Veteran Stories:
Aimé Mayer

Army

  • Mr. Aimé Mayer, July 2011.

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"Two of my men, who had just arrived from somewhere else, they were two young reinforcements. They had just arrived as reinforcements in my section and they were both killed at the same time by a direct antitank shell hit."

Transcript

My name is Aimé Mayer, I was born on April 25, 1930 in the great city of Montreal. You know, when we’re young, we’re reckless. And no, there didn’t seem to be any fear, there didn’t seem to be any concerns, the guys were chatting, everything seemed normal. We were going to take up our position, we were going to do a job, and it ended there. So no, in my opinion, from what I can remember, I didn’t see anyone who was fearful. Maybe sometimes we felt butterflies in our stomach, but we internalized it.

We arrived per group, per section (with the 1st Battalion of the Royal 22e Regiment). We replaced one section at a time. When we took a position, a section would already be there while we were getting set up. Then we would get a briefing, and they would tell us what was going on, what our line of fire was, etc. Where the enemy was approximately. Blah-blah-blah, what’s going on here and how it’s going to work. Where the toilets are, all those sorts of things, meal times and how the frontline works. How we’re supplied for grub. And then, once all of that is done, we would understand the exact value of a position and the dangerousness of the position. Then, the others would leave and we would assume their position.

I did various things in Korea. First, to start, naturally some people died. I did a couple of night patrols. After that, I held the title of sniper and patrol officer. And the sniper and patrol officer group, which we called scout & sniper or the reconnaissance group, we were stationed close to the battalion commander, at headquarters where the commander was. We were close to him, and we acted as a sort of bodyguard for him. However, we were also asked to do night patrols and to even act as a guide for other patrols from other sections and other companies. We acted as their guide when they went to the territory called no man’s land at night.

Then, all of a sudden, we decided to create a reconnaissance platoon, a big reconnaissance platoon with 20 or so men. They asked me if I wanted to go work in the intelligence section (to provide information for the battalion). Someone must have known that I did a bit of typing or something. So they asked me if I wanted to go work there. I said sure, I would go. So they sent me to the intelligence section. It was still near the headquarters, in the same sector. I took care of typing the War Diary; the diary that recorded what was happening in Korea (the campaign diary). The officer in charge took note of things. And sometimes I went to certain positions to take notes and things like that. And so I typed up the diary and it was sent to the brigade (the headquarters of the 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade) to be sent to Ottawa to record history eventually. So I did that for a certain period of time.

After that, I was a section commander in a trench, in a platoon. And finally, in the final days, last of all, they sent me to the brigade and they gave me a Jeep. I drove a Jeep until I came back to Canada. I had two of my (…) when I was a section commander at that time, in September. On September 6 (19)52, two of my men, who had just arrived from somewhere else, they were two young reinforcements. They had just arrived as reinforcements in my section and they were both killed at the same time by a direct antitank shell hit from the enemy; we called them Sp Guns (self-propelled guns). SPs were guns that fired very quickly; we heard a shot and then zoup! It was there. We had tanks that were dug in, installed on our positions, on two little hills, two little buttons, dug into the ground, down in the earth and so only the turret was available and could be seen from a distance. The enemy knew where these positions were, and where the tanks were, and they were firing at us. However, around these positions, we had trenches as well. We had men there, and two of those men who had arrived as reinforcements got killed. They had just got there and they were killed at the same time, the same evening. I will never forget that. Their names are engraved on a monument at the Place George V in Quebec City, in front of the former armoury (the former Voltigeurs de Québec armoury that burned down in 2008). Their names are engraved there along with many others.

There are things like that that I remember quite well. After that, naturally there were intensive bombings. In August and September (1952), there were intensive bombings by the enemy. They were showering us with bombs. Things like that I remember quite well. For example, there was a guy I knew well, his name was Donat Chatigny (from Roxton Falls, Quebec), he was the brother of Hubert Chatigny, who was killed abruptly on September 6 during the same bombings, during the same night, but in another platoon. And I saw others. Because I was responsible for my two men and him, since I was the section commander. They sent me after they had been sent to the medical centre, the RAP (Regimental Aid Post) we called it, after they had gone there.

They had prepared them and put them on a half-track vehicle, with tracks and wheels. We put them in there in order to take them to the Rear Brigade. It was the Rear Brigade who took care of transferring them to Pusan and burying them in Pusan (at the United Nations’ military cemetery in Pusan, South Korea). And once I did that, with a guy named Lavoie who was the driver of the half-track, we came back and we were shot at in an area that resembled a horseshoe. The road resembled a horseshoe. We were shot at, they fired at us a lot. We didn’t understand why. How did they figure out that we would be going through that area? They claimed that there was possibly a contact higher up on the hill who indicated our position. That happened in Korea; people, South Koreans, made contact with North Koreans by all methods of communication. Finally, we stopped the half-track and we laid down flat on the ground, and they bombarded the entire tower and when it was over, we got back into the truck and we hurried to get out of there, to return to the battalion. That was another area that impressed me.

Yes, it was a real war but there wasn’t a lot of moving around. There was positioning, such as rundowns. Companies (Canadian Infantry) were invaded by the enemy, like the time with the 2nd Special Forces Battalion (the 2nd Battalion of the Royal 22e Régiment who served with the Special Canadian Brigade in Korea from 1951-1952) by major (Réal) Liboiron and his company (“D” company), when the enemy did a rundown. They went through and then they left, injured, dead and all. But afterwards, during our period, with the second, then the first, then the third battalion, things like that didn’t happen. There were bombings and we did patrols. There wasn’t any (…), there were a few contacts. Not many, but especially shells that they rained down on us. Especially that.

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