Veteran Stories:
Robert Roth

Army

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"We didn’t like the idea of people killing people and that’s why most servicemen don’t talk about it today. They figure it’s a terrible way to solve their problems."

Transcript

I am Robert Roth, private in the army. I was born in Forestburg, Alberta in 1919. In early training, you had rifle training and a lot of shooting. That’s where I got my rifleman badges and expert rifleman. I drove the colonel around. I was a map reader too. And I took care of his clothes and made sure he got his food and a priest. He had to go different places and I had to drive him around too. I found this quite interesting.

Every night, buzz bombs came over and some were close and some were farther and you never expect, you don’t know where they’re going to land. At first, I couldn’t sleep on account of it but after a time, you get used to it. And in the morning, you’d find out where the buzz bombs landed, so we were glad when the bombing stopped and we went across the channel [English Channel] soon after that. And on the plane, you could see all the millions of bomb holes and all the damage that the bombs caused. So it’s kind of scary, you didn’t know what to expect. But you get used to it. It’s all the pit holes, you could see [where] thousands and thousands of bombs landed and then the buildings, churches, warehouses, just complete wrecks.

While we were in England, we went to London a few times. You met a few ladies, because they knew their way around... At the time, I think it would be kind of interesting but at the same time, we didn’t like the idea of people killing people and that’s why most servicemen don’t talk about it today. They figure it’s a terrible way to solve their problems.

When we crossed the Rhine River, we [were] held up there for a day. Well, they [Germans] blew a bridge out. So they [allied engineers] had to build a bridge. Then you wondered what’s going to happen after we get across the river. But it turned out alright. But I remember that because they expect trouble. We were getting pretty close to the Germans then. As we got into Germany at the last few weeks, and you seen the furnaces where they killed all the Jews, but otherwise, you don’t talk much about it.

And coming home on the [HMS] Queen Elizabeth was really lovely, compared to the one we went overseas with, that terrible ship, everybody got sick. It [the HMS Queen Elizabeth] was just like a passenger ship. It was really good meals and had beds to sleep in instead of hammocks. And good food. They had a canteen, you know, they get ice cream and chocolate bars and…Very lovely.

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