Veteran Stories:
William “Grumps” Britch

Army

  • William Britch in October 2009.

    Historica Canada
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"It’s odd that you meet a person and you knew that this person is someone you wanted to really get to know. It was the right thing. And 63 years later, I still think that that was a very good thing."

Transcript

It was war and in most cases, we veterans would just not remember some of the things that we saw, that we experienced because it was very difficult. While we were on Civvie Street [in civilian life], we heard about the war, but until you actually experienced and see it, you don’t really realize what it is. Yeah. We, we seen some horrific things that a lot of people, thank goodness, did not experience. After the war was over, there was an awful lot of us overseas waiting to come home that the shipping, most of it was down at the bottom of the Atlantic and the Pacific. They came up with a plan that you had to have 50 points in order to be considered for immediate re-pat home. I happened to have 49. So I was stuck in Europe for a while and we were being held at a little place called Ede, just out of Arnhem, and that’s where I met Carol. And eventually, a year later, we got married. Gorgeous. She was a very attractive, intelligent young woman that stood out in a crowd. Actually, we were looking for someone to take to a dance that the regiment was putting on for us, as entertainment, but we had to bring our dance partners. And that’s how we met. My wife, she taught me how to dance and we did quite well after a few trials and errors. At first, she didn’t acknowledge the fact that she knew English. But you know, being a soldier I guess, a joke slipped by that maybe was a little off colour and she coloured. And that’s when I realized she spoke English. And I, I told her that. And then she started laughing. And that’s how the ice was broken. We were together in Holland until the fall. We met in the spring and then I believe it was September that I was shipped back into Germany on a mission to join the occupational brigade, and then in the spring when that brigade was being broken up, I joined the Allied Control Commission and while serving with them, my papers came through that I had permission to get married and that’s when we got married, which would be in June of 1946. Well, I was very fortunate. As I said, I, my last assignment was because I had volunteered for it, I was a member of the Allied Control Commission. I was working for Colonel McPherson [G.W. McPherson, Member Canadian Military Mission, Berlin] and they made all the arrangements. Once I got married, they released me from my obligation, because I had volunteered for two years. But I was only with them for about four months when they felt that it’d be more to my interest to go back and start making a home for ourselves. And they made all the arrangements so that we came back to Canada together, on the same troop ship, and we were taken off the troop ship, she was taken off the wives train just before we got to Halifax. And we were put on a civilian train and we traveled across Canada in a compartment on a civilian train. It’s odd that you meet a person and you knew that this person is someone you wanted to really get to know. It was the right thing. And 63 years later, I still think that that was a very good thing.
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