Veteran Stories:
Ron Searle

Army

  • Ron Searle (far right, mid row) and the Toronto Scottish Regiment mount the King's Guard at Buckingham Palace on April 26th, 1940 while the King and Queen of England observe

  • Ron Searle (center row end) and the 15 Platoon Toronto Scottish Regiment marching at the Tourney Barracks in Aldershot England in 1939

  • Ron Searle standing in front of renowned race car driver Sir Malcolm Campbell's home in Eastbourne, Sussex in 1941. TheToronto Scottish Regiment were billeted at this home for six months while serving overseas.

  • Ron Searle's portrait upon his return to Canada in 1945 after serving with the 15th Platoon in the Toronto Scottish Regiment overseas.

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"So I'm lying on the stretcher, and looking up at the sky, and there's air burst shells, you know, bursting above us, and the shrapnel's coming down."

Transcript

My name is Ron Searle - that's S-E-A-R-L-E. I was Sergeant... at one time Acting Sergeant Major with the Toronto Scottish Regiment, who were of course through most of the war, a support battalion - machine guns and 4.2 mortars. I joined the militia and the Toronto Scottish in 1936, and volunteered for overseas service in early September, 1939, just a couple of days after the outbreak of the war.

I went overseas with the Scottish in the first contingent. And we sailed from Halifax on, lets see, the 10th of December, 1939, and we landed in Gourock Scotland as the first Canadian regiment to land in the UK on December the 18th, 1939. We were on the SS Empress of Australia. We were greeted by Sir Anthony Eden who at that time was Minister of the Commonwealth. He shook the hands of every one of our regiment as we walked down the gang plank. We had a wonderful reception.

The regiment went to the continent after D-Day, on about July... July the 5th. We went over with the 2nd Division. And then, of course, we served through Normandy and for the balance of the war in northwest Europe. Unfortunately, I was wounded too early in the game at [La] Verriére, on July the 19th, which also happens to be my birthday.

My company was just about ready to... to advance, to take up motor positions. And I was giving instructions to one of our section commanders standing on the edge of the carrier, and talking to him. And the Germans had left behind some snipers with light machine guns... you know, well hidden, camouflaged. Anyway, one of them zeroed in on me and I got three bullets in my right leg. Now, when you first get shot like that, there's no agony, it's just a sense of shock. You don't feel it at all. So, I did what seemed to have been a very brave thing, but really wasn't anything. And I instructed a couple of new recruits we had how to apply bandages to my leg. And then they put me on a stretcther, and the French Resistance were driving jeeps with stretchers on them - two at the top, and two on the bottom. And because my wound wasn't critical, they put put me on one of the top stretchers. So I'm lying on the stretcher, and looking up at the sky, and there's air burst shells, you know, bursting above us, and the shrapnel's coming down. And I've got my tin helmet. So I've got two choices where I can put my tin helmet: over my face, or over more important parts of my body (laughing). And guess where I put it.

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