Veteran Stories:
Bruce Chilton

Army

  • Mr. Chilton in November 2011.

  • A group of Canadian soldiers posing in front of the Eiffel Tower during the war.

    Bruce Chilton
  • A group of Canadian soldiers posing in front of a railway car.

    Bruce Chilton
  • Picture of Mr. Bruce Chilton during the war.

    Bruce Chilton
  • Mr. Chilton and his wife at their wedding.

    Bruce Chilton
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"I did a lot of things by taking mail up to the troops, that made them feel better that there was a letter from his mother or a letter from his friend."

Transcript

Their own places, whatever, free of people and everything, it was shooting objects that were maybe shot up in the air for us to bomb or shoot at. And one of these things that bothered me when I was going over and I’d say, I can’t see very well and they won’t let me go overseas and I used to make sure that I had the proper knowledge of where these things were somehow or other, I’m not sure how we got this knowledge. So I was afraid I wasn’t, like my friends were going to go over on the invasion [the Normandy invasion, June 6th, 1944] and they wouldn’t take me I don’t think until I learned where to go in particular. They don’t want somebody that everything was a haze, which it looked like to me. But somehow or other, I got to know roughly where these impediments to my knowledge I believe overseas were and that was a good idea really, I realized right now, but I was going with the ordinary troops overseas and I couldn’t see as well as them. And yet, I wanted to go with them so much that I somehow or other got in with them and managed that way. It was a mistake really militarily having someone who couldn’t see very well going over and shooting and goodness knows, hopefully he would shot at the enemy and not some of his friends or something. I didn’t think of things that way, I wanted to be one of the boys who went overseas. That was very important to me. Later, I realized I was very lucky not to get […] positions available that people wouldn’t know unless they had a very good eyesight and I took sort of chances with that. Maybe I should have waited until my eyes were fixed or something, my glasses or whatever, should I have waited and I think later, I realized I should have because I’m going over into this German stronghold and I was going to get shot by either my friends or left and right of me and I couldn’t tell the Germans from anything else. And that was really an impediment for them and not realizing that at the time, by looking back on it and seeing, my God, what an idiot I was, tried to get in with the wave going into France and I shouldn’t have done that because it’s sort of get revealed locations that were probably given to the Germans by me and were more or […] to get out of the way and duck down more and go undercover where grass area was or something. And that’s what I was thinking about later, why did I do that? I thought it was very brave at the time but half the time, the guys couldn’t hardly see what I was doing and that was a mistake. I shouldn’t have done that. And I did do it. And I think in the long run, it probably helped because it kept the morale up and I just went over and hit somebody with an elbow and said: ‘Let’s go and we’d jump up and go.’ And even though I couldn’t see as well as I should have, I think it did more for my morale and that of the people around me that I went with them, even though I wasn’t very good at seeing anything. Crazy. I guess I had my glasses, someone stepped on them one night when I was on guard duty, that’s what happened I think. And I couldn’t see very well and I was so upset, I didn’t like to tell anyone that I couldn’t see very well. But I had to report this to an officer and he wondered: ‘What the hell are you doing here if you can’t see very well?’ And I told him, he said: ‘Well, you stand back and look after something else, you look after the mail or whatever.’ That’s when I got into the mail part of it and I was very upset and yet, I did a lot of things by taking mail up to the troops, that made them feel better that there was a letter from his mother or a letter from his friend. And actually, they appreciated: ‘Oh, here comes Bruce, he’s got some mail for us, I’ve waited so much for that.’ And later, I agreed, I was doing a good job at something that was really necessary, even though at that time, I thought, well, I’m not even in the line of fire or anything else and following up. And yet, what I did was, I think has helped a lot I think to the men who got the letters, they were just really pleased.
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