Veteran Stories:
Robert Bryden Ogden

Army

  • Robert Ogden (at rear) with fellow soldiers.

    Robert Ogden
  • Robert Ogden in front of Burwash Hall, Victoria College, University of Toronto. 1943.

    Robert Ogden
  • Robert Ogden in Aurich, Germany, 7 October 1945. Ogden remained in Germany after the war as part of the Allied occupation force.

    Robert Ogden
  • Robert Ogden's War Medal (1939-45).

    Robert Ogden
  • Robert Ogden's France and Germany Star

    Robert Ogden
  • Robert Ogden's Canadian Volunteer Service Medal.

    Robert Ogden
  • Robert Ogden's Canadian Army Soldier's Service Book and Pay Book.

    Robert Ogden
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"There were just two companies, so, we’d be less than 100 troops that would go over and we established a bridgehead. And the idea then was for other groups then to come in and expand the bridgehead. But the Germans counterattacked and things didn’t move forward as quickly as they had planned. "

Transcript

Well, because I was so tall, everybody figures you’re strong.  So I was given the Bren [light machine] gun.  Then my first experience with that was an eight-mile route march carrying the Bren gun and, later in the day, I kept thinking to myself, “I’m going to go as far as the top of that next hill and then I’m going to quit.  I’m not going to walk any further.”  And I never did.  I kept going, and that, I’d never forgotten that.

We were taken by vehicle down to the Rhine River and the engineers had been – constructed a floating bridge.  And we walked across, and then, as I say, we marched for about eight miles, I think it was.  And then, we kept proceeding more or less like that.  We’d move forward almost every day.  And then, invariably you’d come into contact, like – started out in Germany, but we were very soon into Holland.  And, every day you’d arrive, go through a new town and the people would tell you that, oh, the Germans all moved out in the morning or the day before.  They all seemed to have moved out just before we arrived.

It kept like that pretty all the way up through Holland except the one situation we were in, our regiment was responsible for making a bridgehead over the Twente Canal.  Oh, we were taken by transport to within a kilometre or so of the canal, I guess, and then we walked to the canal.  The engineers had brought in inflatable boats, and we were about four or six to a boat, and paddled across to the other side.  Then there was somebody that took the boat back to get another group.

There were just two companies, so, we’d be less than 100 troops that would go over and we established a bridgehead.  And the idea then was for other groups then to come in and expand the bridgehead.  But the Germans counterattacked and things didn’t move forward as quickly as they had planned.  We were there for, I guess, 24 hours, before finally reinforcements did come in and the Germans then beat a retreat.

They were, at this point we’re talking about April 1945 – it’d be early April, I guess.  The Germans were pretty well – would just fight a bit and then they would pull out and move back and then fight a bit more.  There wasn’t any, there were mind you, a lot of people killed during the last couple of months of the war, but, generally speaking there was not the same battles that there had been.  Like, when I joined to the regiment, I had experienced one of the worst battles of the war for them.  They – about 50% of the regiment had been wiped out.  That’s why I came up to as a replacement.

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