A photograph of Roland (Ron) Hochu taken in the Cobourg Legion on July 18, 2011.Roland Wocheu
Medals awarded to Roland Hochu (from left to right): 1939-45 Star, the France and Germany Star, the Defence Medal, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Bar and the 1939-1945 War Medal.Roland Wocheu
"I kept on going, I couldn’t, there was so much snow, I was just completely frozen. And I prayed for my mother, just help me. And I could see this little light, I always remember it, I could see this little light and I headed for it, I didn’t know what it was. And that was my destination and I don’t know how I got there."
Well, I was young then and when the war broke out, I was young and wasn’t thinking too much about it until after I got out of high school and went into the workforce. And eventually, that’s when I decided to join the forces. I would have wanted to join my brother overseas and that was a difficult task because my brother didn’t want me to join him in his regiment.
One person that didn’t enjoy my joining up and people will remember his name, his name was [Adrien] Arcand [an infamous Canadian fascist leader]. In fact, I went to school with this boy and I never thought in the world that he would ever turn that way. Well, I knew him up until the time I went overseas but he always talked to me against the forces but I never accepted his speeches.
Oh, I’m very proud of my training in Kingston [Ontario]. At first, well, I was put in the course for linesman and I was up a [communications or power] pole one day, climbing, dressing a pole one day and these dispatch riders [soldiers tasked with carrying messages] were going by me at the bottom and I said, that’s for me. When I climbed down, I asked the lieutenant if I could transfer to the dispatch riders and he said, I’ll see what I can do. And I ended up a dispatch rider. And the first bike [motorcycle] I got was a Harley Davidson, brand new, right out of a crate. And the people in the [United] States were kind enough to send me one of those American goggles. They were the real good ones, covered a lot of your face. And I kept them all through the war.
Well, when I heard about the D-Day landing [the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944], we were in southern England going from east to west and west to east, trying to fool the Fifth Column [German spies]. And they did, we succeeded very well because they thought we were going to invade at Calais, if you remember the story. This is, that’s what we succeeded in doing.
I was coming along on the road in central Holland, near one of the rivers there, and at the bridge, a bridge was blown up and this jeep came along with two officers in it and right at the bridge. And of course, I stayed away from there because usually they’d [the enemy] zero in on them. And sure they did, they zeroed in on this jeep and the thing flew up in the air and you could see the bodies flying. Of course, I didn’t stay there, I just took off because nobody used to stay there, they wouldn’t help then. That was one.
And I think I said I could see this puff of smoke but I think it was mortar fire up ahead and I drove in behind a burnt out half track [a vehicle with uses both tank tracks and wheels] and this young fellow come along, young French Canadian, come along and, infantry, and he got in behind a bunch of rubbles and he start shooting. I told him to get your head down different places, don’t. So he climbed up on the rubbles and he start shooting and he got, somebody shot him right into his shoulder and it [the bullet] never come out, they must have got all his organs, he just went, ugh, and that was it, he was gone.
The worst that I ever had wasn’t from enemy action, freezing on the bicycle. And it was December , I left Holland, Breda to go back to Belgium to a British division. When I got to the Belgian border, it had already snowed. I kept on going, I couldn’t, there was so much snow, I was just completely frozen. And I prayed for my mother, just help me. And I could see this little light, I always remember it, I could see this little light and I headed for it, I didn’t know what it was. And that was my destination and I don’t know how I got there. And after I delivered that dispatch, they sent me to the cook’s truck and he gave me a big mug of tea.
And I lost my lance corporal Christmas Eve . We were all sitting around, there was, between the Germans and the Canadians, they agreed not to use any force and our lance corporal came to us for dispatch and he saw the shape we were in, he took it. He never come back and we felt guilty about that.