Veteran Stories:
Harold Bruce Hayward


  • Gunners of "B" Troop, 5th Battery, 5th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, firing a 25-pounder, February 1, 1945, Malden, The Netherlands.
    Lt. Michael M. Dean /DND/ Library and Archives Canada / PA-168908.

    Lt. Michael M. Dean /DND/ Library and Archives Canada / PA-168908
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"We weren’t supposed to feed the Dutch people but I don’t think there was one Canadian that refused any of them."


We had very little training in 1939. I joined the 14th day of September and I went to Woodstock, New Brunswick. And that’s where we stayed until December the 17th – or, [rather] December the 10th - and then we left there for overseas. I transferred to the 5th Field Regiment on account of my brother coming over in 1942. He joined the artillery and he come over to England and being elder, as one year, he was eligible to claim me as a younger brother into his regiment. So, of which he did.

We were in Juno, the landing of Juno [Beach] 1944. Like that for me, I didn’t see nothing; I landed on the shores of France in the vehicle and I wasn’t able to see anything because the windows were so dirty that you couldn’t see nothing anyway. And I didn’t have time to see what was going on or anything until we finally got through, almost through the city called Caen.

I was taking orders from the AOP, in other words, that’s the Air Observation Post, we had an Air Observation Post. Now, small aircraft, once in a while, they would come over and find where the Germans were and radio back to me and tell me exactly where they were and I would give my order to the sergeant and he would plot it on the plotting board where the German resistance was. And then we’d bring fire down on that point of interest.

I was over to the liberation [of the Netherlands] party that they had, the 65th [anniversary]. I visited the girl that I fed in 1944; a little Dutch girl and she came to the mess call every time they called for us to get our food. She came to me and pulled on my pant leg and begged food from me, of which I gave her - everything I could possibly give. We weren’t supposed to feed the Dutch people but I don’t think there was one Canadian that refused any of them. So this [memory] remained for 45 years until I met a Dutch chap here just down from the cottage here which I occupy at the present time, down to the lake, he was going home to see his mother and I told him, I said, Peter, the visit to your place is not going to be too big because Holland’s not that large. He said, no. So I said, I’ve got a picture of a little girl in a dresser drawer I’ve had now from wartime and I said, I only got the first name, I didn’t the second name. Because her mother never put it on the pictures.

But while we were in Holland, we were in dugout and in the ground for our command post but this time, at the gun position, we were entitled to take their house over because they were dug in the ground. And by doing that, the little girl always come out every day at the time when we were called for to get our rations. She’d come out and pull on my pant leg and which - I fed her each time. Then, when Peter went over to see his mother, he come back and he said, I found her. And that was a period of 45 years elapsed. So he found her and since then, I’ve been back three times; this was the third time just a month ago [May 2010]. And the wife and I went over the first two times, met the family, she was married and had a family of her own and we certainly enjoyed the hospitality, which was out of this world. We couldn’t do nothing, they turned over backwards to watch every move and help us and we weren’t entitled to do anything. So that’s the hospitality that the Dutch people give to the Canadians that were the liberators of their country.

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