Infantrymen of The Regina Rifle Regiment manning a Bren gun position inside a captured German barracks, Vaucelles, France, 23 July 1944. Credit: Lieut. Ken Bell / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-129131Credit: Lieut. Ken Bell / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-129131
"Then you hit the water with your rifle. You kept your rifle up as high as you could get. You were up to your underarms in water. You see, the enemy expected you right there. This is where you got your hardship."
Yes, it was rough. It was rough, yeah. Like my family doctor says, Gordon, what was it like when you hit the beach? I said, the water was red, ̶ that's the way it was. It was red. The boys were left there.
Then you hit the water with your rifle. You kept your rifle up as high as you could get. You were up to your underarms in water. You see, the enemy expected you right there. This is where you got your hardship.
I pretty well always carried a Bren Gun [light machine gun]. It had 32 [ammunition] rounds and my 2IC [second-in-commond] always carried a spare barrel. When you'd shoot so long, your barrel got hot. The other guy would just give you another barrel, clip it off, throw it in the brush, put your new one on.
The biggest part of the time you never had a chance to put it down. You had to keep going. So therefore, you had to have the power to carry it and keep going. If you did get in far enough to find a spot where things had started to quieten down, yes, you put your tripod down, put your gun down and start firing. Now, sometimes we had a belt with us, but the biggest part of the time, the boys behind me always just carried a magazine [ammunition storage], so you'd rip one off and put another one on.
I went right straight through to, we were heading to Berlin and I just got about twenty miles out from Holland into Berlin, then the war ended there. We had an officer with us. My group was in a big dairy farm. He got too much rum in him, so he lit the barn on fire. The CO [commanding officer] comes; he says, okay, boys, there's the trucks, walk to your destination. So we walked.
Just after we hit the beach was the worst time until we got things moving, until we got the Germans moving. The best time we had was when the dispatch driver probably told us the war was over with. That was a good feeling.