Veteran Stories:
Matthew Edward “Ted” Thorndyke

Army

  • Photograph taken at Camp Borden, Ontario, 1940. Mr. Thorndyke had just enlisted.

    Matthew Thorndyke
  • "New Recruit" at Camp Borden, Ontario, 1940.

    Matthew Thorndyke
  • Mr. Thorndyke was in hospital after being wounded. He is shown wearing the hospital- issued white shirt and blue pants, late in 1943.

    Matthew Thorndyke
  • Mr. Thorndyke is in the Dress Uniform for the Irish Regiment of Canada, Fergus, Ontario, 1942.

    Matthew Thorndyke
  • Matthew Thorndyke in full Dress Uniform with the Irish Regiment of Canada, 1942.

    Matthew Thorndyke
Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"The wine was about that deep on the floor and we were washing off our rubber boots with the wine. Some people I suppose were drinking it, I wasn’t much of a wine drinker at that time, I was young."

Transcript

I didn’t see the enemy because where I was, three inch mortars [artillery] were always slightly behind the front line. We had the corporal who was generally up in an observation post and we had what they called a…line coming back to our positions where we had the three inch mortars and we had them ranged at different things. So he’d tell us which range he wanted to target and when to fire at it. And I never did see a German. One main memory when I was down in Italy, is mud. In the fall of the year, the lines were pretty static. We had lots of rain and there was mud. And they issued us with little rubber boots that only came up to the ankle high. And when we were up at the, just not too far from the front, I was three inch mortars, so I wasn’t right looking at the Germans or anything. We were back behind the lines with the bombs overtop. Anyway, there was a house there, fairly intact and steps going down into a wine cellar. And I was talking about the mud and these little rubber boots. The wine was about that deep on the floor and we were washing off our rubber boots with the wine. Some people I suppose were drinking it, I wasn’t much of a wine drinker at that time, I was young. Yeah, that’s one thing. The other thing was when I got accidentally hurt. We were up at one of the lines and we’d dug slit trenches and all. And in the afternoon, just before dusk, they hit an army truck that was loaded with ammunition not too far from us, 400 yards I suppose and [it] caught on fire. Bombs were going off, shells were going up. I don’t know what it was loaded with but it was one off. So during the night, we didn’t get much sleep. The next day was lovely and sunny and warm and quiet. And I started sleeping beside a carrier and I had my back on a small pack for a pillow. And my feet up against the carrier [army vehicle]. Well, there was two or three fellows there and finally, they dispersed, I don’t know where they went. But anyway, I fell asleep or semi-asleep but my legs got tired of being up in the carrier, so I brought them down. Some time during that, I put my leg in between the tracks between bogie wheels and they run between pins that look like that. And the driver got in, didn’t look around and backed up and over my leg. So I have a wound down on two parts of my leg and I was in the hospital with casts on my leg for a long while and wounds. And after that, I was two to three months in hospital and then I went back to England. And I went in with a sergeant from the Irish[Canadian Irish Regiment}. He had an Irish cap on anyway. He said, “How would you like to come over and be a driver and sort of a batman for an officer?” For there was two officers in with one little WRNS [member of the Royal Women’s Naval Service]. And I’ll tell you, it was CNVT and TU, Canadian Night Vision Training and Testing Unit. So I said, “Okay.” I went well for that and I was driving a truck and looking after this officer. I was enjoying life, I can tell you that, because I could pretty well come and go as I felt like. Working for the CNVT And TU, the daytime, we’d go up and pick up the mail in Farnborough, back. Apart from doing a little few odd chores, I had the rest of the day, every night, I could go out at pub or whatever. And every weekend, pretty well. So it was, it was a good life, I can tell you that.
Follow us