Veteran Stories:
Orris Keehr


  • The Memory Project, Historica Canada
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The young guy came and wanted direction because he was from the other platoon, you see. I was just talking to him and all of a sudden, bingo, he disappeared. The top of his head was blown right off.   [The sniper] shot me at the same time. Just bang, bang. But because he did it so fast, he didn’t quite get me. I guess maybe I turned a little bit. And then I did get it a long ways away. But I stayed on until we had consolidated that battle and so on and then I went out in the evening to the carrier, or whatever it was, come up and took me off to hospital. I guess it was a kind of good-sized wound.

Funniest thing came on in this one. I must tell you about. Some of these brand new guys come over from Canada and from all over… This guy had worked in an office over here. They had to have somebody up front, you see, because they were running out of people. He come up and was coming in on this battle, which didn’t really do much for him, the very first thing. Then he come to me and said, “You know, Sir, I’m terribly sick. I have to get back to the MIR [medical inspection room], to get back to the doctor.” And I said, “Well, you’re not going now. You can come on the other side.” I said, “If I let you go now, the whole works of them will have that belly ache” — nobody’s ever had one of those before, but they would if they thought that worked. “Oh,” he says, “I’ve really got to go.”

That’s the only time I threatened one of my guys. I didn’t threaten them meanly at all. I just put my hand on my pistol. I said, “You know, you have a better chance with the enemy then you have with me if you don’t get across that God-damned creek.” Being a Saskatchewan guy, that thing was just a creek to me. So we got in the same boat. I got in the boat with him. That’s what I told him, “Get in the boat with me.” He got in the boat with me so I could watch him. We went across the canal and when we got there, we couldn’t go anywhere. And finally we got those guys driven off, with fire and that business. And the guy who put the bandage on me, dressed my bandage so I could go to the hospital, was the guy who was in no damned shape to come.

When I came back a few weeks later, I asked the sergeant, “How did that guy turn out, after that little thing we had?” He said, “You know, he was a real good soldier. In all the fights we had after that, he was right up there. He didn’t know what he was going to get into, but he was going to get into it real good.” If I’d let him go back, he’d been no use at all and ended up probably in prison. So I just scared him a little bit. I guess he… I had a habit to laugh when I talked to the guys, but I sure as hell meant what I said, of course, and they got to know that. I guess he was with us long enough to know — don’t get him laughing or he’s liable to blow my head off. That was the way it was.



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