Veteran Stories:
William “Bill” Stanfield

Army

  • Crucifix and mother of pearl necklace worn by Mr. Stanfield after picking it up outside Caen, July 1944

  • Christmas card with picture of Mr. Stanfield on cover, December 1944

  • Invasion money, given to Mr. Stanflield and the rest of the Allied invasion force for use in liberated Europe (Belgian Francs, German Reichsmarks, and French Francs), June 1944

  • Manual outlining etiquette expectations of British and Canadian soldiers to their French counterparts during the liberation of France.

  • Mr. Stanfield, 67th Anniversary of D-Day, Toronto City Hall, 2011

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"We’d go out and have a beer together and we’d go out and do things together and you think if I’m scared and I don’t do my job, what are the rest of the guys going to think about me"

Transcript

Falaise Gap

We advanced on the Falaise Gap [during the Battle of the Falaise Pocket, between August 12th and 21st, 1944], which was a spot where we were cornering the Germans and they were trying to escape through a hole. And the Canadians were given the job of closing this gap while we were advancing against the Falaise Gap. And we were opened up by an 88 [the 88mm, a German anti-tank and anti-aircraft gun], which I never did see but by that time, I knew the 88.

When the 88 opened up on us and machine guns, we were defenseless. We were stopping to have a cup of tea and an 88 landed and there was nine of us, not me, nine of us got hit. Nobody was killed. Washburn, I remember his name, he had a hole in the back of his head. I could see his brains, I could see right inside his head, it was hardly bleeding but it was wide open. I bandaged him up. And then I found another side, Jones, I bandaged him up, he got hit in the hand. And then some of the reinforcements that I brought the day before, one of them, he come with me. I don’t even know his name because I’d only brought him in the day before.

Get down the hill and the jeep was there and there was a doctor there. So I put the chap with the hole in the back of his head and the other one in, I said, “We’ve got to get back to our slit trench.” And he said, “No, no, I’m not going, I’m not going, I’m not going.” I said, “Come on, we’ve got to go.” and I’m yelling at him, “We’ve got to go.” And the MO [Medical Officer] said, “Oh, leave him, leave him, he’s shell shocked, leave him.” And I come up with some words about, “That’s a lot of bull.” But anyways, I was scared, I admit it. I admit it when I was in hospital talking to some of the chaps. But what kept us in there was we were friends, we were like brothers. We’d go out and have a beer together and we’d go out and do things together and you think if I’m scared and I don’t do my job, what are the rest of the guys going to think about me.

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