Veteran Stories:
Joe Bodie

Army

  • Joe Bodie during the Second World War.

    Joe Bodie
  • Joe Bodie's service medals (left to right): Canadian Volunteer Service Medal, 1939-1945 Star, War Medal (1939-1945).

    Joe Bodie
  • Joe Bodie's prayer book.

    Joe Bodie
  • Inside Joe Bodie's prayer book.

    Joe Bodie
  • Joe Bodie in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1 October 2012.

    The Memory Project
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"There was no such thing as, “No sir, I won’t, I can’t and I didn’t.” Everything was, “Yes sir, I will, I can and I did.”"

Transcript

We were born on a farm 15 miles north of Melville [Saskatchewan]. That’s just east of Regina or east of Saskatoon here, southeast. And we moved off the farm in 1942 and then in 1943 we got inducted into the army. And then in 1944 we went to Red Deer, Alberta for 10 weeks of training, five weeks of basic, five weeks of advance. And then unfortunately I landed in the hospital and the 10 weeks was supposed to be my full complete training and we were supposed to be shipped out, but I was 54 days in the hospital and then they kept me there for quite a while as an instructor for transportation because we were in the transportation department. And we were only 18 and a half years old, we were just kids.

Then in November of 1944 we went over to Debert, Nova Scotia. We were there until the 18th of December. They put us on the [RMS] Mauretania boat. We landed in Liverpool, England, Christmas Day. We had Christmas dinner on the boat. And the funny part of it is on the 18th of December I got my induction call in 1943. 1944 on the 18th of December, the same day, I got on the boat to go overseas.

Even in the front lines when we used to get our parcels, I got a parcel today, we split it. Anybody in the outfit, we did it. You’re not going to drag a parcel around on the front lines you know. Next day if somebody else got a parcel – cake, mostly we got fruit cake and stuff like that. It tasted good. We were never hungry. We were tired a lot of time. We were never cold because you were always shivering, you were scared. Kids used to ask me, he says, “Were you ever scared in the army?” I said, “You were always scared” – and I mean a different scared because, there goes one, there goes another one – it’s got your name on it you know. Like I say, we were just kids and we took a lot of it in stride. The only thing that was always on your mind, how long am I going to be there? You know. What’s going to happen tomorrow? Because many a times we just slept in shell holes, and between January and end of February [1945], it wasn’t the most pleasant thing because you got up in the morning, you’d have to use your bayonet to punch a hole in your ice, so you can shave. And we’d have little mirrors. They were only about this big… We used to hang them on a tree, but the sergeant would [say], “Don’t you hang that on the tree.” He said, “That’s reflection,” he said, “the Germans can see it when they’re flying over.” So we just had to go like this…? And hygiene was number one. Discipline and hygiene were number one. We never had a breakout of disease and there was no such thing as, “No sir, I won’t, I can’t and I didn’t.” Everything was, “Yes sir, I will, I can and I did.” It was challenging at times.

Just about a month before the end of the war, it was April, because the war quit in May [8th, 1945]. In April we had a big job to do to put three bridges across the Rhine River between Mannheim and Rees [Germany]. And my brother and I, we were hauling equipment for these two bridges, the Waterloo and the Bailey and the Blackfriars. It was the Waterloo, the Bailey and the Blackfriars, they were all pontoon bridges. It took them 48 hours to build a bridge. Over here it takes them four years. Those bridges – they’d hold 42-tonne tanks bumper to bumper and they’d never sink because they were all on pontoons. The pontoons were about the size of this. They put the back-to-back and then they put their planks over top of them. But that was all done by engineers but we helped the engineers by supplying transportation and food, anything that moved. It was pretty well our outfit to move it.

We just did what – they’ll say, “Well today you’re going over there, you’re going to be hauling pontoons or you’re going to be hauling timber for the beachhead,” or whatever, you know. You never knew what you were going to do – when you get up in the morning. If they say, “You’re going to go driving ambulance today, help the Red Cross” – because they were short drivers. And I was only out once, that was enough on that. And then we had to go pick up dead bodies sometimes, frozen beside the road there. The funny part of it was looking at a body on the side of the road during there, I don’t know whether we were hypnotized or subconsciously minded or something, it never bothered us, it was just like seeing a dead bird on the road, you know, or something. We had prisoners, did all the work for us. All we did was drive. Then we took all these people, these dead bodies, we would take them to a disposal point. Now, we had no idea where they took them from there, but we had to take them there. We never asked questions. We just dropped them off. I guess they took them into the graveyard and buried them respectively. It didn’t matter whether you were French, Dutch, German, a body was looked after the same way. And same with – we were hauling parents, with young kids, from Holland into Belgium, kind of into a safety area. Of course the war was over in that area already but they had to take them some place because they had to have kind of a survival camp. We never knew what we were going to do from day to day. Haul gravel one day.

The war ended when we were in Sogel, Germany. And the best part of that was it happened so fast and they told me, he said, “You take the truck and you tell all these people that the war is over.” And I had it in writing. I run into a Polish convoy and I couldn’t understand one word they were saying and they couldn’t understand English. By the time we got finished with them, we understood each other pretty well. The best part of it was this Polish convoy was carrying a bunch of German wine. They stopped and they got into it. I wouldn’t even want to finish that story. I’m telling you. It was unreal.

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