"But my first reaction was I reached up to my face because a bunch of grit and gravel, and sand had hit me in the face, I thought I was missing something there, but I didn’t know I was even hit at that time."
We had this job of attacking Woensdrecht and closing off the escape route that the Germans had because they controlled from Antwerp all the way out to the English Channel. We came onto Woensdrecht and there wasn’t too much fighting, but by that time, the Germans had a system: when the heavy bombardment came, they knew the attack was coming and they withdrew, so they wouldn’t have all the casualties. And when our boys were on the site, on the target that they had to take, then the Germans, they were ready; they came back before our guys had really dug in and set up a defense. And first thing you know, they were overrun, that was [Royal Hamilton Light Infantry] A Company was in the front. I was with [Royal Hamilton Light Infantry] C Company and on this day, we were on the spare board, so to say, we had to go wherever we were needed.
I was wounded from a mortar bomb that exploded not very far from me and it came silently sort of. And it threw a bunch of gravel and a couple of shrapnel pieces I got into my shoulder. But my first reaction was I reached up to my face because a bunch of grit and gravel, and sand had hit me in the face, I thought I was missing something there, but I didn’t know I was even hit at that time. And I took my hand down and then the blood run down out of the end of my sleeve and my fingers, but it wasn’t really a big deal. If you would have heard the guys later and he said, you lucky bugger, now you’re going to get out of here for a month. I got patched up and they put me in the basement of the house.
Then Captain [Walter James] Williamson, the second-in-command of the company, he was being sent out by the company commander for a night of sleep. And as I was climbing in the back of the truck, he said to me, he said, you go ride in the front with the driver and I’ll go in the back here with the Quartermaster Sergeant [Lawrence Arthur] Gendron. So we left for behind the lines and when we got to an intersection, a main intersection sort of, the mortar bombs started to come down. And there must have been maybe about 10 or so, but they made a lot of noise and chunks of steel and stuff lying against the truck. The first one landed on the road and a chunk of steel took out the windshield. As the driver was making the turn, I guess with all the commotion, he hit the ditch and he had to back up and that took a little longer, otherwise we would have been out of there sooner.
But when we got behind the lines and we got out, we said, to the two fellows in the back, we said, okay, we’re here, you come on out and well, nothing happened. So we went back behind, but it was pitch black, it was a pitch black night and they didn’t use any light. So then we went inside where the billeted people were that were not part of the front line and said, have you got a flashlight. And they said, yeah, yeah, so they came out with a flashlight and in the back, there was nothing but a bunch of fuzz and flesh and what have you. It was a direct hit apparently on the quartermaster sergeant and there was no sign of Captain Williamson.
And so from there, I continued on. They took me on to the RAP [Regimental Aid Post] and so on; and by morning, I was in Antwerp in the hospital. I later learned that Major [Captain] Williamson, the mortar bomb explosion blew him out the back and killed him, of course, and they found him right beside the road the next day.