Ghent, Belgium in April, 1945. George Robinson learned of the history of some of these buildings, where people had been tortured. "It was not a very nice sight," he notes.George Robinson
George Robinson, seen in the far left of the photo, with a family in Ghent, Belgium.
After liberating Ghent and surrounding area in April, 1945, George Robinson and his unit were given five days' rest. "The people took us in and we were treated with utmost feelings of generostiy and appreciation for their freedom."
A telegram addressed to George Robinson's mother, informing her that he had been wounded in action, April, 1945.George Robinson
George Robinson's Discharge Certificate,issued June 27, 1946.George Robinson
Mr. George Robinson's service medals from the Second World War.George Robinson
"My sergeant went to his company major and said that I should be recommended for the Military Medal. And I told my sergeant, I said, 'the medal, it isn’t only for me; it’s for nine other men.'"
I was moved on to the southern coast of England. I spent some time there and all of a sudden, we got a call that we were going to France. And that was about 10 days after D-Day [the Allied Normandy landings of June 6, 1944].
As I walked over that sand, it was quite a thing. In my life, I couldn’t believe that anybody got over that sand to the shore without some sort of an injury. That was the worst thing I could ever, I’ll ever feel, I’ll never be able to think of. I’ll never be able to get rid of that thought. It was so, so awful.
I want to The Highland Light Infantry [of Canada] from there. I was allotted to, let’s see, I was allotted to The Highland Light Infantry; and I was placed in Company "C" and I went to Platoon C. Well, my friend, one of my soldier friends and I, we were digging out. We came to this spot and we were relegated to different areas. And we were both digging into this field and, would you believe it, we dug into a place where [there were] shells from 1914 [First World War]. We dug into those ditches, 1914; couldn’t believe it.
We then invaded the Falaise Gap and we got in there, they were all gone, most of all the Germans were gone, but there was a mess in there. There was bodies laying all over the place and there was horses laying here, horses laying there. Not a very nice scene. We were, as we were, I was eating, I had a sandwich in my hand and then a great big gray horse came walking up to me and stood beside, up, and I offered him a piece of my sandwich and he ate it. And I didn’t get rid of him for about two days. Wherever I went, he was with me. It was so funny.
So when we left the place, we started out down this road and there was tanks and that’s where … Anyway, he’s [the horse] coming right beside our platoon. He wouldn’t go away. I tried to shoo him away. But anyway, it happened that we were along the road and this French lady come out and it was raining, and we were all wet. And she come out and she had a bottle of booze, cognac. No, Calvados [Norman apple brandy], that was her homebrew. And anyway, when she came along, and I said to her, "would you like the horse, like a horse," and she said "yes." So that’s when I got rid of the horse. About ten minutes later, the steam was coming off us. It was pretty potent stuff.
You heard of the shooting of one’s self in the foot. Well, basically, that’s what I did cleaning my Sten Gun one morning while sitting in the dugout, which is quite small. These damn guns were not very safe. If you happened to strike the trigger accidentally, it would fire automatically. Military police came and had a meeting with me; and asked me many questions and that sort of thing. I answered them all. Yeah, my people back in my battalion, my platoon, they all swore up and down that that wasn’t, I had no reason to try and get myself away from the front line. And my corporal voted for me and when I got to this place for the, they put you in prison sort of thing, I went through a bunch of meetings; and finally it was a lieutenant came up from our company and he vowed for me that I was not that type of person. I told them at that time, I said, well, you can take me out of here right now and send me back to my company, that’s where I want to be, with my guys. So that sort of fixed that up.
Anyway, I went back to my company and they had promoted me to a lance corporal at that point. I didn’t know about it until then. And I felt really good about it because I was… Well, I just knew I didn’t do it on purpose because that wasn’t my makeup.
We had some new people come over, come into our company; and one of the corporals, his name was Walt Reid, he was from Hamilton [Ontario]. He and I were like brothers. We took these people out into the bush to teach them how to use this gun. They had the instructions. Well, the guy that he had didn’t do the thing right and what he did wrong was he killed my friend. And from there, it was sort of, changed my feeling towards the new people that came in. But not seriously, I just had it in my mind.
From that particular place of Roosendaal [The Netherlands], we captured about 18 or 20 German soldiers in that one area. And then one morning, about 3:00 in the morning, I decided that’s enough of this, sitting in this trench, so I told my fellows what I was going to do. So I took a grenade and I walked along this trench. It was muddy in there and I had to be very careful because your feet will make noise. I got through almost to the opening of that big, you know that big place where the guys would go in there and stay out of the rain. I pulled the pin on the grenade; and I ran up, and threw it in where the gun was. It was a smoke grenade. It wasn’t going to kill anybody, but it sure upset them. And they come pouring out of that thing like you wouldn’t believe. I just barely got out of the road.
We took the whole woods and they all surrendered; and within two hours after that, there was just miles and miles of vehicles coming in from Antwerp [Belgium] loaded with supplies. And I want to emphasize on that. We, I’m not trying to make a big soldier out of myself, but I sort of felt deserted after my sergeant went to his company major and said that I should be recommended for the Military Medal. And I told my sergeant, I said, "the medal, it isn’t only for me; it’s for nine other men." And that’s all I ever heard of it. Never heard anymore, because that was the most, that route was actually the beginning, as far as I can make out, was the beginning of the end of the Germans in Holland.