Log book including training and salaries received between March 1944 to February 1945.Roger Dufresnes
One of Mr Dufresne's souvenir of the Normandy campaign; the famous picture of Major Currie (South Alberta Regiment) winning the Victoria Cross at St Lambert sur Dives on the 21st of august 1944. Above his a contemporary photograph of the same road and barn today. Mr Dufresne was also involved the closing of the Falaise Gap in august of 1944.Roger Dufresnes
Mr Dufresne is in the top row, to the right.Roger Dufresnes
"All those young men who didn’t come home; what they could have done if they had lived. It’s strange but that still torments me a bit."
I was with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada. During the course of, on the beach, not far from the beach, the small villages were on inland and we were waiting to go in even further. Hill 195, we were sent there as reinforcements and that’s where I had my baptism by fire, at Hill 195. After that, it’s fuzzy; we weren’t really in the picture, us infantrymen in terms of what was happening with headquarters. We each had our objectives; that’s how it was. We advanced as quickly as possible without getting whipped too much. We liberated the French villages. We didn’t have too much contact with the general population. Most of the villages had been evacuated, good thing, and people were fleeing. We met enough people though. They were very proud to be liberated.
It’s us, with help from the tanks of the South Alberta Regiment, who managed to close the last exit available to the Germans, at Saint-Lambert. Saint-Lambert-sur-Dive. But you know, the pocket wasn’t completely sealed; the Germans were still able to evacuate a lot of their equipment and soldiers. Yes, Saint-Lambert left its mark. It was something else. The next morning, we heard a rumour that the Germans were preparing a counter-attack against Saint-Lambert. So we, the company, we set up at the entry to the town, we got set up there and we started digging trenches to reinforce our position. The same day, I think it was August 20 , not a lot happened but a lot of prisoners came to us. We didn’t know what to do with them.
There was a Sherman tank nearby that was having engine trouble but it could still use its weapons just the same. They had lent us a Browning machine gun that infantry didn’t usually have, to augment our fire power. During the night, it really served us well because we had a pretty serious collision. The Germans had a tank too. It was rare for tanks to be about at night but they had one and the Sherman destroyed it and then we took care of the foot soldiers. It was pretty brutal. In the infantry, you can go for weeks without taking off your boots.
I had taken motorcycle training. When we left France and made our way to Holland, we had lost motorcyclists and messengers, DRs, Dispatch Riders they were called. So they needed some and I got the job for my Company. Being a dispatch rider kept me alive. We were still exposed, but a bit less. So that’s when they announced that the war was over. I think it was May 5 , in the evening. Yes, because VE-Day was May 8, I think.
The reaction was so quiet, we didn’t hear a thing. They announced the news during the evening, pretty late, and we didn’t hear anything. It was so calm. Even before that, I don’t think that the guys spoke very loudly to one another. The first thing I did when I got off the boat in Halifax, was to kiss the ground. I got down on my knees and kissed the pavement. I cried a bit. All those young men who didn’t come home; what they could have done if they had lived. It’s strange but that still torments me a bit.
I went back to Holland in 1995. The Dutch people treated us like gold, no doubt about it. They were very, very kind those people. They were so happy to be liberated, it was incredible. They never forgot, either. You look at the tombs, at the age of the people who never came back, it’s incredible. You know, human kind hasn’t learned anything. We’re still fighting each other all over the world.