Veteran Stories:
Colin Francis Fleiger

Army

  • Colin Fleiger pictured here wearing his medals at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch no. 3 in 2007.

    Colin Fleiger
  • Colin Fleiger at age 16 in the Reserve Unit with the 2nd Battalion, The North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment, 1942.

    Colin Fleiger
  • Colin Fleiger in Neguac, New Brunswick, 1945.

    Colin Fleiger
  • Colin Fleiger and his wife, Alice, in Chatham, New Brunswick, 1944.

    Colin Fleiger
  • Colin Fleiger with his wife, Alice, and the bridesmaid, Isabelle, on their wedding day, August 21, 1944.

    Colin Fleiger
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"I would say, Canada was closer to war than what people really thought it was."

Transcript

There was a war on at that time, as everybody knows. And everybody was going off to war, my generation of young people. And there was a man on the loose, by the name of Hitler, and we thought he was kind of a bad guy, which he was. And he we decided then that that would be about it, we’d go and try to get a hold of him and finish him off before he got too far advanced and maybe kill our own brother, sisters, whatever we had, mothers and so on and so forth. They were training us to kill. That’s what we were trained for, to kill. And we had rifles and I got rifle training and we were up on the ranges and things. Then they had anti-tank weapon, what they called the PIAT, we call it the PIAT, it was Projector Infantry Anti-Tank. And that was to knock out the tanks. We fired that from the ground, you lay it on the ground and fired. And that thing would be about that long probably and it fired a projector like a bomb. And on the end of that bomb, that bomb had a belly [where the bomb was placed] , we say this was the, like a spigot [the valve connecting to the bomb trough or belly] , and in here was the mechanism, the firing mechanism in here. See, when you hit the tank. And that was to blow a hole through the tank and kill whatever was inside. The troops inside that, drivers and people on guns and whatever else they had inside of that tank. And probably set it on fire, which it did most of the time. And then on the tail end of that, with a belly part of it where the explosive was, there’d be a piece about that long of metal and on the backside of that, it had a ring around it like a fuse, and that would keep that going straight. And in back in here before coming to the barrel like that had a firing mechanism on it to throw that out, and it had a thing about that long, like a slug and full of powder and put you in mind of a shotgun shell. And that would blow that out and that would go into the tank. Now, some of them tanks, it probably wouldn’t have an effect on them at all unless you hit the traveling gear or up on the turret. If you get it up onto the turret, it would, there would be a space, but there would be that much on the turret down to the main body. And we get that in underneath and she’d explode, it would jam the turret. And they couldn’t swing the big gun. So all it had then was probably machine guns aboard the tank. Then, we had grenades, [No.] 36 grenades and all that stuff. We took training on that. Then what else did we have? We had a hell of a lot of training there. They took us there ground halls and stopped into rooms or buildings, shacks we called them. And they took us there and they put the propaganda to us, a lot of it. And they had guys here somewhere, radio or T.V. people, no, there wouldn’t be T.V. then, but radio people that were, and even in their shows and their films, that they would have where we were, would be onscreen. And we thought that these guys were Germans and all that stuff. And they had the uniforms, the whole thing. They carried on, so I’m assuming what they were, they carried on like. When the war was over, we went to the shows, off and on, and the same buggers that was doing the filming were from Toronto or somewhere, doing a CBC deal. We found that out after. They were actors. Now, we’re getting back to war, we were closer, I would say, Canada and some was closer to war than what people really thought it was. Because they had ships and stuff sunk up on the St. Lawrence [river], they had them just outside. They claimed they had, well, I know for a fact that we went from Camp Utopia [New Brunswick], that’s A 30, where we took our training, down one night to Blacks Harbour [New Brunswick], where Connor Brothers is [a seafood distributer]. They have a fish plant down in there and they say that the fishermen said they saw two submarines surface out there, just below or about Blacks Harbour. So we went and rigged up, ready to go. I was on the machine gun, the Bren gun, loaded down to the hilt with ammunition and we had hand grenades shoved in the pouches they called here, in the front of you. And I had four of them in there and a couple in me pocket, and ready to go. And we lined up at the front of the wharf, the jetty they called it and we had the wharf was here, the jetty was here, and behind that jetty, that jetty would be about that high, the bumper, machine gun we’d hook up with that. And she was on automatic, probably automatic. And we could hear these guys coming ashore. And we couldn’t really see them. We’re getting dark. So the fellow come up and he came up with his head about that far below the wharf, this here bumper on the wharf, and I had the sight on right at there. And I said my number two over here, that’s the guy that they’re going to pass the magazine down in the gun. I keep firing, he ran right down. So anyways, I had it on fully automatic and I could see him just as plain as day. He wouldn’t be any further away from you and I. And that gun would hit him right in here. It would have torn the face right off of him, if I’d open up. But when he seen that barrel of that gun, the flash eliminator we call it, we’re looking in front and when he saw that, he went down. And I hauled the goddamn grenade out here and I’m going to throw her down into the boat and blow the living guts out of the men because it’s just fire all over the place, what they call a pineapple. It was shaped like a pineapple, all little cuts in them and made of iron. And I had a hold of it, I had the pin, the safety pin was out and I was ready to drop it in there. If I’d just opened the handle and threw it in, within four seconds, that thing would have blown them to pieces. But I didn’t, I hung onto it and they come back up and one fellow said, “Hold it a minute,” and they said, “we’re fishermen.” And I said to them myself, “To hell, we’re going to find out in a few minutes.” And I said to the number two, I said, “Keep your rifle on them. If the rifle wouldn’t do , keep that rifle on them until we get, find out who he is.” So we sent for our officer, he come back and he took four of those guys up to the office, Connor Brothers. And they interrogated him, but they found out that they were fishermen. But they did say they saw two submarines out there.
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