"And a V-2 came down, and wiped that theatre out completely. It was one of the largest single casualties that occurred during the entire war"
My name is Gerald Culver. I joined the artillery reserve in 1941, in Vancouver. And then my Commanding Officer sent me to see Captain Wight in the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, because my background and training was in stores. I was enlisted in the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps as a Private in 1942. And from there I progressed through the rank of Private, to Acting Corporal, to Acting Sergeant Cadet for training. My officer training started with Gordon Head in September of 1942, and after eight weeks there, they discovered that I should have been in Brockville, not in Gordon Head. So I was sent to Brockville for another four weeks.
And one of the interesting things about those training camps was that Gordon Head concentrated on mental training - lots of pressure, lots of lectures and so on - and Brockville concentrated on physical training. And there were far more courses in the field, and it was winter time, and we were out in the snow. And it was really battle experience. And from that I was passed back the Ordnance Corps, and trained at Barryfield. And I graduated as a Lieutenant, and came back to the Pacific Command in Vancouver.
Well, in 1944, I was working at the headquarters in the old Vancouver Hotel. And the opportunity came to volunteer for service with the British Army. So, a number of us volunteered, and I was one of those selected. And then we went back over to England in July of 1944. And we were trained further by the British in Leicester. I was assigned to a vehicle company. I was put on an overseas draft. And in November of 1944, I arrived in Antwerp, Belgium, as a reinforcement officer to the 165 Transit Vehicle Park. And I remained in Antwerp until October of 1945, when I was returned to the Canadian Army.
One of the things about Antwerp was that after the Germans had been driven out of Normandy, they could no longer reach London with their V-1 and V-2 bombs. And they selected Antwerp as their target. And Antwerp was targeted by some 6,000 V-1s and V-2s. And one of the things that stands out in my mind is December 16th, 1944. At that point, the Allied forces had quite a number of headquarters - administrative units - in Antwerp. And they were also using Antwerp as a recreation centre for the armed forces, when troops came out of the line. On the weekend - Saturday, December the 16th - there were a lot of them in Antwerp. And the theatre that had been provided free for the forces was full with some 500 people. And a V-2 came down, and wiped that theatre out completely. It was one of the largest single casualties that occurred during the entire war. There were 500 people just obliterated by that bomb. And I was in Antwerp at the time. I was very fortunate.
I enjoyed my service with the British Army and made some very friends, one of whom I still correspond with, after all these years. I was very fortunate in my service, because I was always with people who were working, and very friendly. And I can't say enough about them.