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Desire to Join 23rd Field Regiment

Heroes Remember

Desire to Join 23rd Field Regiment

In 1939 I heard that the King and Queen were coming to unveil the memorial here in Ottawa. So I had some friends and they were with the militia. “Come on down and join!” “What do you do?” “Well, we’re stretcher bearers.” I didn’t know what a stretcher bearer was So I said, “Okay.” So I went down and they weren’t taking recruits at the time but they let me stay in with the group to march and take orders and so on. So the doctors that were running the field ambulance they were impressed so after it was break up, he called me over. He said, “I don’t want the others but I want you to come with me.” So I joined the 23rd Field Ambulance Reserve at that time. Well, come 1940, the Field Ambulance was mobilizing for active service but I was too young. So I was bypassed. I went down but they wouldn’t call me because I was too young. So I was bypassed and released from the Field Ambulance. So I joined the Cameron Highlanders which at that time had converted to infantry from heavy machine gun. So I was in the 2nd Battalion and we had those big rifles, american, they were obsolete and the bayonet must have been at 2½ feet long, it was a big one. You know, I went on camps and things like that and I trained in the infantry. But we had a First World War sergeant there and to do bayonet training, it’s a stick with a loop on it and a sack on the other end. If you missed getting your bayonet through the loop, he would swing it around and hit you on the side of the face, the shoulder, anything like that. And excuse the expression, “He knocked me ass over tea kettle!” many a times and I was bruised all over. And one day a brigadier came along and he says, “We need volunteers for overseas right away. You enlist right now in the active force and you’d be over within in a few weeks.” So I sloped my rifle, took a step backward and out - lined up with the others guys who were enlisting. And we came down to Ottawa. So the guy looked at me he says, “How old are you?” I said, “Eighteen.” Oh, he said, “I’m going to make you nineteen so that you’re more acceptable!” He was getting, I don’t know whether he was getting commission for the number of recruits, I have no idea. And he said, “Now what unit would you like to go to?” I said, “Not the infantry, I’ve had enough of that.” I was only about 125 pounds but to be knocked all over by, you know, and bayonet drill, it was pretty rough going. So I said, “I want to go to the 23rd Field Ambulance. I hear that they are still around, not overseas yet.” He says, “They’re in Debert and they’re confined to barracks. They’ll be going overseas very shortly.” I said, “That’s for me!” So they shipped me down there to the 23rd Field Ambulance.

Mr. Hannam details the enlistment path chosen after a brief encounter as an infanteer.

Bud Hannam

Mr. Bertram “Bud” Hannam was born in Toronto, Ontario May 27, 1925. Having parents that immigrated to Canada in early 1912, and growing up in time of depression Mr. Hannam holds great admiration for his father, considering him his hero working as a prospector and providing so well to his family during very difficult times. Later in life Mr. Hannam moved from Toronto, to Montreal then settled in Ottawa. He decided to join the service after receiving his education. Initially joining with the Cameron Highlanders Regiment, 2nd Battalion, Mr. Hannam’s service as an infantryman would be short lived knowing that the life in the infantry was not for him. A new opportunity came for Mr. Hannam when he joined with the 23rd Field Ambulance as a stretcher bearer also providing him with a better chance to get overseas. Overseas, June 1944, a part of the D-Day invasion, on 2nd wave, Mr. Hannam served as stretcher bearer caring for the wounded. In honor of his service to our soldiers and the French people, almost 70 years later, Mr. Hannam is recognized for his service and presently has a school house/library named in his honor in the small town of Basly, France, the former casualty clearing station where he cared for the casualties during this invasion. In the town of Basly, to this day, Mr. Hannam is considered a true hero for the care he provided during Canada’s wartime. Mr. Hannam resides in Ottawa with his wife Rosey who has been an inspiration in keeping the honor of his service alive.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
February 6, 2014
Person Interviewed:
Bud Hannam
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Stretcher Bearer

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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