Veteran Stories:
Wilbert Prentice

Army

  • Wilbert Prentice typing, orderly Room Procedure Course, 1941.

    Wilbert Prentice
  • Wilbert Prentice (on right) examining his rifle, Solel, Quebec.

    Wilbert Prentice
  • Wilbert Prentice (on right) with Bill Moore.

    Wilbert Prentice
  • Purse with Italian coin, British coins, Dutch coins.

    Wilbert Prentice
  • Contemporary Photograph of Wilbert Prentice.

    Wilbert Prentice
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"So I decided that I didn’t want to spend my time in Halifax, I wanted to go win the war I guess."

Transcript

Well, I was born and brought up in Springhill, Nova Scotia. And actually, a friend of mine, the two of us went to Moncton [New Brunswick] to join the air force. And we both wrote a test and they said they would be in touch with us. So that was in 1940 I guess. And it was almost a year before I’d heard anything, either one of us. So I got a call saying that I had been accepted in the air force and I’d report to such and such a place, Moncton it was. He didn’t get word. So we decided to join the army together and that’s how we went to Truro [Nova Scotia] and we joined up and we never saw one another again until some time in France. Because actually what happened with me, when I signed for my uniform, they said to me, “My, you have nice penmanship, would you like a job here?” This is when I was signing for my uniform. And I said, “Well, what do you mean?” And they said, “Well, we’d like somebody here to work in the office and to work giving out uniforms.” So being a green rookie, I said, “Sure.” So when I was there they said, “Look, we’d like you to take a course in typing and orderly room procedure and managing an orderly room.” I wasn’t back very long and they said, “Look, they’re looking for people that can type and decipher code to go in the signal corps.” So I went to the signal corps in Halifax, and I was going to be stationed there for the rest of the war, just incoming messages and help decipher code. So I decided that I didn’t want to spend my time in Halifax, I wanted to go win the war I guess. But anyway, I was shipped out to Sorel, Quebec, and I took my basic training, and then I took my advanced training at Camp Borden [Ontario]. And then I was shipped overseas. And after being a truck driver or whatnot, I looked after the orderly room of a transport platoon that had six, 30 trucks, 60 one-hundred-weight trucks to transport, petrol and ammunition. And we were in various places in England, but part of our platoon was divided and part of them went in on D-Day, and I was kept back with the rest of the platoon to look after the office, and then I went in a little later. But my experience in France and Holland and Belgium and Germany, I didn’t do a great deal, other than I had a little motorcycle and I’d round up vehicles for, to supply petrol and ammunition to the 9th Brigade. So I wasn’t a very active individual, but I saw my share of action and was involved in different things that, I think I told you I had five or six medals, but I went up and checked and I do have seven. But I was recommended for an Oak Leaf Cluster [which denotes the reception of several medals] and I turned it down because I felt it was something that anybody would do. So we lived for, this problem with the transport platoon was after the [battle of the] Falaise Gap, to keep up with petrol and ammunition for the infantry, there was long overnight runs until the port of Antwerp [Netherlands] got opened and then ammunition and petrol could come into there, and it was, and it was quite a battle in the Scheldt [River] estuary to get the port of Antwerp open. And once it was open, then we spent pretty much a dormant time in a place called Nijmegen [Netherlands], we spent pretty much the winter there. And we had a nice place to stay, we had some, a Dutch family and we slept in their henhouse. And unfortunately, we burned it down through an accident. But then we got onto beyond there, and I think we were in Apeldoorn [Netherlands] at the time the war ended.
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