Jim McCulloch during his training in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, 1942.Jim McCullough
Jim McCulloch in England, 1944.Jim McCullough
Jim McCulloch (centre), at a Remembrance Day ceremony.Jim McCullough
Jim McCulloch (right) takes a break during training in England, 1944.Jim McCullough
Jim McCulloch (far right) with his comrades outside Caen three days after D-Day.Jim McCullough
"When you first come in there, the first wave, they got it; and there were still bodies. When we came in on the second wave there were still bodies around."
That morning we [The Regina Rifle Regiment] were actually the second wave going in [on Juno Beach, during the Allied Normandy landings of June 6, 1944], but it was pretty rainy and foggy. Awful: wet and everything. When we got to the beach it was awful to see the bodies floating around, and different things. We were hollerin' and wadin' in the water trying to get out of there. You had to go up the bank to get out of there. Certain beaches were bad. When you first come in there, the first wave, they got it; and there were still bodies. When we came in on the second wave there were still bodies around.
I was wishing I was back home working in the barn. Oh, it was awful. Pretty scared. I was pretty young then. I didn't know what to do. I didn’t know what....
Oh, it’s always frightening when you hear the bombs dropping, them Moaning Minnies [Nebelwerfer: German multi-barrelled artillery rocket launcher]. Whoop. Boy, they make an awful noise when they come. You don't know where they're going to land. I've seen them land and blow the head off a friend of mine. He was from, actually from Landis [Saskatchewan], too. It was Mike Gartner. All that was left was tags; his tags. Blew his head right off.
But it got worse after we got into Falaise and Caen. Then the worst part, we got into Falaise, we lost three of our [Bren Gun (Universal)] carriers [lightly armoured tracked vehicles]. The Germans took them on us. The sergeant said, everybody bail out. The 12th [Schutzstaffel (SS)] Panzer Division [Hitlerjugend], Germans, they took the carriers away on us. They were bringing them for themselves. I played dead in an oat field and got away from them. The sergeant, he got shot and some were taken prisoner. But that night, we lay in the oat fields. When morning come, there were tanks just coming up. We didn’t know... We held our hands up and here were British tanks. They said, "mate, get in the tank, you can have a spot of tea." Then they took us up to the front where headquarters was. They said, "get in the tank and have a spot of tea there, mate; looks like you had a bad night."