Veteran Stories:
Al Leslie

Civilian

  • Al Leslie in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, September 2011.

    Historica Canada
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"And we were sitting in our classrooms and somebody had looked out the window and they saw the sky filled with paratroopers."

Transcript

We had two Canadian companies around our village during the war. One was Number 11, the other one was Number 6, Canadian Forestry Corps companies. They were there cutting lumber and processing it all for the war effort and the two large camps. And we used to go to the camps probably every night of the week to watch movies and live entertainment and some concerts. And of course, we were introduced to Coca-Cola and peanuts and stuff like that, we never had that as young people growing up in Scotland. And we used to watch them play softball and we just had a wonderful time with the Canadian troops, they were very, very welcoming and it was just tremendous all the time with them during the war. The other information pertains to the different people we had in the area, in uniform. We had an ammunition depot in Loch Garten [Scotland] and that was looked after by the Red Caps [Royal Military Police] which is the British service and below our tennis courts, we had sort of a signal corps with about four Quonset huts and that was also British forces. And we had sentry stations at both ends of our village, coming and going into town. We had to carry our ID cards with us all the time and our gas masks when we went to school and had many, many gas masks drills during their school days. And it was kind of scary at times but on the whole, we all got along well. And we also had a company of Newfoundland lumberjacks. They were also there cutting the woods down. And in one section of our, about seven miles from my village, we had Norwegian Commandos training at Loch Morlich [Scotland], and they were stationed in Glen More [Scotland], which is just a few miles from the village. Through the course of the war, we had of course many, many different troops coming passing our village and we had an Indian regiment in there, they were in town with all their mules and paraphernalia that goes with their regiment. It was quite exciting seeing them all camped in their tents and looking after their animals and everything else. We also had a couple of, I believe it was three German crashes during the war, aircraft around our village. They had crash landed on their way back to Germany or wherever they were coming from. And the one day we really remember vividly is the fact that we were sitting in classrooms, and our school happened to be about a mile out of the village. And we were sitting in our classrooms and somebody had looked out the window and they saw the sky filled with paratroopers, which at that time we didn’t know whether they were our paratroopers or German paratroopers, so all and all, they let us out of school to go home, because everybody was quite scared and we didn’t know what was happening. But when we did get home, we ran into a bunch of the British Red Devils airborne division [1st Parachute Brigade] and they made us feel very happy to see them and not anybody else. Well, everybody grew up very fast during the war. It was a time of learning but you grew, you matured very, very quickly with all the goings on and everything else. It was just a very, very fast time.
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