It was dark, and by this time, the Germans were a little bit slack on their job, not watching, they trusted, they didn’t expect anybody to run away. But we did.
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I experienced two grenade explosions, one on the ship going to Dieppe [, France; on the "raid" of August 19, 1942] and quite a few boys got killed from this grenade. I was lucky to just get a shrapnel through my mouth. I was able to just spit the shrapnel out of my mouth, but I had a big lip the rest of the time that, when I landed at Dieppe. We [The South Saskatchewan Regiment] landed Dieppe at 4:30 in the morning by the way, a little village called Pourville [-sur-Mer], about three miles south of Dieppe.
The Germans, by this time, they were all over the place and we never made it back. A lot of our boys were killed here and there, and got captured before 4:30 in the afternoon. So I became a prisoner of war and so too did a good many others, of the regiment, including the colonel [Lieutenant Colonel Charles Merritt, who would be decorated with the Victoria Cross for his actions at Dieppe]. By midnight, we all got loaded into freight boxcars, horse boxcars, you could smell all the horse smell and dirty; and a few boys died on the way going to Rouen [France]. So when we in Rouen overnight, then the next morning, the colonel was going around and checking to see how many men he had, could talk to and things like that. And by the afternoon, we were all loaded onto a Red Cross train heading for Germany.
I was wounded with the second grenade and I couldn’t lift my arm or move a finger, or anything. I had shrapnel on the whole side of my body. But I landed in the hospital in Germany and I got unloaded off the train and then we had to get on trucks to get to this hospital. I was in this hospital for 11 months.
[I was] sent to Stalag IX-C [located in Thuringia, Germany] . Immediately I got there, I got chained; they put chain on both arms, about a two foot chain hanging between your arms. I wasn’t there very long with these chains [shackles] because they was shipping guys out to go to work. I was in the salt [potassium] mine for about six months, I guess, something that way. I made a friend with an Englishman; and we decided we would both run away from that camp together. They had two shifts: day shift; night shift. So when the night shift came along, instead to go in for a shower, we just stood back; and it was dark, and by this time, the Germans were a little bit slack on their job, not watching, they trusted, they didn’t expect anybody to run away. But we did.
So I was on the go for three weeks, but my partner gave up on the way. We got captured by a single man, a German, in the afternoon while we were walking through the heavy bush in Germany. I noticed he picked up a stick and he himself was scared as hell; and I wasn’t scared because I see that all he had is a stick, so I figured we could knock him out and carry on. But nevertheless, I just said to my friend, George was his name, "George," I says, "let’s not stop for this one man with the stick." I said, "we could handle him pretty good." I says, "if he starts to hit us or something; and he tries to get us to go with him." So we didn’t, at least I didn’t; and I started to run. I says, "you run behind me;" I says, "as fast as you can." So I kept running and not looking back for maybe five minutes or so. And finally, I come to a big tree; and I went and swung my arm around the tree, just to see where he is. I didn’t see him. I thought, well, I’m going to carry on, so I carried on; and I figured he might catch up with me, and I’d wait for him. After I got myself to a distance, I laid down and covered myself with leaves and things like that. I stayed there and he never showed up; and I never seen the man since.
On and on until I come to one place I couldn’t find a bush and I was seen getting into a little bush. So then that’s how I got captured. And pretty soon, while I was in this little bush, I had covered myself, but when I woke up there, there was a couple guards on horseback, but they were civilians. They just told me to raus out of here, so they took me to a house and I know there was no chance there because they had guns and everything. They didn’t know who I was, they thought I was a Russian because they kept asking me and I wouldn’t say nothing, what I was. They took me to a house. And pretty soon, they called for the army to come and pick me up.