"And there were approximately 30 tanks with a troop on each tank. This was considered rather unusual because for me, for any captain to have led such an important role."
Gordon, Lloyd Gordon Queen, Fort Garry Horse [Armoured Regiment based in Winnipeg], but chiefly B Squadron. I was in Camp Borden [Ontario] for quite some time. This was long before D-Day. And really, I was just waiting to get into action. And so I started as a trooper and took various courses. Finally they sent me to Gordon Head, B.C. as a cadet. But I was at Gordon Head for three months, then I became a second lieutenant. That was what I got from Gordon Head. Then I was sent back to Borden and we took what was called advanced training and I became a lieutenant.
I waited and waited and waited to get overseas and this was 1941/42 and there was not much action going on yet, as far as we were concerned. But finally, I got overseas and, to make a long story short, I was posted to the Fort Garry Horse and I went in, not on D-Day, but the regiment, of course, went in on D-Day, but I went in about two days afterwards because there were a few casualties right on D-Day, and I went in after that.
So I was with the regiment then throughout Normandy and for a month. Oh, and then I was wounded. Yeah. So I went back to England and worked there for a while at [No.] 2 C.A.C.R.U. [Canadian Armoured Corps Reinforcement Unit], which was a reinforcement unit and, as soon as I was able, I went back to my regiment. So then I fought through Normandy, went up towards Carpiquet [France] and was in an interesting action there. And it was, oh, then the action I was in was as follows.
The armour of the Canadian Army was being moved forward to the high ground above the Rhine River. And so my regiment was one of these lines. There were four lines, several miles apart. Ours was the centre one. And so I was asked if I would lead our regiment. And there were approximately 30 tanks with a troop on each tank. This was considered rather unusual because for me, for any captain to have led such an important role. But I was asked to do it and I took it. So we went up. I remember leaving quite early in the morning, going up this rising ground, which we were leading to the high ground above the Rhine River. And on the way, my tank was knocked out, and so I got out of it in a hurry and also with it was the small troop on the back of my tank with an officer.
So I got onto another tank and we drove onto the high ground, and then all the other tanks followed and so all these troops were on the high ground overlooking the Rhine. So the next day, these troops went over across the Rhine into Germany and the tanks, they were not ready for us just yet, we went back and in reserve. So it was shortly after, during that period, that I had been in action for quite some, several months. And looking back on it, I think maybe I was almost burnt out and because they sent me back to England, and it was just at that time I was informed that I was being awarded the military cross. So I went to Buckingham Palace and received it from George VI and that was a very interesting ceremony.
In the same group that I got my MC, there was a young major-general who was really, I think, the first to get a declaration on that particular investiture. His name was D.C. [Daniel Charles] Spry, SPRY. And he was getting a DSO [Distinguished Service Order medal]. So we chatted briefly while we were waiting to go forward, and he said, “How would you like to work for me?” And I said, “Well , that would be fine.” I said, “I must tell you that my wife is in Aberdeen [Scotland] with our first child, with our first son.” And I didn’t realize then that we had eight more coming. (laughs) But I said, “I think that would be very nice.” So I worked with him as an ADC, aide-de-camp for, well, about a year. And which was a very interesting experience because I met the commandant of the various regiments, and it was a very social occasion. And living in this very beautiful mansion just on the edge of Aldershot [England] where we had the best of everything. So that pretty well took me to the end of the war. By then, my wife had graduated. She already had an undergraduate degree, but she got an MA from Aberdeen and we all went back to Canada.
I joined the army because I felt that I, along with all young Canadians, had an obligation, there was a job to be done. So I was glad to do that. And I was surrounded by people like myself who wanted to get into action.