Veteran Stories:
Benjamin Lang

Army

  • Benjamin Lang in Italy, 1945.

    Benjamin Lang
  • Benjamin Lang's shoulder flash from the Lanark and Renfrew Scottish.

    Benjamin Lang
  • Benjamin Lang in Italy, 1944.

    Benjamin Lang
  • Benjamin Lang's shoulder flash from the Loyal Edmonton Regiment.

    Benjamin Lang
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"we came across a camp of Germans who were well fortified. And we could see them and hear them talking, but we didn’t fire on them because we knew that as soon as we did that, we would all be wiped out."

Transcript

November 1943, I was sent to Great Britain and we spent some time in Aldershot doing various training exercises and eventually got onto a boat going to Italy. The Italian Campaign was well under way by that time. So, we spent a couple of weeks in North Africa in the cork forest near Philippeville [present day Skikda, Algeria] and then we went to – I can’t remember the name of the town – the holding unit in Italy where we spent two or three months waiting for our turn to be called up. And when I got called up I was sent to the Loyal Edmonton Regiment right after their big Ortona battle. My first duty, the next day after I arrived there, was to take a patrol in the pitch-black dark over territory I had never seen before, down across a valley, where we came across a camp of Germans who were well fortified. And we could see them and hear them talking, but we didn’t fire on them because we knew that as soon as we did that, we would all be wiped out. So we reported all this back to the colonel and he said, “Well, you were sent on a fighting patrol. Why didn’t you fight?” I said, “Because it would have been a totally futile waste of effort.” But anyway, we continued doing those night patrols for probably another month and then we got stationed in a forward position where we were in a stone house, and as we were trying to sleep at night we could hear the machine gun peltering on the stones on the outside of the building. We were there for perhaps a month and then we got moved to another area in preparation for around about the 1st of April, I guess, in 1944. We proceeded to get ready. First we had a little time off and then we moved to the south of Monte Cassino area where we went on an advance and that was when I got my first wound. A shot through the leg around 11:00 in the morning and I stayed with my platoon until about 6:00 when finally we were told we could come in. So we hobbled back to the camp and I went to the hospital for about a month and then to convalescent camp for another six weeks. That was a very nice experience, on a beach at Palermo. When that finished, we got back to our unit. My unit was full; it needed no officers at the time, and so, another unit had been created. All the Lanark and Renfrew Scottish [Regiment], they had gone one day in battle and had terrific officer casualties, so they were looking for officers with some experience and I was elected to join them. That was why I changed my regiments in the middle of the war, so to speak. In that unit, I was, for a while, intelligence officer part of the time. I was pioneer officer and I was also in charge of the platoon. So I had quite wide experience there.
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