"One of the brave guys, you know, stand up there, sniper took him out between the chest. And he dropped overtop of me, I’ll never forget that."
Well, each regiment consisted of three vehicles to a troop, an armoured car and two Bren Gun Carriers [the Universal Carrier, a British light armoured tracked vehicle] , or vice versa, could have one Bren Gun Carrier, two armoured cars. But there was nine of us to a section. And there was A and B and C squadron and then headquarters squadron and what they called the assault troop [in the 8th Canadian Reconnaissance Regiment (14th Canadian Hussars)]. And they had half-tracks on theirs. They were what you called the infantry, the soldiers.
I didn’t think I was in too much danger most of the time. Because that Bren Gun Carrier, you’re down below that metal and they’ve got to be a darn good shot to get you there. You just keep your head down.
I had one bullet go above my head, I found the indent behind my seat when I got finished for the day. I heard it hit but didn’t know where it hit and when I looked at that, I thought, that’s pretty close. So I kept my head down further the next time.
And the crew commander was Mine and I told him a dozen times, just keep it down but he had to stand up in there. Well, he got shot right through the chest the second day in. And I didn’t have a crew commander after that for quite some time. I had a gunner in the back, that’s all.
And he landed on top of me. One of the brave guys, you know, stand up there, sniper took him out between the chest. And he dropped overtop of me, I’ll never forget that. I had to shove him off and back out of there, so I didn’t get shot. A woman was up in a house in a window facing us as we were coming down the road and she was picking the people off with a rifle. She didn’t last long because the infantry went in and got her.
We were the ones that liberated Holland and all the way through there, we were, like the recce (reconnaissance) regiment was the first in and all this stuff. But you see what was enemy power was. And of course, after a while, when you come along, the planes that were shot down, we got the pieces off the planes […] and we had firepower on the Bren Gun Carriers that you could knock out a tank with.
We did that all on our own, so every one of our Bren Gun Carriers that was in there at least had a […] mounted on it from them airplanes. And all of them, we started out, we went in there with a rifle each and a Bren gun [the British Bren light machine gun]. That’s all the firepower we started out with and a small little mortar.
For days on end, you didn’t get your clothes off. We probably smelled like pole cats but when you’re in the front line, you’ve got no, the only chance you get, if you come to a stream where it’s nice and quiet, and had a bath.
When we were holding ground around by the Rhine, I mean, we were on one side of the Rhine and they were on the other and you could just throw a grenade across the water at each other. We used to get what they called potato masher throwed at us lots of times [referring to the German hand grenade Model 24 also known as a ‘stick grenade’] and we’d throw them back as fast as we could, if we could get hold of them quick enough.
Well, when we came into Holland, that was very, Canadians was the ones that liberated Holland and when we come into the town, the Dutchman was all looking around the corners at us because they thought we were all black. When they saw we were all white men and it was halfway decent, God, they were good to us. And all through that Belgium and France, they were pretty good to us all. I mean, they recognized that there was war and the girls was pretty good too.
You know, you’re young, you don’t know what’s going to happen, you’re able and willing and take it as it goes. All I remember in Germany, when the war ended, we all ended up in a little town by the name of Leer. And then from there on we took all the prisoners, they all surrendered and we had to take them to [Westerbork transit camp in Holland], where they had to Jews all penned up and was going to exterminate them all. That was in [Westerbork] area there. [Westerbork] they were called, I’ve forgotten the name. That’s where the Germans had the special railway track put down and a big barbed wire fence and water ditch all around it and they had all the Italians and Jews and all penned up in there, like animals. And then they’d put them on a train and take them out of there. But they didn’t get too many done I don’t think.
Oh, you just saw the tracks that they had for trains to take the people out of there. Not too much, otherwise, a few places where they had, after the war, they had put a cemetery in there with children or women or whatever it was and there was a block for each one. It was pretty nice like that.