Veteran Stories:
Charles Johnston

Army

  • Charles Johnston riding at the front of a tank down Ouellette Avenue in Windsor during the veterans parade for the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII.

  • Windsor-Essex county commemorated the 60th Anniversary of D-Day by giving this commemorative medal to all D-Day veterans in the county.

  • In 2005, Windsor Essex County commemorated the 60th Anniversary of the end of WWII by giving each veteran this special medal.

  • Charles Johnston waving the Canadian flag during 60th Anniversary celebrations. 2005.

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"The next thing I knew, June the 3rd, I boarded a ship for the Normandy invasion."

Transcript

My name is Charles Johnston. I was born in 1923, and in 1942 I was in the services. I joined the Royal Engineers. We did basic training in England, and then I was posted to a port operating company. Naturally, we would deal with ports. I was a train operator. We worked on London docks. We worked there for a while and then we were posted up to Liverpool. I did dock work up there – I operated one of those dockside cranes. Then we got posted to Stranraer, Scotland. We got posted to various things. We did a lot of military training and whatnot. The next thing I knew, June the 3rd, I boarded a ship for the Normandy invasion. D-Day was June the 6th. Our job was to unload the ships. Well, the ships were way out because there were no ports or anything there. They took us out in an assault craft and these 'ducks' (DUKW) came along the ship and we discharged the cargo from the ship to the 'ducks.' Later on, they brought the Mulberry Harbour in. After the Mulberry Harbour was all assembled we worked on that. Of course, Mulberry Harbour – it took in small stuff, but all the big stuff was laid out on ships. Later on, we moved up into Belgium. After the war London dockers went on strike, so my company was assigned to go back to Britain again. So we went back to Britain and they posted us on the docks. We loaded the cargo from ships on London docks. After the war, my company disbanded and I was posted to a railway unit. I was assigned to what they called a 'brakesman'. I had to learn how to assemble a train, and we took all this stuff to various storage sheds. Later on – I believe it was 1947 – I was discharged from the army and my parents decided to come back to Canada. I came back to Canada with them.
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