Veteran Stories:
John Scott Clark

Army

  • Infantrymen of The Carleton and York Regiment preparing to lob a hand grenade into a sniper's hideout, Campochiaro, Italy, 23 October 1943.

    Credit: Lieut. Alexander M. Stirton / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-136198
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"I can remember thinking to myself, I heard that shell, how close it’s at, is it that close that I should be dead?"

Transcript

Before I joined the army, I was just an ordinary farm boy. Well, just an average country boy I guess it was at that time. Sicily? Definitely, yes, I was invasion of Sicily [in July, 1943], Italy and then back into Africa and from there, they shipped us home and I was in the invasion of France. Well, we went from Glasgow [Scotland], we loaded in the ships and we sat there for two days and then we went and I think we were ten days from the time we left England until we got over to the area of Sicily, before the invasion. And I was a driver, I had my own vehicle and they took me as close as they could to the shore and then I was loaded in a landing craft I guess. And we drove off in about five or six feet of water. And we kept going and finally we landed on the shores of Sicily. And from then on, it was you, me or somebody else. Well, I guess what kind of worried me to start with, when we got there, there wasn’t much opposition when we first landed in Sicily and that and you could hear shells. And I can remember thinking to myself, I heard that shell, how close it’s at, is it that close that I should be dead? Dodging or what it was. It wasn’t long before we found out how the sound of a shell coming over, how close they were to us. Well, we went there and, I shouldn’t be saying this, but we had an officer and he apparently didn’t read maps very good and he took us a way up and finished up back in no-man’s land. And we didn’t know we were supposed to be there and then they [the Germans] started banging the heck out of us, so we stayed that night and the next day, they had to bring in extra troops to get us out of there because the Germans were getting in on us. So there was a whole company of us, about 300, 400 of us at that time. And they come up, we lost a couple of the boys. One minute he’s having dinner with you and the next minute, he’s not available and he’s already gone or that. And another time, there was about nine of us stand, well, I wasn’t one of the group and a shell come over and then the whole nine of them were killed with one shell that landed right in amongst them. Well, that kind of shakes you up a bit. Yeah. Well, the invasion [of Normandy beginning in June 1944] was already over by the time we went over in France. They were up in Belgium so we went across in a landing craft and we went from Italy across to Marseille, France, and then we drove up through to France up until we got to Belgium. And then we went and joined the rest of the Canadian troops there. And we were attached to the Canadian First Army then. The only thing that surprised me when I come home was they met me at the railroad station. There was this boy there and he was just a five year old guy when I left, a brother of mine and here he’s a grown man when I come back, that’s the thing that surprised me most. Yeah, my wife, you know, we corresponded and we wrote letters and that and that for most of four years back and forth. And I was home for about three, four months before we finally got married. It’s been a very happy life since then.
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