Veteran Stories:
Ken McLeod

Army

  • The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, 4th Brigade, 2nd Division enter the Dutch village of Krabbendijke, South Beveland on October 27, 1944. Before Holland, the regiment had fought in France and Belgium.

  • Members of the RHLI and friends of Ken McLeod. One of these men was late taken as a prisoner of war

Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"They put Churchill tanks – quite a number of them – at the front of the column"

Transcript

I enlisted on December 2nd, 1942, in Regina, and I did a bit of training in Prince Albert and did a bit of training in Shilo, and started driving infantry vehicles. From there, I went to Woodstock. Came back to Winnipeg and went to school in the Ford plant, and we studied the mechanics of vehicles. From there, I went back to Shilo and we refitted these driving vehicles, because they had closed the school at that time, in 1943. From there I went to Debert, and in the beginning of June, I left and went to England. On D-Day, we were a few miles south of Iceland. The 2nd Division went in a month after the 3rd Division who went in on D-Day, and then I went into France about a week later, into the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. They had put in their first attack, and they were at Rauray Ridge. It was a few miles east of Caen, in France, and that area was about the last of what you would call the front, because when they moved out of there they were leaving France, and they were sort of disorganized from then on. When I went into the regiment at Rauray Ridge, there were two T-16s. That's what I did when I got into the regiment. I drove T-16s from then until the end of the war. I towed an anti-tank gun. There were two of them sitting there, and there were two of them sitting there and no drivers. One had got shrapnel in his elbow, and the other one ran away. It wasn't long before the Germans moved out, and we were putting together the first… I guess you would call it an attack of some description. It was what they called 'Operation Totalise'. They put Churchill tanks – quite a number of them – at the front of the column. They had a drum across the front of it with steel chains fastened to it, and they were spinning to detonate mines. They had the infantry fellows loaded in half-tracks, and the rest of the armoured equipment, like I drove, we were lined up behind that, and at the back end of it were 3.7 ack-ack guns, and they lowered the barrels to about ten degrees off the ground, and they started firing and we started driving. As long as we stayed under their tracer ammunition… you could see them quite plain in the dark. We were in the same path that the Churchill tanks cleared the mines from. It was slow going. It was raining and it was foggy, and we laid down smoke, so it was a little hard to see, but by daylight we were at an open airfield. It was just a landing strip. I would imagine we drove six or seven miles in that five or six hours that we drove. We moved through France most of the way. The infantry guys walked. The Germans, when they left, they left the odd machine gun to slow us down. Naturally knew what roads we were using, from the scouts.
Follow us