Veteran Stories:
Oren Foster

Army

  • Oren Foster, seen in his Commissionaires Uniform. Date unknown.

    Oren Foster
  • Photo published in unknown newspaper in Nova Scotia.
    Caption: In Britain with the West Nova Scotia Regiment, Private O.S. Foster, Annapolis, examines the British Empire Medal, Military Division he had just received from His Majesty the King. With him is Private J.E. Cook, Bear River.

    Canadian Army Photo
  • Photograph published in unknown newspaper, Nova Scotia. Notations identifying Oren Foster and Charlie Fleet (his friend) are made by Oren Foster.
    Caption: This photo of eight of the original volunteer snipers with the West Nova Scotia Regiment was taken in England in 1941. Pictured are: (BR, L-R) C. Cameron of Maccan, F. Embree of Springhill, E. Smith of Barrington and W. Wall of Amherst; and (FR, L-R) C. Fleet of Corner Brook, B. Gehue of Lawrencetown, H.Weeks of Truruo and Oren Foster of Deep Brook.

    Oren Foster
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"He grabbed his rifle and pointed at me but mine was pointed at him, just a miracle, just a split second or that would have been the end of me right there. I spared his life but I’m sure he wouldn’t have spared mine."

Transcript

I wanted to be a special soldier and I accomplished that. I became a sniper. In the West Novas [West Nova Scotia Regiment], there was 991 and there was eight snipers. I was one. The instructors, they were First World War veterans. And they told us when we finished the course that we were in a suicide squad. They were telling us that we didn’t have a chance. I am the only one left.

You were a loner, all by yourself, and you had to go out at night anywhere between our lines and the German lines. And try to take prisoners. If you don’t take them prisoners, you have to do something else. Well, you can’t see too much at night, you have to hide your head most of the time in the daytime. Dawn is about the best time. You have to be well-hidden and you have to sometimes be hidden all day and not make a movement.

I found that the German sniper was not an expert with a rifle. He couldn’t have absorbed too much training or I wouldn’t be here today. If you got the drop on him, up go their hands immediately. Just shout at them, Comrade - that was surrender in German - just shout it, Comrade. If the hands doesn’t go up, well, you have to do something else. I didn’t like to bump over a human being of course. He’s still a human being but a few cases, I was within a few feet of a German and I took them prisoners. I don’t like this word but I didn’t like to feel as if I was a murderer.

I think I can think of one. A German prisoner, he was supposed to be one of the most important German prisoners taken. He grabbed his rifle and pointed at me but mine was pointed at him, just a miracle, just a split second or that would have been the end of me right there. I spared his life but I’m sure he wouldn’t have spared mine. He had been on the Russian front, he had been wounded, he had been taken to the Italian front and he gave valuable information. And I received a decoration for that. I was forwarded to Buckingham Palace to meet the king and the royal family. And the king awarded me with a British Empire Medal. That was the highlight of my life, to meet the king and the royal family. I could never forget that.

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