, and they knocked me off my bike with their halftrack and left me laying on the side of the road."

Transcript

My name is Nelson Hillborn and I'm known as Nels, and I joined the Highland Light Infantry of Canada Militia in May of 1939 at the age of fifteen. I received my militia training with D Company of the Highland Light Infantry in Preston, Ontario. The rest of the companies were stationed out of the armouries in Galt, Ontario, which are now amalgamated into Cambridge. We had all kinds of training there – rifle, bayonet, close-quarter training and sniper training.

I joined the regiment in 1941 at the age of seventeen. I lied about my age, of course, and I feel my militia training played a large part in being accepted for active service. I was sent to the regiment in Debert, Nova Scotia as full-time, and went overseas with them to Scotland and England in July of 1941.

We landed in France in support of the 9th Scottish Infantry Brigade, and I was wounded in Buron on July the 8th (1944). Along with me being injured, I lost seven of my crew who were killed. I rejoined the regiment after three weeks of convalescence. I was pretty shook up, naturally. I met the regiment again and I fought through France, Belgium and Holland, and crossed the Rhine River and was wounded again on March the 4th 1945. I was placed on dispatch because that was pretty well the end of the war. The Germans were coming in to surrender on the road to Wesseln in Germany. So therefore there was no room or need for three inch mortars, and they put me on dispatch riding because I had rode bikes before in England. While I was on the way with a dispatch and going to Wessel in Germany, an all terrain vehicle – I think they called it a halftrack – a German halftrack nosed out on to the highway, and I saw maybe four or five Germans standing up in it. I figured they were coming back on to the main highway to go back and surrender. Well, I was mistaken. They did, but they wanted a last kick at the kitty, and they knocked me off my bike with their halftrack and left me laying on the side of the road. The Germans – at least the Tommys – came down the road. They were looking for wounded and they found me at the side of the road. To make a long story short, they got me back to Eindhoven and I was flown back to Berkshire, England, into hospital. I was a little upset because this was on May the 4th when I got wounded, right at the end of the war, and after I got back from Berkshire hospital, the regiment was embarking to come back to Canada and I wasn't with them, and that was the worst part of the trip.

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