Chapter Three
France and the low countries

As we neared the coast of France, the weather cleared and the sun came out.  I thought it might be a good omen, for the future.  The coastline from a distance appeared to be low lying ground with a sharp rise back of the beaches.  I tried to imagine what kind of hell the troops had to go through when they landed here on D-Day!  We docked by a jetty which stuck out about a mile from the shore.  Part of it was a floating dock and part of it was the concrete sections that were floated over after the beach was secured.  I found out later that Prime Minister Churchill had come up with the original idea.
We debarked and formed up on shore and the thought “cannon fodder” popped up in my head.  I guess that's what we were going to be, if we weren't careful.  The first “native” that I saw was an old dog walking along the beach.  Everyone tried to call the dog but he just kept going.  Then I remembered the French word for come here and the old dog trotted over, to have his ears scratched.  We all marched up to a staging area away from the beach and were loaded on some trucks and taken to an area where we would spend the night.
We were located about two miles inland and 15 miles from the front.  There was a field hospital nearby and across the road was a landing field for Royal Air Force fighters.  They were mostly Spitfire aircraft.
We were given shovels and told to start digging holes in the ground for protection in case of shelling or air raids.  Some of these were quite elaborate.  Some had logs or planks on top with two feet of dirt on top of them.  Of course the idea was to sleep with your feet at the exposed end and if you got a shell fragment in your foot you could go home, or so they told us.
When it came time to eat we opened up the twenty-four hour pack and tried to figure out what to do with it.  The idea was to dump it in a mess tin, add water, and heat it over a fire.  It looked like dried meat and vegetables mixed up.  It didn't taste too bad, since we were pretty hungry by then.  The mixture was very good and there was also some candy and chocolate.
That night there was an air raid alarm and I heard a plane flying over but couldn't see anything.  I heard a “bump” and then all was quiet.  The next morning, when I got out of my hole, I saw a large crowd near the field hospital.  The plane had dropped a parachute type of bomb and it was laying across the road.  Sitting on top of it was a British soldier with earphones on.  As he was removing parts of the detonator, he kept up a running commentary on what he was doing.  I have often marveled at that soldier's guts.  When he finished, he held up the parts and a great cheer went up from the onlookers.  That bomb was about eighteen inches in diameter and about eight feet long.  If it had exploded there would have been a lot of casualties, since the hospital was full of patients waiting to be evacuated back to England.

The Queen's Own Rifles

Later that day the unit representatives that were coming for us arrived so we all lined up again and waited nervously.  A sergeant came up to us and asked if anyone could ride a motor­cycle and I stepped forward at once.  I don't know what prompted me to do this, but it was my lucky day when I did.  The sergeant looked me over and said “I guess you'll do”.  I soon found out that I was to be part of the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, one of the finest units in the field.  This unit has a history that goes back to 26 April 1860.  It was referred to as one of Canada's oldest and finest regiments! 
The sergeant drove a number of us to the unit, which had just come back from the front line and was in a rest area near a place called “Fontaine Henry”.  After nearly two months of fighting, the front was only about fifteen miles away.  The Queen's Own Rifles had been the first Canadian troops on the beach and had suffered many casualties up to this point.  They had fifty-six other ranks killed in action; seven died of wounds.  Six officers and sixty-nine other ranks had been wounded.
All the reinforcements went to the rifle companies and I went to the mortar platoon as a rider for Captain Dunkelman who was in charge of the mortars.  After meeting some of the other guys, I was given a beat-​up Norton bike to check out.  Lucky for me, it was the same model as the one that I had practiced on in England so I had no problem getting used to it.
Captain Benjamin Dunkelman was a big guy, about six feet three inches, and he weighed close to 250 pounds.  His father owned Tip Top Tailors in Toronto.  Captain Dunkelman used to tell us that after the war he would give a can of bully beef with every suit sold.  His mother used to send him huge parcels with the best of canned goods and meats.  I found out later that he always gave most of it to the platoon.  He was very generous.
The unit had been going pretty steadily since D-Day and this was their first real time out.  There was a round of activities to keep everyone busy and to help them try to forget the trauma that they had just come though.  They all had a change of clothes and we all went for a swim in a nearby river which had salt water in it.  I found it great for floating around on.
I was also introduced to the British rations which came in a compo box, enough for a platoon for a day.  Good old Montgomery decided that two meals a day was enough food for us.  The Canadian army had had an offer of United States army rations, but the brass thought that we should have the same as the British army.  The main staples were the cans of meat and vegetables, that were referred to as “M&V stew” and were also called “muck and vomit”.  That's exactly what it looked like!  Some of it wasn't too bad when mixed with potatoes in a sort of a mush.  I didn't care too much for the M&V that was made from sheep.  The tallow seemed to stick in your mouth for a long time.  The compo packs also had a ration of chocolate and some hard candies to keep one from getting too hungry during the day.  The best part of the packs were the tins of plum puddings.  We would punch a couple of holes in the top and set them over the fire to heat up.  When we were travel­ling, the tins were placed on top of the carrier exhaust and they would heat up just fine.  Another item was the cans of soup that had an element in the centre of the cans and when it was lit, the fuse would slowly burn its way to the bottom of the tin and presto we had hot soup.  I think this was a special, that had been made for the invasion forces.  There was also a tin, of fifty cigarettes per tin, in the large compo packs.  It took a little know-​how to make a meal out of the packs, but we got along okay.
I met some of the boys that had come in on D-Day and listened to their stories, and I think that those who made it were lucky.  It sure made men out of boys.  I did a lot of listening and heard how they had discovered that some of their buddies had been shot in the head after being captured.  All in all it was a depressing way to start out.  The captain's carrier driver, Jim Tran, went out of his way to show me the ropes and make me welcome to the platoon.  Another chap, Jack Martin, told me of some harrowing tales of the beach landing and the fight at Carpi­quet Airport.
John Marin and four comrades posing in front of a truck
unidentified, Tran, Gianetto, Marin
While the units were resting, getting new recruits and ammunition, and servicing the carriers and trucks; the battle to dislodge the Germans from the area south of Caen continued.  The grand plan by the brass had been to try and cut off the escape route and trap as many Germans as possible to shorten the war.  Someone forgot to tell the enemy to play dead because some of the units driven by the SS were putting on a hell of a fight.  It took until August 7th to clear the area around Caen.
After resting up for a week it was time to move on.  We were all packed up and ready to set out when I discovered that the clutch cable on my motor­cycle was broken.  There was a bit of swearing by the captain, with the result that the bike was dumped in a ditch and I rode in the carrier with him and his batman.

Into combat

On August 8th, our convoy left the rest area and headed east for the front line by way of Caen.  I was amazed that the convoy could get through the city.  It had been almost completely destroyed by the allied bombing.  The only road through was a lane that had been bulldozed through the rubble.  The roads were packed with the various units moving up to their start lines for the attack to close the Falaise gap.  When we approached the main crossroads, our convoy was stopped and another unit was allowed to go ahead of us.  This split the Queen's Own Rifles' convoy in two.
The Régiment de la Chaudière went ahead of us.  About ten minutes later a Flying Fortress came over and started dumping their bombs right on top of the convoy ahead.  The Chaudières lost twenty or so killed and dozens wounded.  When we drove up we could see the dead and wounded laying all over the roadway with many trucks on fire.  It was a sobering sight for me!
Then one plane looked like it was having trouble and I saw some of the airmen jumping out.  A couple landed quite close.  They were sorry but there was something wrong with their plane and they had to get out.  One American traded his 45 calibre handgun for a German pistol that one of our boys had.  The Queen's Own Rifles were lucky; only two men were wounded.  We learned later that the two pilots of the path­finders and the crew of two Lan­cas­ters were demoted to air­crafts­man first class rank.  This was similar to a private in the army.
The pathfinders flew Mosquito fighters.  They had twin engines and were made of plywood to keep the weight down.  They were very fast and as a rule, didn't worry too much about the German fighters.  Their job was to fly ahead of the bombers and spot the targets and then drop special coloured flares to mark the targets for the bomber pilots.  I remember seeing them go over Brighton and head for the French coast.  They would fly just over the houses and when they were out over the channel, they dropped down to three or four feet above the water.  This kind of flying called for a steady hand.  Later on the Mosquitos were equipped to carry bombs for special targets.
Although I was in the mortars, I kept an eye out and watched the infantry in action.  It was nerve racking to see them heading down a road or lane, generally behind a tank or two if they were available.  Otherwise it might be a gun carrier with a 30 calibre or 50 calibre machine gun mounted in front.  There was always a man out in front, called “the point”, and a few feet behind him would be a second man, to give covering fire if needed.  If the enemy was spotted they would send back the information and the mortars or artillery would be brought to bear on the target.  It all looked easy on paper but when your life is on the line, it's a different story.  Some of the point men didn't last very long.
To keep me occupied the captain gave me a roll of maps and told me to study them and to keep track of our location.  I had always been good at map work since scouting days, so this was no problem.  Later on it also helped to plot the mortar targets.
A few miles past Caen, there was a small woods and, as the point man got close, you could see flashes of fire coming out of the woods.  A lot of good men were lost in clearing out those woods.  That night we were all on alert in case of a counter­attack.  It was a long night!
The next stop was in another woods that had been cleared and was to be used as a start line.  We were waiting for the bombers to come in and start the attack.  I remember that I was on the east side of the road, next to a large farm of 600 to 700 acres, when the bombers came over, and starting dropping bombs ahead and to the left side of the road.  Someone mentioned that the Polish armored unit was in those woods.  When the bombs starting coming closer we all ran out to the open fields, hoping to show the planes that we were friendly troops.  The observation planes were flying in among the bombers trying to divert them away.  It was a wonder they weren't shot down.  Finally someone got through to the planes and they went for the right target.  I looked around and there must have been two or three thousand soldiers out in the open fields.  The infantry then went on the attack and suffered many casualties because the supporting tanks had been knocked out.
While we were out in the field, I noticed a downed German plane that had crashed landed.  It wasn't in too bad a shape and we had a good look at it.
The small towns in that part of France are laid out differently from what we see over here.  There, each farmer has his farm some distance away and all the farm owners live in small settlements.  This must have been for protection in the old days.  When these places were either bombed or shelled they produced a lot of rubble and this made an ideal place for the Germans to hide.  These small places had to be cleared out one at a time, with the result that a lot of casualties were incurred.  When a tank led the way, usually a few rounds were all that was necessary to encourage the Germans to give up.  It was a different story if they had any 88 milli­metre anti-tank guns handy.  It was a deadly weapon and also used for anti-aircraft fire.


The main prize ahead was the city of Falaise, where it had been planned for the British and Canadians to join up with the Americans, to cut off the retreat of the main German army.  Because of the stub­born rear guard action of the Germans, a large number of them escaped.  The air force had a field day strafing the retreating columns.  When we drove down the main road, I counted 344 burned out or exploded cars, trucks, and tanks in a one mile stretch.  There were a lot of dead soldiers along the road, and dozens of horses.  The master race was using horses.  In some places the bull­dozers had to clear the road so we could drive through.  The smell of the bodies and dead horses was awful; it is something that is not easy to forget.  When we were checking out some of their dugouts, I found a 0.765 Browning automatic pistol which I brought home as a souvenir.
Falaise fell in mid-August.  During the next five days it was open season on the retreating Germans.  The Allied air forces and artillery made a mess of eight divisions and did a lot of damage to sixteen other formations that were caught in the pocket.  The Queen's Own Rifles moved on to a small town called “Dam­blain­ville” where the people were really friendly and some passed out their home­made wine.  This was good farming country and they had a lot of fruits and vegetables that they gave us.
That night we made camp in a field and the carrier driver, Jim Tran, and I made our slit trench along the fence for extra protection.  That night a lone German bomber came flying over and dropped a large bomb.  We could hear the loud whistling noise that it made as it fell towards us.  We braced for the shock but all we felt was a loud thump as it hit the ground and the vibration shook the slit trench that we were in.  If it had exploded, I am sure that it would have been the last of us.  The next morning we found that the bomb had fallen only a hundred yards away.
Now that the Germans were retreating, it was a matter of chasing after them and trying to keep the casualties down.  The carriers were used for forward scouting, to spot points of ambush and road blocks while keeping the battalion headquarters informed.  One morning as we crested a hill we could see that a scout car had been hit and both the soldiers were dead.  They were buried along the side of the road, to be retrieved later by the burial parties.  A half mile down the road we found a large cooking pot, about three feet in diameter and three feet high.  It had a foot of porridge in it.  Someone didn't have his break­fast that morning.  The pot was put to good use later in cooking stews.
That night we stopped at a small village and parked next to some farm buildings.  After supper some of the residents came out and joined us and they brought with them some wine bottles and also some cider.  We had a little celebration and one gal brought out her record player and we had a dance session under the apple trees.  It was a welcome break after what we had seen the past week.
Dashing across the countryside was great.  We covered over sixty miles in three days and the countryside looked very nice.  When we went through the small towns the civilians came out to give us bottles of wine, eggs, bread and real butter.  This part of France was spared the destruction that had happened in Normandy.  We felt like heroes!
One day as we were starting out, I noticed a camera crew set up along the side of the road.  They were taking movie shots of our convoy.  There were two Russian officers with them, watching us go by.
We pulled into a small town after a hard day of slow travel­ling and sat around waiting for supper.  It was being prepared in the back shed of a house in the centre of the small village.  When it was ready we lined up for the grub and as I came out, with the mess tins in both hands a sniper let go a round that just missed me and the chap ahead.  One of the guys ran over to the carrier that had a 30 calibre machine gun mounted in front.  He cocked it and looking around spied a church steeple, so he let loose a burst of fire, at the vent opening near the top.  A flag was stuck out the opening and two of the guys grabbed their rifles and went rushing over looking for the sniper.  The German soldier was only too anxious to give up.  He had been hiding out there for two days, waiting for a chance to surrender.  He hadn't eaten in two days and was sure glad that it turned out okay for him!
Now we had a three day halt near the River Seine to regroup and get cleaned up.  The mobile baths were brought up so we could have a bath and get clean clothes.  It was quite a sight, dozens of soldiers going around in their birthday suits.  I noticed some gals a short distance away watching us and having a good laugh at us.  It sure felt good to get cleaned up and have some good meals for a change.
At this time our Lieutenant-colonel Spragge was appointed commander of the 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade and Major Lett was made our new commanding officer.  He was a great guy and was smart and liked by all so the chain of command carried on without any problems.  This was good for the morale of the troops.

Across the Seine

We crossed the Seine at a place called “Elbeuf” on August 30th and bypassed Rouen.  Someone else would go there while we continued up the coast towards a town called “Neufchatel” where we spent the night.  In a house basement we found a two gallon crock of calvados.  It was strong liquor.  We poured some in the gas tank of a motor­cycle and it ran very well.  Since nobody wanted it, I took charge.  I found that the proper mix was a half inch in a glass and then fill the glass with water.  It was sure to ward off the chills.  It took over three months of sipping to finish it all.  We also found some beer that was still fresh and a lot of the guys filled up on it.  That night some of them were up many times, to visit the latrines.  The fresh beer sure gave them the runs!
As we went from town to town, there were still some pockets of Germans who had to be routed out.  We crossed the River Somme at a place called “Abbey­ville” and found that the enemy had left the day before, taking all the horses with them.  The local area had many acres of grapes growing and they were just starting to be picked.  Boy, where they good!
It had now been three months since the boys had had a hair­cut, so driver Jim and I went looking for a barber shop.  We found one that had been shelled and vacated, so we looked around, but could find nothing.  All the hair­cut­ting tools were gone.  One corner of the upstairs room didn't look quite right, so we started tapping on the walls.  In one corner we found a hollow spot that had been papered over so well that it looked like part of the wall.  When we peeled off the paper we found a cupboard with the hair­cut­ting tools and 23 bottles of the finest Bordeaux wine.  I guess it could have been called “looting”, but since the building was empty, we looked at it as liberating the wine.
On the 5th of September we reached the small village of La Capelle, just east of Boulogne.  This was to be the next big battle for the Queen's Own Rifles.  Boulogne was a coastal port that was vital to shortening the supply lines.  On either side of the main road running west into the city were two high hills, and to the east another small hill, with a few houses on the downside along the road.  This is where we set up in the basement of two houses.
The captain wanted to see the lay of the land, so we went up the road to a tee in the road and then went left towards the top of the hill overlooking the city.  We were standing there looking at the distant buildings when we heard a sharp whistling sound.  I turned around to say something to Captain Dunkelman and he was already in the ditch yelling at me to get the hell down out of sight.  That was the first time that I had heard a German 88 milli­metre shell that close, but I never forgot the sound.  I think the reason that they missed us was probably because they couldn't depress the gun barrel low enough to hit the top of the hill.
Two of the mortar crews were attached to the rifle companies who were in the forward holding positions, so we had a small number in our group.  One of the mortar men was also our cook.  He was a chap from northern Ontario, rough and ready, but a friendly sort, considering all the remarks that we made about his cooking.
The French civilians were good to us and gave us eggs, butter, and great homemade bread.  They were fearful of being blown up when an attack would start, but some of the guys tried to calm their fears.  One chap became friendly with one housewife and she looked after him like a son.  One night while answering a call of nature, a shell came over and he got hit in the leg with a shell fragment.  He was sent to the first aid post and we learned later that he had lost his leg.  We thought that we were pretty safe, but after that we were more careful when out in the open.
A lot of patrols were being sent out to get the lay of the land, so that a start line could be located on the maps.  On one of these observations, a couple of the officers were looking out the basement window of a forward position when an 88 milli­metre shell came in the window, killing one officer and wounding another.  When they brought the dead officer back, all that was left were just pieces.  It sure made us realize that the coming battle would be no push over.  In ten days one officer and six other ranks were killed and fifteen others were wounded.  The patrols were necessary but always incurred casualties.
The city was heavily fortified and had around ten thousand troops stationed there.  In September the Germans allowed the civilians to leave, and we watched them straggle by all day.  There must have been seven or eight thousand of them.  It was pretty sad to see some of them trying to carry their belongings with them.  Some of the women had their hair cut off and looked funny.  I think that some of the French people didn't approve of them being friendly with the Germans.
It was at this time that the captain decided that I would go with him to the observation post during the mortar shoots.  I was introduced to the number 18 wireless radio set and given a quick lesson.  They were heavy damn things to carry, even with the shoulder straps, but easy to use.  Since we were going into action the next day, it was necessary to synchronize them on one channel and then lock them in so we could transmit the orders for the mortars.
It was now mid-September and we broke camp and moved to a wooded area, where the start line was located, around six in the morning.  Several hundred bombers came over and circled around and around and we wondered if they knew where they were supposed to be dropping their loads.  Finally after ten or twenty minutes, the path­finders arrived and started dropping flares to mark the targets.  It was a noisy affair and the first time that I had seen so many bombers that close and watching their bombs falling.  Then they were joined by the Hawker Typhoons, which were used in dive bombing special targets.  I watched seven of them circle around and then, as in a movie show, follow their leader onto the target.  The German fire was very thick and the seventh plane took a direct hit and blew up in pieces.  Then we saw a four-​motored bomber take a hit and the wing came off and down it went with a big explosion.  I think everyone had their own thoughts as to how the battle outcome would be.


The start line was in a woods on the east side of Boulogne, about 5000 yards from where the bombers were dropping their loads.  When they went over us with the bomb bays open it was a little scary.  We were thinking of the mistakes that happened at Caen.  The two companies were about a thousand yards ahead and hiding in some woods waiting to go forward, after the bombers had gone.  The artillery was to start firing then, to give covering fire, and allow the troops to go forward.
Since the mortars were to be used, at about 0630 hours we got the signal to go.  The captain's carrier group, of which I was a part, started down a laneway at high speed and after about three hundred yards Captain Dunkelman yelled “Turn here!”.  Jim Tran put on the brakes and turned ninety degrees.  As we were turning, two 88 milli­metre shells hit the ground fifty feet away.  The ground was soft and all we got was a lot of dirt showered on us.  We tore off across the field and, at the far side, the driver spotted a ditch.  He hit the brakes and the carrier took a nose dive.  Anything that was loose went flying out and then we ran over the pots, the ammunition, and our packs.  We went on to a small woods and into an open field.  The captain decided to have the mortars set up in the centre of the field away from the woods and farm buildings.  It proved to be a wise move.  The Germans shelled the woods and the farm buildings, but not one shell came close to our position.
Captain Dunkelman yelled “Let's go!”, so I strapped on the radio set, grabbed my Sten gun and a large map case, and started running after him.  Three hundred yards later, I was out of breath and started walking.  The captain came back, grabbed the maps, and yelled to hurry up.  We must have covered the six hundred yards in record time.  We came to a large concrete bunker that had been built facing the city and it was just right for an observation post.  An artillery officer was already on site.
I connected up the radio set and turned it on, but all I could hear was music.  Before any shoot we would synchronize the radios on a certain band number.  If we took too long to do this the Germans would lock on to our sets and when we tried to use them all we would hear was music.  The infantry was moving forward and all we could do was wait for a phone line to be strung to our observation post.  Ten minutes later the phones arrived and just in time.  The guys from seven and eight platoons were under fire and Captain Dunkelman soon had the mortars firing high explosive and smoke bombs to provide some cover.
I was watching the hill, on the west side of our front, where some soldiers were going.  As they reached the top, I could see gun flashes coming out of a German bunker, near the top of the hill.  One soldier fell and the rest came back down the hill.  A big Churchill tank, with a large spigot mortar mounted in front went lumbering up the hill and at a range of one hundred yards, fired a round at the bunker.  This blew the camouflage off the front of the bunker.  They then fired another round down the opening and then backed off down the hill.  When the infantry went back up, they were fired on again.  Back went the tank and this time from fifty yards they let go three more rounds.  The tank stayed there until the soldiers came back up and tossed in a couple of hand grenades, and three Germans came out with their hands up.  I was amazed that there was anyone still alive.
Ahead of us the guys were having a hard time with some machine guns that were firing at them.  When they went forward to take them out, two soldiers were hit and one was killed.  It took a lot of mortar and artillery fire to knock them out.  We had a ringside seat and the captain was very good at directing the mortar fire.  Around noontime the troops were out of our sight, so all we could do was wait, in case of a counter­attack.  It was a long afternoon and we knew that the guys were having a rough time.
All morning we could see the battle going forward as our observation post was on high ground.  I took a look around at our little fort and it was a good example of German fortifications.  It was a massive piece of concrete with the lookouts facing the English channel and had been built in case of attack from the channel.  It was just right for our use.  The troops were now out of sight, having reached their first objective, so all we could do was wait around in case of a counter­attack.
Late in the afternoon a sergeant came up to tell us that our dinner had arrived.  This was usually in big pots with sealed covers, for easy carrying.  When the three of us were walking back, a shell exploded overhead.  The noise almost deafened us, but the scary part was the pieces of shrapnel that went flying by.  You couldn't see them but the whistling noise was really loud and scared the hell out of us.  After we ate, we got word that the Germans were starting a counter­attack, so we ran back to the observation post.  The attack didn't last long with the mortars and artillery firing at them.
We had to stay there until around nine o'clock and it was dark when we started back.  As we got near our camp a shot rang out and someone yelled “Who goes?”.  Captain Dunkelman and I fell to the ground and then he recognized the voice of his batman.  The guy sounded like he was half drunk and the captain did a lot of talking before he put the rifle down.  The batman was very lucky because I was about to shoot him when he decided to let us by.
The next morning we loaded up and drove into the north part of the city.  On the way in we saw dozens of dead German soldiers and many horses lying alongside the road.  The city was a mess after the aerial bombing and a dozer was brought in to clear the streets.  We caught up with rest of the mortar platoon and I saw that they had set up the mortars in the bomb craters.
The captain and I went on ahead to an observation post that was manned by the artillery.  Once again the damn wireless would not receive anything except music.  Dunkelman would give the artillery captain the coordinates for our mortars and he sent them back to his troop over his set and they then sent a runner over to the Queen's Own Rifles.  Thus we were able to keep the mortars firing ahead of the troops.  They were firing a mixture of high explosive and smoke. One of the smoke bombs went down a ventilator shaft and started a fire.  A few minutes later there was a big explosion; the German ammunition dump had blown up. The army newspaper called it “a shot in a million”.  It had been Sergeant Corri­gan's section that had fired the lucky shot.  There was a lot of bragging afterwards. Again we had a ring­side seat for the battle as we watched the troops going forward.
That night we decided to find an indoor billet so a large brick building was picked out.  It had been used by some refugees and we were only inside five minutes and everyone was scratching.  We were all covered with fleas.  All the mattresses were thrown out the windows and someone got a blowtorch and went over all the steel bed frames, burning all the fleas.  They also went around the room.  A can of DDT was obtained from the medical officer and we were told to sprinkle some all over ourselves.  We even put some across the doorway, to keep the damn fleas out.  We slept on the steel springs that night. It was better than the ground.
The next morning, the captain was in agony.  He was a big man and sweated a lot and the DDT had formed a hard crust around his privates and he could hardly walk.  The medical officer just laughed at him and told him to wash it off and use some salve until it got better.
We stayed there for five days, until all of Boulogne was cleared.  Although some of the companies were down in strength, they were sent up along the coast to Cape Gris Nez, where the big coastal guns were stationed.  These were the guns that had been shelling Dover, England for a long time.  It must have been a relief to the people along the coast.
We were camped east of the Cape Gris Nez, with a hill for cover, while the attack was starting when some huge shells came over our position.  They sounded like a box car going through the air.  The Germans put up a token defence, but nothing too serious.  Several soldiers were killed by land mines when some prisoners being brought in stepped on them.
The enemy troops at Cape Gris Nez had heard about the outcome at Boulogne and gave up readily.  We had a chance to examine the coastal guns.  They had a 16 inch bore and were set in huge concrete bunkers.  It would have required a direct hit to knock them out.  One of the smaller guys had his photo taken with just his head stuck out the barrel.  That was one of the lighter moments of the war.
Calais was a little different.  Here the French weren't as friendly as the others we had met.  I think it may have been that the special German forces that had been there for two years or more were part of the community.  However after a short battle, the white flags went up and a cease fire was called.  The commander had saved his honour by “defending” the town.
Between Boulonge and Calais, nearly eighteen thousand prisoners were taken.  Some of them were marched to the rear by their own officers, our guys being too busy.
We now had a chance to get showered and cleaned up, although we didn't have a change of clothes.  I found it amazing how long one could go without washing or changing clothing.  Maybe that's why we were so healthy; the bugs stayed away.
After a couple of days the brigade headed up the coast to clear out some small pockets of resistance.  These small pockets always produced, one or two dead or wounded.  The land was getting flat without much cover which also helped to produce more casualties.  One good thing that was settled was the fact that the coastal guns and V-1 bomb sites had been completely cleared.  The English coast and London could forget about being shelled or bombed.

Belgium and Holland

As we entered Belgium, we noticed some indifference to us by the population.  When we drove through the small towns, it seemed to us that their stores were well stocked.  As soon as the Germans left, their shelves would be filled up with goods.  One Belgian civilian used the expression, that translated meant “nothing in the window, all in the cellar”.
While driving along the road, we noticed a team of Belgian horses in the field.  I thought that our driver, Tran, was going to jump out of the carrier and go and look at them.  He was a great lover of fine horses and had never seen any as big and sturdy as these.
We had a lot of dirty weather.  It was raining very hard but the farmers objected to our sleeping in their barns.  They were soon overruled.  It was now October and the rainy season had started in earnest, with rain nearly every day.
The next dirty job for the Canadians was clearing out the enemy along both sides of the Scheldt River, in a fifty mile stretch.  Without this, the Port of Antwerp would be useless.  The Germans were stationed along the mouth of the river, on both sides, to prevent ships from coming in.
When we approached the Dutch border, we were halted by the border guard demanding to see our papers before entering Holland.  We all had a good laugh at him, but he was really serious until one of the guys pointed a rifle at him and told him to get the hell out of the road.
In Holland the contrast in the people was really something.  The crowds were lined along the road and cheering us along.  We spent that first night at a small village near the city of Temeuzen, and some of us got to sleep in some of the houses.  The town folks decided that there should be a party to celebrate our arrival.  They had a hall complete with a band and we had a great time dancing and drinking Dutch beer which was very good.
For a couple of days we enjoyed good food which we bought from the locals.  There was plenty of vegetables, corn on the cob, tomatoes, and grapes.  It had been a long time since we had seen any of these.  They sold Belgian beer, but the troops didn't have much money to spend and the paymaster had only a limited amount.  We managed to get a couple of headaches while we were there.
The next day saw the arrival of some strange type of vehicle called the “Weasel”.  It was an amphibious carrier designed to carry four men and a wireless set.  The other interesting carrier was called a “Buffalo” and it was designed to carry a Bren gun carrier and its crew of three or four over land or water.  I think it went around three or four miles an hour.  I know it wasn't fast enough when the Germans were trying to shell us later on.

The Scheldt River

The 3rd Canadian Infantry Division was given the job of clearing out the south bank of the Scheldt River.  It was rumoured that the defenders were a tough lot who had seen action at the Russian front, and who were well supplied with ammunition and food.  It looked like a tough fight ahead.
We had a good look at the terrain in this part of Holland, and it was discouraging.  The land had been reclaimed from the sea and was divided into large square fields with dykes around them to keep out the water.  Around the fields, called “polders”, small ditches had been dug, to collect the water that seeped in.  This went to a low point and there was usually a windmill at this spot connected to a pump to run the water over to another system and so on.  It was an ingenious drainage system that worked well.  The roads ran on top of the causeways and the dykes surrounding the polders.  At various road crossings there would be a few houses owned by the farmers who worked the farms.
It was now the 6th of October and the rainy season was starting.  I think it must have rained nearly every day for the next three weeks.  The fields were starting to flood from the rain and also from the dykes that had been breached by the Germans.
On the 6th of October, the 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade crossed the Leopold Canal using Wasps (flame throwing carriers), followed on the 9th of October by the 9th Brigade crossing the river in Buffaloes.  This took the enemy by surprise, since they had not seen the Buffaloes before.
It was decided to move the battalion headquarters forward because of the 9th Brigade's success.  Our driver, Jim Tran, drove the carrier onto the Buffalo and we started down the bank and into the river.  Those things were slow and sat high in the water.  We sure felt nervous.  On our right were the big guns on Walcheren Island that could reach us easily.  Just then our artillery opened up with smoke bombs, dropping them in the centre of the river.  The wind spread the smoke down river and blocked the view from the German side.  It took an hour to arrive at the beach to the right of where the enemy were dug in.
We debarked and went up the causeway toward the town of Biervliet.  Here the Queen's Own Rifles relieved the Highland Light Infantry of Canada.  Our carrier followed the colonel's driving to the south of Biervliet.  We went down the road on top of a dyke and pulled into a farm yard.  There was a house and a large barn with a row of trees, a hundred feet from the house.
The colonel and his group went into the barn to set up shop and we headed for the trees.  Just as we pulled in under the trees, the mortar shells started dropping.  I was heading for a slit trench that had been used by the German defenders when Tran grabbed my arm and said that it would be safer under the carrier which was parked under the trees.  How lucky for me that I took his advice for, as we were watching the shells come down, one shell hit the slit trench dead centre.
The shelling lasted for an hour or so and I found it interesting to note how scattered the mortar shells were.  While we were under fire a guy came down the road on his motor­cycle and he was just opposite the laneway when a shell landed twenty feet in front of him.  The pieces of shell and dirt went up in a 45 degree angle to the road, and just missed the top of his head.  Was he lucky!  He wheeled in the yard and headed for the basement.  The colonel gave him a glass of rum to settle his nerves.  The only casualty was the colonel's Jeep; it got hit and burned up.
When the shelling stopped and we gathered around to make sure that everyone was okay, the colonel brought out a gallon jug of rum and gave us all a good sized shot.  With the cold and dampness it sure hit the spot.  Tran and I dug a couple of slit trenches for ourselves and backed the carrier over part of them for protection.  Just before dark our supper arrived.  I don't know how the cooks managed it, but they usually had a hot meal every day.  That was really appreciated.
The next morning when I woke up, I discovered that I had four inches of water in my trench, and I was soaked through to my hide.  What a way to start the day!  After packing up, we started south to join up with the Highland Light Infantry of Canada who were in Biervliet.  This meant that the Buffaloes could be retired as we now had a supply road in from Terneuzen.
The conditions for the fighting sure changed from what they had been in France.  The only travel was by the roads on top of the dykes and these were under fire by the Germans.  They had all the crossroads zeroed in for their mortars and artillery, so the poor foot soldier had to stay off the roads and slog along through the flooded fields.  In some places the water was four feet deep.  The Germans had blown some of the dykes.
You could see just two or three infantry men going up the field to take out the machine guns and mortars one by one.  It took a lot of guts to keep going.  To make things worse, the Germans would have their guns dug in on the far side of the dykes and we would be unable to see them.  It was a tough job for the soldiers.
It was a matter of taking one crossroad after another, with many casualties.  In this case a corporal and six or seven men would be all that could be deployed.  If they stayed too close to the road they had to watch out for mines, so they ended up walking in the flooded fields alongside the roads.  It wasn't long before it was discovered that the Germans would place one mine on top of another and when the top one was lifted, the bottom one would go off.  It got so that every building, barn, and haystack had to be checked out or bombed out to make the area safe.
The sappers had the dirty job of checking the road for mines.  It was usually just one soldier going down the road swinging his detector from side to side.  It was pretty dangerous work.
By mid-October, the village of Ijzendijke was taken after the Germans counter­attacked with a bayonet charge.  They didn't last too long.  Since there was a lot of shelling, someone decided that we should take some of the older people back for safety.  Tran and I loaded up the carrier with four old ladies and took them back about four miles to a farm house.  On the way back, Tran stopped the carrier about a hundred feet from the tee in the road leading to the town.  When I asked him why we were stopping, he said that he had to pee.  It seemed like a good idea, so I got out and as we were standing behind the carrier, we heard the “moaning minnies” coming.  The six rounds landed on the tee section of the road.  The Germans must have spotted us and had we kept going, we would have been blown up.  When we got back on, Tran gunned the hell out of the motor and we skidded around the corner.  The next shells landed behind us as we tore up the road.
A lot of prisoners were taken here and some of them were put to work peeling potatoes and cleaning up.  They didn't seem to mind; the war was over for them.
The advance continued towards a place called “Oost­burg”.  On the morning of the attack, Captain Dunkelman and I went to an observation-​post location that he had spotted the day before.  Since we would be going out before daylight, I carried a bren gun and ammunition along with a field phone.  Two signal men came with us, stringing phone wire as we went along across the fields.  We were about five hundreds yards in front of the infantry.  As daylight started I could see our troops coming through the fields behind us and the captain gave the order to our mortars to start firing.  They threw smoke bombs mostly, to hide the advancing troops.  We shelled a couple of farm houses and barns ahead of us as the soldiers advanced.  All of a sudden I heard a peculiar noise and Dunkelman said to duck.  The fins had come off one of our bombs and it was tumbling end over end, making a hell of a noise.  It landed fifty feet from us, but due to the wet ground, all we got was a lot of dirt thrown at us.  It kept us alert.
We kept the mortar bombs dropping just ahead of the infantry, with some smoke bombs to give cover.  As the infantry neared any building, the mortars would be dropped on the houses or barns.  Around noon, they reached their objective and we stopped firing.  The captain went back down the road looking for our headquarters.
An hour later a sergeant came up and said that the front was secure and that we were done for the day.  We collected up the Bren gun, telephone, and ammunition.  We were standing about six feet apart, when I heard a “burp” and a hail of bullets went between us.  I dropped down in the slit trench and the sergeant fell behind the mound of dirt.  I loaded the Bren gun and looked around, but couldn't see anyone.  I then connected up the phone on the chance that someone was still on the other end, and gave it a ring.  Lucky for us someone answered and I asked for Captain Dunkelman.  When he came on I told him that we were being fired on and that I couldn't see anything.  He said to hold tight and that someone would take a look.
A few minutes later Lieutenant Auld (later a Member of the Provincial Parliament of Ontario) came up the road followed by two riflemen, spaced fifty feet apart, so that they would see any gun flashes if someone started firing. A few minutes later a flag was stuck out of a hay stack and a German soldier came out with his hands in the air.  The officer checked him over and we marched him back to the farm yard, which was where battalion headquarters was set up.
It was starting to get dark and the cooks had just arrived with supper.  As we were eating, a hail of bullets hit the top of the barn.  We dropped everything and grabbed our weapons, not knowing what was happening.  One of the scouts spotted two flags in a hedge­row, and then four other Germans surrendered.  They were a sad looking bunch that had been hiding since the day before and were they ever hungry.  Maybe that's why they gave up.  The intelligence officer was glad to have some prisoners to interrogate.
The next day we moved into the outskirts of Oostburg.  There was a lot of shelling so we hid in the cellar of one of the sturdy looking houses.  It took a number of hits.  Outside of scaring the hell out of us, no one was hurt.  I remember at one point during the shelling, two of the boys cracked up and tried to dig a hole in the concrete floor, with their bare hands.  It was pretty upsetting to see grown men crying and being terrified like that.
The next day we pushed on and were stopped short of a small village.  At one point, the Germans started a counter­attack and all hell let loose.  I remember seeing a gun crew get so scared of the shelling that they hid in an old bunker while the Germans were coming down the road.  The sergeant couldn't get them out so he started loading and firing the anti-​tank gun all by himself.  He didn't have too much time to aim the gun and so just fired it down the road.  After nine or ten shells the Germans starting running back down the road and later gave up.
The next village was a small place called “Zuid­zande”.  Another company was in the lead so we stayed in town on alert in case of counter­attacks, although these were getting fewer.  Late that night a rider came in and told us that a lot of prisoners would be coming in.  Tran and I aided by a couple of others, collected them as they arrived, escorted by our carriers.  The prisoners were herded into a local church.  While they were being searched, I checked the wallet of one prisoner.  He must have thought that I was going to steal his family photos, as he jumped on my back and started yelling.  One of our boys gave him a clout on the head with the rifle butt and he settled down.  Their officer came over and gave him shit.  By two o'clock in the morning, the church was full and we were told to take them to the transports three miles back.
It must have been a strange looking sight.  There were just four of us with about three hundred prisoners.  I stayed at the back with the young German officer.  He gave me his paybook and it showed that he had a degree from Oxford University in England.  He even spoke with an English accent.  As we started out I told him, that if anything started happening, he would be the first to get shot.  He assured me that the reason that they had given up was that they knew that the war was lost.  By the time we had delivered them and walked back, it was 0430 hours and we were tired out.
While we were searching the prisoners, we found that they had a lot of Dutch money on them and, since it was of no more use to them, they left it behind in the church.  I went back next morning and gathered up enough to fill my ammunition pouches.  I wasn't sure that it would be of any use in the near future, but I kept it just in case.
We had a bird's eye view of how good our mortar crews were when they had to take out several buildings.  The mortars were set up in a farm yard on good hard ground.  The target was a house and barn that had some Germans hiding in them.  As the infantry were going up along the fence line, the mortar crews dropped smoke bombs to hide their advance.  When the infantry were near the house, the sights were raised and a bomb hit the roof of the house, blowing off the tiles.  The next one went straight in the same hole and blew out all the windows and made a mess of the interior of the house.  That was the end of engagement.
We witnessed one sad event on the road just before Zuidzande.  We met the anti-tank carrier coming towards us towing a captured field piece.  The anti-tank crew were in high spirits and a few minutes later they passed us on the way back to the front.  They were only about two hundred yards ahead when we heard an explosion and saw a big ball of fire.  They had hit a landmine that was buried on the side of the road.  This anti-tank crew had done a great job, along with the mortars, in reducing small pockets of resistance along the dykes and buildings.  The Bren gun carriers were also used a lot of the time to give covering fire when it was a matter of taking out a house or barn.  This trio had been used in nearly every engagement and some good friends were lost that day.
In the three weeks that it took to clear out the Scheldt, I think that it rained every day.  I don't know how the infantry could stand the mud and wetness of tramping through the fields, day after day.  The Canadians were nicknamed “The Water Rats” afterwards.
During one short time out we came across some good wine.  We also “found” some chickens and the captain made up the best chicken stew that I had ever tasted.  Some of the boys got feeling pretty good.
The captain had a little accident that night while going to answer a call of nature.  He forgot that although the first floor of the house we were in was level with the road, it was twenty feet to the ground from the back porch.  Sometime in the night Captain Dunkelman's batman noticed that he was missing.  His batman woke us up and we started looking around and found the captain laying on his back at the bottom of the stairs in the back yard.  We thought that he was dead, but it was a case of being overtired and having too much wine.  His batman wanted to leave him there, but he was overruled.  It took six of us to drag him into the cellar.  He was a big man, over two hundred fifty pounds.  The next morning he was wondering how he had ended up in the cellar.  We didn't tell him.
The battles to clear out the enemy that were preventing the use of the port of Antwerp were winding down.  There were quite a few casualties in this operation.  The Queen's Own Rifles had two officers killed and five wounded.  Sixteen other ranks were killed and seven died of wounds.  Ninety-seven other ranks were wounded.  The end of this operation came around November 3rd or 4th.

Looking back

Looking back, it had been quite a trip from France to Holland.  We might have been a bunch of amateurs but we caught on quickly.  It was a wonder that we stayed healthy all through the operations.  We had slept under trees, in slit trenches, in the rain, and in wrecked buildings and old barns.  Sanitation was no problem; you just found a corner somewhere and did your duty.  Washing up was the biggest item, unless we were near water.
We drew rations in the form of compo packs and one of our guys volunteered to do the cooking.  He was a French chap from northern Ontario and was nicknamed “Frenchy”.  His cook stove was a tin out of the ration box and was about twelve inches square and ten inches high with the top removed.  This was then filled with sand or dirt and some gasoline poured in.  When lit it provided a good fire for cooking.  A little stir once in a while would keep the fire burning pretty well.  He would boil up a mess of potatoes, mash them, and then dump in several tins of canned bully beef or whatever was in the packs.  This mess was all stirred up and served while it was still hot, so the grease wouldn't gag you too much.  With only two meals a day, we couldn't afford to be fussy.
We had one good spot for sleeping along the way.  It was an old brick kiln where the bricks were placed in and then fired up to cure them.  It was a series of heaters with a rounded roof made of bricks and two feet thick.  Inside were some cars with bricks still on them.  The operation had been suspended when we arrived.  The kilns were still warm and provided a nice warm spot for a couple of days.  Sleeping in barns on hay was also a good spot, as long as there wasn't any shelling going on.
One thing that was a real pain were the damn mosquitoes, probably because of the poor sanitary conditions.  One night I was having trouble sleeping because of them.  I lit a small length of rope and while it was smoldering I hung it from the roof of the slit trench.  I put my respirator on because of the smoke and fell asleep.  I woke up an hour later, almost drowning in my perspiration.  That was the end of that experiment.  I had written to the young lady at the Fairwarp Pub in England about the bug problem and a short time later I received a jar of anti-​fly ointment.  It was good stuff and it kept the flies away.
One interesting item that I had found in our dash across France was a homemade radio.  It was near Abbeyville and we were staying on the outskirts of town.  The owner of the house told me about how they received the British Broadcasting Corporation news every night.  They had a large fireplace with the opening four feet wide and three feet six inches high.  He reached up in the flue part and, from a shelf there, he brought out a small crystal radio set that he had made.  It was a board three inches by six inches, with a piece of Galena crystal mounted on it.  This was connected to an aerial wire that ran up the fireplace flue.  On one side from under the crystal a wire went to the ear phone and the second wire of the receiver was connected to a small flat spring which was mounted so that one part was over the crystal.  On the end of this flat piece was fastened a needle.  To receive all he had to do was move the needle to various parts of the crystal and this would pick up the music and news from the British Broadcasting Corporation in England.
In one small town, we noticed a bank building with the front blown out.  Someone wondered if there would be any money in the vault.  One of the anti-​tank guns was brought up and aimed at the vault door which we could see from the street.  Two shells were fired and the door fell off but the damn vault was empty.  We got out of there in a hurry.
With the Scheldt being finally cleared, it was announced that the battalion would be going to Ghent for a few days to clean up and rest.  It had been a dirty three weeks so we all looked forward to civilization again.


On October 3rd, we piled into the trucks and carriers and headed for Ghent.  Along the way, people were lined up along the road and cheered as we drove by.  In the city people crowded out on the roads and made it hard to get by.  It was and our first look at a real city and quite a nice change from living out in the fields.  We reached Ledeberg, a suburb of Ghent, where we would be billeted out.  Captain Dunkelman drove to the centre square and we formed up.  We were a dirty and sad looking bunch, but the women and children came running over to us and grabbed a soldier or two, and took us to their homes.  What a treat to be staying in a house again!  Here we had a hot bath and a good meal.  The next day we had a change of uniforms.  The people couldn't do enough for us.  The people that my two friends and I stayed with, took us on a tour of the city and bought us numerous drinks.
The next day was spent cleaning up our equipment and carriers.  That night we decided to go out and explore on our own.  The city was full of troops so we started checking out the various beer places.  Actually, we were looking for places of horizontal refreshment.  The one pub that we entered seemed to be nearly empty and there were no ladies of the night present.  Of course I didn't have any idea of what they were supposed to look like.
Since I was the only one who had taken any French at school, I was elected to do the inquiring.  In my best French, I asked the old gent at the bar “Avez-vous des femmes ici?”.  This only drew a blank look.  As we drank our beer we wondered what to try next.  Then one old guy yelled over “pour faire l'amour?”.  I told him yes, that's what we were looking for.  They all had a good laugh and then the barkeeper told us to go down the street four blocks, turn right, and look for the OK cafe.
We found the cafe and went in.  The place was full of soldiers and the smoke was so thick that you could hardly see across the room.  We sat there and ordered a beer.  Looking around, I didn't see any women.  We thought the old guy had played a joke on us.
Finally a beautiful looking gal came along and sat at our table.  She introduced herself as the owner of the place.  She must have weighed around one hundred seventy pounds and was nicely dressed with lots of jewelry on.  After a few beer I was getting braver so I asked her the same question about the girls.  She had a big smile and said “yes”, that she had working girls there, but that they were expensive, two hundred francs.  Money was no object so we decided to take the plunge.  The place of business was upstairs.  I tried to make a deal with her first but she declined saying that business came first.  We decided to visit the “hired hands” instead.
The stairs going up were set in the middle of the room and everyone knew where you were going.  But when you're half drunk, who cares!  A lady was waiting on the second floor and guided me into her den.  I looked around and all that was in there was a bed and a night stand with a jug of water and a basin.  She didn't waste any time, but unbuttoned my fly and took out my pride and joy, grabbed a cloth soaked in cold water, and gave it a good scrubbing.  What a shock!  She then lay down on the bed and spread her legs one hundred eighty degrees.  Gad, what a sight!  I almost headed down the stairs, but it would have been too embarrassing to explain the failure.  It was all over in twenty seconds and at the rate she charged, I figured she made around a thousands francs an hour.  That's pretty good pay!
Downstairs, the other guys wanted to know how she was, so I told them “just great” and up they went.  I sure caught hell afterwards.  They weren't too impressed either.
The next night we headed back for another look around and the madam asked if we wanted the same one again.  We told her that we could do without, if that was all she had.  We explained that we were looking for someone a little younger and not in such a hurry.  The madam just smiled and said that yes there was a younger one just back on the job.  It must have been her time out.  The younger one turned out to be a nice looking blonde with a slight limp, from a car accident when she was young.  She had a lot more finesse than the old gal and a better approach to her job.  I think she rather liked it.  In that part of the world, this was a business and no one made an issue over it.  Afterwards we settled in for a lot of beer drinking.
The next day we were a little hung over so rested until pub time.  Since this would be our last night in the city, back we go to the same place.  When we had arrived in Ghent the paymaster could only give us a part of our pay because he had run out of money and even had to go to the banks for more.  At this point we were almost broke.  We then decided to bring along some chocolate bars for barter.  The madam said “no deal”; she wanted cash and it would be up to the blond to decide what she wanted.  The outcome was that it would cost one hundred francs for the madam and the blonde gal would settle for five chocolate bars for herself.  One chap was so drunk when he went up the stairs that he was gone for over an hour.  We wondered what had happened.  It took the poor blonde gal that long to fix him up.  I guess if they don't finish the job, you don't have to pay.  That's a good system.
While the battalion was in Ghent, Field Marshall Montgomery held an investi­ture on November 5th for several officers and non-​commissioned officers who received awards for bravery on the battlefield.  On November 7th the officers held a formal mess dinner and, from the stories that emerged, our Captain Dunkelman was the life of the party.
November 8th saw us leaving Ghent for a small village called “Eyne”, a few miles south of Ghent.  Again we had a great welcome and the people wanted us to stay with them, but the training had to start again.  We had a lot of parades, lectures, and weapons inspections to make sure that all was ready for the next move.

Ending this phase

The captain brought out some maps of Nijmegen, which was where the American 82nd Airborne Division had dropped earlier.  At this time I noticed that a new type of wireless set was brought in to replace the old number 18 sets, which the Germans could and did jam very easily.  The new set were the number 22 type which were also used by the tank corps.  These sets were heavy and were mounted in the carriers.  They were a big improvement.
November 11th saw us packing all the equipment on the carriers and trucks for the big move to relieve the 82nd Airborne Division.  Late in the afternoon we got the order to move.  The convoy stretched out several miles on the highway.  The convoy went up through Ghent again and many small towns until we reached Antwerp, where we had an hour rest stop.  This type of travel­ling was tire­some, as we were moving very slowly, with no head­lights allowed.  The only light was a small one about an inch in size and mounted under the truck body near the rear end.  It was very dangerous for a motor­cyclist to stay between the trucks or carriers and a couple were severely injured when caught between the trucks.
It had been an exciting and also dangerous trip from France to the Scheldt and, looking around, there were a lot familiar faces gone from the scene.  We felt lucky to have made it this far and wondered what lay ahead.  There had to be a pause.  The Allies needed time to bring up reinforcements and supplies.  The Germans were not threatening in our sector at this time since they had been either killed or captured.  The few who got away had to regroup.  Thus ended the first phase of the war for the British and Canadians troops.
John Marin eight other soldiers posing beside a tracked vehicle
Back centre: Coullrer
Far left: Gareau
Standing: Pinkney, Corrigan, Weatherstone, Marin, Bridge
Kneeling: Chalmers, Wilson