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When Shells Fly, Head for the Ditch!

Heroes Remember

When Shells Fly, Head for the Ditch!

I remember one time we went to the major-general in charge of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division was there also to confer with this regimental headquarters. And, of course they started to shell us and anytime that happened we’d head for the nearest ditch and I ran in the ditch and I found myself nose to nose with the general commander of the 2nd Division, Charles Folkes, who became chief of the general staff in Ottawa many years later. You’d head for the ditch because if there are shells land near you, you hope you’re in enough of a depression so the shrapnel won’t fly. Later on the brigadier that I was replacing, that Montgomery brought in, I drove him on that push to start the drive to get the Falaise Gap closed. And that brigadier got wounded because he was standing at the top of the back of the motor of the tank with binoculars surveying the actual… looking for what the enemy was doing. And the shells were coming and I was standing beside the tank so he could gesture to me or send me some kind of so I could get to the radio. When the shell bursts out because I was standing beside the tank, it didn’t hurt me at all but it drove quite a chunk of metal through his right arm and that was the end of the war for him. He was already designated to be a general as soon as this battle was over. He was part of the planning but they gave him that promotion anyway, I was pleased because he was a real man.

Mr. Bernhardt shares an experience he had when taking cover in the ditch after shellfire began and the damage it caused to fellow men.

Charles Bernhardt

Mr. Charles Bernhardt was born March 13, 1921 in Yugoslavia. His father, a bricklayer, was from Hungary and came to Canada in 1927. The family followed the next year. Unable to recall too much of his childhood, Mr. Bernhardt does remember his happiness as a Canadian and that he always had the desire and pride to serve in the Canadian military. He chose to join the Canadian Armoured Division and served during in the Second World War in Normandy during the Battle of D-Day. He held the occupation of Brigadier General’s driver, a role he felt great pride in doing. Mr. Bernhardt is known for his participation in one of the most famous photos of all time which went for poster print, the “Wait for Me Daddy” poster which can be found displayed across Canada. In recognition of his service, Mr. Bernhardt received the Legion of Honour medal and was given the opportunity to be a part of the Canadian delegation for 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge - a memory of honour he will hold for a lifetime. Mr. Bernhardt resides in Summerland, B.C.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
April 4, 2017
Person Interviewed:
Charles Bernhardt
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Armoured Regiment

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