Veteran Stories:
Melbourne “Mel” Le Marquand

Army

  • Letter advising Melbourne Le Marquand that he has been awarded the Military Medal. Letter dated January 29th, 1945, five weeks following action in Bruuk, Holland, which led to the award.

    Melbourne Le Marquand
  • Description of events on December 19th and 20th, 1944 that led to award the Military Medal to Cpl Melbourne Le Marquand, page 1/2.

    Melbourne Le Marquand
  • Description of events on December 19th and 20th, 1944 that led to award the Military Medal to Cpl Melbourne Le Marquand, page 2/2.

    Melbourne Le Marquand
  • Portrait of Cpl Melbourne Le Marquand at age 24, several weeks prior to the Bruuk Battle in Holland in 1944.

    Melbourne Le Marquand
  • Canadian Army Discharge Certificate including summary of service and discharge to civilian life dated from January 9th, 1946.

    Melbourne Le Marquand
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"And I probably fired the only shot that was ever fired in Canada. There was a tramp steamer coming in one day and he wouldn’t answer the OP, no replies"

Transcript

I worked for a master gunner in Saint John, looking after two forts that were protecting the harbour of Saint John, heavy artillery, six inch and … And I probably fired the only shot that was ever fired in Canada. There was a tramp steamer coming in one day and he wouldn’t answer the OP, no replies, so they told us, said for me to take position on the gun and put a round in front of his bow. Which I did and he kept on coming. So they said, put another round through the rigging. You know what that means, the upper part of the ship. So I did. And he turned around and beat it out of there, never saw him again.

I went overseas, the draft, landed over there and I don’t remember how it worked out but I ended up in the infantry, the South Saskatchewan Regiment. I was a rifleman. I did a lot of shooting. I was a crack shot. My average was a 98, it was 100 on the range, so that’s pretty fair shooting.

I did whatever was necessary in the infantry, you know, night duties and guard duties and tangling with the Germans. Higher command wanted a German prisoner. And well, I got a hold of the guy with the Bren gun, which is a pretty fair instrument. I said, come on, we’ll go get a prisoner.

So we went out and shot one fellow that was running and he was going to shoot this second one and I says, I, I knocked the barrel of the gun to one side before he could pull the trigger. Burned my hand, the back of my hand was all burned from the barrel of the gun which gets red hot. And I got this prisoner and brought him in and he turned out to be a very good prisoner. He had been working for the high command and he had done something he shouldn’t have done and they sent him to the front line. Now, that was that. I was awarded the Military Medal for Bravery in the field for that action that I did that night.

If you weren’t going in on an attack, in the daytime, and you were holding a position, you slept in the daytime. Because you’d be up all night. There would be certain sentries up in the daytime, just keeping an eye on things, you see, but the main body would be sleeping. And, and then you were up all night, from dusk to dawn.

Oh, you weren’t in any barracks, this was out in the field, a hole in the ground. We’d dig a, I’ll tell you about one hole I made. I had an officer with me, his name was Fred Propp, a hell of a nice guy, he got killed eventually, but he was a prince of a fellow. And I was sergeant at that time and we moved into an area of buildings and there was a, a barn right close. But we got in, I decided to dig a, they called them a slit trench, you know. But it was, I dug it in the backyard and then I got a door off the barn and put on it and then I put a lot of ground on top of that. You understand what I’m doing? I’m making it bomb proof, bulletproof, shell proof, you see.

And they started to shell us, the Germans started to shell us and I, like a beetle, I was down that hole, covered up. And the officer was coming in and he couldn’t get in, I didn’t make it wide enough. And he got in, he struggled enough to get in and he said, “Sergeant, the next time you dig a slit trench for you and I, make the entrance bigger!”

You might just be on guard duty, see that they don’t sneak in on you. We did put raids at night. I didn’t like a daylight raid because … But I did a lot of night work, patrols, getting information. And this Lieutenant Prop and I did a lot of that together.

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