Language selection


You Can't Eat Here

Heroes Remember

We went over … we went on the ship. And we were eating, and an American Ranger, one of his officers came. He said, “Sorry, but you can’t eat here.” I said, “Why not?” He said, “Because you don’t eat here with us.” I said, “Well, he’s here, he’s a Canadian. I eat where he eats.” “You see, we don’t do that in the Americans.” “Well,” I said, “we do it in Canada. We don’t go by any special place to eat, just for whites and colored.” Our colonel went and told him, he said, “I’ll take my men off this damn ship. My men eat together, they sleep together. I don’t want to hear that.” And this guy was only a major, and he said, “I am a colonel but these are my men,” he said, “They’re not going to be killing each other over there so you just leave them alone.” And the Americans said to us, the colored Americans said, “Well, you fellas are some lucky.” I said, “What do you mean?” “You eat and do what you want, sit together and everything.” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Don’t they ...” “No, they don’t say nothing, that’s our rules,” I said. “We sleep together and everything, in the same places.” So they thought that was good of our Army. But we, we never thought much of their damn army.

Mr. Niles compares the attitude of the American and Canadian armies towards their respective soldiers of color.

Joseph Allan Niles

Mr. Joseph Allan Niles was born December 15, 1932, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the oldest of four children. His father enlisted for service during the First World War, but was released for medical reasons, and found work in the dockyards. Mr. Niles grew up in downtown Halifax, and at age fourteen, he left school to work as a labourer, working on many buildings in the Halifax area. Mr. Niles enlisted on May 4, 1951, at age 17, with the Canadian Armed Forces in Halifax. He became part of a Special Force with the Royal Canadian Regiment, serving in Korea. He commenced his basic training in Camp Petawawa, Ontario, and completed his advanced training in Camp Wainwright, Alberta. In March 1952, Mr. Niles left for Korea, first travelling by train to British Columbia, then to Seattle, Washington, where he boarded a troop ship to Japan and Korea. Mr. Niles took part in fighting patrols and saw action on the front lines in Korea. After his one year tour of duty was completed, he volunteered for an additional three year term in the army, and remained in Korea until the end of October, 1953. He was discharged from the Armed Forces in June, 1954, and settled in Montreal where he found a job with the railroad. His employment later took him to Truro, Nova Scotia. Mr. Niles died in the Veteran’s Memorial Hospital in Halifax, on April 30, 2007.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Joseph Allan Niles
War, Conflict or Mission:
Korean War
Royal Canadian Regiment

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: