Veteran Stories:
Fred Allison

Army

  • Photo taken in the fall of 1942 on the front steps of Fred Allison's Dad Home in Scarborough, Ontario. Tommy (on lower step), Ralph (on centre step) and Fred (on top step) on Embarcation leave for overseas. They never seen each other again.

    Fred Allison B112134
  • Fred Allison on the grave of his Brother Tommy, Holden Cemetary Holland, 60th Anniversary. Tommy was a Tank Driver and dead at the end of the war.

    Fred Allison
  • Fred Allison on the return voyage on the ship Queen Elizabeth, December 27, 1945.

    Fred Allison
  • Army gave Fred Allison Credit of 13 months for an apprenticeship for a new trade of motor mechanic, February 19, 1946.

    Fred Allison
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"...when I came out of the army, I was a better man than when I went in."

Transcript

And I signed up at the age of 20. I was not well educated. I had never been away from home. I was not worldly-wise. I had no training. So when I came out of the army, I was a better man than when I went in. Of course, I was very lucky during my stay in the army. I was pulled off the overseas draft twice for special assignments here in Canada. And this allowed me time for better training and time to get married to the most wonderful wife a man could have that would last for 60 years. And would get me to England before D-Day and be part of the brand new 2nd [Division]Canadian General Troops Workshop [of 1st Canadian Army]. The first workshop had been wiped out to the man in Italy, so that was if I had have come over the first time I was non-draft - that would have been where I’d have been.

And also, lucky enough to be on the right spot at the right time to go from Juno Beach to Normandy, in Normandy, to the finish line in Holland without getting hurt. We traveled inland all day and convoy with our Workshop. We got to this orchard and we pulled in. They wanted to put the trucks under, under a tree, you know, so that they wouldn’t be so likely to be strafed or bombed that night. It was dark and we hadn’t eaten all day. So we lined up and got something to eat. I just forget now what it was, but then the sergeant said, ‘dig in’, and walked away and I thought, ‘dig in’, gee whiz, I’m tired.

So anyway, I thought, oh well, everything’s quiet, what’s the point of digging in. And in an orchard, you know, there’s so many roots and it was, the ground was like concrete and I’d had to wait for at least a half an hour to get a hold of the shovel because I had to take my turn. So I decided, I’d just sleep on the centre seat in the, one of the lorries was, they had a pad on there. And I thought, oh, that’d make a good spot to sleep. So, just got to sleep and boy, everything opened up and I thought, boy, this is just that little canvas over me, that’s not too good, so I crawled under the seat. And, and then I thought, boy, that little bit of wood over-top isn’t much. So then I crawled under the truck and in the morning I laughed to myself, it was kind of new to me. I was so confident at the first and then so scared at the end, you know.

I do remember the Battle of the Bulge. Our workshop was back from the actual line where they had broken through, but the rumour went around that they were going to, the Jerries that had taken Canadian uniforms and had parachuted in behind the lines. And so this kind of put a scare into us and the officer told me to take my rifle and stop every vehicle that was crossing this little bridge. But he put me out there alone. It seemed like such a hopeless task because there I was in the dark and you’d see a vehicle or hear a vehicle coming, you were out there in the dark waving your arms to stop that vehicle. Now, you knew, you knew that if it was a Canadian driving that vehicle, [a] Canadian soldier, he’d stop. But if it was one of the Jerries, he was just going to speed up and being alone, they wouldn’t have known, your body wouldn’t even be found until the morning. I thought, gee, it was such a hopeless, stupid task. But still, their idea was that they wanted to find out if there was any actual Germans dressed in Canadian uniforms that broke through, like was inside of our perimeter.

But it was just odd times. You got so scared that you had to grab a hold of yourself, like especially at night on a roving picket, where you roamed around and every shadow and every tree, you visualized it was a German. But you had to get used to that.

I was very lucky in that for the most part, I was well behind the line. I had a bad name for… I had an A as an initial and it seemed like every time they wanted a mechanic for an advanced Workshop, you seemed to always start at the A’s. And so every one that was going, I was, the only ones I didn’t get was the ones that happened after I was already out on one. So it put you in some really nasty positions. At Caen [France] I was, they needed a mechanic for the trucks that pulled the 5.5 [millimeter] guns. So they asked for a, they didn’t ask for volunteers, nobody would, you wasn’t supposed to volunteer. But no, they, they picked my A and I would [go]. So it was, it was exciting and you learnt more but it was always a little extra dangerous. But I was lucky, I got all the way through.

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