Veteran Stories:
Maxwell McDougall

Army

  • Maxwell McDougall at Toronto, Ontario, March 2012.

    Historica Canada
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"I remember John wrote home and he said, “Keep your eye on the newspaper,” and he didn’t say anything else, so that in the newspaper that come up that he had got awarded the Military Medal."

Transcript

Well you were supposed to be, in the cadets I think you were supposed to be 16 or that, well I jacked up my age […] marching hell, and we used to go on the ranges firing the rifles too. As soon as we got in the reserve we were training two nights, or two days a week and then going up to [Camp] Borden or all these places on weekends, and then a big summer training two weeks up at Petawawa [Ontario] that’s where we really did most of our training, and I guess we were up there for two weeks and I had charge the three inch mortars so that means I had three mortars, so I would be up in what the officers called off station post and calling orders back to the mortars. So what you would do, you would see there are a clump of trees down here or anything, there was enemy in the trees so you would fire back from range, which 2800 yards, and a shell probably ran before, reduce it, maybe a 100 and 200 yards, and then we give a correction maybe two degree left and that and then you would get rapid mortar fire, and all three mortars would fire at the same time, and constantly and they would all land up right where they were supposed to be.

So I was in charge training drivers on the trucks and also the Bren gun carriers, or universal carriers [light armoured, tracked vehicle]. The mortars had the universal carrier fix, you would put your, the mortar would come in three sections, your base plate, your bipod and barrel so that fitted on the back of the mortar, plus your bombs would be inside the mortar, so that’s the way it was setup so when you go into action you were trained to get into the action fast, so I was training on that. And also if you threw a track you had to know how to put it back on again, and so with tracks you had to do for minor repairs that you could fix, on the whole…

I could have probably stayed in infantry but you’re not going to, you’re limited to what you can do, if you decide to go to civilian life, you’re going to be maybe police or prison guards of stuff like that, or you know unless you learn some other trade. So I was always interested in vehicles so as soon as a vehicle come in I was the first one working on the first one on the line, so I was pulling the wheels, checking the breaks, packing the wheel bearings and that, undoing the break-shoes and then red led the backing plates on your wheels, on your…and then your axel so you got a backing plate, and red light it and put it back together again and make sure the breaks were working. And then it would be towed to the next person who would be doing something on the engine, and when it got to the end of the line, they would run the engines up, put a solution of oil and stuff into the engine and to lubricate it all, and it would be kind of conking out by doing that, then they would take all the component parts off the engine like the carburetors, and your generators and store them, and then tow them over to the paint shop, where we spray painted it, and then two them out to the runways and put them up on blocks. And I have pictures there, looking as far as the eye could see you see these lines of vehicles up on blocks. Now they had two big vehicles there were outstanding, they were what we call wireless command vehicles, we used to call them pigs, these things, one was a six wheel drive and the wheels would be at least maybe 2 feet wide at least and about five feet high, these things were big, they weighed I don’t know how many tons, but these vehicles they had rails, they could come in any place in the world with these. So one of our, actually had been one of the guys from my squad was out there at the same time and he got this thing going out on the runway. The breaks ever failed, nothing would have stopped it, it would go through anything.

All my brothers, one of the older brothers, had got injured on the lake when the war break out, but my brothers, Manny, Vance, William, and myself all ended up, well they ended up in the active force at that time, my brother John, John was in the medical corps and he landed in Sicily when he was 17, being the [Royal Canadian Army] Medical Corps, and by the time he was in Sicily for about two months he was up to the rank of a sergeant because there wasn’t that many medics, when they landed there was one medic on each ship, and he got a lot of on the job. It really was pretty sensitive, I remember John wrote home and he said, “Keep your eye on the newspaper,” and he didn’t say anything else, so that in the newspaper that come up that he had got awarded the Military Medal.

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