"We used to get raids practically every night. The biggest raid we had was on January the 1st, 1945."
I joined up in… it was actually August the 18th, 1942, and I remember when I joined up, the next day there was a raid – Dieppe, in France – and the Sergeant there said, "You're lucky to have joined up. The war will be over very shortly."
I joined up, and I was there at Lachine for a while, training, and then I went over to a Canadian Air, Cartierville and got some other training, and then I went to St. Thomas, Ontario, for the training for air freight. And I was there until '43. Then I came back to Montreal. From there, I had to go to Halifax, and I wrote about ten letters to my mother, telling her that I am in Halifax, and they told me they were going to mail these letters every couple of days. Then I wrote my mother – I sent her a letter that I was already over in England.
The ship I went over was [RMS] Aquitania. The Aquitania was one of the largest ships at the time – four funnels – and we had ten thousand troops. A lot of Americans were on that ship. The food we got on the ship was twice a day: six o'clock in the morning, and five thirty or six o'clock in the evening.
We landed in Greenock in October 1943. We started to train to be able to go across the Channel. We didn't know where we were going to cross the Channel, but we were getting trained how to maneuver ourselves, and how to watch our equipment so we were able to land in France.
We landed in France the end of June 1944. From there, we were stationed at Bayeux and Caen, and from there we went right through all the different locations in northern France. From there, we were shipped to Brussels, and in fact, we were the first Canadians to land in Brussels, and they had my picture in the La Presse, which showed that this liberating business was ok. I was dancing with a very French Belgian girl. It all depends who you liberate.
From there we went to Eindhoven. Eindhoven was a large base for the Air Force. I think at that time, it was 139 Recce outfit that I was with. We used to get raids practically every night. The biggest raid we had was on January the 1st, 1945. About eighteen members of our base were killed. We had Spitfires at that time and we were servicing them, and when the raid of January the 1st, with ninety German planes – thirty, thirty and thirty – went over our airfield, they were strafing the whole airfield. I was lying beside one of my buddies, Williams, and he had seven bullet holes in his body.