Veteran Stories:
Robert Wight

Army

  • Robert Wight's admission token from the Farnbourough Air Show, October 1945

  • Robert Wight's Canadian Highland Light Infantry Badge

  • Robert Wight in Air Force uniform before enlisting in the Army, 1942

  • Robert Wight's Record of Service, February 1946

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"People always ask, Were you frightened?" Absolutely. What saved us? Praying to God. And that's the truth""

Transcript

My name is Bob Wight. I served in World War II. On going to England and being sent over to Normandy, France because of huge casualties in the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, I joined them. I went as a lieutenant to Belgium, along with two other Canadian officers. The second night, I was told to go back to get reinforcement men, which I did with a truck. On the return to my battalion, we were met by an ambulance Jeep. And to my horror, lying in the ambulance Jeep was a friend I'd come up with two nights before. Died, of course.

Woensdrecht was a key town in Holland because it was at the end of what they called the South Beveland Peninsula and was occupied by thousands of Germans with huge guns which they could fire across the Scheldt River. Now the Scheldt River led into the Antwerp Harbour. Antwerp is the only really big port in that area, at that time. And it was essential that Woensdrecht was liberated in order that the supplies of men, ammunition, medicine and so on be run in. I was brought in and told that after midnight, I had to go out in the dead of night with 50 men and clear a path through the mine field. And lay white tape on either side like a white marking on the highways in Canada, which would allow infantrymen to go out through there and miss the mines and also tanks to do the same thing. So this was all done. When we got into Woensdrecht there were about 400 Canadian infantrymen and we understood from the intelligence that there were over 2,000 German SS paratroopers. The best that you could get. We got into town and I was then ordered to go to the eastern end of the battalion and fix up a defensive house in order to protect the left flank of our battalion. We did that fine until we found that the house cellar, had been occupied by German soldiers and was full of fleas. We then attempted to run across the road and we got halfway across when a shell hit. And, to my surprise, half a butchered pig was thrown from one of my men's arms into the ditch. He had gotten a hold of a pig and when the shell came down, we lost the pig.

We got into the house across the road and one of the first things that happened over there... it was a defended house but we made sure it was even more defended. Looking out of the window one morning, I saw a man leaning around the corner of a house up on the hill. There was a crack, obviously a rifle shot and he dropped dead. Down we went. But first we saw a house that had been hit by shells. The windows were all out. In we went, ready to take some German prisoners. There were no Germans there. There was a man and his wife, two little kids and a baby, sitting at the table; the baby in a highchair, all dead. And we surmised it must be the tremendous shock of a German shell that had killed them all. People always ask, "Were you frightened?" Absolutely. What saved us? Praying to God. And that's the truth.

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