Veteran Stories:
James Melville McEwen

Army

  • The Memory Project, Historica Canada
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"On time we got cornered--this was the last time we got cornered and, anyways, we finally got near a Dutchman's house and he took us and put us up in the attic. We stayed in the attic for, I think it was night and a day and probably another night. "

Transcript

So after we finished our basic training, we went overseas. From there it was right overseas. And when we got to Vancouver, they sped us up Phil, he went away over to Sicily, South Africa. Went through that way. And they kept me in England. And Lester, he stayed in England too, and Lester, he joined the Service Corps and I got transferred to the 12th Manitoba Dragoons. Next day met him 'til after the war. Yeah.

Interviewer:       In that picture, you seem to be carrying a brand gun.

Respondent:      Oh yeah, it was.

Interviewer:       Did you do that ordinarily in your troop?

Respondent:      Well, quite a bit, yeah.

Interviewer:       Usually one man was assigned to carry the…

Respondent:      Yeah, we used to work on our, the red room was all Staghounds and scout cars and we used to go, I was with a support troop. And most of our work was at night, most of that night. Then they'd go ahead of the front lines and lead into the enemy lines and see what was going on and come back and report it.

Interviewer:       Did you ever get ambushed?

Respondent:      Oh yes, yes, yes, we got cornered a couple of times. On time we got cornered – this was the last time we got cornered – and anyways, we finally got near a Dutchman's house and he took us and put us up in the attic. We stayed in the attic for, I think it was night and a day and part of another night before we got away. The only thing he had to give us was a weak piece of rabbit 'cause the way they knew we were around somewhere but they couldn’t find us. So last for a night we sneaked off, and got away. Yeah.

Interviewer:       Could you see out of this house you were in, the building?

Respondent:      No. No, we were upstairs.

Interviewer:       In the attic.

Respondent:      Yeah, we could still hear the Germans walking down below, walking around with the Dutchman, yeah.

Interviewer:       They came in the house even?

Respondent:      Oh yeah. They knew we were around somewhere and couldn't find us.

Interviewer:       Did they get your vehicle?

Respondent:      We didn't have a vehicle. Oh no, we done all our work on foot.

Interviewer:       Oh, I see.

Respondent:      Yeah, um-hum, yeah.

Interviewer:       That was pretty risky work.

Respondent:      Oh yeah, it was.

Interviewer:       Did you ever try to get out of it? I mean, who would want to do that?

Respondent:      Well, it was just as safe, I guess, as any other thing, isn't it, you know? Could have done a job driving a scout car or to stand down but no, no. I felt safer in the ground.

 

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