Veteran Stories:
Everett Sylvester Cromwell

Army

  • Service photograph taken in England, 1941.

    Everett Cromwell
  • Article in the Digby Courier, about a reunion of the five Cromwell brothers from Weymouth Falls, Nova Scotia - Harold, Irving, Bernard, Everett and Guy - all served in the in Canadian Armed Forces.

    The Digby Courier
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"One time I drove for 36 hours without stopping. When I stopped it was just long enough to off-load and load. That was war. That’s what you trained for."

Transcript

My outfit, my division was 2nd Division. We went in a three-way class -, it was around the end of June [1944], I can’t remember. We went across the English Channel in ships. There were all kinds of things going through your mind, from being anxious; you were wondering what was going to happen.

The first dead body I had seen was floating in the water when we were on our ship, waiting to get ashore. Over the side there was a dead body floating by, face down. Your nerves kind of shake a little bit. We got pulled away from the shore and got organized and then we started. Our job was to ferry the ammunition, gasoline and food to the troops – the infantry, tank drivers and what-not. We would drive them up so far and they would meet us and they’d take out their food, ammunition, and stuff and we would go back to the big depots. That kept us busy. We would have to travel maybe 20, 15 miles sometimes. Sometimes you know, the vehicle would be 10 miles back, sometimes we’d have to drive, we would get up close to the front line, around four or five miles and it was … at the other end of the village. We would go back, weekly calls for more supplies. It kept you busy, it was going steady all the time.

One time I drove for 36 hours without stopping. When I stopped it was just long enough to off-load and load. That was war. That’s what you trained for. I would eat on the fly. I ate hard tack, and Bully beef. We’d have to drive to artillery guns and through that I would off-load the truck. They said “you could turn around over there but be careful we haven’t cleared that yet of land mines. They could hit your truck. You had to turn that truck around in the dark hoping that you would not hit a mine. So your nerves tightened up like fiddle strings until you’d get out of that. The guys would say to us, “see you when you get back, ok”; you wondered, will I get back or not? Everywhere you would go there were shells dropping, airplanes dropping these “anti-personnel bombs” as we in Supply called them. We’d get all the heavy artillery guns trying to knock out the supplies. In my outfit we had 30 truckloads of ammunition and we had all the compo-packs, that was hard dry rations that were supposed to feed 14 men for one day. We would have 30 truckloads of those and wherever we moved we would off-load those and then we’d go back to the depots. You’d leave those, those were the emergency rations in case we got caught in-bounds and couldn’t move back, so we’d go back to the depots and then supply the outfits that way.

There is only one trip that I always think about. It was one of those dark nights that you couldn’t see your hand forward. Now those trucks, you can’t lock the doors because they had no side windows, [the supplies were covered in] canvas. It was there they stopped us and they said, Keep quiet and don’t say anything. There are enemy paratroopers dropped around here and are hiding somewhere. So we had to sit there in the truck, it was dark, you couldn’t see anything and we were sitting there trying to listen if we could hear anything – they could sneak up on you. We sat there, oh for about 20 minutes. It felt like 20 days!

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