Veteran Stories:
Alfred William “Wild Bill” Ellner

Army

  • Four Generations (L-R); David Charles Bruce Ellner, Jeffrey Bryan Robert Adderley, Alfred William Ellner, Graham Arnold Adderley

    Bill Ellner
  • Alfred Ellner's Soldiers Pay Book, Sept 1943- Jan 1944

    Bill Ellner
  • Record of Payments in Alfred Ellner's Soldiers Pay book, February 1944

    Bill Ellner
  • (L-R) 1939-45 Star; The France and Germany Star; The Defence Medal; Volunteer Service Medal; War Medal 1939-45

    Bill Ellner
  • Alfred Ellner with unknown Dutch admirer at the 50th Anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands, Holland 1995

    Bill Ellner
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"You don’t stop for anything. When we get off the, onto the land, if your buddies fall down in front of you, you just leave them, you have to tread right over them."

Transcript

Oh, I started with the signal corps [Royal Canadian Corps of Signals] because I had a lot of experience like three years with CP telegraphs [Canadian Pacific Railway Telegraphs]. So that gave me a good introduction. Went to Niagara on the Lake [Ontario] for training for two years. That was their headquarters. I thought I was dreaming. I thought, geez, I thought an army can’t be like that. Every weekend, we could go to Ottawa [Ontario] by train and also, when I was there, the young girls, they put dances on every Saturday night and a girl came and asked me for a dance. And then the second one asked me and she says, do you know who you’re dancing with. I said, no, but I know her name, Mary Ellen Batton. And she says, well, Mary Ellen Batton was Miss Canada. So we became friends and every Saturday night, we used to meet. Then one time, she says, we’re not going dancing tonight, my mother’s asked me to bring you home and have dinner with us, which I did. I went to dinner but when I went back to my barracks, the sergeant says, Bill, you’ve got two hours to pack, we’re leaving. So I never ever saw her again after that.

I went over on D-Day [allied forces Normandy, France landing, 6 June 1944] and we were on tanks and we were half a mile off of our proper destination and we were stuck there for a day, probably almost two days. We were on the rocks, we didn’t know whether the Germans were going to come over and strafe [attack on ground targets from low-flying airplanes] us or what was going to happen. We couldn’t see very much because we were all alone. But we did get off alright of that, but we joined our unit some time after that, maybe three or four days after that.

You don’t stop for anything. When we get off the, onto the land, if your buddies fall down in front of you, you just leave them, you have to tread right over them. When we first landed, we went over a hill and it was about a foot of mud on the road and an old lady crossed in front of our tank and of course, we head to run over. But your job was, in fact, that although I wasn’t an officer, I was in charge of going out and when the Germans had lines or we had lines set out, they would come in at night and cut the wires and we had to then go out and find out why the phones weren’t working. That wasn’t a very good day.

One place we were strafed by a German fighter plane and I stopped the truck and told everybody to jump out because he’s gone and he might be coming back. And we could see the bullet thing right beside our truck. That wasn’t very, that was a close call.

I was in Falaise Gap [France, major battle from 12-21 August 1944 where allied forces encircled the German armies]. That was where the Germans, we had them trapped and the British and the Americans were chasing Germans but the Falaise Gap was very narrow and they couldn’t get out. But we as Canadians were at the front of it so there was a lot of people killed there.

We went through Caen [France] to get there first and the Germans took it and then we finally took Caen ourselves and then the war was just about over. We didn’t have one place that, where the people in Amsterdam, Holland, they were starving and we made a deal with the Germans. We had all the food to let us go through just with the trucks with the food and come back. And they did that.

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