Veteran Stories:
Douglas Gage

Army

  • First annual reunion of CANLOAN officers, Royal Empire Society, London, England, 14 April 1945.

    Faces of War: Lt. Arthur L. Cole / Canada. Department of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-183895
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"Then I went back to my own battalion and informed them that there was about 300 yards of open country between our two battalions and if the Germans were sharp, they would do the usual thing of rip the seams – you attack in-between two formations."

Transcript

The night when I joined the unit, I met only my company commander, and was sent back to act as a guide to bring the battalion into its rest position. But there I met the CO [commanding officer], a Colonel Wilkins,* who had a Military Cross from Dunkirk.  Quite a capable commander.  The second-in-command – a few of the other senior officers of the battalion.  One of my inquiries, of course, was did they have any other CANLOAN officers.  Well, it turned out they had had three.  Lieutenant [Arthur N.] Stone, whom I remember, is still alive, lives in Toronto. Thomson,** who had been killed, and Lynn,*** whom I didn’t know, but he had come from Thetford Mines, Quebec. I didn’t know any of them, I was the last one, the only Canadian there at this time, but all were thought of very highly by the battalion, by the officers, in general.  So this encouraged me somewhat.

We had a few days of a make and mend, and replenishing ammunition, and then we went forward again to relieve another battalion in the brigade, I believe it was the Royal Norfolks.^  At this point there was another interesting little item: The Royal Norfolks had established a telephone communication link, sort of an unauthorized link, but with the battalion on their right. They introduced me, by telephone, to this battalion, so we could keep in contact and watch, or report on anything that was happening in the area sort of between us.  Then, somewhat later, that battalion was relieved, and they didn’t bother to inform their relief that we had, that we were connected with them by phone. So I phoned up one day and the word came back that, very concerned, that, who is this - they thought an American voice – coming in on their switchboard?  So, I eventually convinced them that I was – tried to convince them – that I was who I said I was and I said, “Well, I’ll come over and see you, don’t shoot at me.”

So with my batman, I went across, following the telephone line that we had laid, that someone had laid, till I found the 7th Battalion of the South Straffordshires,^^ and with the aid of another officer whom they called up – another CANLOAN officer - I had forgotten which one it was, it was either one or two – I convinced them that I was who I said I was and that we had a connection and we would be in contact with one another. Then I went back to my own battalion and informed them that there was about 300 yards of open country between our two battalions and if the Germans were sharp, they would do the usual thing of rip the seams – you attack in-between two formations.

*Lieutenant-Colonel Gilbert McCartney Wilkins, MC, killed in action 17 August 1944

**Lieutenant Raymond W. Thomson, killed in action 9 July 1944

***Lieutenant Brian F. Lynn, killed in action 1 August 1944

^The Royal Norfolk Regiment, British Army

^^The South Staffordshire Regiment, British Army

 

Interview with Douglas Gage - FCWM Oral History Project

Accession Number CWM 20020121-020

George Metcalf Archival Collection

© Canadian War Museum

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