Veteran Stories:
Edward John “Ted” Sheppard

Army

  • Pictured here is an open page from Mr. Sheppard's diary that he carried with him during the war. A diary such as this one was a wartime scarcity, and his niece had given him this pocket diary that she had had from 1937. Note that the dates are changed on each page to reflect the year 1945.

    Edward Sheppard
  • Pictured here is the front and back cover of Mr. Sheppard's diary that he carried with him during the war, recording each day's events. Before Mr. Sheppard left for the war, his niece had given him this pocket diary that she had had from 1937.

    Edward Sheppard
  • Pictured here is the Star of David given to Mr. Sheppard by an elderly Jewish man on the day Mr. Sheppard's troop came across Westerbork Concentration Camp on April 12, 1945, the day after the Germans had abandoned it. Mr. Sheppard explains, "the incident I remember best there was an elderly Jewish man climbed up onto my armoured car and all he wanted to do was just touch my hand it seemed. Then he unpinned from his vest the “Jood” Star, the leather star which said Jew on it and they were forced to wear. He took it off his jacket and he insisted I have it."

    Edward Sheppard
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"About five minutes later, the doors opened and all the inhabitants of what turned out to be Westerbork Jewish Concentration Camp poured out onto the parade ground."

Transcript

On the 19th of February [1945], I remember travelling by Bren Gun Carrier from Nijmegen to cross the Dutch-German border and we finished up in the Reichswald Forest which had just been taken by the 2nd Canadian [Infantry] Division. And that was the date on which I first joined No. 7 Troop and the 8th Canadian Reconnaissance Regiment. Which was the Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment which usually led in advance of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division.

I then became Officer in Charge of No. 7 Troop. We proceeded northwards sometimes ahead of the, as one of the lead troops of the 2nd Division, sometimes following behind, depending on what the division commander wanted of us. And we did all sorts of reconnaissance until on the 11th of April, the 2nd Division was stopped at Beilen, BEILEN. No. 7 Troop happened to be at a crossroads, so we were ordered to explore to the right, which we did, and then we turned northwards and found a secondary road which paralleled the main highway, which the division was following the route from Nijmegen to Groningen, to free Holland.

So we found a secondary road which paralleled that route and we advanced about 20 miles and by 5:00 in the afternoon, we reached the village of Westerbork, which is on the south side of the Oranje, ORANJE, Canal. It had been freed the day before by a very brave Dutch resistance sergeant was involved and some Polish tanks and the French paratroops had landed. At 1:00 in the morning, my squadron leader, Major Goode, directed me to return to the crossroads at Spier, which was just south of Beilen, and there I was to meet a Canadian soldier. So using a light vehicle, a driver and myself and I had a flashlight with which to map read, we returned the 15 or 20 miles to the crossroads and there was a Canadian soldier. I said, are you Captain Lain? He said, yes, are you Sheppard? I said, yes. So I said, okay, we turned around and my driver and I then proceeded northwards over the almost now familiar route, northwards to a map reference close to Zwiggelta.

And we arrived there just about 0530 hours in the morning [on April 12, 1945], the sun was just coming up. And I then realised that I had had the entire South Saskatchewan Regiment infantry behind me. So I went to my troop headquarters for two or three hours. By about 9:00 in the morning, the infantry regiment had, using their engineer platoon, had made a temporary bridge across the canal so that about 9:30 in the morning, No. 7 Troop crossed the canal, went about 800 metres to the left, found a railway and then turned north, followed the railway north for about three or four kilometres and there we found an enclosure, like a military enclosure, surrounded by barbed wire.

I spotted the sentry tower, it turned out it was like a camp. There were no sentries in the guard towers, so we proceeded and then turned into the open gate of this camp to a sort of parade ground. And there wasn’t a soul to be seen, not a sound. About five minutes later, the doors opened and all the inhabitants of what turned out to be Westerbork Jewish Concentration Camp poured out onto the parade ground. And they told us that all of the Germans had left the night before.

The incident I remember best there was an elderly Jewish man climbed up onto my armoured car and all he wanted to do was just touch my hand it seemed. Then he unpinned from his vest the “Jood” Star, the leather star which said Jew on it and they were forced to wear. He took it off his jacket and he insisted I have it.

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