Veteran Stories:
Irvin Katzman


  • Private Irvin Katzman, circa 1942-43.

    Irvin Katzman
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"Army life is nothing you enjoy. Because you’re fighting."


We had to do something, you know, for my country, everybody had to do something, some sacrifices. So I joined the army and that’s it. And I went to, basic training was in Chatham [Ontario]. Basic training, then Niagara-on-the-Lake [Camp Niagara], that's how I met my wife. They posted on the bulletin board if anybody wants to come for supper there Friday night, I went there, that's how I met my wife. Niagara Falls is not that far fom St. Catharines. And then from there, we did guard duty on the Niagara the hydroelectric [canal], we were on guard duty there for quite a while. And after there, we were sent to Camp Borden [Ontario]. Then from there, we went through training in Debert, Nova Scotia. And that’s the jump off point, from there, you go overseas. And we were there for maybe six months too. And it was quite a good basic training. In late 43, we landed in England and we had more basic training in Aldershot, England. That’s where a lot of Canadians went. And we were training there. From there, to fight the Nazis in Holland. I took a course in typing and everything, office work and I had that as my background. One day when we were in Aldershot, the announcer said that they needed people to work in London. And in London, they had, the Canadian Army had taken over the Ministry of Pensions building and there must have been over 1,000 or more Canadians working there. And I worked in an office. And what we did there, what we were doing there, there was a, must have been in 1944 to, late 1945 or 1946. What we were doing there is we were figuring the points of all the soldiers names and how long they’d been serving overseas. And the longer they served overseas, the more points they got, they went back sooner. And there was lots to do there. I went to shows there, I went to everything there. We went to see Sir Thomas Beecham, he was a great band like classical music. I like music. I was very lucky that I didn’t go into the fighting on the front lines, because a lot of the friends I’m with now [at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre] were in the front lines and they have different stories to tell. Army life is nothing you enjoy. Because you’re fighting. You could be in the front lines or you could be, so it’s, you can’t use, I don’t think I can use that word enjoy. It’s not like going to a dance, you know or a theatre or someplace where you’re going to enjoy it. Army life or navy or air force, it’s a tough life. The training is hard. We used to go on route marches with full equipment, 10 or 15 miles. It was rough. But they harden you up, you get used to it.
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