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Uncovering the Mystery Many Years Later

Heroes Remember

Uncovering the Mystery Many Years Later

We ended up in Basly. And in the morning the steeple of the church in Basly, there was a sniper, sniping at the “Chauds” that were getting up to go through Basly. And he was popping at them and, of course, we were running around, picking them up, etc. So one of our lads ran over to the self-propelled regiment of artillery. Now we had self-propelled artillery in the first instance because the towed guns and whatnot were not practical. Now what they had, there used to be a tank called the Priest in the American army so they got the permission to modify these Priest chassis and mount a 105 mm on them so in the early stages there was this mobile artillery, I think it was the 19th self-propelled regiment or something. And he told the guy, he said, “Look, there’s a sniper up there.” So the guy whipped his gun around and “Boom!” blew the steeple off and the pile that was there. And some of the “Chauds” come up and they blew the locks off the vestry and ran through the church, up the steeple and all they found up there was a couple of shell casings; no corpse, no nothing so they weren’t sure whether the guy got away or if he was in the pile of rubble and whether it was a German or a sympathizer because there were sympathizers there and they had been flushed out of various places. The civilians, they weren’t given a niche, they were just “pst”, that was it but the Germans, of course, were taken prisoner. But anyway, we never knew what was there until the 40th anniversary when I went back. I was able to unravel the mystery and I had two buddies from the unit and I called them up and I said, “I’ve found out!” And when I went up there with the bus and had asked the (inaudible) I said, “Were you here in 1940?” to an interpreter because my French was “un petit peu.” And he said, “Yes.” “Well, were you here when they blew the steeple?” “No.” He ran away when the fighting started. “Did you come back after the war in 1945?” “Yes!” “You saw the pile of rubble?” “Ya.” “What was there when they took it off?” “I don’t know, I wasn’t here!” And there was a little woman standing listening to all of this, she says, “I was here!” Now she was 59 or something or 49, whatever it was. She was 10 years old, that was it, so she was 50. And she said, “My father was the mayor and when they took up all the rubble they found a dead German.” And he was interred in the graveyard there and disinterred when the Germans Graves Commission came down after the war to find their casualties and so I was able to clarify that, clear up that mess.

Mr. Hannam describes the mystery of who was shooting from the steeple of the church and how he found out the truth years later.

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
June 2, 2014
Person Interviewed:
Bud Hannam
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Stretcher Bearer

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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