Veteran Stories:
Delmar Vanderburgh

Army

  • A German 6th Paratroop division belt buckle. The German Paratroops were well trained and well equipped front-line soldiers. This buckle was taken from a prisoner of the Hochwald Forest battle

  • A wooden bullet used by the German Army in 1945. They may have been used as tracer bullets, but the exact reason for their use is unclear

  • Discharge certificate, outlining overseas service and decorations. Vanderburgh served in the Canadian Armed Forces in the UK and Continental Europe from 1942-1946.

  • Enrolment Certificate of the Militia Act of the National Resources Mobilization Act of 1940. Vanderburgh spent his thirty day militia service at North Bay, Ontario. Future soldiers were trained with obsolete weapons such as WWI British Rifles

  • Del Vanderburgh in Almeb, Holland. June 1945, one month after the end of the war. Vanderburgh spent three months in Holland with the Lincoln and Welland Regiment, waiting to return to Canada

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"We had no knowledge of how heavily held this areas was to be, but we soon found out"

Transcript

My name is Del Vanderburgh. I joined the army in 1942 in London, Ontario at number 1 Military [Manning] Depot. I did my basic training in Kitchener and from there I went to Nova Scotia for advanced training. And I went there as [Royal Canadian] Artillery. They were making up a heavy Ack-Ack... anti-aircraft, if you want to use that term, in Nova Scotia, at that time. And from there we went to Cape Breton Island at Sidney and our new guns, three point sevens, were waiting for us. That's heavy Ack-Ack guns and also munitions and everything were there waiting for us when we arrived and we set up our gun sites. And I was there from '42 up until the spring of '43 when I was picked, along with several others, to go to Barryfield in Ontario for radar training as operator. This was something new at that time. In fact they had a different name for it even, then it was radio directional finders, but, it was later turned to radar. From there I went back to Nova Scotia to the 18th Heavy Ack-Ack-Battery in Halifax. We were on a special course and in charge of this was a Major Hallum. He had been in... in command of heavy Ack-Ack in London, England during the Blitz. So he really knew his stuff. He knew everything about it. And we really turned into a pretty good radar crew when we were finished with him. Then we were sent over to England as reinforcements for the Canadian Army which had lost so many people in their infantry regiments. About a week after we arrived in England, we were all taken out of whatever unit we might have belonged to before and we were all assigned to infantry regiments to be sent over to Belgium. We flew from England in Dakotas, flown by American Air Force personnel and we had English officers with us. There was twenty-eight of us to each plane and there was twenty-eight planes in the flight I went across in. And we were landing on emergency landing strips in Brule in Belgium. And from there we took a short train ride to Gent in Belgium and we were put in the Leopold Barracks. That's an old-fashioned military establishment in Belgium. And at that time the war had entered into the Hochwald forest up in Germany. It was part of the old Siegfried Line, the original fortification that the Germans had built to counter the Maginot Line in France. When I got up there, that was my first taste of actual combat and I got a real indoctrination, I can tell you that. We had pretty heavy losses in there but, we finally wound up at our objective at a place called Vene close to the Rhine River. This is a place where I saw what could happen even to tanks. There were several tanks where I was that had been hit by artillery fire and also by Panzerfaus, hand-held anti-tank weapons. So I got a good taste of warfare in that short time that I was up there. We had no knowledge of how heavily held this areas was to be, but we soon found out.
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