Veteran Stories:
William Booth

Army

  • A newly-enlisted William Booth posed for this photo in Vancouver. 1941.

  • Mr. Booth in Brussels in 1944 after serving throughout Europe with the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals.

  • Mr. Booth's uniform hat with the crest of the Westminster Regiment.

  • Mr. Booth and his future wife Eileen in England before their wedding. October 1943.

  • Mr. Booth at the Vancouver Memory Project Roadshow wearing his uniform jacket and cap of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals. December 5, 2005.

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"I experienced the liberation of Holland with the Canadian troops, and we saw all the good reasons why we were in there to save the people…"

Transcript

My name is William Booth, and in 1941 I decided I would join the Active Forces overseas. I was nineteen years old, and I went through a trade school experience which trained me to be able to fix all the communication equipment in most fighting units. It didn't matter whether it was infantry or artillery, because I served in both when I got overseas into France. My job was just to keep the communication equipment working, but I did in my experience mix with the front line troops, and I was in the front line doing my work. There were only about two or three different occasions where I actually got the rifle in my hand and had to do a little bit of fighting. One was in France when there was supposedly a breakthrough. The Germans had broken through the line and they figured they needed every available man and a rifle. I did that, but it turned out to be a false alarm. Then later on, I had to assist in rounding up some prisoners of war, but most of the time I was just fixing, which involved finding out what was wrong the instrument. It was supposed to be front line fixing, which means I had to get it done within about ten minutes, or the unit was deemed to be suitable for shipping back. Lots of times I had to be called out and do work on equipment other than the regiment that I was with. The front line sort of intermixed with an artillery regiment here and an infantry unit there, and you crossed over from one to the other to get your work done. This took me to France, through Belgium, into Holland. I experienced the liberation of Holland with the Canadian troops, and we saw all the good reasons why we were in there to save the people, and all the bad stuff that the Germans had left for us to clean up. Getting the people fed and all that. Then I was with this artillery regiment at the end of the war. We went into Germany about thirty-five miles, and at the end of the war I was serving with an artillery regiment, once again more or less on the front lines. I experienced quite a bit of the bad side of war – the gore – and that part of it I chose to not remember as much as I could.
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