Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (R.C.C.S.) personnel of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division operating a field telephone near London Bridge on the Orne River, France, 18 July 1944.Mikan Number: 3202821
Corporal G.F. Wightman in the underground signals office of
the 3rd Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (R.C.A.), near Cassino, Italy, 12 May 1944.
"“What do you mean, what am I doing here? I was sent here last night.” He says, “You guys were supposed to be here at 11:00.” He says, “They made a 12 hour mistake. You were supposed to be here 11:00 this morning.”"
I eventually ended up at 3rdBrigade Signals, in [San] Leonardo, there in Italy. And mud, you never seen so much mud than we had that winter. And well, then I was, I wasn’t there very long, they sent me out to the Royal 22nd Regiment, [nicknamed the] Van Doos , for communications back to brigade, the wireless ones. Well, I was there for three months and just before we decided to move in the spring, the boss got mad at me because I wouldn’t become a driver operator, the captain, he wanted me to be a driver operator and I didn’t want to be one because I couldn’t advance my trades pay anymore. So it made him mad at me and he put me back in brigade headquarters in the signal office. Well, I was alright, I didn’t mind that. There was a lot of work.
Well, eventually, I got there not only as an operator but they used me as a lineman and recce [reconnaissance] man, everything else. And we worked there, there was a little sergeant there by the name of Cramp, him and I worked together. He was cantankerous but he was a good guy to work with. And anyway, from there, I stayed in the signal office and the first thing you know, he’s got a promotion, he’s gone to Dib [another post]. Well, then it was me, dropped me off there and I laid lines and stuff like that for the ones coming in and that and then just before Christmas that year, that would have been in 1944, yeah, he was up at the place called, up near Godo in Italy there. And they come woke me up, I was supposed to go on duty at midnight, come and woke me up about 10:00 and said, “Roll up your bedroll and get your equipment.” I said, “Why?” “You’re going on a recce [reconnaissance].” I said, “I’m going on a recce, at this time of night?” “Yes, the rest will still be there at 11:00.”
So…loaded up my stuff and the telephone and the wire and everything, taking them over there and I get over there and I couldn’t find nothing. Nobody showed up until the next morning and I was there all alone. I was in a building, the rooms, it was about the size of this, there was two rooms upstairs. And no heat, no lights, no nothing. And I finally rolled myself up in my bedroll and put my rifle beside me and went to sleep, about 3:00 in the morning.
The next morning I had a can of Bully Beef, you know what that is, that’s corned beef. Had a can of that in my pack and then some hard tack and a bottle of water. That was my breakfast. And part of the Bully Beef. And anyway, I’m watching out the windows because I didn’t know where I was then, see. And watching out the windows, see with , someone coming and finally I see a jeep coming. And it gets closer, I can see his, our lineman and the boss,our captain was driving it. He liked to work with the linemen.
They got so close… I went and hollered out, “Where the heck have you guys been?” He looks at me, “What the hell are you doing here?” I says, “What do you mean, what am I doing here? I was sent here last night.” He says, “You guys were supposed to be here at 11:00.” He says, “They made a 12 hour mistake. You were supposed to be here 11:00 this morning.”
Anyway, that Christmas, I was out of action four days. I’m going to tell you this, but our KFC officer, had never give us no rations since September. And he was usually pretty good at that, giving us chocolate bars and stuff. And if there was any beer, okay. He gave us all, the three regiments, the brigade headquarters and attached troops, remember those big seven quart bottles of beer? Seven of those to each man, all at once. You talk about drunks, we had more drunks than you could shake a stick at. And of course, the boss kept me working. He knew I knew what to do and he kept me, I was working most of the time. He gave me a little time off to rest once in a while but the rest of the time, I was working. So I had to ration mine out. But I had to keep it hid too.
But anyway, that was Christmas of 1944. And they took us out of action for them four days for that purpose. And well then, it wasn’t long after that, 1945, they moved us down, let’s see, in February, they started moving us over to the continent. And we went over there and well, let’s see, France was done then, Belgium was pretty well done. We landed in a place called Liare in Belgium. And we was only there 10 days and they seen where the war was going to end, so they shoved us back into action. And they actually, on the 5th of May, I had worked all night, I was a night clerk then in Holland, I had worked all night and I had taken my… and went and got my breakfast. I went back and the guy that took over for me in the signal office, he said, “Read this.” It was a letter and the message that was going to the brigadier that he war was going to be over with on the 8th. And we couldn’t say a damn word to nobody. We had to keep our mouth shut. But we had a smile on our face all day.