Veteran Stories:
Alex Alton

Army

  • Alex Alton and his fellow soldiers.

    Alex Alton
  • A Canadian Army dispatch rider having fun on his motorcycle.

    Alex Alton
  • Dispatch rider Alex Alton on his motorcycle.

    Alex Alton
  • While Alex Alton recuperated from his injuries late in the war, the Queen Mother visited his English hospital.

    Alex Alton
  • Certificate "For Gallantry" given to Alex Alton, from Field Marshal B.L. Montgomery, Commander-in-Chief, 21st Army Group.

    Alex Alton
  • Unit history - "1st Battalion The Highland Light Infantry of Canada 1940-1945."

    Highland Light Infantry Association of Canada
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"And, we almost got to him when I stepped on a landmine."

Transcript

[As dispatch rider], you lead the convoy. And then when you get it in the billet - everybody’s down for the night, and the different – like A, B, C, D divisions, are in different locations, and if the radio – you can’t get through on your CBs [Citizens Band radios], well it’s up to you to go there and deliver the message, whatever is that day, the colonel wants to send, or anybody from the headquarters. And so, a lot of times, just in a dead area, and the radio didn’t work very good at all, so it was up to you to get through, in order to give them the message, and when they’re going to pull out at one in the morning, or whatever it was going to - you know whatever message it was.

Just before D-Day [6 June 1944], why they took them,  the Harley-Davidsons away and they’d give you Enfields [motorcycles]. In case you went into a bomb crater, you couldn’t lift the Harley out, but, the smaller machine, where you could pick it up and get out all by yourself, you know.

But a lot of places we were going from bomb crater to bomb crater, you know, and there was just – when they dropped them big 500-lb. bomb toys, they made quite a crater in the ground.

We were in the forward position, across the Rhine [River], and they sent on a sentry, in order  to do some surveying, and the guy stepped on a mine and nobody made an attempt to go get him. So I said to this other guy, “Come on, we’ll go out and get him.” And, we almost got to him when I stepped on one. After I was told not to - “You stay here,” you know, “we might meet Germans.” And then I got, this is about four in the morning and I got back to the hospital in Eindhoven, in Holland, about 11:00, and I woke up in Germany, er, in England. I don’t remember the fighting or anything else.

And then while we were over there [England], the Queen [Mother] came to visit. Not just me, but everybody that was in the hospital. And they had a big write-up in the paper. And I got in it and – she no sooner left the room and everybody walked up to you and they wanted to know what did she say, what did you say, and all this kind of stuff. And where you from, what’s the name of your paper? And it appeared in the [St. Catharines] Standard. And, that was, maybe, the end of February 1944, or, around first of Mar – end of February, first of March, anyway.

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