Veteran Stories:
A. Merfyn David

Army

  • Clipping from the newspaper "Maple Leaf." Photograph of the parade of Canadian soldiers through Dieppe, France marking the town's liberation and in memory of the 1942 raid by a mostly Canadian force. September 1944.

    A. Merfyn David
  • A copy of Mr. David's Canadian Army Soldier's Service and Pay Book (inside cover), lost while on service. 30 December 1944.

    A. Merfyn David
  • Message form, 2 Canadian Corps to 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, outlining message from Headquarters, First Canadian Army detailing the German surrender and action to be taken. 7 May 1945.

    A. Merfyn David
  • Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day) in Germany. Members of Signals, 2nd Canadian Infantry Division dressed in German army uniforms. Merfyn David is in rear, second from left. 8 May 1945.

    A. Merfyn David
  • Merfyn David (leaning against vehicle) and his fellow signalmen on V-E Day in Germany. 8 May 1945.

    A. Merfyn David
  • Members of "O" Section, 2nd Canadian Infantry Division posing with a large bottle of champagne on V-E Day. Oldenburg, Germany, 8 May 1945.

    A. Merfyn David
  • Hat badge, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (RCCS). Mr. David's original hat badge was issued when he joined RCCS in 1942; the badge was then backed with an authorized blue patch upon his posting to 2nd Canadian Infantry Division (2 CID) in 1943. Blue was the official colour of 2 CID.

    A. Merfyn David
  • Letter from Bell Telephone Company, promising Merfyn David a job after his post-war return to Toronto and Bell. 14 September 1945.

    A. Merfyn David
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"Prior to D-Day, they decided they were going to have a church service... at Canterbury Cathedral. "

Transcript

A couple of reasons, I guess.  Dieppe [Raid in 1942] had happened, earlier, and, I guess that brought the war home to a lot of Canadian families and a lot of Canadian people.  And, secondly I was getting into the age where I was probably going to get called up, anyway, so, I guess I took the bull by the horns and joined up ahead of time.

When we got to Aldershot [Nova Scotia], they broke us up, and then, I happened to be posted to “O” Section in 2nd Div Headquarters, in the signals group, in the division headquarters.  And I was with them, then, for the rest of the war.

Well, we did a couple of manoeuvres; went on some field exercises.  A lot of the regiments in 2nd Div had been involved in Dieppe, so they suffered very, very severe casualties.  And, partly as a result of that, we were assigned the specialized job of river crossing, and we went up to Scunthorpe [England], at one time, to practice river crossings, and the vehicles were all waterproof to go through water and this kind of thing.

Prior to D-Day [6 June 1944], they decided they were going to have a church service and, we were just down the road from Canterbury, so the Protestant service was held at Canterbury Cathedral.  And, prior to that, they put out a call at headquarters for singers and I’d always done a little bit of singing at home, so, volunteered, and we were sort of a, 35 or 40 male voices forming the choir for this service at Canterbury.  I remember standing in one of the courtyards of Dover Castle with our backs up against the wall and singing our way through some of the songs (laughs).

In terms of the [Normandy] invasion, prior to the whole division going over, there was an advance party of the [commanding] general and his General Service Officer who looks after technical stuff – tactical stuff, rather – and, some other people, and they had some signals, and I was part of the little group of signallers that went on the advance party, so, we went to France, oh, maybe two weeks ahead of the rest of the division.

Well, there were two of us, that were operating the signals office and looking after messages from the general, and general staff, of our division, to whoever else he wanted to send signals or messages to, be they other people already onsite or, you know, in other units of 3rd [Canadian Infantry] Division, or whether it was back to England.

We were down between Caen and Falaise [France], and, the [1st] Polish [Armoured] Division was on our left, a field or two away, and they got bombed by the RAF by mistake.  I think the intention was to, was to bomb ahead of us, but, because of the wind direction and the dust that was raised, and the system that they used at that time – they’d have some Mosquito bombers – very fast, light planes – that would come over and sort of mark the targets [with flares].  And then, the big heavy bombers would come along after that, and bomb into the area that had been marked. Well, when you have a wind and it’s carrying the dust back towards us, in this case, the bombers started to drop their, them big heavy bombers, were dropping their bombs in the area, coming towards us.  Instead of going away from us, they were coming towards us, and they got so close to us that, the Polish division, which was on our left, was accidently bombed.

Another time we were attacked by [Allied] Typhoon [fighter-bombers].  Our convoy was [accidentally] attacked even though we had big markers on our cabs of the engine of the trucks that we were in, we still happened to get attacked one day.

Because our division, many of the regiments had been involved in the Dieppe disaster, we diverted as we were going across northern France, and spent a day in Dieppe and had a huge parade down the main street, all the people of the division were involved in that.

We were in the field, on the bank of the river, south of the, or upstream of the Nijmegen Bridge, and we had to dig our slit trenches there, and put up our little pup tents over the top of it and it was very damp.  And, I guess somebody took pity on us, because after a short time, a few days of that, they moved us into the town of Nijmegen and we were billeted in a house.  There were five of us and we were billeted in this house with a family, and we were allowed to use the attic, which was quite dry and relatively warm.

Because we were in the signals office, we got the word of the cessation of activity even before the general got it (laughs) [news of the war’s end in Europe].  Because, you know, all the messages came through us, whether they were in code or whether they were plain language.

There’s a big arena there, just almost part of the Horse Palace [in Toronto], Ricoh arena, I think they call it now.  Our families were all arranged under signs with the alphabet of their first letter of their last name and, so they marched us in and, dismissed us, and, so we were able to join our families.

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