Emil Beleutz and his wife Betty Eva, in Wheatly, Ontario, 1953.Emil Beleutz
Emil Beleutz at a Memory Project event in Essex County, Ontario, January 21, 2010.Emil Beleutz
"I have no bad things to say about the whole darn war, other than there was a war."
We were ready to go overseas, we were attached to the 2nd [Canadian Infantry] Division and we got brand new vehicles, all set to go overseas, as a regiment, and about six months before D-Day, they decided that we’re the junior regiment and they didn’t have enough reinforcements, so they broke us up. And you’re allowed to go wherever you wanted to go. I went to the paratroops and everybody went in all directions. But, unbeknownst to me, I had an A2 category [fit for overseas duty, except for training], which no Canadian soldier ever got to England within the A2 category. Because when I went to the paratroopers, they said to me, well, what’s this A2? I said, I don’t know. Well, they said, we’d love to take you because I was 5’11”, weighed 200 pounds and just as tough as nails. Because I believed in all this PT [Physical Training] and all that stuff, I really believed in them. As a matter of fact, my majors, they’d all grumble and they says, Beleutz, get up here. And he had a little stand and he says, take a look at Beleutz here and we’re just in shorts and no brag, I had quite a body. He says, you should all look like this, he says. [laughs] Of course, them other guys, 160, they really loved that. They booed and mumbled and grumbled but anyway.
So they broke us up. I went to the paratroops. At 11:00, I was there; he says, come back at 1:00, we’ll give you a re-board and bring you up to A1 and you’re in. I go back at 1:00 and now they changed that A from the new system, Pulhems [Canadian military Physical Standards system] they called it, PULHEMS [Physical Capacity, Upper and Lower Limbs, Hearing, Eyesight, Mental Stability]. P is for physical, U is for upper and what have you; and E is for ears, come and took one look at my ears and he says, well, he says, you know, they’re scarred. Well, sure they were scarred because when I was a kid, they used to run, but they healed up. So I come back out with this paper from them…He says, look what they did? They knocked you down lower. [laughs]
So I went back to the 22 [22nd Armoured Regiment], I think they call, 21 [21st Armoured Regiment] or whatever the carrier or the armoured section was. I walked into the office and I says, here I am. He says, what do you mean, you know, I’ve got no place to go. Oh, we’ve got just the job for you. So they gave me a carrier section. I had 8 instructors and 10 carriers. And I’d have to make out their work order and give them their students and sent them out to train. Being 21 years old, who cared, you only had yourself to worry about. You know your family’s safe at home and I felt bad for the poor darn English people because at night, we’d get usually underground, way down and come up in the morning and look around and everything blasted and fires.
But the English people, they're amazing people. They’re stubborn, but you couldn’t beat them with a club. They never complained. Their houses are gone and they’ve got kids there and you don’t hear one of them complaining. I felt worse than they did. I have no bad things to say about the whole darn war, other than there was a war. I had a ball. I spent all my time in dance halls and if you’re a Canadian and if you could dance, you went to the dance halls and the women would cut in, the men never cut in anyone. And I always went to the dance hall and picked the best looking girl in the place. And if she went with me, fine, if not, I maybe go second best but no lower. Our officer said to me, he says, Beleutz, how come every time I see you, you’ve got the best looking girl in the dance hall. I said, because that’s who I go after.