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Finding Targets at Night

Heroes Remember

Finding Targets at Night

We could've gone out there and fired those five shots, and what is it, it's finished. We got no more ammunition. Our job was to find targets for our group so they could advance. Without us they would never been able to do it. We weren't the only ones. There was Americans, British, and Polish too, but for our group, for our division, we were the ones that was doing it for them. And if you're in a tight spot, and we did get into a good tight spot there once, just before the, right after these... Things we got into, one village there and the machine guns were really making havoc with the infantry people, so we were told, “Well, see what you can do. Get out there.” We'd sneak out there under a bombardment. They would always pretend there's something going on, but the Germans knew something was going to... these were the camouflage things, see. So we'd sneak in at night, going on some.... and you're taking the chance of running over mines and things like that, and we'd get into this area that we were told to find out this machine gun. There was maybe about ten machine guns... they were embedded in there. These guys just couldn't get nowhere near them. So we went in with our tank and a Bren gun carrier and an officer and myself and operators and the artillery guy, and we found them. We start to, we tried to clean them out with our machine guns, and our officer got a little bit too close in there so we had to shoot over his head so he could crawl out back ‘cause if he stood up, he was gone. So anyway, when he got to the tank, in the meantime, two German tanks had been... one of their better tanks, the Panther - they had two, Tiger and Panther, that were really, really dangerous tanks. They had the biggest guns on them, and they started shooting at me, at our tank. They, the first shot took all things, stuff off the back. Then they took some more stuff off there. There was about four shots, and the last one was... we used to carry our blankets on the turret and that just flew right off. We thought, “Well the next one is us. We're goners, we're finished.” So we threw up a little bit of a smoke screen, and they went around the side of the hill and they were, they had the advantage of a barn, but they made a mistake. They went along the barn and we could see them through the slats of the daylight, the silhouette, fired shots and we got him. But we never stopped to find out what happened to him because it was all smoke. We didn't know if there was some more with him, so we sneaked back out of there and got back into... and when you're young, 21, you're scared but you do things that. See, at that time, when we were young kids, we're chasing rabbits and sneaking around, playing Indians you know, and you get, some of that tactics kind of worked, how to sneak around and get in there and find out things. You felt proud that you could do it. I mean, you don't get medals for those things, that's not the idea. It's just somebody's got to do it, you were told to do it. When it's finished it gives you a.... something goes haywire with you, it doesn't work right.

Mr. Senycz speaks about searching for German tanks and finding the enemy by their silhouette outline between the slats in the barn.

John Senycz

Mr. Senycz was born August 22, 1920 in Colhurst, Alberta. His parents were both of Polish descent, born in Czechoslovakia, and moved to Canada to work in the coal mines. At age two, his father died and his mother remarried. Mr. Senycz joined the Canadian Army 4th Division Tank Corps in 1942 and was shipped overseas to England. It was during the Battle of Falaise that his tank got hit and the crew of five soldiers was badly burned. Because of the severity of Mr. Senycz’ burns, he was transported to Basingstoke hospital in England for rehabilitation. With the many burns and scars, Mr. Senycz underwent three to four years of plastic surgery to his face. On September 18, 1945, Mr. Senycz was discharged from the Canadian Army from the orderly room in Vancouver, BC. He later married, moved to Calgary, Alberta, and raised a family.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
John Senycz
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
4th Armoured Division

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