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German SS Trooper

Heroes Remember

A place called the Falaise Gap. The Canadian Army captured hundreds of troops in this little valley, the Falaise Gap. And, of course, I was there. They had many vehicles there to haul these people. I was there on a motorcycle as traffic control at that time. So, they passed some time while all these people were being paraded out of the Gap. I took a little road, I can see it yet, a little clay road down the side of the gap. I hadn’t gone very far, I seen a young SS officer laying on the side of the road in very bad shape. So, I stopped to see if there’s anything I could do for him. I said, first, of course, “Do you speak English?” He said, “A little bit.” He said “I’m dying.” I said “Oh, do you want a prayer?” “No, no prayers, no God, not for me, no God. I want water.” So I took my water bottle off and passed it to him, told him to help himself. I asked him again, a few minutes later, he was sinking fast, this boy. I’ll never forget that scene either. I said to him again, “Are you sure you don’t need a prayer?” “No, I don’t believe.” “Okay.” So I stayed with him and left him my water bottle and stayed with him until he died. I went back to where the troops were. But that was an episode of my life that never left me. It was quite a feeling. I often compared the difference. One soldier and another dying That Hitler youth had no fear of death at all. No fear in the world of dying. He passed away as peaceful as anybody I ever knew. He was quite a soldier. Of course, Hitler got those boys as little kids and brought them up with athiestism as their belief And it worked in that case anyway. When I came back to our line, a short time after they were getting ready to move off with these vehicles full of German troops and I reported to my commanding officer what I had done and seen down the road. "That was good, he said, that was good to do", but try and forget it. Well that's easy to say, to this day I could never forget that scene. How could that boy die not knowing where he was going on the other side to start with and not have any worrry about it.

Mr. Downe recalls traveling down a road near the Falaise Gap when he comes across a dying German trooper.

Russell Downe

Russell Downe was born on February 26, 1924 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. He joined the army when he was just seventeen, following in the footsteps of his two brothers, Edward and Robert, who were already overseas. His training took place at Niagara-on-the-Lake. Mr. Downe worked as a motorcycle dispatch rider for most of the war where he was responsible for delivering urgent messages.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
January 1, 2000
Person Interviewed:
Russell Downe
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Dispatch Rider

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