Veteran Stories:
Peter Buote

Army

  • Peter Buote, November 2009.

    Historica Canada
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"We waded into shore and hit the sand. Didn’t have a clue what was going on, but I heard a loud explosion and looked back and seen the landing craft blowing up."

Transcript

My Peter is Peter Buote. I was born in [North] Rustico, Prince Edward Island on the 26th of October, 1924. At 16, I had heard that they were taking boys, which they called boy sailors at the time, to train them until they were of age to join the Navy. I, myself and a buddy of mine hopped a freight train and went down to Halifax to join the Navy. I always looked younger than my age, so they told me to go home and grow up. So we had to take a freight train and come back to Moncton [New Brunswick]. So I waited until the age of 18.5, that was the age that you could volunteer for the service at the time. Then I joined the army then, at the age of 18.5.

My training began in Fredericton, New Brunswick, my basic training. After basic training, I went to Utopia, New Brunswick, for my advanced training. When my advanced training was finished there, the artillery had turned over a six pounder to the infantry for anti-tank purposes, so I was one of the first ones in Canada to take a, in the infantry rather, to take an anti-tank course. I passed the course with flying colours. After that, we went to Debert, Nova Scotia and from there, to Halifax on the ship overseas.

Before we got on the boat to go overseas, I was promoted to a Corporal and the trip overseas was, well, it was a crowded situation. We were almost all shoulder to shoulder on the boat, or the ship rather. And the only thing we had to worry about there was getting to the washrooms and worrying about whether we’d have submarine attacks or not. On the way over, we had seen some explosions on the side and found out later that there was a submarine in the area, but we never got shot at or anything. Apparently, they had sunk the submarine. We landed in Southampton, England and from there we went to an army camp. We had the night off, after we got settled. So we had one night in Southampton and the next day, we were told that we were confined to barracks. We weren’t told why, but we had to be confined to barracks.

Anyway, this went on for about a week. We had interviews there. Apparently our records had not reached England at the time, so during the interview, they asked me how long I had been a Corporal. I told them it only approximately three weeks. So I was demoted. Apparently, you had to have a rank for three months and then they couldn’t demote you. Some of the other boys that had got promoted the same time as I did, where as their records had not reached there, they lied and said that they had been a corporal for 3.5 months. So they kept their rank. I lost mine by telling the truth. (laughs)

But I found out later that it wasn’t very good to be a Corporal in the infantry. So we got on the ship, we thought when we got on the ship, it would be a training deal, but we found out that we were going into action. But we were told we were immediate reinforcements for the men that were landing on the beach. Myself and two, then two of my buddies that I had done basic and advanced training with, were sitting in a group with the Lieutenant came along and said, “I need three volunteers, I’m short of three men.” He pointed to us three and said, “You, you and you, come with me.” He took us to a place where there was a bunch of soldiers. We were kind of green, didn’t know what was going on. And then we were sent to a Mass where a priest gave a small Mass. After that, we were ordered to the side of the ship and started to unload, crawling down a rope ladder, not a ladder, but a net, like to get on the landing barges. We still didn’t know exactly what was going on until the landing barge door opened on the beach and machine gun fire started firing into the door. The men were dropping right at the door. Myself, I took my equipment off, my two buddies looked at me and they did the same thing and we jumped over the side of the landing craft. We were lucky enough to land on a sandbar. I was on the sandbar, the water came up to approximately our waistline. The men who had jumped over the side on the other side of the landing craft did not take their equipment off and there was no sandbar. They just sank. With all the equipment they were carrying, they never come up.

We waded into shore and hit the sand. Didn’t have a clue what was going on, but I heard a loud explosion and looked back and seen the landing craft blowing up. I don’t know whether it was an artillery shell or it hit a mine or what happened actually. But as far as I know, we were the only three that got off of that landing craft. There was explosions going around from artillery shells. You could hear the zap of bullets, when somebody hollered, “Who do you belong to?” I shouted back, I says, “I don’t know!” So he said, “You belong to me right now, get over here.” It was a Lieutenant. So we joined him. That’s when we found out that we were now with the Regina Rifle Regiment of Canada.

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