Veteran Stories:
John Springer

Army

  • Newspaper Clipping - Chattam Gazette, 1942-43, about John Springer and his 5 "Brothers" who served otherseas and returned safely.

    John Springer
  • John Springer training in Camp Sussex, New Brunswick, 1940.

    John Springer
  • Troop Movement Train in Sussex or Woodstock, New Brunswick.

    John Springer
  • Regimental Crest, North Shore, New Brunswick.

    John Springer
  • Kit Inspection.

    John Springer
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"But I think that’s where the Hitler Youth really came in to it. And they were like madmen. You couldn’t talk to them, you couldn’t reason with them."

Transcript

There were six brothers. We were all in the army. Everyone of us. I told my father, I joined up on a Sunday, I went home and told my dad and he says, I expected it but the only advice he gave me was to do as I was told and keep my nose clean and mind my own business and don’t follow or anything and you’ll get along fine. If I don’t, they’ll break your heart. Now you’re on your own. Well, I knew what it was all about anyway. I tried to get in 1939, after the war was declared, in December 1939. They weren’t recruiting then. They didn’t recruit for our outfit until July of 1940. I went up to Newcastle and tried to get in there and they told me all they wanted was truck drivers. My older brother got in first, he went in the 28th Field Battery. My other brother went in to the 28th Field Battery. Willy was in the ND, in the militia and then he was, he couldn’t get in because he had a medical problem but he went to Moncton and talked them into lettin’ him in. He got in the Carleton and York. And then I got in The North Shore. And the other brother got in and then the other brother as soon as he got old enough got in. But he tried to get in before he was old enough and they, they caught up. He even used my brother’s certificate to drag it in and they caught up with him. We landed in Juno Beach on D-Day. My job on D-Day was to go up the road and there’s a church on the left hand side about a mile and a half in. And I was supposed to knock the steeple off that church. But in the meantime, going up I met a fellow that I knew, he’d been wounded. So I stopped and bandaged him up a bit and sent him back. But before that, we land on D-Day and the first thing he told me, my young brother had been wounded, hit in the head and the leg. So I asked him where he was and they told me, so I sneaked over and saw him and they told him to get back to England and stay there. But he told me he’d be back and he did come back. That night, I met a French civilian and his, and his daughter. And I had to go see their home where they’d been bombed and the roof was off it. They kept insisting I go see where they lived. I said, where are you going to stay tonight, they said, right here. But I, I understood what they were saying in a way and they understood me a bit but not too much. Well, we didn’t, we didn’t have much food in D-Day. We carried our own food. We had hard tack and bully beef but we weren’t eating that day, we were too busy. We cooked our own food. When we, what we liberated was better but the other stuff, you could subsist on it but you wouldn’t want it. But we liberated food for ourselves. It was a hot, hot day and I had a cigarette and I was walking by and I saw him looking. So I said, would you like one? He said, yes. So I said, okay, and I gave him one. And he said, could I get some water somewhere? I said, you’ve got no water? He’d had a water bottle, he says, no, so I gave him mine and said, here, have a drink. So I gave him a drink and I got talking to him. And he was educated in England, and gone back home and they drafted in the army, he says, I’m just doing what I have to do. I says, I agree with that, you’re doing your job. That’s all there is to it. But he was worrying about what was going to happen to him, was he going to be able to write home and so on and he asked, where are you going. I says, well, I’ve got to send you back, but I says, you’ll be taken to a prisoner of war camp, I don’t know where or what but I says, you’ll be able to write home, because they don’t stop him writing home. I said, I don’t know how often but you’ll be able to. So he said, well, that’s good, I thought they wouldn’t let me. And somebody’d taken things, some things from him so I said, he lost a picture of his, of his girlfriend or his mother or somebody. And I said, do you know who it was? He says, no. Well, I says, I’ll find out. So I checked around and some fellows had taken his stuff so I made them give it all back. I don’t do that stuff. But he was quite a nice good fellow. And I’ve, I got hit during the, I think it was April the 25th. But it was, that was just shortly before the war was over. Just on the border of Holland and Germany, the Zuiderzee. But that was a bad battle. There were a lot of 88s and a lot of firing. They were desperate so they were doing everything they could. But I think that’s where the Hitler Youth really came in to it. And they were like madmen. You couldn’t talk to them, you couldn’t reason with them.
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