Veteran Stories:
Robert “Bob” Rutherford

Army

  • Robert Rutherford

    Robert Rutherford
  • Robert Rutherford at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, January 2012.

    Historica Canada
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"But the Canadians, the Canadian Armoured Corps, when I say the Amoured Corps the tank corps, were very brave boys, they were wonderful soldiers, I lost a lot of good friends. War is crazy you know, doesn’t prove anything, I don’t think, it doesn’t prevent anything."

Transcript

I was born in Owen Sound [Ontario] and I was joined the Grey and Simcoe Foresters which was a local regiment, and my father was a brigadier general [BGen Tom Rutherford, commanded 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade and 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade during the Second World War], and he commanded the 5th [Canadian] Armoured Brigade, but that had nothing to do with my position in the military because I steered clear of him. And I joined the Green and Simcoe Foresters from Owen Sound, and I went overseas with the 5th [Canadian] Armoured Division [Brigade], and was in England for… I went to Africa, was in England first and then I went to Africa for a while and then I went to Italy, and then I was in Italy for Cassino [17 January to 18 May 1944, series of four battles fought by Allies against German and Italian soldiers with the intention of breaking through the Winter Line and capturing Rome, ultimate Allied victory though at a high cost], spent most of my war in Italy, Africa, and Naples. I was there when they captured in Naples, and in Rome and all the way up Italy, right up, right up. Well I was with the 5th Armoured Brigade and we were all going together, and that was, we’d been sitting in England for a long time doing not very much, so we’re all pretty pleased that we’re finally going to get into the war, so we were in Africa went to Africa first and then we went into Italy. Monte Cassino was a very steep mountain, and just south of Rome, and it would control the whole area, the Germans were up on the top of the mountain with their heavy guns, and we were trying to make a foothold in Italy, we couldn’t capture Rome without taking Cassino, we had to capture Cassino to get Rome, and we did that. Sherman tanks we had, and they were good tanks, they were better than we thought they were better than the German tanks, the German tanks were very good tanks so, very good tanks, they were faster than our tanks, and the Germans had more of them than we did, but our old Sherman tanks were pretty good tanks. And it was a long struggle at Cassino, I can actually remember the sounds of the guns going off and landing all around us, a lot of my friends were killed there you know, but anyway I survived. We didn’t go up on the top of the hills very often because we were targets, if we…we stayed in the valley pretty well, we had to stay on the… Italy is a very rough country and all, very mountainous, it's very hard for tanks if they get off the road, and so we were pretty well confined to the roads, and the roads in Italy were very narrow, and steep, steep mountains and bridges were this wide, I'm indicating about, just a few feet wide and a whole… None of them were built for tanks, a lot of our tanks would go over the bridge, whomp, the bridge would go out from under them. But the Canadians, the [Royal] Canadian Armoured Corps, when I say the Amoured Corps the tank corps, were very brave boys, they were wonderful soldiers, I lost a lot of good friends. War is crazy you know, doesn’t prove anything, I don’t think, it doesn’t prevent anything.
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