"I hit the ground running. I could see the sand kicking up where the bullets were hitting them; and I just kept running like hell."
My job as pay clerk was to type up nominal rolls, which is lists of names of everybody, to record the dead every day. The pay had to stop the minute a man was dead. Everyone wasn't gonna pay out an extra nickle if they had to; and basically, I think they created the position just for me because I don't know if any other regiments had that.
Now I was put at the back of the boat. I was considered a non-combatant, so I was gonna be the last one to leave these little boats. It must have been about... we started moving in when they all lined up in a row, and they started moving in to land. It wasn't long before the Germans saw us and the shells started coming over. We didn't encounter any small fire yet because we were still too far, but eventually we got closer; and we could hear the bullets whistling over our heads and shells exploding all around us. Anyways, we moved in and got closer and closer, and we were almost at the land. We stopped, I think it was, about ten or fifteen feet away from the ground. Everybody jumped into the water and waded ashore. It came to my turn, I jumped into the water. The water was up to here and I waded past a couple of bodies already floating. I hit the ground running. I could see the sand kicking up where the bullets were hitting them; and I just kept running like hell. I reached the sea wall and I sat down.
Now I could see everything unfolding like a giant landscape in front of me. I could see guys running around, guys screaming, guys crying. One man was waving a bible and screaming for his mother. Anyway, I sat down and it was a while before finally the shooting stopped and the Germans had been thrown off a cliff, off the sea wall, and that's when my work started. I moved in and the bodies were lined up at one side. There was 63 bodies lined up at one side. The burial party would remove the lower half of their dog-tags; they put them in a box and brought them over to me. My job was to enter on these nominal roles, the name of the person, well the names were there I had to tick them off, and the approximate time of death, and where. As I went through this I picked up one dog-tag, and it was the dog-tag of the man who replaced me as company clerk. He got killed the minute he stepped on land. I thought to myself then, there but for the grace of God and Lieutenant Neil Gordon go I; and that's how I perceived it. Then, when I finished my job, I took the finished product over to, and gave them to the proper authorities to ship to wherever they had to. I went back to the sea wall. I sat down, and I started to cry. I never cried so much in all my life. Finally the paymaster came over and said, it's time for us to move on and that was that for D-Day.
I was in from June the sixth at the beach, and on VE [Victory in Europe] Day I was in Germany. I went through the whole thing. When we returned to Canada on 17 December 1945, we landed in Halifax. On 17 December we were in Toronto; and we marched up Bay Street. The Toronto Telegram published an article that said of the 1200 men who enlisted in the Queen's Own [Rifles of Canada] there was only twelve left of the originals returning that day. I was one of the 12.