Bob Abbott in wartime.Bob Abbott
A Krupp-Daimler Panzerwagen Sd.Kfz. 3 M1574 armoured car located outside of the Reich Chancellery, Berlin, Germany. July 1945.Bob Abbott
The Reich Chancellery, Berlin, Germany in 1945. The Reich Chancellery included both government offices and living quarters. The Führerbunker, the air raid shelter where Adolf Hitler lived from 16 January 1945 until his death on 30 April 1945, was located in in the garden.Bob Abbott
Bob and Milly Abbott with the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, Dr. Lynda Haverstock, following a ceremony at which Bob Abbott received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal. The Royal Canadian Legion, Yorkton, Saskatchewan, 16 November 2002.Bob Abbott
A telegram Bob Abbott sent back to Regina, Saskatchewan on V-E Day, 8 May 1945.Bob Abbott
"It was about six o’clock in the morning, I guess. And we jumped from one boat to the other and of course, we lined up and these Germans were looking at us and we were looking at them and their war was finishing and ours was just beginning."
I figured it was my duty to go and fight for my country and like I say, I didn’t have to go because we had a lot of animals and we were doing pretty good money-wise and my stepfather wanted to buy me land but I decided that I should go and fight for my country, so that’s what I done.
When we landed, like there was about 40 men in little boats and when we landed [in 1944] at Dieppe, there was about 200 German prisoners had been standing there all night in the rain. And in September, it was a bit wet and cold and they were all standing in their grey coats and water was just running down right to the ground. And they got on the same boats we did.
I think everybody was sick by the time they ended up at Dieppe and we must have looked kind of funny to these German soldiers that was standing there because there was about six of these boats, I guess about 240 men I would say, because we had 40 apiece on there, and we jumped from one boat to the other. When we came into the dock, everything slowed down because we didn’t know where we were going or what we were doing and it was, like I say, it was like in a tomb, it was terrible.
And once we hit each other and there was a bang! and then the other guy hit us on the other side and when we opened the hatch, we got out of there and it was just coming daylight. It was about six o’clock in the morning, I guess. And we jumped from one boat to the other and of course, we lined up and these Germans were looking at us and we were looking at them and their war was finishing and ours was just beginning.
And the next night, we went into the front line. And we were only a few miles from where they were fighting, it was on the Breskens Pocket* where I went in on the Albert Canal,** I guess it was the South Saskatchewan Regiment was in Albert [Belgium]. And we stayed there, well, it was kind of a bit thrilling at that time, it was getting, the heavy guns were just hammering away and we were a little gun shy, I guess what you’d call it or something, I don’t know. But anyway, we slept on the outside and when the trucks all pulled into this little place before we went up the line, the guns were hammering, we were in front of the guns, I guess. And somebody hollered out, “Where do you sleep?” and about two seconds later – this was about twelve o’clock at night – and somebody hollered out, “What do you think, you’re not back home, sleeping in the feather bed, you’d better get used to this.”
You know, the weather, you’re cold and wet all night and you’re up all night because the guns are firing right overtop of you and they’re trying to get at you, they’re attacking you, you know, and every once in a while, there’s a few less men and it starts to play on your nerves. There’s only so much a human being can stand.
I had volunteered to go back up front but they never sent me back up front again. I went from there to Nijmegen or near Nijmegen [Holland], with 2nd [Canadian] Corps troops. And I worked at different jobs. We had an officer, I run an officer’s club but we were just a few miles behind the lines, we were getting shelled all the time because there was a frontline officers club. In the town of Grave [Holland] and it was getting close to Christmas. So that year, we put on a Christmas party for the kids in Grave, picking up all the chocolate bars and candies or whatever we could find for the kids and we had about 100 kids. And we had their Christmas party and in 1995, when I was back in Holland for the 50th anniversary, I had met the husband of the woman that I had at that party 50 years before.
I took a motor to a place and I didn’t know, they didn’t tell me where to go and I didn’t know where the line was and they told me to go to this certain area which was down near the Hochwald Forest [Germany]. And they were still fighting there, there was snow on the ground and diddled along and of course, there wasn’t much fighting going on but anyway, I had to dump this motor at a certain place and I kind of slowed up a bit. And by gosh, I guess I was beside the Germans, not too far, because they put in three shells right in front of me again. And I was lucky I slowed up or I would have got them. So I guess somebody must have been looking after me.
I went on leave to Scotland and I had landed in Scotland when I went overseas and I got such a friendly reception, I said I would always go back to Scotland. So I went back to, I asked the other soldier ahead of me where was an address because in them days, you had to give addresses. And he said, “There’s a woman in Dundee that looks after Canadian soldiers,” like have bed and breakfasts and stuff like that for us. So I got the address and went to Dundee and this was two days before the war ended. And the day the war ended, I met my wife to be which is now 66 years later, I’m still with her.
*German defences on southern shore of the Scheldt Estuary
**Connecting Antwerp and Liège, Belgium and the Meuse and Scheldt Rivers