Veteran Stories:
Jack Martin

  • The Memory Project, Historica Canada
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"They wouldn't let us stop for any people on the beach. You had to keep going and that's what hurt an awful lot, because there were lots of my friends screaming for help and we couldn't do anything about it.Anyways we got into the town of Bernières-sur-Mer and then we went down the main road to Caen."

Transcript

It was while I was at Camp Borden [Ontario], they sent us out on the ranges, the Bren gun ranges [a British light machine gun], and I lay besides the Bren gunner as the number two man and I got all the noise in my left ear. Consequently when it came time to go overseas and we were all in this big draft, they were holding it in a drill hall and different doctors for different parts of the body. I came to the ear doctor and he said, ‘my goodness,’ he says, ‘did you know you're deaf in the left ear?’ and I said yes I did. It was from lying besides the Bren gun, so he takes me over to the Colonel in the middle of the drill hall and he says, ‘Sir, this man is deaf in his left ear,’ and the Colonel looks down and he says, ‘can he hear out of his right ear?’ He says, ‘oh yes,’ ‘well, send him over.’

Later on during the conflict in Europe, there were a lot of our troops were sent from the Queen’s Own [of Canada] were sent to the 2nd [Canadian Infantry] Division who had lost a lot of people in the Dieppe Raid [of August 19th 1942], so my buddy, Norm Mountford, was sent to the Royal Regiment [of Canada] while on August 14th [1944] we were the subject of our own bombers bombing the hell out of us, and Norm was killed in that raid. I used to write his letters for him to go to his girlfriend, so when I got home I married her.

[D-Day and the Normandy Campaign, 1944]

I was always sick on these darn crafts, because they would just flop up and down, so the crew suggested that I get up on the […] of the ship and look for mines while on the way over, and so I did that. I lay there all night. The next morning when we came in sight of the land, the big guns opened up behind us and they were firing on the shore. I was ordered down from the […] and I thought, well, here we go.

Here am I, I'm 134 pounds, they gave me the base plate of the mortar that was 40 pounds, I had my pack on my back and I had to carry a rifle, and the ramp went down – see, they only allowed two men to go to shore in a vehicle, because in case it hit a mine, so only two guys went and there was myself, Ernie Osborne and Johnny Farrell, made up the mortar crew and we went ashore, and when the ramp down it was on sand, and there was Major Charlie Dalton standing beside the ramp and he’s saying, ‘get up to the wall! Get up to the wall!’ Hell, I was up to the wall before he event finished the sentence.

Anyways, I got up there and I was talking to my friend, Teddy O’Halloran, he was a medic and he was attending to one guy up there, but they wouldn't let us stop for any people on the beach. You had to keep going and that's what hurt an awful lot, because there were lots of my friends screaming for help and we couldn’t do anything about it. Anyways, we got in and got into the town of Bernières-sur-Mer and then we went down the main road to Caen.

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