"You know what they had for dinner? Fried apples because they were short of food there. I said to the guy that was looking after the rations, I told him . He said, well, take your ration up and give it to them"
I was in the infantry and then they moved me to, each workshop had an infantry sergeant. And that’s what I was promoted to, to sergeant. And I was only twenty then at the time, pretty young for that. Because you’d be in charge of the discipline and good order for 300 and some odd men, I think it was approximately.
I was in charge of discipline and good order in the unit. As the sergeant, as an infantry man, I’d be the only infantry man in the unit, the rest were all tradesmen, you know, like they were armoured testers and people that fix guns, and it was a workshop really. Any trucks that broke down, they brought them back for service, so they were all pretty well tradesmen all but, well, I would say but me, because I was in the infantry. If a guy was drinking or intoxicated or didn’t get on parade [for inspection] in time, it was my job to see that he did. If he didn’t, why then I could charge him under the [War Measures] act and the army [Code of Service Discipline].
We landed in France on the sixth day of July 1944. And we got a spot located for us to locate all our equipment and everything for the workshop. And I looked back and I could see the Channel, it wasn’t very far in. The first night, I looked and we got shelled badly. I mean, we got shelled, they got our spots and they just hammered us in there. But there wasn’t any casualties much that I know of, or remember. So I went through France, into Belgium and we liberated Holland. I got to know this girl. She taught school and she spoke English well. So I thought, well, she’s got a lot of attributes for me because she can speak her language and my language. And so she asked me to come up and see her after they got located back in Holland because for the liberation, they got out of town, out in the country because, you know, there was firing going on to liberate them because the Germans occupied it.
So I took her phone number down, not her phone number, because I don’t think they had a phone but she lived on Fort Kijk in de Potstraat in Holland. Nijmegen was the name of the town. So after we got all settled in there, I thought, well, I’ll go and visit her. So I went down and she told me to come back the next night or so, I’m not right on target here, for dinner. So I went back, you know what they had for dinner? Fried apples because they were short of food there. So when we went back to camp, I said to the guy that was looking after the rations, I told him [about the dinner]. He said, well, take your ration up and give it to them. So I did; and boy, were they ever appreciative. So I visited them quite often and as a home, it was in an apartment. She took me to a Christmas concert. And all, all I knew is the music, not, I didn’t know the words in Dutch and she translated some of it for me. But, anyway, they were awful good to me. And when we went to go home, we were six miles out of town at a camp ready for back home and I was glad. And her and her sister, they were both school teachers, bicycled six miles out to say goodbye, but they didn’t find me because, I mean, all those large camps, she couldn’t, didn’t know where to locate me.
But, anyway, when I got home, I told my mother of all their goodness and how Holland appreciated, so my mother fixed up a big parcel of clothes and everything that they lacked and I told her, like nylons stockings wasn’t even known, just talked about. So she sent that back and we got a nice letter from them, thank you very much for all your hospitality. And I’m home now. [laughs]