Veteran Stories:
John Clifford “Cliff” Scott

Army

  • Royal Canadian Artillery trainees familiarizing themselves with a 3.7" Heavy Anti-Aircraft Gun, Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia, 1945.

    Cliff Scott
  • The SS Louis Pasteur, swarming with returning Canadian soldiers, in Halifax Harbour, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1945.

    Cliff Scott
  • Royal Canadian Artillery trainees working on a 3.7" Heavy Anti-Aircraft Gun, Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia, 1945.

    Cliff Scott
  • Gunner John Clifford Scott, 1945.

    Cliff Scott
  • The SS Louis Pasteur docking in Halifax Harbour, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1945.

    Cliff Scott
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"They also told us at that time that they knew they were losing as many men to venereal disease as they were to the rifle"

Transcript

As a child, I was overweight and being overweight, I did not excel at sports. So when I started to work, I worked very hard physically and as a 17 year old or 18 year old, I was working very hard physically. So that when the army call came along, I was very self-conscious and I was concerned as to whether I would be able to do what would be expected of me. Basic training consisted of just general conditioning and gas drill; and also we fired Thompson submachine guns, we fired Sten [light machine] guns, we threw hand grenades. One of the great things about going through the basic training and the advanced training is I found that I was able to keep up to anyone that was there; and I was equal to them and this enabled me to develop a high degree of self-confidence. I remember the beginning of the training is they assembled us into a room very informally; and they told us then, this would be November of 1944, and they told us that the war had been going on for some time and that since D-Day, they had learned a lot about things that they had been doing wrong; and what they did is they told us that we know that we have a number of guys over in Europe that are very good with an automatic weapon, but they are not a good shot with the rifle. So they told us that we would spend more time with our rifle and we would not shoot .22s [long rifle], we’d go straight to the .303 [British rifle]; and that would be the principle of our training was to be able to master the shooting of the .303. They also told us at that time that they knew they were losing as many men to venereal disease [sexually transmitted disease] as they were to the rifle and for every hour we would spend training on the rifle, we would spend an hour learning about venereal disease. Then we took the advanced training on the [Bofors] 40 mm [anti-aircraft autocannon]; and at about that time, it was in the spring of 1945, and I had embarkation leave and I was home for that. The Sunday before May eighth, I was on embarkation leave. My mother and I were in church and before, when we’d come to the sermon (I was part of St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Willard Avenue in Toronto), before we’d come to the sermon, the minister used to announce from the pulpit the wounded in action, the missing in action and the killed in action. When he came to the killed in action, the first name he mentioned was a boyfriend I’d gone to school with. I’d been in his home. I had gone all through school with him. The second one, I had gone through school with, I knew him; and the third one, I knew him. And that gave me a tremendous shock. I had no idea. That brought the war to me personally. And then the next time was when I had a son that was 19 years of age and I thought back to those guys that were dead in 1944; and all that had happened to me from the time up until I had a son. And what has motivated me is that knowing this and also having a general knowledge of the war and that, this is one of the reasons why I do speak to high school students because I spent my high school days during the war at school. And I realized that my generation grew into military age and my generation paid a terrible price because we were involved in the war at a time when the war became very fierce and there was a greater loss of life during that time. There was a loss of life during D-Day, but there was a greater loss of life during the hectic fighting that took place just before the end of the war. All my whole life, it’s been a continual learning experience of that war.
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