Veteran Stories:
Bruce Garrison

Army

  • During August or September 1944 Bruce Garrison's father, R.S.M. Garrison took this photograph of Allied troops taking a musical time-out on a found piano in France.

    During August or September 1944 Bruce Garrison's father, R.S.M. Garrison took this photograph of Allied troops taking a musical time-out on a found piano in France.
  • Bruce Garrison's father, R.S.M. Garrison, took this photograph of Juno Beach on D-day (June 6, 1944). Note the shoreline obstructions.

    Bruce Garrison's father, R.S.M. Garrison, took this photograph of Juno Beach on D-day (June 6, 1944). Note the shoreline obstructions.
  • Bruce Garrison's father, R.S.M. Garrison, photographed this ruined factory upon entering a small village. 1944.

    Bruce Garrison's father, R.S.M. Garrison, photographed this ruined factory upon entering a small village. 1944.
  • This downed enemy plane was photographed by Bruce Garrison's father, R.S.M. Garrison. 1944.

    This downed enemy plane was photographed by Bruce Garrison's father, R.S.M. Garrison. 1944.
  • Pictured at Camp Borden, summer 1941, Bruce Garrison's father R.R. Garrison sits astride the motorcycle used for dispatch between units.

    Pictured at Camp Borden, summer 1941, Bruce Garrison's father R.R. Garrison sits astride the motorcycle used for dispatch between units.
  • This German map was discovered by Bruce Garrison's father R.S.M. Garrison in a bunker on Juno Beach, June 6 or 7, 1944 (D-day or D-day plus one).

    This German map was discovered by Bruce Garrison's father R.S.M. Garrison in a bunker on Juno Beach, June 6 or 6, 1944 (D-day or D-day plus one).
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Transcript

My name is Bruce Garrison. I served in the Royal Canadian Electrical Mechanical Engineers, 1950 to '53. And, following basic training, was trained in weapons, and became an Armour Group 1. Stationed at 205 Base Workshop in Camp Borden. Shortly thereafter received my Group 2. And did a lot of work with the units within Camp Borden, at the shooting ranges.

When I first enlisted, early in basic training, I felt that, "Gosh, I might like to go home and get away from this." And I had a very nice young officer that I talked to about it. And his comment to me was, "You haven't given us a chance. Wait until you're finished your basic." So, by the time I was finished basic training, I was totally happy and would have stayed for a long time. I did get to enjoy it and the work that I was doing. I enjoyed my time there. After I got over the initial shock.

The workshop that I was involved with handled everything from throwing daggers to 4-inch mortars. But the bulk of my work was with Bren Guns, Lee-Enfield Mark IVs - that's the .303 rifle - and some Sten Gun work. The Bren Gun is a weapon that actually was considered to be quite excellent and had very few flaws. And was usually trouble-free, if the individual using it maintained it. I've talked to two or three people that were using them in Korea and found them to be a very satisfactory weapon. If... a weapon can be assumed as being good, they were very good.

The Sten Gun, as it was originally developed, I guess for the Second World War, had no safety on it. And they were, I believe it's called, a blow-back action. And the weight of the breach block could be jarred severely by shaking it, and it would fire the weapon. My father gave me an indication of one chap who was carrying the weapon on a rainy day, stepping up into the back of a field artillery tractor on steel steps and his foot slipped and he struck the butt on the step and the gun fired and the man shot himself. My dad indicated to me that, during a lull in their advance, they came across a farm house that was pretty much destroyed but they did find a piano. And, I guess, four or five of them picked it up and carried it outside and one fellow, I guess, was adept at playing the piano, so they decided to have a little sing-song.

About the time of my discharge, they were getting into some new weaponry and, kind of standardizing the size of the calibre so that they could be used with other troops, and I mean, Great Britain, US, Canada, etcetera, I believe are using the same size calibre so that they can interchange ammunition. What we were issued in the '50s was the Lee-Enfield rifle. And, of course the Bren Gun was used extensively, as far as I know. There were some air-cooled Browning machine guns that were mounted in tanks. And I had a little bit to do with some of the repair work done with those. But nothing as extensive as with the Lee-Enfield rifle.

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