John Thompson and fellow comrade Brownie in Calais, France in 1945.John Thompson
John Thompson with fellow comrades in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands in March, 1946.John Thompson
John Thompson (on right) with fellow comrades in Ghent, Belgium in 1945.John Thompson
John Thompson (on left) with fellow gunner Sinclair walking along King Street East in Hamilton, Ontario, before going overseas, January 15, 1944.John Thompson
John Thompson and fellow comrades in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, getting ready to return home in 1946.John Thompson
"They decided to surrender. And 250 some of them surrendered and there was only I think 80 something of us."
I was transferred over to Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia. And I was put in the light infantry and took training at Eastern Passage in light infantry. And from there, we were sent over to England, I forget just when it was, sometime later on in 1943. I got over there and I took up some artillery training over in England and all of a sudden, they decided that they had too many people in the light ack-ack [light anti-aircraft], or light infantry, so they transferred, I think, a couple hundred of us into the infantry for quick training before D-Day up in Helmsley, England, northern England. And we took about two and a half weeks training there and D-Day, we were in Helmsley, England, and they put us right down to, I forget where it was, Southampton or wherever it was, and sent us to France as reinforcements.
We landed, I think it wasn’t that far from Caen but it was, I forget where it was, anyway, but I was “D plus 6” [landing six days after D-Day], I’m pretty sure; and we didn’t know until we got over there what outfit we were going with and we were all lined up then before we were taken off the shore you might say; and so many of us were going with the [Royal] Regina Rifles [Regiment], so many with the North Novas [North Nova Scotia Highlanders] and so many with different outfits. And we were the only three [Prince Edward] islanders that I knew at the time that went to the Regina Rifles.
But, anyway, I was with them from there on until the end of the war, up through France, Belgium, Holland. After we got up somewhere in Belgium and the Leopold Canal, I think it was. And there was I think 80 some of us in our company and we had taken over a bunch of German pillboxes that afternoon; and of the pillboxes, they all surrendered. There was 250 some Germans in the pillboxes; those were cement pillboxes too. And they had them built like a little village and they were all concrete and one that looked like a barbershop and another looked like a meat shop; and honest to God, it was just like a picture of a little village, you know. It was all concrete, but, at that time, apparently, they shelled them so much that they wouldn’t even come out of the pillboxes or anything.
So we had to rush, after the artillery branch let go, we had to rush right up to the things before they get a good bead on us; and all of a sudden, they decided to surrender. And 250 some of them surrendered and there was only I think 80 something of us. And myself and four other chaps, we lined them all up in threes like you would in any army and lined them up in threes and had to take them back about a mile and a half or two miles back to the provo [military police], turned them over to the provo. And we know, probably with them, you know, they were surrendering and that was it and they had given up, I guess.
Anyway, so we took them back and the five of us decided to that it was getting dark in the evening so we decided we’d walk back up to where the pillboxes were. So on the way back up, just as we started walking, there was a couple of Bren Gun carriers come along and there was two guys in each Bren Gun carrier, so we all got a drive on the Bren Gun carriers. And just when we get this, it pitch black night then, getting back to where the pillboxes were, all of a sudden, the two Bren
Gun carriers hit Teller mines [German anti-tank weapons] and the both went up in flames and I was blown 35 feet I guess, or so. When I came to, I was in a mud puddle and the two cars were ablaze. I think there was three out of the works of us, there was three killed instantly on the cars that had blown up and a couple more survived. And there was three of us Regina Rifles survived that and I was one of them.