A portrait of Anthony Baschak in England circa 1943.Anthony Baschak
A QF 25 pounder gun in Camp Debert, Nova Scotia in 1942.Anthony Baschak
B Troop gun crew with a QF 18 pounder gun at Camp Shilo, Manitoba in 1941.Anthony Baschak
Anthony Baschak in Holten Cemetery, The Netherlands in 2005 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Holland.Anthony Baschak
Anthony Baschak's Statement of Service in the Canadian Armed Forces.Anthony Baschak
"Before we can get down to that road that we had to get a bulldozer and bulldoze, the road was full of dead horses and dead Germans."
We got our position close to Trun [France]. And then we continued from there to Falaise. Caen was already just about liberated but it was in one big mess, you couldn’t get through it, you have to get a bulldozer and make a road because all the buildings were down. But like I said, then we got into Falaise. That was a tough battle because the Germans were surrounded and all we had to do is keep firing so that they wouldn’t escape.
While in Falaise Gap, our job was to fire, not hundreds, thousands of shells on a certain area and the shells have to fall just two or three seconds apart, so that the Germans couldn’t escape. But as far as we knew, we slaughtered thousands of them. And then it lasted for quite a while because there was a Polish army and the British and Canadian and they [the Germans] were all surrounded and there was only one main route out. So finally, when we finished, before we can get down to that road that we had to get a bulldozer and bulldoze, the road was full of dead horses and dead Germans and stuff, the Germans had stole the horses from the French to haul stuff around. And it was August  and you couldn’t breathe, the stench was so bad. But anyway, the bulldozer would move all the dead animals and Germans to the ditches and we started going with our gun tractors and guns and we’d stop every few yards or feet and then we’d get off the gun track and go and look for Lugers. Everybody wanted the souvenir Luger, those automatic German pistols. And you’d have to roll the Germans over and kind of look for them. But today when I think of it, what an awful thing we did.
What really stands in my mind is in Falaise, we had a friendly fire, maybe you read about it. The first week, the Americans bombed us by mistake and then a week after, August the 14th, 1944, there was 700 [B-24] Liberators approached the sky and they opened up their bomb gates and they bombed us. And then they circled around and during the meantime, we had all these smokes, those yellow smoke signals to let them know that we’re friendly and they circled and then they dropped the other half of the bombs. And we had one of those little Auster planes for observation and the pilot, he went up and he tried to, you couldn’t get radio communication with them but he tried to signal them that you’re bombing your own troops. So finally, they made another round and they strafed us. And during that time, our gun was hit with bomb fragments and it busted a tire. But I hollered to the crew to run and follow me because I found that during that time, I found a big pit that the Germans had dug to sleep in, room for about six, seven guys, so we jumped in there. That’s what saved us. But there was a lot of casualties. There was a Polish army next to us, I forget what division, and they lost more than half of their equipment. Lots of guys got hit.