"I was never afraid until after I realized how close I came to dying, and that kind of made me leery."
My name is Fred W. Todd. I was conscripted, as you say, because I was turned down by the Air Force, and my company kept me out for a while. But, eventually, I went to training at Peterborough, and then went to Camp Borden. I was put into Sergeant training school, and I passed as a first class Sergeant, but I never got to act as it.
The first battle I was in was the battle of Buron. We were issued a shovel and a bandelier of ammunition. At the dawn, we advanced towards Buron. Over on the right of us was an artillery unit of Germans, and they were peppering us. Some of us... we got a chance, and I moved over to a field and there was a small slit trench there. Some of my comrades couldn't find any place to go, so they lay down beside me in the field. Well, these snipers, they could lift the top of their sniper place - lower it - so the people could pass by and they wouldn't see them there. Well, when I was in this little slit trench, I thought: "Gee, it's not deep enough, so I'll get up and try to make it deeper." So I edged up with my shovel behind my head, and as I did, the sniper from behind "tinked" one off my shovel. Then I got down in there, and he must have given up on me because he never fired again.
Another incident was a black chap I used to chum around with occasionally. And he drove the water wagon. And one day he was coming back from... you take water up to the troops, you see, and then you come back. Well, on the way back - there were seven of our men, and they were pinned down by three machine gunners in a nest, you see. And never doubted for a minute what he'd do. He took out his bren gun, and he walked right in and cleaned out that nest, and saved the lives of seven men. I don't recall him ever being mentioned.
I weathered the storm, I wasn't afraid. I was never afraid until after I realized how close I came to dying, and that kind of made me leery. But I lasted the rest of the war, and then my company got me out early with a few other fellows.