Dieppe Veteran Interviews, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

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    Dieppe Veteran Interviews, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

    Post by Battalion Colours on Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:01 am

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    Veterans Interview - Fred Englebrecht - 19 August 2003

    I didn't go in on a mother ship, I was assigned to a tank carrier, which was called a TLC, three tanks and a bulldozer, and a platoon of infantry.

    We were picked to guard the tanks after they landed, so I didn't land with the main assault, we landed behind them.

    As we approached the beach, our ship was hit, artillery or whatever it fired, come through the side of the ship, punched a good-sized hole in the side and ricocheted off the tanks. I know this well because one fella that was in my company, died - was killed then - the shrapnel took half his head off - Murray Bleeman, he was a Toronto boy.

    When the Captain of the, the TLC decided this was not a very good situation, he swung the ship around, rolled a smoke canister off the back of the TLC and proceeded to make a run at the beach, this time he was going in under the smoke and nothing was going to stop him.

    We come through the smoke and everything was coming at us, everything, you can't - you have no idea!

    He lowered the ramp and the tanks started to move out, and once the tanks had moved out the infantry moved out behind them. As we were going down the ramp, the machine gun fire was so intense, it was just, just unreal. And on top of that, everything else was being thrown at us. I know the kid in front of me, I don't know his name, I'm sorry, as he's running down the ramp, I'm right behind him because I was the first in my section. He went right up in the air and I just kept on going. There was no time to stop or do anything, he was obviously hit. We landed on the beach and that was my first taste of the rocks you see out on the memorial here. Never in our wildest dreams did we expect anything like this. Already on the beach there was one tank that had its tracks broken. Now, I don't know much about tanks but they told me they didn't have battle tracks on, they had what they call training tracks, so as soon as they ran into rocks, it broke the links and the tank was out of action. Instead of being a help, it became a hindrance.

    They were blowing off their - the tanks were equipped so they could go underwater, up to a certain depth - they were blowing off these charges, and of course, we were all around them, and it was more or less a hazard to us.

    We moved past that, past the wire, up to the wall. I really don't want to get too much into what was going on.

    I won't say I was - yes, of course, I was scared. It was a lot of murder coming down on us, it was chaos. Eventually we made our way back to the beach, there was a Brigadier. As we came back to the beach, I slid under a tank that was not in action, and I thought, "This was good place, nobody was going to get me here, two or three feet off the ground, big Churchill tank on top of me. However, the tank caught fire, and I very quickly got out from underneath there and I ran down to the beach, and there was a TLC beached in the water, and the tide was coming in, and we went around to the water side of the TLC, it was listing, and that was another safe place! Nothing could touch you there! And now the tide is coming in. With the tide came the bodies. (pause)

    The Brigadier was screaming about, somebody do something, get back to the wall, put the wounded in the TLC, the tide's gonna come in, they're all gonna die if we don't get them off the beach. We tried that for a while, and successful to a degree, and then I went back to the wall. He wanted somebody to protect the troops on the beach, everybody come to the beach but there was nobody to protect them.

    I went back to the wall, there was a young French Canadian collecting ammunition for the Bren guns, that didn't last very long. I came back to the beach, when it happened, when it finally happened, I had run out of the ammunition, I was running back towards the beach, when I see all these, to the left and right of me, like sparrows - they weren't sparrows, they were hand grenades.

    And I dove into the rocks, and I lay there, and a terrible mind-splitting noise, like everything, and I lay there, and then deadly silence, and I thought, My God, what is going on, and I took my eye, without moving my head, I'm lying face in the water, of course, and without moving my head, I turn my head that way and as far as I can see on the wall are German soldiers and I looked the other way and the same thing.

    And now I hear, Hande Hocht - get your hands up. And Kommen-see hier - come here. Now I don't speak German, at that time I didn't, I knew what they were saying, it just makes sense, and that was it.

    Question: What were you thinking during the battle?

    I wasn't thinking very much, I was doing my job. I was trying to keep my head . I'm not trying to be courageous or anything, I knew what I had to do. I was thinking of my family... (breaks down)

    I wasn't really... I think I was just trying to do the best I could. I tried.

    I became a prisoner of war, good and bad times, funny times, humorous times, cruel times. We were tied up with ropes for three months, we were in chains for 15 months. Chains became a joke after awhile. But in hindsight, I look back, you know what, it wasn't that bad.

    Even though we were on starvation rations, if you minded your business, kept your nose clean, which I tried to do, you got along. You survived, that was the name of the game, you survived. It's not being brave, it's not being stupid, it's not being anything, it's being - surviving.

    And I think a lot of us had the same thoughts that I had, just accept it.

    I'll tell you this story - shock sets in for most people. About on the second day, they marched us through the town of Dieppe through the back country ways, and they put us in the compound surrounded by barbed wire, and they gave us a piece of black bread, about 2 or 3 slices big. And I looked at it and I broke down and I cried and I cried, and I didn't feel any shame. About half an hour later, I stopped crying, I was fine, I got over it, and I think this is what helps, emotions are something that you can't control. I'm being maudlin now, and I'm sorry for that, but it does bring back bad memories.

    I joined the fire department, I've been in uniform practically all my life. I got married...

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    Re: Dieppe Veteran Interviews, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

    Post by Battalion Colours on Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:03 am

    Veterans Interview - CWO Jack McFarland - 19 August 2003

    Well, when we left camp we weren't told until we got on the mother ship that carried our landing craft that we were going back to Dieppe - that was the first we knew. It was a chilling experience, we'd been in the army long enough that we knew - most had been in for three years - that you never remount an operation once it had been cancelled.

    All the troops went on leave, we had 5,000 men scattered around the British Isles, talking about their experiences on the Channel waiting to go into Dieppe.

    And they remounted it, and we said, this is just another operation, we didn't know what the real significance of it until we get there, and when we lost the value of surprise, when the British commandoes on our left flank ran into a coastal flotilla going into Dieppe. They sank the flotilla but not before they sent an SOS to shore.

    We didn't know that, all we knew going in was the fact that we lost our surprise.. And it wasn't until we were well entrenched on the beach that we knew that something had happened.

    Question: When you got the word to get down from the mother ship into the landing craft to go to shore, what happened after that?

    It was very uneventful, we had going through all the minefields, we just climbed down into the landing craft and we started in, and then we were told to prepare for an opposed landing. We had no indication before that.

    Question: How did it go for you?

    Poor! (laughs) I was one of the fortunates, I did fire my weapons! We lost whole sections that never fired a shot.

    Question: Describe the battle for me.

    As we approached the shore it was turning daylight, we were late. We could see a whole lot of aircraft over the city, we could see tracer bullets being fired to the ground trying to knock out the searchlights.

    And then we were..maybe..almost ready to touch down, maybe 50 yards from shore, we started to take fire from shore, and one of the assault craft about two or three over on our right got hit, took a direct hit.

    I jumped off the landing craft, these had a flat nose on them, and the nose went down and that was what you run off on, and we had a dry landing, but we run onto stone, which we weren't expecting, we were expecting sand.

    Two or three fellas ahead of me were down on the stones, whether they were dead or wounded, I don't know. We were taught to run off, get down, and proceed. Pretty hard to get down on those stones!

    Another fella and I used a Bangalore torpedo and blew a hole in the wire, and we went - I headed for the casino which is what I was headed for, and I never made it. We run into a machine gun post - to the west, or east of us, and we knocked that out, and I set up a Bren gun there. To fire on the buildings across the promenade, cause nobody was getting up on the promenade, the wall was too high, to really climb, and they were firing on us from each flank, and they were actually firing from behind us. And they could all of us behind the wall and they were creating terrific casualties there.

    When the evacuation came and I saw Capt Whitaker and his group coming out of the casino, and they said the first wave of boats was coming in to take us off, and I went down and I come across one of our officers that was wounded, and Arleigh Smith, he was a sergeant in the carrier platoon, he and I got a stretcher and took this officer down to the shore. And some of our fellas were standing out there in broad daylight, they could have been shot down at any time, and they were carrhing, putting the fellas wounded onto the assault craft to take them out. Eventually I worked my way down the beach and got onto the back of an assault craft up where the motor is, and there were four of us sitting up there and it started to go out, and it was overloaded, cause there was not enough boats, and it was overloaded, and a German bomber came over dropping anti-personnel bombs, and they hit in the water and anybody near there, it would just blow their bodies right up out of the water, and it was just spraying lead all over the place, and all four of us got hit, one was killed and the other three was wounded. I thought it blew my arm off so I got off it and went back to shore, and I understand that assault craft sank anyhow.

    We were all ashore and somebody decided it was useless to carry on, all we were doing was taking casualties and we weren't committing any, and there was no boats coming in, and we had water behind us and Germans in front of us, and I believe they had a German airman who had come ashore hold up his underwear or something on rifle to surrender.

    And then the Germans just came from nowhere, there were swarms of them coming down the beach.

    Question: What was the day like?

    Beautiful, it was a day like this, I'd say it was very comparable to today, the heat. And we were in battledress, there was no such thing as summer combat dress for the Northern hemisphere. If you were in Egypt or someplace like that you had summer dress, but not in the northern hem. So you were carrying your weapons, ammunition, extra ammunition for the Bren gun carrier, your bayonet, your rifle or whatever weapon you had, if you were in the mortar platoon, you were carrying mortar bombs, and all this heat, it took an effect on ya.

    Question: What water did you have?

    We had one little water bottle full and that didn't last long.

    Question: What were you thinking during the day?

    I don't recall thinking anything. It was just something that we were trained to do, I'd always thought that if you stopped to think, you were dead. You're trained to do things and you do as you're trained.

    The only time that I reflected on what had happened was after I reached Rouen hospital.

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    Re: Dieppe Veteran Interviews, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

    Post by Battalion Colours on Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:05 am


    Veterans Interview - Ken Curry - 19 August 2003

    I was with a three-inch mortar crew, I was # 1 on the mortar, there were 7 of us. They loaded us on a TLC on a mother ship, there was a Bren gun carrier and an armoured car, and we had a little buggy made of motorcycle tire wheels and it carried 30 mortar bombs, and when we were coming into shore we were supposed to land in darkness, but some of the convoy, not our part, ran into a German convoy which slowed us up.

    It was a little sea battle going on there and when we finally hit the shore the sun was coming up and it was a just day like today.

    Well, they dropped the ramp of the TLC that we were on, the Bren gun carrier and the armoured car went off and the Bren gun carrier took a direct hit. And we came off behind it and we were by the side of it, and our Sergeant, Sgt Bennet, he said - we were next to "C" Coy - and they were supposed to help us with this buggy with the bombs, and our mortar, the base plate and you know, it was too much for like me and my two men to carry, but when they come off the boat they took a direct burst of machine gun fire and it wiped out almost the "C" Coy headquarters.

    And we didn't have no people to help us, and Sgt Bennett he went forward to scout to see if there was any low part in the wall where we could get this mortar over, we had to go over the wall and up to these German barracks, and was gonna meet one of the tanks up there and they were gonna go through the barracks, and as they knocked down the wooden buildings we were to set up some high explosive shrapnel and kill them as they run out.

    But like I say we never got that far. But Sgt Bennett when he got up to scout the wall, he all of a sudden he fell down and rolled over on his back and me and my number two man, we went up to him and he'd been shot through the leg, and his leg was broken.

    And we put a bandage on it, and we came back to the mortar and we set up the mortar, and we started to fire the mortar into the town. I mean, we didn't have no specific target, but jeez, we couldn't move, we lost four of our men, and the ammunition carriers and there was just the three of us left, there was me, I set the sights and my buddy he dropped the bombs, and my other buddy, he set the caps off the fuses.

    But we managed to get rid of all our bombs, and there was a tank right beside us, and the stones had disabled the treads, and one tread was right off, but he kept firing his gun and it was deafening. It was firing for hours, and I get a pension for the damage it did to my ears.

    And the funny thing was, I was at a convention, and I was telling the story about how I was laying next to this # 10 tank and it was firing and firing, and firing, and how every time it fired it raised me up from the sand, because I was right next to it. And I couldn't figure what the guy was firing at, because on the mortars we fired over the buildings, and kept our fingers crossed.

    Anyway, at this convention, this guy says what was the number of the tank, and I said # 10 and he said, well I was the guy firing the gun.

    And I says, you were! I says what were you firing at? He says, nothing, I was trying to get rid of the ammunition. He said we seen you guys out there and all the dead guys, and all the heavy fire, and he says, we didn't want to get out of the tank, but if we'd taken a hit we'd of exploded. All I wanted to do was get rid of them shells quick.

    So anyway, I found out about that, but anyway, beside the point. As I say, we had our Sgt wounded, he wasn't too bad and we fired our bombs, and then the Fusiliers Mont Royal came in. We waved them off but they come in anyway. And as soon as they hit the shore we got all the stuff back at us again. And they just knocked them all to hell.

    Anyway, we were hunkered down there, and just taking cover, we couldn't do anything, we were out of bombs, we weren't loaded down with ammunition in the first place, and finally, I think about noon, an aircraft went right across and laid down a smoke screen, and we retired. Anyway, I'm laying there, and we got Herb, the three of us and Tom, and we took Herb and he had a wound in his leg, and he was in between us and how it missed me I don't know, because he was in between us and he got hit in the leg and he was in between me and my buddy, Tommy Lillicrop, and we got a hold of him and just then, we had a major, laying there, an officer, and a guy came down and he had four German prisoners, and he gave them to me, and I got them, I made them pick up this Major, and Tommy got a hold of Herb, a buddy and we went to this ALC and put them aboard and we went to get aboard and the Coxswain, he said we're full of wounded, any able-bodied get off, and I took the four Germans and got on this big tank landing craft and it was just backing out astern and as it was going out it was sinking. And I just buzzed these Germans off, and they jumped in the water and I jumped in the water, with Tommy and we started swimming out. So we swam for quite a while but we had these Mae Wests tied to our chests and they were sort of retarding our swimming, and so we tied 'em to our ankles so we could make more time, and both of us were swimming, and there were these little plinks all around us in the water, and as silly as it was, I was thinking, jeez, there's little fish here! Until it went in my mind there was bullets shooting at us, don't move!

    So we were swimming under water, so we, we swam quite a way out and then Tommy says to me, look, I'm not gonna go any further, I'm gonna go to a buoy that he seen, we saw these guys hanging on to the buoy, and I said, no I'm gonna keep going, and we're getting clear but we're not making too much movement, because they spotted us from the shore. So anyway, I turn around later and seen them taking guys off that buoy, and I was sorry I didn't go with Tommy, but later on they hit that boat and he was killed, if he'd a come with me he'd be here today. Anyway, his relatives are coming today and I don't know if they knew that story.

    Well, it ended, I was in the water for about six hours, and the tide took me, like down to the east of Dieppe which was high cliffs, and I come in on the shore. I couldn't stand, and I had a chocolate ration which I ate, and I was in my underwear, I shucked everything I had, my revolver, and everything, and as soon as I could walk, I looked down, way down, and I could see an opening in the cliffs, and thought, gee if I could get down there I could get into a French town and they'd hide me out. So I'm walking down there and a lot of dead guys floating in their mae wests, and I'm looking at some of them because my brother was with me, he was in the Mortar Platoon but in a different detachment, and I was hoping I didn't find him and I didn't, but I couldn't help looking. Well, anyway, I got to the gully and when I got there, this German pops up behind a rock and I think if I'd a been in uniform he'd a shot me but I was just in my underwear, and I put my hands up and he took me up through the gully, and it was full of Germans. So they kept me up there taking pictures I guess for oh, about an hour and they took me to an old factory where they been accumulating some of our guys and when I walked in I seen a fella I knew and I said have you seen my brother Norm, and he said, yes, he's here and I said is he OK and he said yes. So I weaved my way through a bunch of wounded guys and there's my brother laying there, in his underwear too, he'd been in the water a long time, fast asleep, and I woke him up and he said, oh Ken, they told me you were dead, and I said, no I'm OK, Norm and he said are you wounded, and I said no, but then he seen the blood on my back and a bullet had creased my back and I didn't know until the day after when it started to burn.

    What was going through my mind? I don't know. The night before I had been to a theatre and now I was a prisoner of war. I'm sitting there and wondering what comes next.

    I don't think I was scared, I was too exhausted and hungry to be scared. But of course, the ordeal was just starting, you know, we thought we'd be given half-decent treatment, but hell, they never give us any food for a couple of days and when they did give us some it was very little. And then when they did give us some it was very little, and then they started to give cigarettes and food to the French Canadians, it was propaganda-wise, but the Regiment de Maisonneuve, they shared it with us, they were pretty good guys,. And anyway, they kept us there for quite some weeks and they interrogated us, and they gave us some Dutch clogs to walk in which crippled my feet and a French uniform, riding breeches and a tunic and they took us and loaded us in these box cars, wounded and everything and took us up to Germany, Stalag 8 V, and when I went into the Stalag an English chap who had been captured at Dunkirk ran out, and he gave me a tin of rolled oats and condensed milk, and when we stopped they had little blowers they used to take shavings of wood in and fast heat it and they showed me how to cook it and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven and I cooked this porridge and this whole can of condensed milk. And, after about a week, I came down with dysentery like you wouldn't believe, and I was in hospital there for a while and then I recovered and they sent me out to a working party in a sugar factory, and I could tell you stories all week long.

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    Re: Dieppe Veteran Interviews, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

    Post by Battalion Colours on Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:05 am

    Veterans Interview - Jack Kimberly - 19 August 2003

    I was a Private, I was with the Carrier Platoon, I was with Capt Whitaker at the time.

    As we get into the landing craft, we were on a ship called the Glengyle, we get in the landing craft, and I don't know how far we were out, as we went in to shore as we came into shore, about 300 yards out we get some heavy machine gun fire hitting the landing craft. We were reasonably safe in there because it was armoured steel, but we knew we'd be hitting the beach shortly and walking right into that gunfire, but just as we landed, just as we were touching down, three Spitfire squadrons came in and they hit right in front of us and they just pulverized that beach. One after the other, the sand was actually dancing in front of us. So we were able to get out of the landing craft and get to the seawall before the Germans recovered from that strafing.

    And then all hell broke loose and it was all mortars and machine gun fire and I would say we lost almost half our men almost immediately.

    I was a machine gunner, and there was a guy named W.C. Grant was beside me who was handling the ammunition, and I turned to him for more ammunition and he was quite still, and he'd been shot right through the head, there was a little trickle of blood coming down his face.

    And then we just inched along the seawall and got into the casino, and when we got in there we found Lt Bell and B Coy had gone through the casino before us and there were dead Germans all over the place, they had done a great job. We went through the casino into a slit trench and from the slit trench to the promenade. We got across the promenade but there was such heavy heavy gunfire, I was hit 3 times with machine gun fire, and we had to retire back into the casino.

    From there it was just utter chaos really. When we landed we had a navy radio operator with us, and that time they used a radio a little black box about so square, and we had just set up when he got hit with a shell and he just disappeared. So we lost contact with the navy, and they shelled us for a while. It was just unbelievable.

    But as we understand now, the Germans were there three weeks and were expecting us. So they were all set up, they knew where they. actually the beach was set up with stakes with strings running so they could pinpoint their mortar fire.

    When we got back through the casino, there was a landing craft below the casino and Whitaker and four or five of our guys were there and so, Denny said Jack, give us covering fire until we get down to the lath and then you come with us. So he yelled at me. one of our guys had come back and he was just berserk, and we had some Germans tied up there, probably 50 or 60 of them on the promenade, not on the promenade but on the rear of the casino facing the ocean, and he began killing them, bayoneting them, he killed three of them before I could stop him, I finally got him stopped and he and I headed for the beach, and by that time Whitaker and that landing craft had gone. And I get down to the beach and there appeared to be a gunboat there and a lot of guys getting on. But for some reason it was stuck on the sand we couldn't get it back in the water, so I decided to swim for it. Of course I kept the gun boat between me and the shore as long as possible, but the water was just - the machine gun fire was all across the water, there was bullets going everywhere. The guy swimming beside me got shot right between the shoulders, he just put his hands up like that and slipped down into the water. And, the first boat I got into was knocked out, I had three boats shot out from under me. By that time there were no boats left, I could see them so far out there was no way to contact them so I decided to swim ashore. I swam ashore, I landed on the east side of Dieppe harbour, and waited there till dark and then I walked up the coat, I think I walked 15 or 20 miles and I was dog tired. And, uh, crawled into a stone hut the French fishermen had built there and just fell asleep. The next thing I could hear voices it seemed like they were far away, and I opened my eyes and I saw the ugliest face I had ever seen in my life. It was a German soldier with a rifle pointed right at me saying come out of there, you know, "Raus, Raus". There was another fellow with me, and Essex Scottish Private, and so they took us up a sort of a gully to the top of a hill, and there was probably 15 or 20 Commandoes dead, they had them piled up like cordwood, you know, they didn't appear to be wounded but their uniforms were wet. So the Colonel of the Regiment that was defending that spot, the German Colonel came over, he spoke English fluently, he saw that I was wounded, he called his medic over and had my wounds patched up and then he put us in a hotel there for the rest of the day and the following day he put us in a truck for Bernoulle to the first prison camp.

    But prison wasn't for me, I had four escapes from a prison camp. On the fourth one I was successful and got into Sweden, and then they flew me back to England and from there I went into the Intelligence Corps, I was teaching escape and evasion, so that's how I ended the was. But because of my time in the prison camp I was entitled to leave and so I got leave I think it was in February 45 and I came home.

    I got the DCM for my efforts, which was a pleasant thing to have. I've written a book on my experiences, I call it the "Call of Freedom: A Dieppe Soldier's Story", and it goes through the battle and my four escapes and then the final victory, freedom.

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    Re: Dieppe Veteran Interviews, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

    Post by Battalion Colours on Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:06 am

    Veterans Interview - Stan Darch - 19 August 2003

    Well, we were coming in, all of a sudden a firefight broke out, with destroyers and German convoy coming into Dieppe and that blew the surprise. When we were coming in we were under fire, and landed and charging up the beach I fell flat on my face. Wait a minute, I didn't dive for the beach - get up, took another step and went down again. I said Oh my God my leg's gone. I looked around, looked down, seen my foot there, well it can't be too bad. So I crawled up to the seawall, slit my pants, run my fingers down my leg, picked a piece of shrapnel out of my leg, about the size of a lead pencil, about an inch and a half long. It went in endways and I guess it pinched a nerve. Jammed a nerve between the shrapnel and bone. I pulled the shrapnel and the feeling come back into my leg, and I was fine then.

    The muck was really flying thick and fast, guys were getting wounded, there was a mortar shell landed out, oh, about ten yards or so, between me and the water. It ripped open the officer, Johnny Williamson, he was a Corporal at the time, he ended up as a full Colonel in the militia after the war, and another Private. I bandaged Johnny Williamson up as best I could, my buddy he bandaged the other Private up and I don't know who bandaged the officer up, but the officer died of his wounds later in Germany, or in France, in Rouen I think it was, and that was Don McIlwain. Johnny Williamson got back to England and the Private got back to England I believe.

    I was taken prisoner, I was on the way back out and a German 88 hit the side of the boat and out the bottom and exploded under the boat. And it was leaking so bad the naval officer said it was every man for himself.

    So I cut all my equipment loose, my boots, and everything else and swam back to shore about 400 yards about a quarter of mile. Then we were captured and I still had no shoes, walking through town, through broken glass and everything else, carrying a wounded buddy up.

    And then they formed us up at the hospital, and marched us back about 15 kilometres to a little town called Envermuil. Just before we got to Envermuil just on the outskirts, we met a bridal party, and the bride, she was a beautiful looking woman, and she was crying because of us guys being capture. At this time my feet were really cut up and the best man of the wedding party sat down and pulled his shoes off and give them to me! I sat on the curb and sat down and pulled 'em on and laced 'em up and a German came along and gave me a boot on the backside, I guess I was taking too long. Anyway, I caught up with the rest of the guys and that was the first day of capture.

    They were a beautiful pair of shoes, you'd swear I walked into a store in Hamilton and had 'em fitted. About 18 months and then I flogged 'em, I was out of cigarettes.

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    Re: Dieppe Veteran Interviews, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

    Post by Battalion Colours on Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:07 am

    Veterans Interview - Ken Mott - 19 August 2003

    I was with 17 Platoon, D Company, supposed to go on 17 Platoon's boat but just before we took off from the mother ship took me and Fred Pyle and we were to go on the Company boat, but it blew up.

    Kornblum survived - in a steel box with a machine gun, and the officer, he'd already got the door down and he was standing on the beach, he got both eyes, his eyes were hanging down on his cheeks, and after the war he was head of the blind in Toronto

    When we got back, I was told to join my regular platoon but there was no regular platoon left, they were all gone,

    All the officers around us, they were dead in the first five minutes.

    We were supposed to use bangalores to blow up the wire, but they were what blew up when they hit the boat, that's why they all died.

    I lay on the beach there for quite a while, I fired now and again but most of the time I never saw who I was firing at.

    John Foote, who got the VC, he wasn't supposed to go, the Colonel told he he couldn't go but he went anyway, he carried the bodies.

    I had two holes through my coat and one through the crotch of my pants, but around 4:30 in the afternoon they told the guys who were in the assault landing craft, they were going to come in a take us off, one guy came in too fast and he too far on the beach, and we had to push him off...

    I had to take the back of one guy and we were pushing and he got shot in the back, I don't know how because I was behind him.

    We finally got on a boat, I got on another boat, it was meant for 30 men but there was about a hundred on there, with a shot of water coming up about 20 feet in the air through the bottom...

    A lot of them starting jumping off the back, and by this time the boat had floated out bout 50 feet and in 20 feet of water, and I managed to squeeze out but I couldn't let go because I can't swim... but then one of them life preservers came sliding down the deck and I grabbed it but I couldn't get it on and the Sgt Major came down and he helped me, and I heard he got killed later.

    I tried to paddle out but the tide was coming in and it was a losing battle.

    And I saw they were shooting where the crowds were and I kind of went by myself, when a bullet came by my ear... and this went on about five times, and I had a sniper...

    I made out a few times like he hit me. I was out about 350 yards out. but I couldn't stop paddling because I was drifting in and I didn't want to give him a better shot.

    Altogether he fired 24 shots at me. but I drifted out of his view, he was firing from this slot, and it was the only thing that saved me. but in a way he was the one that saved my life, after I started counting.

    I couldn't figure out how he kept missing but I didn't figure it out until too long ago, but there was a wind blowing but he couldn't feel it where he was and he didn't think to allow for it.

    I kept paddling out and there was this pier and this Englishman came along and said he was dead tired and could he rest on my life preserver.

    He asked me if I thought they were taking any prisoners, I said no, there was a Red Cross boat and it was sunk.

    So he says what do you think we should do and I said it's getting close to 7 p.m. and I thought they'd come out in boats and shoot us, didn't want us to get away under darkness so I said we might as well go in.

    And we did, and I walked about two steps and fell flat on my face, I wasn't used to walking.

    And one of the German soldiers was about 50 feet away, and he told us to stay down there but the stones were hot and so bout after 10 minutes I got up to walk, and he told me to go to the cliffs.

    I had a bar of chocolate, they gave us, and I began to eat and a soldier came by and asked me to put a bandage on, I put my chocolate down on a rock, and I proceeded to bandage him and got the bleeding pretty well stopped, and I ate my chocolate bar, and it wasn't till that night till I realized I ate the other half of that chocolate bar and my hands were covered in blood, and it never fizzed on me at all.

    They took us to the hospital and they took that famous photograph and the guy in front of me was Sharpe and his guts were hanging out and an hour later he died they told me and the picture was taken by a German officer.

    They took us to a factory and the next day they marched us down to the trains, 40 to a car, and I saw Fred Pyle, and I helped hold him up and we hobbled down together and get into the box cars.

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    Re: Dieppe Veteran Interviews, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

    Post by Battalion Colours on Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:08 am

    Dieppe and my POW experiences

    By Bill Larin, B37557 R.H.L.I, January 19th, 1992

    We left Portsmouth Harbour, England on August 18, 1942, on a tank landing craft, under cover of darkness. On board was a 45 Ton Churchill tank, a naval gun on the deck above us, our platoon #9, A Company, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, Toronto Scottish heavy machine gunners, engineers, support troops, and of course, naval personnel.

    We crossed the channel during the night, and arrived offshore around dawn. We were greeted by heavy enemy fire, and were hit many times, especially the naval gun above us, and also the machine gunners, who suffered many casualties. Murray Bleeman, next to me, was hit in the head and killed. Tommy Howe and I attended to him as best we could. Our boat hit the beach, and down went the door. The tank went out first, and the men after. We went through wire, and I got caught, but eventually got free.

    Click to view and print Bill Larin's memoires in .pdf version

    The Germans had raised the beach so that we were in the direct line of fire crossing the wire. We headed for the seawall, and took shelter there. I don't know what our casualties were, as I was late getting through, and lost my section. The beach was covered with stone, and the tanks threw their tracks and were mired on the beach. They acted as fill boxes and protected us to some extent. We were pretty well pinned down, under heavy mortar and artillery fire. Above the seawall was a wide promenade, and facing the promenade, buildings, which were full of machine gunners.

    You didn't dare look over the seawall, as you would've been fair game for snipers. Boats had a tough time getting in, and a worse time getting out. A lot of them were hit on the way out. I'm sure that the Germans had everything ranged. They were very accurate with their fire. They would hit a boat, you would see heads bobbing around, then nothing. A large German bomber came over and bombed the boats. The tide came in and washed a lot of bodies into shore, and the water was red along the beach, a terrible sight. Some of the mortar and artillery fire sounded like an express train going through. It was pretty scary and I said many a prayer that day. We didn't have much of a chance, with about 65 miles of water on one side, and machine guns and artillery fire on the other.

    We got word to evacuate to a T.L.C. on the beach. I crossed the beach to the boat, seeing a lot of people and few boats. The tide coming in squeezed all of us into a smaller area. The Germans were firing away, and the casualties were heavy. I went back and holed up behind a tank. Things were hopeless, and the flag finally went up. If it hadn't, we would have all been killed, I'm sure, as the Germans were just above the seawall.

    It had lasted a long nine hours.

    We were marched off the beach, and had to dump our ammunition. I felt in my tunic, and had a grenade in my pocket. I thought I was going to be shot for sure. The Germans looked, and nearly flipped, when I threw it on the pile. I met a priest on the way to the hospital, gave him some money I had, and asked him to pray for us. I doubted that he knew what I had said, but he took the money.

    Another fellow from my platoon, Fred Engelbrecht, and I helped a wounded soldier up to the hospital. I met Bill Bridgewater from my company, at the hospital. He was wounded in the face. All of the seriously wounded were left at the hospital, and the rest of us, were marched out of Dieppe. We went through a lot of villages, and there were a lot of tears shed on our behalf. The villagers tried to feed us, but the Germans chased them away.

    We finally arrived at a place called Envermeau. We were put in a large factory, and were given black bread and ersatz tea. (mint). We bedded down for the night on a cinder floor. I understood that our guards were Hitler Youth. I don't remember anything until the next morning. We were rousted out early, and again marched through many small places. Many of the French villagers gave us the victory sign. We eventually reached a place called Verneulles, which was a holding camp and an interrogation centre. It was very crowded and not very comfortable. I remember the first night, you grabbed whatever place you could find, and it stank to high heavens. We were there for some time, and I don't remember too much about it.

    On August 29, 1942, we were loaded into train boxcars, given a loaf of bread, some water, and a bucket for a latrine. It was crowded, hot, and not very comfortable. You could not lie down. There was a small window with barbed wire, in each end of the car. We were four days in it, through France, Belgium, part of Holland, through the Ruhr valley to Stalag VIIIB, Lamsdorf, near Breslau, Germany between Poland and Czechoslovakia. Through Belgium, people tried to give us food, but were, again, chased away. On the side of our train they had written, "The Second Front".

    We marched into Stalag VIIIB, and put on a bit of a show for the Germans. There was a huge Swastika flying over the camp. This camp was British, and home base for about 25,000 P.O.W.'s. The Brits cheered us as we marched through the gates. A lot of fellows had dysentery when we arrived. It was tough for some time, but we survived. The Brits were good to us, and made life bearable. I'll never forget the cup of tea they gave us, on our arrival. It was like "Manna from heaven". This was from their own parcels, and was real tea.

    We had arrived there on September 3, 1942. Our N.C.O.'s got us organized, and we settled in. One day, after we had been in camp for some time, German troops marched into our compound. They set up machine guns, put us into groups of twenty, and marched us into the huts. We thought that they were going to shoot us, but instead, tied our wrists with Red Cross rope. Later that night, they got us up, and untied our hands.

    After that, we were tied up from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. everyday for the next two months. We were then chained up for the next year. If you got caught with your chains off, you were punished by having to stand with your boots and nose against the wall for two hours. (Our people found a way to open the chain locks; a key from a sardine can). The reason given for this was that they had found the remains of some of their captured troops with their hands tied. They were killed, with some of our boys, on boats that were sunk by German fire.

    We weren't sent out on work parties at this camp. This was a British camp. There were British, New Zealand, Australian, South African, Indian, Palestinian and of course Canadian troops at this camp. There was lots of talented people in these camps; artists, musicians, actors, tailors, who made clothes, (and uniforms for escapees) and reputedly, forgers and thieves; a lot of ingenious people.

    Our German rations consisted of black bread, potatoes, turnip, bed board soup, fish cakes, very little meat, ersatz jam, so called tea (mint), and coffee made out of chicory and roasted barley. We got Red Cross parcels sometimes, but you couldn't depend on them. We had some hungry times.

    Our compound had four long buildings with an "A" and "B" end, with about 140 prisoners in each end. Washing facilities, which looked like horse troughs, were in the middle of each building. In each building were bunks, a stove, tables and benches. On the bunks were bed boards with a palliasse (straw mattresses). We got one blanket each.

    The camp was surrounded by a high double wire fence, with barbed wire in the middle. There were guard boxes all around the camp. There was a low warning wire inside the fence. If you touched that wire, the guards would shoot you. In the camp, there was a hospital, jail, fire department, cookhouses, bakeshop, soup kitchens, showers, and gardens, outhouses, and lots of roads. All were looked after by P.O.W.'s, except the jail, hospital and administration. Each compound was separate, and locked, sometimes opened, but not very often.

    There were fields for sports, but they were not always available. We got sporting goods from the Red Cross. In the equipment, were hidden maps and compasses, which were used by the escape committee, for the escapees. They said that there were approximately 10,000 prisoners on the loose from all the camps. Two tunnels were dug in our compound, but the first one was discovered. The second one was successful. About 40 people escaped and most were caught, but we heard a couple made it to Sweden. The German Commandant was quite impressed. The tunnel was very exclusive, and only people with the proper credentials could use it. All hell broke loose when they found that people were missing.

    The tunnels were dug by our Canadian engineers. They rigged up lights, and blowers, to pump air into the tunnel. A lot of work and time was put into these projects.

    You couldn't get out of your building after dark. We had a 40 "holer" in our compound (outside). The Germans would sometimes shut off the water and the lights - not very nice.

    We had roll call every day outside in every kind of weather. We'd stand there forever it seemed, sometimes in a lot of mud. One time, one of our men disappeared, and after searching the compound, we found no trace of him. We suspected that he went over to the Germans. They tried to get us to join them and fight the Russians. They called it the St. George Brigade.

    One day, one of our guys got hit in the head with a hardball. He went from bad to worse, and became quite belligerent. The Germans took him away, and the next thing we knew, he was dead. It was quite a shock to us. He was a British commando, and a real nice chap. We felt pretty bad about that.

    When we were hungry, we talked about food. When we had lots of food, the talk was about women. We had a great bunch of guys from all over Canada. Self-discipline was good, and I'm sure a lot of character was formed here.

    We had little stoves called blowers that we did our cooking on. They were made out of tin cans, quite an ingenious gadget. For fuel, we burned bed boards, which was against the rules. I got caught one day, and got three days in jail, which meant bread and water, and no comforts of home. I was up before a German officer, who gave me a good tongue-lashing. I didn't know what he said, but it didn't sound very complimentary. The Germans used these tactics to scare you.

    We got mail in bunches, with big lapses in between. The same with parcels, books, and comfort parcels. We got cigarettes from friends and organizations at home. All of this was very nice, and really boosted our morale. I got mail, books, and cigarettes from Mary. One of our chaps got a Dear John letter, from his girlfriend - he took it very hard.

    Growing beards was very popular there, I grew one, and rather enjoyed it. I wish I had kept a diary in Stalag. I have forgotten so many things that happened there. I made a lot of new friends, but, unfortunately lost track of them later on.

    We finally moved from Stalag VIIIB, to Stalag IID, STARGARD-POMERANIA, which was about 25 miles from the Baltic Sea, across from Sweden, and the same distance from Stettin, a port on the Baltic. We left on January 25, 1944 and arrived IID on January 29, 1944. I was the only one with a beard when we arrived. I got orders to shave it off by the Germans, which I did, pronto. We did all kinds of farming jobs, including planting, hoeing, and grading potatoes. We were there about five days, when 30 of us were sent on a work party, to a place called Rensin. It was a large state potato farm, with a Nazi civilian in charge. We did all kinds of farming jobs, including planting, hoeing, and grading seed potatoes.

    We had a few problems here. The Germans got a bit rough with the guys. One day, while planting potatoes, the Germans wanted more speed, and walked behind the boys with bayonets on their rifles. It didn't work, as the boys stuck together. It took a bit of courage, believe me. We also had a bed bug infestation one night. They sure knew how to bite. Our quarters were fumigated, and that took care of the bugs.

    We got word of a Second Front here, and the next day after that, hundreds of American Flying Fortresses came over us. The German's fighters tried to get at them, but were held off by armed B29 Bombers. What a racket they made. At night, we heard the British and Canadian planes bombing Stetten, it was very loud and the ground was trembling. One day, the Gestapo called, and just about tore the place apart. They were evidently looking for maps and compasses. I don't know if they found anything.

    We had some Poles working on the farm and living next to us. They took two of them away with them, a man and a woman, reputed to be brother and sister. God knows what happened to them, but we suspected the worst. If any of their people got caught out of their area, they were hung at a crossroad as a warning.

    The Germans didn't like the way we worked, so we were replaced by some Italians. We were sent to a sawmill at Plathe, on June 24, 1944. We made rough lumber, peeled logs, etc. While here, a couple of our guys escaped. We never had what happened to them. It was a dangerous time to be on the loose. The Germans were getting nervous, as the Russians were coming from the east. We weren't getting much food at this time. We lived on potatoes, but they didn't stay with you for long. One day, our Padre, Major John Foote, visited us. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery at Dieppe - a great and good man. I will never forget his message and prayers. I felt very close to the Lord that day.

    Everything in Germany had pretty well ground to a halt at this time. We finally got word to leave for the west. The Germans confiscated our cigarettes, except for a couple packs each. We packed what we could carry, and dressed warmly, took a blanket each, and on February 25, 1945, we headed out. It wasn't too warm. We marched toward Stettin, but before crossing the bridge, we met some German troops going east toward the Russians. They looked like boys 15-16 years old, and very scared. I felt sorry for them. We could hear the Russian guns in the distance. We marched all day, every day, and stayed over on farms at night. We didn't get much food from the Germans, and scrounged and stole what we could. The Germans hollered loud and long. We ran into other groups from the east, crossed the Oder and Elbe rivers, went past Rostock, a port on the Baltic, around Berlin, past Hamburg and Bremen. We finally crossed the Elbe River again near Brunswick, headed south and all the roads were packed with P.O.W.'s. Some columns were strafed by our own planes, with some casualties. We bumped into the Russians, gave them what we could, and they gave us lice - not a good experience. They were in very bad shape, wore rags, and some had no shoes. We couldn't do much for them, as we had to move on.

    One night, a German guard asked me for a good conduct pass. I refused, and sent him to an Essex Scottish corporal. I don't know how he made out, but I suspect not very well.

    Finally, our guards got the wind up, and took off. We all took off in different directions. Three of us got together and went looking for food and a place to sleep that night. We got fed in one house. I'll never forget the woman giving me a blast, because I used marge and treacle on my bread. We slept in the barn that night, and the next day, hooked up with some of our boys. We got into groups of about 30 men, and spread out, so that we could take shelter if attacked. We got word of President Roosevelt's death as we marched, quite depressing news. We finally ran into the American 9th Army, moving up the Elbe River. We spotted an American tank at a crossroad. What a welcome sight it was, with handshakes and cigarettes all around. This was on April 21, 1945, and we had been on the march for two months. We were taken to a staging area, fed, and then taken by transport (American) to a large airport about two hours from our staging area. We passed through a lot of Dorfs, with all kinds of white flags in the windows. We passed a large group of Negro soldiers, heading to the Elbe River. When we got to the airport, we were pretty much on our own. We got lots of American K-rations. They weren't supposed to give us too much food. A few of us went to the Cookhouse, and got a pretty good feed. The cooks were American Negroes, and they were very good to us. This was a large airport, and the planes were flying the P.O.W.'s back to England on a shuttle service. We were there for three days. On the third day, at 9:00 pm at night, 25 of us were loaded on a Dakota plane, and flown back to England, and we arrived about midnight, north of London.

    On our plane, was a mixed bag - Aussies, Indians, South Africans, and Canadians. We were deloused, fed, and taken to our home camps. We had a British sergeant in charge of us, and he was great.

    I must mention that when we hit the coast of England, all the lights were on - what a beautiful sight. We were allowed to send a cable to our parents, and I sent a telegram to my fiancée in Aberdeen.

    So ends my story of Dieppe, and my P.O.W. experience. I was married in Aberdeen, Scotland, on July 6, 1945. I arrived home in September, 1945, and my wife arrived in the spring of 1946.

    I would like to pay tribute to the Paris boys killed at Dieppe. I will give their names and ages:

    ALF GIBBONS - 18 YEARS
    BILL PRINE - 23 YEARS
    HARRY GIBBONS - 21 YEARS
    BILL SHARPE - 22 YEARS
    GEORGE CRUIKSHANK - 22 YEARS
    HARRY PILLEY - 22 YEARS
    Two others, TEDDY JENNER, 24, and GERALD ARTHRELL, 26, got back from Dieppe, and were killed in France, in 1944. We should never forget their sacrifice. Our flyers, sailors, and soldiers were put in some terrible situations, and paid a heavy price in killed and wounded. Remember, we were all volunteers, and were very proud to serve our country.

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    Re: Dieppe Veteran Interviews, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

    Post by Battalion Colours on Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:30 am

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    Re: Dieppe Veteran Interviews, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

    Post by Battalion Colours on Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:36 am

    This Canadian design was created in consultation with the Dieppe Veterans and Prisoner of War Association to recognise those who participated in the Dieppe Raid on August 19 1942... to be worn on a blue blazer.

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    Re: Dieppe Veteran Interviews, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

    Post by Battalion Colours on Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:44 am

    Honours and Awards to the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry - For Action At Dieppe, 19 Aug 1942

    **Victoria Cross

    Hon Captain John Weir Foote



    **Distinguished Service Order

    Lt. W.D. Whitaker

    LCol. R.R. Labatt

    Maj. H.F. Lazier



    **Military Cross

    Lt. J.G. Gartshore

    Lt. L.C. Counsell

    Capt. A.C. Hill

    Capt. J. Currie



    **Distinguished Conduct Medal

    CSM Jack Stewart

    Pte. Tommy Graham (Mauser)

    Pte. Harry Wichtacz



    **Military Medal

    LCpl. G.A. McDermott

    Pte. C.H. Dyke

    Pte. T. McQuade

    Pte. W. Vergette

    Pte. R.V. West


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    Re: Dieppe Veteran Interviews, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

    Post by Battalion Colours on Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:47 am

    OPERATION JUBILEE (DIEPPE) - NOMINAL ROLL of The 1st Bn. Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

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    Re: Dieppe Veteran Interviews, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

    Post by Battalion Colours on Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:48 am

    RHLI Dieppe Raid - Killed in Action

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    Re: Dieppe Veteran Interviews, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

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