Veteran Stories:
Leslie Eugene Clark

Army

  • Leslie Clark on leave in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1941.

    Leslie Clark
  • Leslie Clark's Family at Home in Millbank, New Brunswick, 1944.
    Back row, left to right: Leslie Clark, David Clark (brother), Harold Clark (father), George Clark (brother)
    Front row, left to right: Charlie Clark (brother), Earl Clark (brother)

    Leslie Clarke
  • Leslie Clark's Medals (L-R): 1939-45 Star; France and Germany Star; Defence Medal; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal; War Medal (1939-45).

    Leslie Clark
  • 60th Anniversary Medal of the end of war.

    Leslie Clark
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"And I remember waking up a couple of times with the doctors and the padre of them all around me there and the old heart must have stopped or something, get it going again. But here I am now, a long time after. (laughs)"

Transcript

My name is Leslie E. Clark. I had my 19th birthday in the army, May 20th in England. I turned, 23rd birthday back in Halifax, an old man with a leg off, yeah. I was with my brother in England, A Company. And I was number one on a two inch mortar, he was number two. So after we got thinking of going into action, I’m going to get out of this position, I didn’t want the two of us together, we’d get killed together, so I used to volunteer for any kind of work, like you know, get off the parade square, left, right, left, right. And I joined the pioneer platoon we called it. And I spent quite a little bit of time with the engineers, 16 field engineers, I took courses with them and everything like that. When we went ashore, I was assigned to A Company. Like I was a support outfit then when I was a … I was assigned A Company, that little landing craft, I was sitting here, me brother was sitting there. And that’s why I left the A Company. Because they were waiting for us, they were like sitting ducks when we were coming ashore there, the landing craft. You could hear them bullets hitting that little craft coming ashore there, the small errant fire, they could rattling off there when you’re getting on the shore. And you had to lower that ramp and get out in that stuff.

I went ashore with A Company in the regiment. When A Company reaches objective, then C Company went through and I had to go with C Company. Like leap-frogging I nearly thought. We got to a place called Helleville, we got there the first day. I talked to Major McNaughton. I was with C Company, at the time, Major McNaughton was A Company. I was supposed to go ahead with them and I told him, I said, “There’s Germans out there in that field and there’s Germans behind this big wall here.” I said, “There’s enemy everywhere here.” And they got word over the signal thing there to advance. He just got, I told him, when he got at the end of the wall, the wall went along this way and then when he got turned that way, when they got the end of the wall, they were ambushed, mowed down there. Yeah.

Harold Daley, one of me best friends. Another fellow I went to school with, Andrew Irvin, he was a stretcher bearer, first aid lad, just down the beach from here to the wall, he fell alongside of the, he was shot alongside of the fellow he was trying to help. Yeah.

We were like animals after. I’m sure, like, after a day or two, I was just like an animal. Yeah. Well, if you seen an enemy or anything like that, you just didn’t hesitate to shoot any of them, as far as that goes. But I helped to bury a few people in body bags that I went to school with and stuff. It’s hard to take.

They asked me one time, Monsignor Hickey, Father Hickey, when we buried three fellows, you get something to make markers. I went into a house, nobody in the house, and I took the wainscot off of the wall and made three markers, like crosses. Father Hickey put their names on in keel and we had a little tin box like a sardine can, took the dog tag off and we had two dog tags. Took one dog tag off with their name and number and everything, and put it at the foot of the cross. Buried under the apple tree, the three graves, one was like that, just to put that deep, just sand, wrapped in a blanket. There was a body supposed to be moved into the military cemetery.

I got wounded on the place called Carpiquet [France]. Wounded on the fourth of July and I got back to England on the 10th of July. And I laid on the stretcher. But I had gangrene and for six days, I could feel the blood running up me back, like when the stretcher came, the stretcher. After I was there, six days, laying in that old rotten blood, you might say and I must have had a bowel movement or something like in six days, but they said I only had another ten or 12 hours to live when I got back to hospital. And I remember waking up a couple of times with the doctors and the padre of them all around me there and the old heart must have stopped or something, get it going again. But here I am now, a long time after. (laughs)

I had a good life and all, after that, like you know, when I came home, I sat around for a while and it’s not going to grow back on again, so you might as well make the best of it. And I have to keep it in the background. That’s the way I, I never liked to talk about it or anything like that. I couldn’t talk about it. And I just break down after. It changed my view. Like religion? Now I’d say Harley Day was one of the best living lads that I ever knew. He got killed the first day. But I often wondered where this supreme power was that we’re come from and all this stuff, like you know, that fellows like that, that get picked off the first, first thing like that, you know. Made me wonder.

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