"One night, we counted 52 V-1s and V-2s go over. Now, the V-1s you heard, they sounded like an old motorboat. But the V-2s, you didn’t hear until they went off"
My name is Ed Thatcher. I was born in Hamilton, Ontario. I was at the Otis-Fenson [weapons factory in Hamilton], they were making the Bo [Bofors 40 mm gun] for anti-aircraft guns and I was on war work. I was working 13 hours a day, seven days a week and I come out one morning and I said, there’s got to be an easier way of life than this and I drove up James Street in Hamilton and to the armouries, and went in and I said, “I wanted to join the army.” And that was it. Nobody else knew about it. I went home and told my mother, she had a little cry and then at 1:00, I was back in the armouries and back on the way to Toronto.
The first echelon, which is the first, where [Dwight] Eisenhower was and so on like that, they had their camp. And then there was second echelon. We did all of the Part 2 orders and looked after all of the information about soldiers. There was a soldier from each regiment and they looked after the sicknesses and all the rest of it, kept track of it all.
And my own particular job was in Part 2 orders. There was two of us. When we were Antwerp [Netherlands], we would sit and type all night long, from about 8:00 at night until 8:00 in the morning. And all we did was type Part 2 orders and like the name, the number, their regiment number, their name, initials, where they went to, what was the problem, like if they went to a hospital, what hospital they went to and so on. And that was one line after line after line. And on skins, you know, to run Gestetners [duplicating machines]. So that’s what my job was.
There was two of us on there. The biggest problem there was the fact that we were there during the time of the V-1s and V-2s [rockets]. One night, we counted 52 V-1s and V-2s go over. Now, the V-1s you heard, they sounded like an old motorboat. But the V-2s, you didn’t hear until they went off, they hit the ground. So we counted them and all night long, and that was 52 of them. The V-1 had like a gasoline, I’m not sure what it was, but it was some kind of an engine in it and they just putted along. They had wings on them and they were just, I don’t know, they looked like a kid’s toy when they were in the sky.
The V-2, it was more advanced and it made no noise at all. It just zoomed, up it went and as far as they could set it. What they were having in Antwerp was this Scheldt [River] estuary, which is where all the shipping came in and everything else. And that’s what they were after. Unfortunately, they didn’t hit it, they hit the town more than anything. By November, yeah, by the first part of November, Antwerp was pretty well empty. People had been evacuated out of Antwerp and around the area.