Veteran Stories:
Charles William Robinson

Navy

  • Photo of landing craft going to Normandy with Army personnel on board, 1944.

    Charles Robinson
  • Photo from Normandy after the battle. Landing craft on Normandy beach.

    Charles Robinson
  • Photo of landing craft with boats on the sea going to Normandy.

    Charles Robinson
  • Photo of Navy officers that fought with Mr. Robinson, September 1944.

    Charles Robinson
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"We had beach obstacles and mines on that. And it blew a hole in our engine room."

Transcript

We got on the landing craft, we did all kind of training there before landing troops. You know, so this is it, we were just practising back and forth. We didn’t go overseas yet. And all of a sudden, it was kept quiet. No more practising. And then they called us in together and they said, this is a secret move, don’t talk to anybody about it at all. But you’re going to go overseas from here. Went over, got on our landing craft [LCI(L) 118 of the 2nd Canadian (262nd Royal Navy) Flotilla] , that was it, ready. And then the day we were getting ready, just before, the skipper on our landing craft said, Robinson, when they come aboard, they come up the ramps, we have ramps drop down, one on each side, they come up the ramps and load onto the landing craft. He says, when they land, come up, so he says, they may need some seasick pills, so take these and pass them out to them. And the army guys [North Nova Scotia Highlanders}, when they come aboard, they said, what’s that for. I said, they’re pills for seasick[ness]. Oh, we don’t need that. I said, wait a minute, I said, you’d better take them, you may need them and they were sick like hell going over because we had a big storm going over. Oh boy. And they were all sick, sick. And they had to go into battle. We had to circle around the [obstacles] when we got there a few times until the time, tide raised up. We couldn’t land right away. And the Germans are in there, as we were circling around. And come up, the skipper was up on the bridge and he got wounded, just going in to land. We had beach obstacles and mines on that. And it blew a hole in our engine room. And we got the army off and then we got, had to head back to England again. We had to crawl back because it was dangerous, keep the engine-pump water going, pulling it out because it got lopsided. We had to get home, get repaired and then go back again. And that’s what we did. I got drafted to the east coast. I was ready to go to sea. Got to training all the cadets and I had good ideas what to do, steer ship. And when I got there, they put me on the Naval Fire Department. So I’m stuck there. I couldn’t get to sea. So anyways, I had to do some firefighting. That’s where I got one of my wounds there. I was fighting a fire once and we were shorthanded. And I told the other guy on the end, don’t put the pressure too high. Instead he put it higher, I went up in the air and I come down and bang, flat on my back, couldn’t move. Finished. So I spent nine months in the military hospital through that problem. I mean, I got better for a while and that but I took an attack when I’m back the navy years after in Montreal in the military hospital. I spent nine months in there, paralyzed. Completely paralyzed. When I done that, Dr. Sprewin, specialist, come around and he said, well, you’ve been in here a few weeks now and you don’t show any difference. He says, I’m going to put a proposition to you. It’s one-in-a-million. He said, you’re paralyzed now, but he said, we could try something, if you agree. You have to agree. I said, I’ll take anything to agree. I said, what’s the chances? He says, nothing. But he said, if you want to go through it, we’ll go through it. And I have my neck too. I never got that operated on, it’s still this. After the first operation, he said, now your neck’s going to be, I said, no, no, that’s enough for me. So I don’t, I’m not bothered too much but I’ve got a collar if I need it. But I started to move, yeah, that felt great. And I went to get out of the hospital bed and the orderly’s there and he said, don’t, don’t get out of the bed. And I says,the hell not I’m getting out, so I crawled out of the bed, no, no, no. He come running over and he says, okay, now, just walk a little bit. So I walked a little bit, walked a little bit, a while, down a long hall and there was a staircase at the end. He said, now, we’ll go back to the bed again. No, no, no, I said, I’m going to go ahead. No, you can’t, you can’t. And he was running after me and I left him and I got going, you can’t, you can’t. And I walked up the stairs, no! He said, you’re nuts, said, that’s it. Got me back to bed but I could walk again. But then the doctor said, now you have the neck to be done. And I said, once is enough. I said, that, I’ll get along. They said, you’ll be back. But I never got back.
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