Robert Eugene Breau in Miramichi, New Brunswick, November 25, 2009.Historica Canada
"But you feel kind of bad when you meet somebody that was over there and they see you with a voluntary medal and all that and wondering how come you weren’t in Germany. Well, it wasn’t our fault. I wanted to go."
I was 15 year old when the war broke out. The reason why I went, I wanted to go in and go with the rest of the boys. And there were lots I knew around here and some of them are older than me and some of them are younger. But a lot of boys that I was around with, they got killed over there, but they wanted to go, there was no work at that time and everybody wanted to make a, get a few dollars. They wanted to get experience and get over there and see what was going on and I was very disappointed. They never took us the minute we got over there; Went over by boat and they never took us. We trained there in Aldershot, [Nova Scotia]; [there] was a holding unit in England. They never took us. I was awful mad because the other boys with me in the North Shore, they said, “Why don’t you take us?” And they said, “We have enough reinforcements at the present time.” But I think they just kept us there. They were scared of an invasion there, of Germany invading England I think; I think that’s what the reason why they kept a crowd of us there. So there was an awful lot of troops there. But we never could find out anything. They don’t tell you nothing when you’re everything is secret in, in the service.
So by the time I went over there in March 1943; in March 1943, when I went over, we got over there, January, February, March. We landed in Greenock, Scotland. Boy, is it beautiful. The grass is green, just lovely and green in March. They kept the boat anchored off in the [North] Channel ... that’s it, the Channel. And they took us ashore in smaller boats. Like small boats used to come out and take us probably 50 or 60 in a boat, I can’t remember. But the reason for that was anchoring out there, there was a chaotic air raid and they [the Germans] could pick right at ‘em. There was so much bombing going on in South Hampton, [England,] they couldn’t stop there, they couldn’t come in there. And we took another route or something.
Oh, it was an awful mess around there. Outside of there too, an awful lot of bombing and V2’s there. And they had just, it was unbelievable, you wouldn’t believe it if you’d seen it unless you’re seeing it. The hole it made, there was two tons of explosives in it - it was a big, big thing. It was in 1944 I think. Yeah, 1944. I can’t remember what month. But we were, we were on leave there in London, we had a week’s leave and we were in the underground. We come up the next morning and there was a V2 landed right in Trafalgar Square - that’s right where the king and queen lived eh? It had come down right in there and it just, it must have been coming quite low because it knocked this little tower off the building and it never exploded. Why, I don’t know, nobody knew I suppose. Some made up a yarn or something and says they must have knew it was going to land there and they disconnected it or something. You never know. But I told one of the boys that they never even seen it, but I had my name on it and the other lads with me, three other lads with me on leave and we all put our name on it, address and everything. We never heard anymore about it.
There was only two people I spoke to that knew about it. And you mention it to somebody and they think you’re lying or something. Can’t be lying when I see it, it wasn’t a dream or anything. But that thing wasn’t man controlled. It went on its own.
But we done a lot of guard duty. Guarding here and there and wherever they wanted. And then they put us in the riot squad. We trained, we trained with the riot squad. There was some hard training, in case there was a riot or anything when the war broke out, war was all over. They were scared that there were going to be riots and everything. But it was very quiet. If everybody, everybody was celebrating and they were hoping and raring an awful racket. We didn’t know what was going on, we never knew the war was over. And we got up that day and wondering what was going on, bells ringing and everything going. Everybody was some happy. The people over there, they’re [the Germans] bombing them something terrible and they went through something awful, the shortage of food and they went through an awful, awful life with that going on. I was still there in Aldershot. They kept me there, whatever is the reason.
Oh, probably 20 more of them I went over with, but the ones that, the other boys was with us there in training was, was in, and they got right over. So when we landed just shortly after, they, they went over to Germany and we were some mad because we didn’t go. And we asked why and they said, ‘the North Shore has enough reinforcements.’ But we wanted to go some bad and well, we went so far, we were over there anyway and we just, we didn’t get there. But you feel kind of bad when you meet somebody that was over there and they see you with a voluntary medal and all that and wondering how come you weren’t in Germany. Well, it wasn’t our fault. I wanted to go; volunteered to go there - anywhere. But I went everywhere they sent me and there’s no use asking to go anywhere because they wouldn’t, they wouldn’t send you unless they said to go.