Lawrence D. Wagg and his wife Jean Patricia (Craddack) Wagg the day of their wedding, August 3, 1945.Lawrence D. Wagg
Photocopy of Shoulder Patch VIII Hussars of Lawrence D. Wagg, August 3, 1940.Lawrence D. Wagg
Photocopy of 4 members of Armed Forces, Winter 1940. Lawrence D. Wagg is on left side.Lawrence D. Wagg
Photocopy of Army Pay Book of Lawrence D. Wagg, 1940.Lawrence D. Wagg
Photocopy of Discharge Certificate of Lawrence D. Wagg, Fredericton, New Brunswick, January 18, 1946.Lawrence D. Wagg
"Cassino was a mess, the whole city. Somebody had said there’s no Canadians there, but I, I was one of them who was there"
In 1941, we went to England, and in 1942, I met my wife. And then first leave I had was a couple of days in London, and at that time, there was a terrific amount of bombing going on. And I even asked the policeman at that time where I could get a place to stay for the night, and he directed me into a shelter. So that’s where I stayed the first night that I was in London on leave.
Well then, we just moved to a couple of areas around England. We were in a place called Crowborough, which is just outside of the Tunbridge Wells in Kent. When we went to this place called Crowborough, I didn’t bother going on, getting a pass to go into the city for a couple of weeks, and then got a pass to go in for the day, you know, it was a Friday or Saturday. And went to the dance hall there with another friend, and we just looked around and came back out because he didn’t dance and I’m not a dancer. So anyway, we were walking up the street, these two young ladies were walking down the street, and we stopped and spoke to them and that sort of thing. And asked them where they were going, and so they were going up to the dance hall and we said, “No, it’s no good tonight.” Both of us couldn’t dance anyway, so, or didn’t dance. And so anyway, they agreed and they said, “Well, that’s good, we’ll take you somewhere and have a drink or whatever.” And so they took us up the street to this pub and walked in there, and there was her mother and father, sitting right there and they introduced me and we just sit and talked. And then when the time for us to go, we left them and went and got in our truck and went back to camp.
Well, the next day, I still was able to go into town again, and when I went into town again, where my wife was working, they lived upstairs over it, and when I got there, there she was, so I spoke to her again. And from then on in, that’s just, that was my girlfriend.
I went to Aldershot, to a holding area and while we were there, they took a whole bunch of us and shipped us out to Philippeville, North Africa [now Skikda, Algeria]. And on the way to Philippeville, North Africa, in a convoy, a beautiful day, just standing on the side of the ship looking out at the water and things, and I saw a big splash of water go alongside of a submarine that was between two ships. And then I looked up at the sky and realized that we were just started to get an air raid, and when I looked up, one of the bombers was just opening its doors, and they hit the boat behind us and it just, while I was standing there looking at it, it just sank that fast, I couldn’t believe it. And of course, everybody was jumping overboard, the other ships kept on going, and they were throwing stuff in and sending boats into the water to try to pick up anybody who was still going.
And anyway, eventually, a short time after that, we got clear of them and we landed in Philippeville, North Africa. While I was there, I roamed around and down to the waterfront and this sort of thing and picked up a few seashells while I was North Africa and put them in an emergency ration box, and I still have them. I was just looking at them today. And then we left there and went over to Italy, to Naples, and on up to Ortona, or outside of Ortona, and I get pushed out to driving the Asian officers who would be with the troops when they were moving into action and this sort of thing. And we went to Ortona, spent Christmas just outside of Ortona. And at that time, the officers always served the, the soldiers their Christmas dinner sort of thing. So we really enjoyed that. But that was a horrible, horrible place to be in with the shelling and things like that going on all the time.
And eventually made it up to Cassino and Cassino was a mess, the whole city. And I stood on a hill. Somebody had said there’s no Canadians there, but I, I was one of them who was there and was looking up at the, up the monastery. Anyway, I could see that. I didn’t have binoculars, but I could see fairly well with the eyesight. And the fighting was terrific that was going on up there. And then after that, they made another breakout, and we just kept on going.
In 1945 after I come back from Italy, when I had my leave there and I asked her if she’d marry me, she said, you’ll have to ask my father. So anyway, I asked her father in her presence if we could engaged and get married. And he said, “If she wants to, that’s what we can do, certainly we’d have his permission.” So we got an engagement ring, and I put the engagement ring on her finger, sitting right there and that was it. It was very, very nice when he said that, and we went up to a pub and we sat down and we talked and I’m not a drinker at all, just had a glass of beer and that’s it. And so we sat there and talked, and put the ring on the finger and that was it.
And I came over into France. And then went from France to Belgium to Holland, into Germany and back out into Holland again. In 1945, I got a, a couple of weeks leave and went to England. The, we had a wartime wedding in a church. I had two weeks leave to come and get married and that. So while we got married, and I was getting ready to go back over to Holland, the big announcement come, the war had ended and all those who were on leave had an extra week or ten days leave. And you know, it was a wonderful thing.