Language selection


German Mortars

Heroes Remember

We started to wonder what is going on. Still calm, we haven’t a shot because we’re laying doggo. They don’t want the Germans to know the Canadians are in the line. And all of a sudden, the air is full of whiffles and whistles and ‘phewt’ - the Germans mortared us. And if you’re under a stock of mortars, you hear them. You hear the whiffle because they’ve got fins on them. You sort of hear them, the first few coming. Then, all of a sudden, when they start exploding, the absolute crescendo of sound drowns out any other noise of incoming and it just rolls like thunder. And then any pup tents… the holes go through your pup tents. It’s just a crashing and booming. It just... your heart’s just a beating, and you think, (inaudible) and I … we’re the only two. We got to be the only two left living. All of a sudden, stops. So you poke your head up and you holler out, “Everybody alright?” Oh, this guy hollers, this guy hollers, “Yep, we’re alright.” The Germans know that because we, in the meantime, that few seconds, we hear the 48th Highlanders calling for stretcher bearers and they are calling for them right now, let me tell you, but we’re all fine. But the Germans know that we’re all fine, I guess, and they know somebody’s got hurt and they know you’ll be out of your holes. So down they come again. They just laced the valley. Absolutely filled it, just … the sound rolled just like thunder. So again, (inaudible) and I are in the same hole again, except we’re the only two left. By God, it stopped. We holler out Well, everybody started to laugh and holler out. You see, we're all right again, we bit the bullet again. Bombardier Cox came along and said, “Sergeant Major, I’d like to show you something." I said, “What’s this?” Goes down, here’s his slit trench. His blankets were in pieces about that big, his rifle was all twisted up. “Well,” I said, “where were you? Were you in the slit trench here?” “Well,” he said, “I had a premonition that that hole was going to get hit. I got out of the hole, a narrow little slit trench and went into the big gun pit and they got a direct hit on the slit trench.”

Mr. Bannerman witnesses the effects of German Mortars raining down on the soldiers.

Gordon Bannerman

Mr. Gordon Bannerman was born September 13, 1921. He was raised in Neville, Saskatchewan with his three brothers and a sister. His father served in the First World War with the 1st Canadian Field Ambulance. Following in his father’s footsteps, Mr. Bannerman enlisted and became a member of the 17th Field Regiment Artillery. He began his military career as a general service gunner and was soon promoted to sergeant. He trained in Petawawa, Ontario, was sent to Aldershott, England, eventually fought in Italy from 1943 to 1945 and through northwest Europe to the Netherlands in 1945. During his service time, Mr. Bannerman had plenty of close calls and was wounded by mortar fire. As a sergeant major, he considered himself a good listener who maintained strong morale amongst his fellow soldiers. After the war, Mr. Bannerman and his wife, Edith, whom he met in 1945, settled in British Columbia.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Gordon Bannerman
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
17th Field Regiment
Gun Sergeant

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: