"When they say that that was the last World War, it’s not true. I don’t believe it. There has always been war and there always will be."
I come from a large family, and three of us brothers were in the forces. My brother Fred was in the navy in the North Sea, my brother Maurice was in the infantry with the Régiment de Maisonneuve and I was with the Régiment de la Chaudière.
There was that famous D-Day. On D-Day, we were with the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. We were the reserve unit of [8th] Brigade. We landed at Bernières-sur-Mer but we didn’t attack right away. In the brigade I was with, there was the North Shore [New Brunswick Regiment], and another unit whose name I don’t remember [the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada]. They were attacking two little towns on each side. We were commandos. After those towns were taken, we passed through them to take Carpiquet. That’s where the big battle occurred. We fought hard there. A lot of people died, and a lot were injured.
From Bernières-sur-Mer, we went to Carpiquet and the battle was on. It didn’t stop. You couldn’t take one inch of ground without fighting for it, that’s for sure. It was a battle from start to finish. That’s where we lost three quarters of the regiment. The guys were either injured or killed between Bernières and Carpiquet. We lost our entire regiment there.
At one point, near La Marne, there was a big manor. I took a German prisoner there; he was pretty tall and stocky. He showed me photos of his family; his children and his wife. At one point, I turned my head to speak to some of my men. He put his hand on the fence; you understand, he was going to take off. But he only caused himself harm because my men saw him do it. He wasn’t even 50 feet away when he was shot in the back. That’s where he died. It’s a pity, because had he been sent to England, he would have seen his family and kids again. It was a bad idea to attempt an escape, and he got himself killed. I have a hard time telling that story.
Afterwards, they sent us to Falaise. At Falaise, the Germans were stuck in a mousetrap. We had to close the gap. It smelled like shit. Humans, dead Germans, horses, cows, and pigs were all lying dead in the street. It was horrible. You couldn’t breathe. But we had to do it anyway. Falaise was a terrible place. I had some exams done recently. That was what affected me the most, the smell of that place.
We spent about two months in Nijmegen [Netherlands] crouched in trenches in the middle of winter. We would go out in an attempt to take German prisoners, We spent our time doing that.
After we landed at Bernières, we would wash but there wasn’t any water. We spent almost a month and half without showers. Near Elboeuf [France], they installed showers for the army. We went through there. We took a good long shower and they gave us clean clothes. We had been wearing the same clothing for a month and a half so we didn’t smell too good.
We returned to Montreal. We arrived in Halifax and then we got on the train right away. It was a direct train to Montreal. We were welcomed there. There were a lot of people. My parents were there; my father, my brothers, my sisters. Everyone was there. It was a beautiful day, very beautiful. It was a day that I will remember forever.
We’ll never have peace. It’s that simple. We have always been inclined to fight with one another. When we’re at home, we fight with our neighbours. Imagine between different nations. When they say that that was the last World War, it’s not true. I don’t believe it. There has always been war and there always will be. The world likes being at war.