"Yeah. And you think back, it’s all so stupid, just takes a few people to start something like that and then millions have to die. Crazy, when you think of it."
My mother passed away two weeks before I left for the army, so we moved the old house into Jansen [Saskatchewan] and fixed it up so my dad was left by himself and so I was ready to leave home. Actually, my dad was getting pretty old – I, I maybe really should have stayed to look after him but I was looking for adventure, so I had been called up but just the same, I was anxious to, to go.
I was transferred to the 31st Alberta Recce [Reconnaissance] Regiment. And we were on coastal defence I guess. We did a lot of training in jungle warfare, amphibious warfare, mountain warfare. And I went overseas with them and arrived in England February the 1st I think it was. Yeah, February 1st, 1945. So I was in England a couple of months and then we were shipped to Holland and the 31st Recces were disbanded and I was transferred to the PLDGs, Princess Louise Dragoon Guards and I was in Holland a month before the war ended. And I signed on for the army of occupation [Canadian Army Occupation Force] and I was in Germany over a year.
I was in Germany because I could speak German. I got along pretty good but actually, they sometimes asked me why, if you’re German, how come you’re fighting us? And I’d say, we’re not fighting you people, we’re just, we’re fighting the German government, the Nazis. Well, they kind of understood that, so. They liked the Canadians, yeah. No, we weren’t treated badly or anything like that by any of them as far as I could see. Maybe in different areas of Germany maybe, in the big cities basically that might have been different but where we were, well, this was close to Holland where the people they were, I think they were just about as much Dutch as they were German.
Well, to begin with, when we got to Germany, we weren’t even allowed to talk to them until, well, that didn’t go over too good. Didn’t take too long Guys would start talking with the girls, so they quit that; we could talk to anybody we wanted.
Well, no actually, the Germans, where we were stationed, they weren’t hostile or anything. And I bet half of the guys had girlfriends, yeah. I used to get a kick out of them sometimes. Some girls would stand there looking at us and kind of discussing us between themselves. And then I’d speak up in German, oh! oh! [They would say] Oh, they spoke mostly old German, I couldn’t even understand it. Girls going, Er kann Deutsch sprechen [He can speak German]!
And we used to ferry vehicles from Germany - Canadian army vehicles after the war - take them to Antwerp [Belgium], there was a big parking lot there. So that’s what we did a lot of the time. I had my driver’s license; I’m just trying to think what we called it, a standing order for driving. I drove a Bren Gun Carrier most of the time. Anyway, we took all these trucks to Antwerp. They took us to Brussels and we took a plane and flew back to Germany and then take another convoy of vehicles.
Well, it was lots of fun. In Germany, the coffee grounds and tea grounds that our cooks would throw out, people would scrape them up, take them home for tea or coffee. Yeah. Because they couldn’t get any. There was really nothing, in the village we stayed, there was a store there but shelves were bare, there was nothing there. But it was just a little place and it was close to country like so they’d go out in the country I guess and scrounge whatever they could. But no, it was a lot of hungry people there. Yeah. And you think back, it’s all so stupid, just takes a few people to start something like that and then millions have to die. Crazy, when you think of it.