Veteran Stories:
Harvey L. Smyth

Army

  • Harvey Smyth (5th from left, back row) while he trained with the RCAF in 1943. Other trainee included men from all over Ontario and New Brunswick, Arizona, Wisconsin and Dover England.

  • A page from Harvey Smyth's wartime scrapbook that contains snapshots like these along with newspaper clippings, stories and poems. Mr. Smyth is in the centre photo, surrounded by photos of his friends

  • Cotton shaving kit bag Harvey Smyth used to store toiletries during his time in the service

  • Top row: Discharge pin flanked by Tank Corps Badges. Middle row: Dominion Marksman pins. Bottom row: Dog tags.

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"It was about six hours before they were able to get the ambulance out to our position"

Transcript

My name is Harvey Smyth, and I'm living in Thunder Bay. I joined the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps in June of 1942. I had training at the 102nd Training Centre here in what was then Fort William, at which time I suddenly realized that I was becoming an instructor, teaching bayonets, fighting, marching, parades, and all of the sort of thing you have to do when you're in the Armed Forces. I was then transferred to Camp Borden, just outside of Toronto, for training with the Armoured Corps. Unfortunately, in November of 1942, as a radio operator I was riding in the back of a covered jeep, and it suddenly went end over end and I went flying through the air as high up as the telephone wires, and I landed in a sitting position. I bounced and rolled about. I was unconscious so I didn't realize that I'd been badly hurt with a fractured pelvis, internal injuries, and the two batteries that operated the radio exploded around me, and I was covered with battery acid. It was about six hours before they were able to get the ambulance out to our position. As a result of that, I was no longer able to go overseas, and I was then doing some more training. It was then that I realized that this was going to be my stay with the Services, when suddenly one morning there was a call that came through on a vehicle of the RCAF [Royal Canadian Air Force] looking for people to become pilots. I thought to myself that I'd see if I could get that. Eventually I did, and I was in the RCAF. Later on, of course, the war began to disappear and I was up for discharge. All in all I didn't do a whole lot except train other people, and the result was I think possibly I survived the war because of the fact that I was not able to go overseas
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