"I was carrying this phone and a bottle of wire; and I could hear somebody talking and it wasn’t English. And I thought, I’m in trouble."
Just before D-Day, we waterproofed all our vehicles and you didn’t mind doing that, but you had to go through what they called a dip tank. And when that cold water hit you, you started to think, well, it’s not going to be any better in the ocean. And you done a lot of thinking about it. But it happened that we were an armoured division and they’d, the powers that be, they decided that there was too much equipment to land on the beaches, so we didn’t get to go until I think it was, I don’t know the exact date, but I’d say around 23 days later.
And then we had to take all that goo off of the vehicles. [We went] through France and Holland, and we crossed the Rhine River. I’ll always remember this, at a place called Emmerich. That was one of the times in my life I was really scared. I had to put a phone at this little town and I had to cross over a steel bridge to get there. Well, I was carrying this phone and a bottle of wire; and I could hear somebody talking and it wasn’t English. And I thought, I’m in trouble.
So anyway, I got over there and here was these two guys there, they were Polish. [laughs] So my worries disappeared. And then we had all the guns lined up just before to fire across the Rhine River or in that area; and my job was to lay wires in behind this hedge and these guns were firing over top of me. And there was sometimes premature shells too in there; and we were lucky to get out of it alive.
And we ended up in a town in Germany, Oldenburg. And the war was practically over, but you had to be careful, you had to stay down. But we hadn’t had a leave for a long time and we went on leave, me and my friend. And we went to London and visited my aunt there north of London. And like fools, we went back to camp. And we was only back there two days and the war was finished. And the old captain of ours, he says, you know, he says, you guys don’t use your heads, you could have stayed there. [laughs] Well, we didn’t know that.
Well, just after we were stationed at Caen and there was a little town there, I think it was a German general, [Günther] von Kluge, I think was his name, he had a building there and he had a big banner across the front with a swastika on each end. And it was about four feet, beautiful material. And I took that down and rolled it up carefully and took it. And I had it up at the front all the time, in my vehicle, and my battery captain said, you know, he says, you shouldn’t have that up here, he said, if you get caught, they’ll kill you right away. And they would have too.
So he says, you better send it back with a ration truck. Well, ration, the guy that drives the ration truck was a good friend of mine, so he took it and there was a canvas pouch in the back of this 60 100 weight. He put it in there. But that was the last time I seen it. And you know, I think what happened to that, I think that captain took it.