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A Stolen Truck and a Broken Rifle

Heroes Remember

A Stolen Truck and a Broken Rifle

I was told to take another guy with me and go down town and get a truck. So, how do you get a truck? “You just take one! If the driver doesn’t want to give it to him, boot him out, take the truck, we need a truck.” So okay, that sounded like a pretty good idea to me. So down we went and we found this big old Bedford truck and a funny truck. It had great big steel beams about this big and you open the hood and there was a little tiny four cylinder engine in there just churning up a storm. So anyway, drove it back to headquarters and told to wait until night and got the platoon loaded in this truck and I had to drive him around the other side of the island which was tricky because I had never driven a truck except a couple of miles up from the town and had to drive I guess it was maybe ten miles with no lights, no nothing just pitch black night, a road I had never been over before in the mountains. So I was kind of leery because all the guys in my platoon were in the back. So anyway, we finally, the lieutenant said, “Stop here.” So we stopped and scrambled up a water course and there was a lookout post up on the shoulder of a hill. And this lieutenant, the one that had been warning us we had to, we we’re likely to have to fight our way off the ship got us set up and come daylight, of course, we got attacked by airplanes and everything so that was the first chance I had to test this rifle they had given me when we got re-outfitted in Winnipeg. First thing, of course, the safety fell off the thing and there was absolutely no rifling left in it, it was worn down to a smooth bore and, in fact, there was teeth marks in the butt from somebody using it in the ’14 -‘18 War. So anyway, got some shells, bullets in the thing and over came an airplane and I figured, okay I’ll get this sucker because I was laying down in a bit of a trench an ideal spot and he was coming real low over our hill but he wasn’t shooting or bombing or anything, I guess he was just observing but he was close enough that I could see the face of the pilot in my sights so I got a perfect shot, touched off and, of course, the rifle wouldn’t fire.

Mr. Gyselman describes commandeering an old truck to be used to transport troops to a new defensive position. Once there, and under enemy attack, he discovers that his rifle doesn't fire.

Harry Gyselman

Harry Gyselman was born on February 11, 1920 in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan. His father left the insurance business to farm, but went broke during the depression. After his father’s death, Mr. Gyselman worked odd jobs to support his family. Initially interested in joining the Air Force, he opted to join a friend who was enlisting with the Winnipeg Grenadiers. Mr. Gyselman was a truck driver during the battle of Hong Kong, and was in the POW camp in Niigata, Japan when the war ended. He has the distinction of being the first Canadian POW to reach mainland North America after the war.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
October 10, 2000
Person Interviewed:
Harry Gyselman
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Winnipeg Grenadiers
Truck Driver

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