Veteran Stories:
Joseph James Falco

Army

  • Personnel of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (R.C.A.M.C.) loading a casualty into a Willys MB ambulance jeep, Sonsbeck, Germany, 6 March 1945.

    Credit: Capt. Jack H. Smith / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-113872
    Restrictions on use: Nil
    Copyright: Expired

    Mr. Falco served in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (R.C.A.M.C.)

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"When we saw a tank was hit and one thing and another, we tried to get there to get them out of the tank before it was too late. And once, when the tank caught on fire, well, oh boy, there was no hope in hell for them."

Transcript

We were in medical corps [Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps] and we were attached to a tank brigade [1st Armoured Brigade], peopled by three tank regiments: the Three Rivers [12th Armoured Regiment], the Ontario Regiment [11th Armoured Regiment] and the Calgary Regiment [10th Armoured Regiment]. We were their medical supply. And that’s the way it was for a while. And then naturally, taking care of the wounded and so on and so forth, the best we possibly could. And time to pass on the information to the next group, you know. That’s what a lot of it is, there’s an education, education. And we learned the hard way. When we saw a tank was hit and one thing and another, we tried to get there to get them out of the tank before it was too late. And once, when the tank caught on fire, well, oh boy, there was no hope in hell for them. But, anyway, we did the best that we possibly could under the circumstances. And we didn’t drink the brandy. The brandy was for the surgeons. They used it as an antiseptic to pour over their hands. That’s what you have to do when you’re out in the field and we did operations right on the ground there, amputations, everything that was necessary. We carried morphine, quarter grain and half grain stuff all the time to give them a shot. And then we always carried an indelible pencil so you can mark it on their forehead of the time that you give it to them and how much you give to them. So when they got into the surgical part of it, then they knew what had happened out in the field. And were able to carry on from there, you know. So we would just go down to the main part of the hospital again and reequip our ambulances with equipment and off to the front we’d go again. Generally, there was a pickup area. After we finished administering medical help to them and one thing or another, and as much documentation as we possibly could do before they get sent back to a base hospital. It was a continual going all the time, non-stop, morning, noon and night. Oh yeah, sometimes I slept in the ambulance in there, at night in them there, with a couple of stiffs in there [laughs] and nothing else they could do. But that was it, they say, anybody that’s dead, they’re dead. Get somebody in the ambulance that’s alive. We can’t do anything for anybody that’s dead. But that’s the way it goes. Some of the things are pretty cool. But you have to learn to take it, that’s all there is to it. We used to practice at loading the ambulances, unloading the ambulances and loading the trucks and transporting the wounded, dressing them, putting new bandages and things and that on, that are necessary. That never bothered me ̶ the blood and guts as we called it. It’s just something you get used to.
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