Language selection


Roll Call Twice a Day

Heroes Remember

Roll Call Twice a Day

Another thing that was most horrible. These poor slaves that worked in these factories 10 to 12 hours a day, crawl back in Buchenwald but they had roll calls twice a day, morning and night, that would last maybe 2 or 3 hours. And you're standing there while they're counting 45,000 slaves and while you're standing there people are dropping all around you because they are so sick from lack of food, from disease or from being overworked, and there is nothing you can do about it. You can't help them. They are lying there, pleading, arms out, crying, asking you to help them. And do you know what the most difficult thing to do is to walk away from the roll call was to physically step over these human beings who are lying on the ground crying and pleading for you to help them. So that was, yeah, that was very emotional and it did cause us a lot of trouble then and it still does to think that I as a human being would turn my back, close my eyes, close my ears to someone who was lying there pleading for help. But it happened so often and it got to a point where we were so sick ourselves, we all lost 20, 30 and 40 pounds. We were all covered with sores. Most of us had dysentery, we were all passing blood and so we thought for sure we were going to die in Buchenwald and if the German Air Force hadn't found us, we would have. We would have died there. We would have gone through the crematorium the same as everybody else.

While guards counted slaves, Mr. Carter-Edwards describes the helplessness he felt and emotional impact experienced while stepping over the bodies of sick and dying prisoners unable to assist them.

Ed Carter-Edwards

Edward (Ed) Carter-Edwards was born on April 2, 1923, in Montréal, Quebec, and was raised in Hamilton, Ontario. He enlisted in August 1942, and then joined 427 (Lion) Squadron, 6 Royal Canadian Air Force Group, in Leeming, England. He was a wireless operator air gunner and completed 21 successful missions in a Halifax bomber. On his 22nd mission, Mr. Carter-Edwards was shot down near Paris. He was betrayed to the Gestapo by a collaborator, threatened with execution and forced into the Fresnes prison, near Paris. He spent five weeks in the prison in 1944 followed by a five-day trip in a French cattle car to the notorious Buchenwald concentration camp. He was there for three and a half months as one of 26 Canadians - 168 allied airmen in all. He was forced to participate in two death marches shortly before the end of the war. Once released from service and safely back home, Mr. Carter-Edwards returned to Hamilton and worked at the appliance manufacturer Westinghouse. He was married in 1946, and he and his wife raised three children.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
June 25, 2012
Person Interviewed:
Ed Carter-Edwards
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Bomber Command
Air Force
4th Medium Artillery Regiment
Wireless Air Gunner

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: