Veteran Stories:
Wilson “Howard” Large

Army

  • Photograph of Howard Large's second cousin, Linda. He received this picture in the mail while incarcerated as a POW at camp Stalag IX-C, May 22, 1943.

    Howard Large
  • Notations and German stamp on the back of picture.
    "Doris' Bebe, Linda Lee Large"
    A22702 Howard Large
    42994
    Stamp for Stalag XI-C
    Jan 5/43
    May 22/43

    Howard Large
  • "May the Future be Happier!" A sketch drawn by E.B."Ted" Walsh, in Howard Large's logbook, of the POW camp Stalag IX (A or B) in Mülhausen, Germany. March 7,1945.

    E.B. "Ted" Walsh
  • A sketch drawn by E.B.”Ted” Walsh in Howard Large's logbook of the POW camp Stalag IX (A or B) in Mülhausen, Germany. March 8, 1945. The camp’s entrance gate is pictured here.

    E.B. Ted" Walsh"
  • Floor plan of one wing in the POW camp in Germany. Note the radio in the window that prisoners were not supposed to have, but which kept them informed of the news. 1944.

    Howard Large
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"About 20 of us made a dash for the houses, and seven of us made it. The rest were all piled up all along the way."

Transcript

We went to Bognor Regis and that’s where we got our orders to go to Dieppe. We went aboard the ships, the first time in July [1942], and we were sailing out and then they cancelled it, bad weather. And, the first time, we cheered like the devil, when they said we were on our way over. But the second time, when they told us, well, we’re on our way again, there wasn’t a cheer. It was just silence.

We landed in the daylight, or in the early sunrise, like. And they were just bombarding us. They knew we were coming, because the big guns were going and the smaller guns were going, and the machine guns were going, and everything. The noise was something. Then we hit the beach and hit the water, and we got in. Some of us got in – some of us got hit right in the water.

We got in and got up to the wall. The engineers were with us and they drug about 10 foot-long pipes they called Bangalore torpedoes [obstacle-clearing explosives].  They’re filled with explosive, and they threw them up on top of the barbed wire. And they ignited the one, and it started slipping back towards us, and one of our fellows by the name of Everett McCormick from Leamington [Ontario], he reached up and was pushing it back and it kept coming. And he stood there and held it, and got himself blown up. He should have had a decoration. You know, his family should have got it.

He was just a little fellow, too. Yeah. So that was my first real blow. I mean the shooting and that, it was going on and that, but it didn’t bother me like that, I could see one of my fellows… I seen the others being hit, but to get blown right up, that sort of got to me for a bit.

About 20 of us made a dash for the houses, and seven of us made it. Yeah. The rest were all piled up all along the way. And then we went inside and a German patrol came in the building, and Sergeant Leopold just said, “Wait until I say ‘fire’.” And the seven of us fired our guns, the Bren [light machine] gun and rifles, right down the hallway.  They’d come in and they were laughing and that. Oh. And he said, “Fire.” And then there was no more laughing, not even a moan.  We got the whole patrol. Yeah.

Oh, and that’s when they finally said, “Howard, look at your foot.” And the blood’s just squirting out of it. So I had to cut my laces with my bayonet, got my foot out, and put my field dressings on it and I had to put a tourniquet on it – I used my knife and scabbard and my rifle sling, and put a tourniquet on my leg. So I couldn’t move very well. So I went down to the basement, of the house, and they had that all “parapetted” up for shooting and that. And it was a dirt floor. So went down there and I took the rest of my grenades and I buried them in the floor, and, waited. Then, all of a sudden, I hear a patrol coming, and I yelled that I was wounded, and all I got was gunshots coming down the basement. And, so when they quit firing, I yelled again. And they fired again.  They fired down there about three times. Then they came down – and got me out.

I’m sure it was another German patrol, but the thing is, when I got upstairs and they went to take me out, the dead bodies of the other fellows were there and one put the rifle right to my head, and I thought, this is it. And, the one soldier just reached up and just grabbed a hold of the rifle and he said, in English he said, “This is my prisoner.” So he made the other fellow help me, over the bodies, because I couldn’t walk very well, and I’d lost my tourniquet from my leg. And they took me down to where they were taking the wounded out in front of this building – just put me on the lawn.

Oh, and on the way, a lady came out of the house, with a tray of beer, and offered it to us. And they handed me one before they took one themselves. Best beer I ever had. Right ’til this day. (laughs) Yeah.

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