Home Town: Unity, Saskatchewan Conflict: World War II Branch:
Just then we heard a plane coming over and things going boom, boom, boom, getting closer and closer, and so we dived into the ditch. And here is a plane dropping anti-personnel bombs; they’re just small bombs but they throw shrapnel everywhere. And we’d have been all right if it had landed on the ground but it landed on the stone wall and came swooping down and hit me in the arm and the leg.
Being a mechanic with the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers did not keep Clifford Maze away from danger. Fighting through Normandy, Maze remembers landing on the beaches and the day he was injured by enemy bombs.
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They unloaded us on what they called a Rhino [ferry]. That was a big, flat platform made of big steel tanks all fastened together with two motors on the back and you unloaded onto that and then it could go close enough to shore where you could drive off. We’d just nicely drove off the shore and something went “wham!” and hit our truck, and I was driving a white scout car, and it hit our truck. It scared the devil out of us; we didn’t know, we were pretty new at it. Pretty soon it happened again and then we saw here there was two big armoured – Greyhound armoured cars next to us, and they’d put waterproof [material] around the turret and put explosives around behind it, so when we got to shore they could push the button, blow it off, be ready to go. Well, that was what was hitting us, but we didn’t know then.
Then we went on in. I don’t know where, for sure, several miles anyhow in. We were there for five days and then my brother - we were never far apart, he was, we were both, all with anti-tanks, so - he come over and said he was going back to the beach, they’d put in a parts depot back there. He wanted to know if I wanted to go, so I checked around and found out what all we might need and got a list and went back with him. It was in a big bunker, near the coast, that the Germans had, and I was talking to the guys there and they said, “You never saw such a bloody mess.” He said, “The [Régiment de la] Chaudière took it,” and he says, “I don’t think they fired a shot. All they used was a knife.” He said they had quite a time cleaning it up.
But anyhow, we got our parts, but by that time it was starting to get dark, and we went to go back, but the military police wouldn’t let us go back the road we’d come down, they’d narrowed the road so they’d made two one-way roads. So they put us on another one and they wanted to know where we were, and we weren’t even sure where our home was, anyhow.
So anyhow, we started off, going along at night, and it was me and my brother and another fellow of his was called Shorty, and we come to a Y in the road with a sign up there and we thought, “Well, we’d get our map and see if we could see what the sign says” – the Germans hadn’t had time to take it down.
While we were there, a British jeep came up with two people in it, and they were lost too. Just then we heard a plane coming over and things going “boom, boom, boom,” getting closer and closer, so we dived into the ditch. And, here’s a plane dropping anti-personnel bombs – they’re just small bombs but they throw shrapnel everywhere. And we’d have been all right if it had landed on the ground but it landed on the stone wall, and came swooping down, and hit me in the arm and the leg. But Shorty, it took a chunk about an inch wide and six inches long out of his steel helmet and part of his head with it. He went back to Canada.
One of the British guys, he was laying there and, I never saw a dead man in my life, but I said to my brother, “It looks like he’s had it.” And, I didn’t even know, I’m wounded, I felt it go “wham!” and I bounced on the ground and I had my steel helmet on, my arms around my side like this to protect me, and then this – we took Shorty – we heard some voices up above and they sort of said something, and we said, “Do you happen to have a stretcher?” And they said, “Yes.” So I went up and got a stretcher and came down and my brother and I put Shorty on and carried him up and here, of all places was an air force surgical unit, just setting up there – they’d just come in that day and they just had a tent set up and so we set Shorty up there. And then went back, and then the Englishman this time was moving around. I thought he was dead but, so we carried him up there, and he later died. And we took him up there, and then I come down and then I felt something squishing in my boot and I pulled my sock up and there was blood running down my leg. It didn’t really hurt that much. So then I showed that to Joe, so Joe said, “Well, we’d better go up again.”
So, we went up again and, then I found that I had blood running down my arm. It’s a good thing that I had my arms around there because it hit me there and it would’ve hit my face if I hadn’t. And so we were in there and they bandaged it up and probably gave me a shot, I don’t know. The next morning, they put me out on a table and cut kind of like a groove - oh my God - and then they put sulfa [an anti-microbial chemical] on it, which was just new, and they probably gave me penicillin, which was also pretty new, and they bandaged it up. You know, they never looked at that for four days. I lay there for four days and never worried about it.