Veteran Stories:
Michael Krewiak

Army

  • Recruitment photo taken after joining the Canadian Forces in 1940.

    Michael Krewiak
  • Company picture taken prior to departure to Normandy. The Lake Superior Regiment (Motor), England, Spring 1944. Michael Krewiak is in the middle.

    Michael Krewiak
  • The farm in Holland where Michael Krewiak and his comrades were wounded on the day he describes in the interview in October 1944. His carrier was parked right beside the farm building in the photo when they were hit by the mortars.

    Michael Krewiak Jr.
  • Lifetime membership of the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada. December 30th, 1987.

    Michael Krewiak
  • Distinguished service award from The War Amputations of Canada. November 7th, 2003.

    Michael Krewiak
  • Lifetime membership in the Royal Canadian Legion. 2005.

    Michael Krewiak
  • Mr. Michael Krewiak.

    Michael Krewiak Jr.
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Listen to this story

"And I was making the tea and I could hear this thing sizzling through the air. And a mortar bomb when it's coming practically on top of you it sizzles away like a goose hissing away. And I told the guys, I said make as small a target as you can because it's coming right on top of us. And it was boom, boom. Two of them landed one after the other."

Transcript

We crossed the Albert Canal [Belgium] at a place called Wouwse Plantage, which was not too far from Bergen op Zoom [Netherlands] and the Rhine River.

We came to an anti-tank ditch and we had to wait out until the cat [(a bulldozer)] come and fill the ditch up so that we could advance. And our infantry got across and they were ahead. And once we got out then we got ahead of the infantry and sprayed the field with machinegun bullets and that to keep the Germans' heads down and that.

And I pulled into this one area and a couple of boys from C Company -- I was in Baker [B Company]. There was a couple of boys from C Company asked me if I had any way of making any hot tea. And I said yes. I'll get my cooker and I said you guys have to replenish all my supplies that I give to you guys.

And I was making the tea and I could hear this thing sizzling through the air. And a mortar bomb when it's coming practically on top of you it sizzles away like a goose hissing away. And I told the guys, I said make as small a target as you can because it's coming right on top of us. And it was boom, boom. Two of them landed one after the other.

And I got my package. I was severely wounded. My partner that I knew from C Company he lost both his feet at the ankles. The other guy just got one piece of shrapnel. And the fourth guy got a piece of shrapnel in the neck. He was okay.

The first aid guy took care of them. Bandaged me up, bandaged my partner up. Took us to the regimental aid post. The doctor seen us. He sent my partner away first and me second. And he said I see no ‘M’ on your forehead, Mike. And I said no, I don’t want no more morphine. I said I'm okay.

And he sent me to the hospital at Antwerp [Belgium] and I was whipped into the operating room. And was talking with the doctor and everything. He said I better put you to sleep, got to work on you. And I said wait doctor. I say is that chap coming in. I said my partner got wounded with me. And so they put him beside me on the stretcher. And doctors come to work on him. And that was the last time I seen him, he passed away.

And I was put up after they operated on me and cleaned up all my wounds and everything. And I was up in the room and talking to the nurse and I said you're English. She says yes. I said they all sound as if they're talking English. And she says yes, this is a British hospital. And I said, but I'm a Canadian. And she said well we're taking all the causalities today. Tomorrow it'll be the American hospital. The next day it'll be the French. The next day it'll be the Canadian. They keep rotating that way.

I said oh. And then the doctor said you'll be out within three days because we've got to send you to have plastic surgery done on your face. I had a piece that knocked out my teeth and cut my lips and my cheeks and everything.

But my temperature went up and they said they couldn’t fly me out. So I sat there for six days. And then finally my temperature was down to a good count of about 99 [Fahrenheit degrees], which wasn’t too bad because 98 is regular.

And flew to England. We landed in the northern part of England. And then the next day ended up in [No.] 24 General Hospital, just outside of London.

I was there still the following year, that year, and then the following year. And we got word that there's negotiations going on and everything. And then May 10th we got word and bingo, we're out of this 24 General Hospital. And in ambulances and taken to the station, the hospital trains were waiting. We got on the train, hospital trains, and went to Liverpool and boarded a Canadian hospital ship, [SS] Letitia. And from there we went across the Atlantic and over back to Canada and into Halifax and Pier 21.

And the funniest part, when we were in England we were Canadians, called Canadian. We come back no you're not. You're Ukrainian. You're polish. You're Jewish or whatever nationality you are. We said okay, we'll take it either way as long as we're back home in Canada.

And we got on the train and we're going through and we come to St. John, New Brunswick station and the ladies aids come out there and any Lake Superior's [members of The Lake Superior Regiment (Motor)]. Yes, I said I'm here. Oh, okay, and they loaded me up with a bunch of goodies and everything. And the guy said how come you get all that stuff. And I said because I belong to a good unit.

And I ended up in Deer Lodge Hospital [Winnipeg, Manitoba]. And I was in and out, in and out of the hospital, in and out. And finally on December 21st [1945], four days before Christmas, they took me into the operating room and took my right leg off because that was the most severely hit leg. When I got wounded back in France, or in Holland.

And while I was over Christmas in Deer Lodge, and the springtime I got up out of bed, walking around slowly getting my strength back and everything, I said I'd like to get out for a while. And they said okay, but if anything happens we want you right back in again. And if anything happens you just phone for an ambulance and it'll come out to get you.

I went home and different guys, buddies, that were younger, but stayed behind. And they had cars and they come and took me around, driving me around everywhere. And of course by that time I met my present wife and we're going around together. And I asked her, I gave her a ring. Then we made arrangements for a wedding. We got married. And I have three lovely children, two sons and a daughter.

And they're all well off and working. And I'm in this easy living pleasure home as they call it. And that’s my life.

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