Veteran Stories:
Phil Neis

Army

  • Infantrymen of The Royal Winnipeg Rifles in Landing Craft Assault (LCAs) en route to land at Courseulles-sur-Mer, France, 6 June 1944. Mr. Neis was among the first assault wave in that sector on D-Day.

    Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-132651
    Restrictions on use: Nil
    Copyright: Expired

Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"I found that life back here was different than what we had been used to doing for the last five years or five and a half years."

Transcript

My name is Phil Neis. I served in the Canadian Army during World War II - France, Germany. Landed on D-Day on the first wave. I was artillery support to the Winnipeg Rifles. I spent the entire war there, until the capitulation. Probably one of the scariest parts of the whole bit was the original landing on D-Day with the first wave. None of us knew what we were running into. We didn't expect it would be very nice, but we were all pretty well greenhorns going in. Believe me, we got experience in a hurry when we hit the beach and they started firing at us. We didn't know anything about what was happening until we got better established in France. That was a few days - on D+2, actually. I found out how fortunate I was and how lucky I was, because one of my men was wounded, and I couldn't get him taken care of on the front lines, because the medical officers had all been wounded too. So I had to go back to the gun position with this wounded gunner. And when I got back there, shortly afterwards, we were told that a lot of the Winnipeg Rifles had been captured and executed. That was the people I had been working with ten or fifteen minutes earlier. We had several occasions, particularly when we crossed the Rhine River again. We had to go across on bridges under cover of darkness. I was going across on my motorcycle on the bridge where the tanks went. We had no casualties going across the bridge, it was after we got across when we ran into a few problems in Germany. I found that life back here was different than what we had been used to doing for the last five years or five and a half years. It was considerably different than what we had learned over there. I found it just a little on the difficult side to get re-established and get back feeling into civilian life sort of thing. I started working with the youth organizations in those days. The youngsters around the home town wanted something to do besides hang out at the pool halls, so I formed a cadet corps for them. Ever since that, whether I've been in the forces or out of it, I've tried to be involved with the youth organizations as much as possible.
Follow us