"Yes, there was some terrible battles. Falaise in France was terrible. The Germans, we had them cornered and surrounded, and that was the method of the thing, as they were trying to make a getaway."
The fifth of November, I got married. I was 20 years old and I got married. So, one week later, on the eleventh of November, I went to Fredericton and joined. I had got notice that I was of age for the war, for the army, and I had my examination; and I was due to get another notice when to report, so I beat the one to the, I went on my own
One of my trades was a wireless operator, looking after the communications by radio there, wireless set. Our regiment was supposed to try get across the river and they blew the bridge up. I think it was the Germans blew it up. In order to keep in touch with the unit, the officer, he said, we’re going to go in; we’re not going to sit here all day and wait to get across that river because the bridge is gone. So we went into a building and it ended up, it was an old bakery. Everybody had evacuated it because that was the front. And the major said, we’ll go in here and set up here. So I run the cord and headsets and stuff, and took them into the building. It was an old bakery. I could smell the bread that had been pulled out. The ovens were still with bread in them.
I could hear the mortars landing all around. Mortars go up and come down. And they were going, hitting the buildings everywhere, and I thought, my God, we’re awful lucky that they were around everywhere and not coming into our building. And all of a sudden, bang, they come through the roof and everything filled with dust. I was sitting there and gee, I looked around and, I guess, under shock a bit, and I couldn’t see any of the crew. There was some other people, army people there too. And I couldn’t see any of them. But here they were all laying on the floor. Our training was that when the shells start firing, lay down is the best bet. So I didn’t. So I got just one place that hit my arm and put me out of commission.
Yes, there was some terrible battles. Falaise in France was terrible. The Germans, we had them cornered and surrounded, and that was the method of the thing, as they were trying to make a getaway. Our major won the Victoria Cross [highest Commonwealth military decoration; presented for ‘valour in the face of the enemy’] there. It’s just like being in another world, you know. You’re advancing and fighting. You’re not doing anything, waiting for another order to move to another, take another town and so on like that.
The tank we had in, that we had fighting with, they seemed to be inferior to the German 88 [mm anti-tank] gun and their tanks. So while I was at the holding unit, they came out with a new tank with a [Quick-Firing] 17-pounder [anti-tank] gun on it, long gun, longer than the German 88 gun. So when I was better, they shipped me back to France. The army had advanced quite a bit; they were up in Germany, up close to the Rhine River. I landed there at midnight. Everything was in darkness. The train went through the whole of France and not a light in the train or on the countryside.
That night, pretty near midnight, I think, they showed me the tank that I was going to be in, a new tank with the big gun and the new tank. And so that was just the last battle before the Rhine. So the next morning, we got up and went in, and, I guess, the Germans had got across in the night. There was some fighting, heavy fighting.
I was in the last town to be taken in Germany, to be taken. One night, we were ordered with our tanks to have them loaded with ammunition and ready to go into action at first dawn the next morning. So they told us to go to bed after we got everything ready to move at first daylight. We got up in the morning and all ready to go and the officer come out, he had spent the night in an hotel or somewhere at that town, where we were going to take the next morning. And they came and told us, go on back to your bed or whatever you want to do, the war is over.
We went back and fixed, cleaned up our tanks and stuff, and just talked to each other; and we discussed it: how come we’re not making, we didn’t make a great big hoop or a noise and hello, or what? But we didn’t make any excitement at all. It was just like we discussed it. It was just like any other job, when it got done, it got done. And after all that we went through, there was no rejoicing or nothing. The people in London and Halifax, everywhere, they were tearing the cities apart, overjoyed that the war was over and us that fought the war did no rejoicing whatsoever.