Veteran Stories:
Lawrence Durant

Army

  • Mr. Lawrence Durant in Charlottetown, PEI on April 28, 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"I don’t know how long we were there for, but we got shelled every night. Then we took off. We were in the German lines for about three months."

Transcript

We sailed for Naples, Italy; and we got to Naples and landed in the camp of the name Avellino and you’ve heard me tell of Avellino, Whitley, and that’s when I joined the [First] Special Service Force [Canadian-American commando unit: the Devil’s Brigade]. They asked for volunteers one day and I put my hand up. [laughs]

I don’t know how long we were there for, but we got shelled every night. Then we took off. We were in the German lines for about three months. Every night, every night, every night. Yeah. And then after that, we took the big push to Rome, 15 day march to Rome and further away all the way. We had scouts out like to see if there was anybody there or who was there, or anything. Oh, we had no problem getting through. We were all covered with black face. They couldn’t see us.

That was every night, every night, every night. We’d probably leave at dusk, at night, and wouldn’t come back until daylight, just returned with daylight in the morning. We were gone all night. And then we’d get information from some, we captured a few. One time we were, we went out there and we were on the way back to our own lines and we run into a German patrol, doing the same thing we were doing. Mostly the information was: how many people; how many Germans that was in behind the enemy lines; and how strong they were; and what kind of equipment they had, and all that. We got into Rome, geez, the streets were red with wine. The Germans blew up all them big barrels. But it wasn’t safe to drink because they poisoned some of it.

But, anyway, we got there, lost a few men. Of course, I stayed alive. Yeah. That was good. Then I went down to this there lake, I was telling you about. We were there for, oh, I don’t know, a month and a half, two months, on a rest. Nice lake and from there, we went to Corsica. There are two islands of Corsica, but we went to one of them and that’s where we done our amphibious training for this southern France deal. So then we got to southern France. All that crazy, me, put up my hand to volunteer and there’s, you know how high them ships are, get down them with a rope ladder. Oh, with all your full pack and everything on. And you’re not supposed to make a sound, which we didn’t. I guess we were told we’d going into the beaches and putting up lights for the main force. But we didn’t know what was on that beach. I think there was nine of us, that’s like three to a boat. I think there’s three boats, three rubber boats. We made it; got the lights up and in came the force. Loved it. Loved it. We went through … this was the only army I was in until they disbanded them, and then I got into the West Novas [West Nova Scotia Regiment]. But, we had the greatest time in the, you know, we all got along good together and no problems that way.

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