Veteran Stories:
Elmer Thompson

Army

  • Mr. Elmer Thompson, November 2011.

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"I went to one of the gas chambers and it’s a big long stretch of the hall in there and that’s where they put the people in and then they put the gas in. And they all die. You don’t understand, if you haven’t been there."

Transcript

And the colonel came out after we got up there and he says: ‘Fellows, we will be in action very shortly. He says, your holiday is over.’ So we went in there, we hit that little town up there and then finally we got into Holland. Well, it was something. Holland, beautiful country but what they are of suffering, we learned about that. So we started fighting, shooting and shooting. My main job on there was to shoot buildings down. Make sure we put them in there because the Germans were all in the buildings and shooting from lower to high and down. So I used to do a lot of good shooting. I used to hit all of what I aimed at anyway. So finally, we got going up and we pulled into station, a place where we can get all off our feet and run around a bit and stretch ourselves. And the next day, a couple days later, we come out of camp, so we went to another, a little further and we had a night. And all of a sudden, we had a counter attack on us. The Germans had stuck in because we sleep under the tank. So we had dug our hole and we were all in bed, all of a sudden, a hell of a racket, what’s going on, guns firing and the whole shot. And we turned around and got out and I got out on that side where they were shooting at us and somehow or other, I got into a trench hole. And all of a sudden I look and there was somebody in the corner and I couldn’t figure out who it was. So I went over to see him and here it was a German hiding in the trench. Geez, I said: ‘Well, that means I have to pull my gun out.’ The poor guy was petrified. He was absolutely petrified. He thought I was going to shoot him but I didn’t. So I literally, the attack was ended, so I took the German out of the trench and I walked him over to the other side and there were people there that was waiting to pick up any Germans and put them in camp. So they took him off me. So I went back to my tank and we didn’t have much of a sleep but you did sleep a bit because we had to get out in the morning. So we went moving again up to Holland and got all of the main big cities, towns, that there is there and we made friends with all the people. Every time we got down, the people would jump on you, climb on your tank and jump on you and what you call, kissing you and oh dear. They were nice. So finally, we got up to the top [of Holland] where they have a circle of water and they float their boats, the fishing boats and everything else. And so we finished at that and turned around so we had to clean up the tank and this and that. And I don’t know what happened to the tanks but they took us off. So we had to do everything else around the area until they decide what they’re going to do with us, because the war was coming to an end [in May 1945]. When we got up that forward, we were just about finished. Holland had the death place [camp] where they put gas on the people and they were killing them. We went in there, oh, it was pathetic, they had piles and piles of bodies just out in the open, just absolutely, they were all bones, that’s all you saw is bones and dead people, gone. And we were glad to get out of there. But we did look. I went to one of the gas chambers and it’s a big long stretch of the hall in there and that’s where they put the people in and then they put the gas in. And they all die. You don’t understand, if you haven’t been there.
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