Veteran Stories:
Donald Smith

Army

  • Photo taken at Groningen,the Netherlands

  • Part-time jeep driver

  • 1st Hussars shoulder patch

  • Basic training in Orillia.

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"We went on my twentieth birthday to join the 1st Hussars and the other Canadian Regiments in the liberation of Holland…"

Transcript

My name is Donald Smith. I served with the 1st Hussars [6th Armoured] Regiment from London, Ontario. I was a loader/operator in a Sherman tank, and served in Europe in World War II. A loader/operator in a tank does just what the name implies - I loaded the big gun for the gunner, and operated the radio in the tank to communicate with the other tanks in our troop, squadron, and Regiment. My military career really started while attending Central Technical School in Toronto. I was a member of the cadet corps, and discovered that I liked the discipline - the marching and drill. And from school cadets, it was to the 2nd Reserve Field Par Company, Royal Canadian Engineers at Fort York Armouries, where we met on Friday nights. After a couple of years of reserve training, I went active on August the 23rd, 1943, but not in the Engineers. It seemed I was destined for a tank regiment. My first active army barracks was a stall in a horse palace at the Exhibition grounds in Toronto, but not for too long. I did my basic training at the Orillia basic training camp in Ontario. From Orillia to Camp Borden, where we got to ride in old ram tanks, shoot the six-pounder tank gun, machine guns, pistols, rifles, and the worst thing of all - gas mask training, with tear gas. I was chosen to teach gunnery, but when all my buddies were set to leave overseas, I got out of the teaching and soon was on my way overseas too. I received more training in England on the Sherman tank, and then across the Channel we went on my twentieth birthday to join the 1st Hussars and the other Canadian Regiments in the liberation of Holland, and then into Germany, where we were when the War ended, May the 5th, 1945.
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