Veteran Stories:
Howard Holloway

Army

  • Private L.H. Carter of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion ready to jump from a British Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley bomber. Parachute Training School, RAF Station, Ringway, Cheshire, England, 4 April 1944.

    Canada. Sgt. Elmer R. Bonter / Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-115864 Restrictions on use: Nil Copyright: Expired
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"We kept running up against small arms and mortars and their machine guns were terrible. They were just like a rat tat tat tat! And, you knew right away that they were German. So, you had to clear them out."

Transcript

You couldn't see a thing.  And I remember coming down but I didn't hit the ground, and I couldn't figure why, and I still don't know why, but I think my parachute was caught on the chimney or part of a house.  And I come down the side of it.  And I jerked my risers to try to release myself but it wouldn't release.  And I couldn't stay there because I didn't know what was in that house. Could have been a German pillbox or bunch of guys in there.  So I had to get out of there.  So I reached up and pulled down, still couldn't, so I hit my release button and I hung onto the harness and I let myself down.  My arms weren't long enough to let me hit the ground, so, and my kit bag was over the other side of a big hedgerow.  And the hedgerows were so thick there that nothing would fall down in between them.  So finally, I don't know how far off the ground I am, so I let go.  I fell about that far.

Some of our guys are hanging around it and didn't know what to do or where to go.  And all of a sudden, this car come down the road.   Everybody opened fire on it.  And I don't think anybody hit it. And finally it stopped.  And this woman got out of it. She was shaking like a leaf, she didn't know what was going on.  She was a nurse or a doctor going to a patient, and she didn't even know that D-Day was on its way.  But she was lucky to get out of it alive.

We kept running up against small arms and mortars and their machine guns were terrible. They were just like a rat tat tat tat! And, you knew right away that they were German.  So, you had to clear them out.

How would you do that?

Encircle them, or creep up to a vantage point and throw in a grenade, or something like that.  It was all do what you can, because we had no big equipment. We had no tanks.  The only anti-tank gun we had was a PIAT.*

I worked with my dad on little projects and he was my man.  And my mother, she was the one that kept us together. I didn't know how I'd react going into action. Would I fold?  Would I be able to take it?  Would I cower in the ditch like some guys did, I saw.  Hiding, so that they wouldn't be shot.  It was all very hard on you – for two years, or for over a year, I had that in mind, would I not be able to take it?  And, that would be a great disappointment to me, because I'd let my dad down.  And he was in the First World War and he was a machine gunner.  And he was badly wounded.  That was one of the things that I was afraid of, that I wouldn't be able to keep up my end.

But you did.

The best ability.

You did keep up your end.

The best I could, yeah.  I always did what I was told to do and did it the best way I knew how.

*Projector, Infantry, Anti Tank (portable anti-tank weapon)

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