Veteran Stories:
Nelson Langevin

Navy

  • HMS Glengyle (Landing Ship Infantry, Large) in port.

    Roland Black
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"We landed right into the port. We only noticed because we could see the walls. The big stones and things like this. So, we knew we weren’t supposed to be there. So, we had to turn and get the hell out of there and go a little further east."

Transcript

We went to North Africa in 1942, December ’42.  A place called Oran, I think it was.  You see, I forgot.  With the Americans, with the Rangers, American Rangers.  And this was in December.  They told us that this was the biggest convoy that they ever assembled.  It was supposed to be, they told me, I don’t know if they were exaggerating, there was supposed to be a million men going in there.  And the funny part of it; here was a battalion of French Foreign Legion coming to meet them, where we were.  And they told us to get ready to evacuate.  All we was one battalion of French Foreign Legion.  But finally, they gave in and they were made prisoners because I guess they were on the Vichy side, these fellows.  There, most of what I could remember of that, it was a lot of sniping.  A lot of snipers in North Africa.  And this is where I learnt what MNFU, I never knew what it meant.  I found that out, because before you go into these places, they do that every time.

 

I forget to say that that they show you images at night and that, of what the place would look like.  You know what I mean.  So that you would get an idea about where you were going.  And I remember it was so dark and that.  I was in an LCM [Landing Craft Mechanized].  We landed right into the port.  We only noticed because we could see the walls.  The big stones and things like this.  So, we knew we weren’t supposed to be there.  So, we had to turn and get the hell out of there and go a little further east.  Because that’s where we were supposed to be at.  And so, I think, until this day, I think we landed in the right place.

 

But what we were carrying is a bulldozer and some of these rolls of wires.  Now, we were supposed to be there before the trucks and the tanks and that were supposed to be.  So they could put this wire on the sand, so they wouldn’t get stuck in the sand.  That was the idea.  But this bulldozer, I remember this fellow who was an American, and I guess he was nervous, I suppose, but he kept breaking the cable.  This wire was on a sleigh, a wooden sleigh, and it was attached to the bulldozer.  But when he’d leave, he’d keep jerking.  Yeah, he did keep jerking and that would break the wire.  And I remember, of course, they had showed us how to splice, and I remember going underneath there and fixing that wire.  I think I fixed it three times.  And my hands were all bloody, you know, from trying to hurry up as fast as I could.  And I’d keep stabbing myself in the fingers and stuff like that.  But that didn’t matter.  I wanted to get out of there.  But, so finally, what we did, we took two of those rolls of the sleigh.  And then the bulldozer was able to take it off and to tell you the truth, once we went back to the ship we came off on to get another load.  We pitched those things into the sea.  Just rolled them off into the sea, so we could get off that thing.  That was nothing compared to what we had seen, of course, in North Africa.  The worst things was the sniping and the things.

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