Not Afraid, But Cautious

Heroes Remember

Not Afraid, But Cautious

I joined the Engineer Corps after that and I thought I could jump around from this corps to the next, but apparently the engineers were a senior, senior corps so I was stuck in that, Combat Engineer Corps, so well, that was alright. So we had to clear this place at Vedder's Crossing. There was nothing but bush and tremendous big stumps and things like that. So well we, we went in there and everybody had an axe. There was trees falling, not big ones but, every direction and people getting hit in the head. This one kid he, apparently, I don't know, he got a little tree over his head and he died right there. He apparently had what they call an eggshell skull or something. And well, then after we got this thing all cleared, and we had these humongous big stumps. So after we'd done a lot of training with demolitions and stuff they give us each a stump to blow up. So I asked, “How much dynamite can I use?” cause I knew all about dynamite. My grandfather, he used a lot of it, so he... I said “How much dynamite can I use?” He says “That's up to you.” “Okay.” So I was watching these other kids. They were taking a handful and putting it under these big stumps. I knew that wouldn't do nothing. So I took four cases and I planted it all around. Okay, everybody got back in their trench and everybody set off their charges and you could hear a big bang and a little bit of bark fly off. There came my turn, I told them, “Well, you better get your heads down, it's gonna be a big bang!” Okay, everybody ducked in and boy when that went off it busted windows in some houses across the street. Oh, really, just a big hole, no stump, nothing left. “Okay, you qualify. You're finished.” Okay, that's good.

Mr. Toney describes not being fearful but constantly on edge and his reactions towards seeing dead Canadian soldiers.

John Martin Toney

John Martin Toney was born on September 26, 1923 on the Neskonlith Reserve, British Columbia. The strongest influence in his life was his grandfather, who taught him spirituality, life and survival skills. Mr. Toney feels that at that time he was being groomed to become a Chief. By the age of eight, he was hunting game to help feed his family. He later worked at a ranch and then as a carpenter. Proud to enlist, the army’s restrictive criteria forced Mr. Toney to renounce his Aboriginal heritage and designate himself an Irish Catholic. He was accepted by the Seaforth Highlanders, Engineering Corps, based on his success at demolition. His first action saw him in the second wave at Dieppe where he witnessed much death and suffering. Agile in the field, he hand-picked and led many reconnaissance and demolition patrols against the Germans. Mr. Toney was wounded twice, and after his second recovery, finished the war as motorcycle dispatch rider. He then signed up for Pacific duty, returning home early

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
John Martin Toney
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Seaforth Highlanders

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