"But, at that time, we were all getting our notice because we were becoming 19 and they give you draft notice. But we joined as volunteers."
Well, I was going to high school and when high school graduation was the last of June, 1944, when I graduated, that was Friday night, Monday morning, we were in Fredericton [New Brunswick] joining the army. But, at that time, we were all getting our notice because we were becoming 19 and they give you draft notice. But we joined as volunteers.
On VE Day, I was on guard in Aldershot, England. When that, that ended, well, I was on guard, York. They just come in and said, the war is over, so I was on guard, they left me on guard. And that weekend, we got a pass, all the ones on guard, to go to Brighton in England, south England on the Downs there, south shore. When we got back, it was a weekend and right after that, we were moved to a place called Leatherhead [England]. That was the first that I knew that we were going to occupation. We didn’t have enough points, we were just young kids. We didn’t have the points that the old people had that fought. And we would relieve them and they were to come home, we would have taken over occupation.
And we flew over from Leatherhead, the place I mentioned there, in, I would say in May or the last of June, 1945, when the war ended. They flew us. There was 50,000. And we went over by plane and glider, 25 to a unit. And we landed in Brussels in Belgium. And then we formed up a convoy and the next day, with a convoy, was apparently lined up waiting for us and it was ten miles long I remember, that’s what they told us. And we went up into Germany and up into Holland. We got a gathering point at Amersfoort in Holland. And we were there three weeks to a month and then this convoy went into Germany and we took over.
The first place I landed was in Heckelsburg, which was way back in the country. Way back in the country. And we took over from the fellows on the canal and they come home, they come back on the convoy that we went in on, they went back over back home, back to their barracks or wherever it was. And they eventually went to England and home, the fighting forces. But we stayed there for a year and we start breaking up in June 1946. But we replaced the fighting forces, wherever they were. We were sent out to relieve. If somebody was on the canal, which there was 800,000 prisoners, pretty near a million, and the fellows forced them across the canal and that was the dividing line. And wherever they were, they could be guard on the canal, they could be guards on the bridge or any guards, fighting force.
But we were sent out when we arrived that night to go find this fellow and that fellow and tell them to get back, the convoy was leaving in an hour. So this was what I was told and I ran back over to a barn on the canal and there was a middle aged man there, I would say the man was, oh, 45. I never got his name, he didn’t wait. And in fact, the man was crying. He told me, he says, “You’re kidding!” I said, “No, I’m not kidding,” and I said, “Get back to the cookhouse,” I said, “they’re waiting for you.” So. He said, “Okay.” Well, he started to run and I say, “Here, I’ll take your gear or take your rifle, I’ll pay for it when I get home.” He was so happy to get out of the place.
But it was a beautiful country, oh yes, way up north there in Germany. Yep. He went back, I stayed down guard in his place. And then it was just routine after that. Well, we were guarding it from one side, they were on the other. We didn’t see 100,000, you might have seen 15 or 20 or 25 but in that section of Germany, on the other side of the canal, they told me there was 800,000 prisoners. That’s where they shoved them all. So that they could guard them, the canal. They couldn’t swim across, they’d shoot them.