"somebody said, look at your helmet and he took his helmet off and there was a hole right through his helmet but it just creased his head. So an inch lower, he wouldn’t have been there."
In February of 1945, I went and joined the Regina Rifles and we went through a number of places in Germany, up to cross the Rhine [River] at Emmerich in Germany and then it was back into Holland and then by this time, when we went through Germany, it was winter and cold we were sleeping in slit trenches and things and eating out of mess tins.
And then there was, I can remember, one occasion that we had dug slit trenches and we were staying in those and we’d, near a farm, we’d got a chicken and somebody got the idea that we’d roast that chicken. And I know none of us knew very much about how to do it but we were standing around the campfire with this chicken in a pot and all of a sudden, the Germans must have spotted us someplace and there was a shell landed and we all heard the sound. Well, it was too late, they obviously missed, the fields were really muddy and wet but it tipped that chicken over into the fire and we all dived down into our slit trenches again.
Our unit was sent out a platoon, well, not a platoon, just a section of a platoon, to clear some German areas and there was not very many of us and we got in, there was a lot of Germans there. So then we got pinned down and one of the things I remember, there was a chap in our platoon by, he was an aboriginal guy, by the name of Lavallee and we’d got pinned down by German machine guns and we were down in a low place so that we were kind of protected in just, it wasn’t really a trench but a low place. And so finally, we decided, well, the safer thing would be to run back, just behind us there was a barn, so we ran back to this barn and they were machine-gunning us and when we got back into the barn, nobody but I can still remember Lavallee, we had steel helmets on and he took his helmet and somebody said, look at your helmet and he took his helmet off and there was a hole right through his helmet but it just creased his head. So an inch lower, he wouldn’t have been there.
We had gone out on a patrol to clear some places of German[s]. And so there was only the one section and we got pinned down and they sent up flamethrowers to help us evacuate and get out there. And there was I think seven or eight of us and we’d ran out through some woods and got onto a road that was made of crushed rock. And what they teach you in the Army, when you’re walking along, to leave a space ten or so feet or 15 feet between soldiers. And I was near the, the back end of the, the group of us and the thing I remembered seeing is the people in front of me falling forward, dropping down and the next thing I know, I was down on the road and unable to get up. And there wasn’t much ditches there but it was a spring and the ditch was, there was water in it, so I thought, well, I’m not going to stay on this road, so I pulled myself off to the edge of the road to kind of half of this ditch that I thought was protecting me.
And so I, eventually, the fellow that had been our lieutenant that had been promoted to captain, he come back with one of the people and got me, picked me up and helped me back to a station and there, when we got back to a station and they gave me some first aid, I was severely wounded in my back and, and some pellets and stuff in my face.
And then, they strapped me on the top of a jeep and I remember being frightened because there was shells dropping around and getting out of there in this jeep and then back out of there into another first aid station and into an ambulance. And you got shot up. And I don’t remember all, with the drugs and things, I don’t remember clearly all the things but I do remember going back to another place in this, they were kind of, they’re not like ambulances we’ve got now but they were trucks they used for ambulances. And then I got into an airplane with stretchers on the sides of the airplane and flew back to a hospital in Holland.