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It knocked us over

The Battle of Passchendaele

I have a couple of good experiences there.

Two Soldiers reading news papers.

I always like to refer to it as the 15th chapter of John's gospel and the 13th verse: "Greater love has no man than this that a man layeth down his life for his friend". Well, that happened at Passchendaele. We was doing a slow shoot. It was firing a round every two minutes. I was a corporal in charge of two gun crews to each gun. One is on duty, the other's off. So I was on this day and there was a light rain falling and it was late in December and the Germans, we had put in our third last round, when the Germans opened up on us. The major, he turned to the crew and told them to beat it the hell out of here because all I want was one man and we'd finish the shoot ourselves. So we finished and just as we fired the last round, a shell landed along side of us. Our crew off to one side lost sight of us. They couldn't see a thing. They thought that we had got a direct hit, but on account of the soft ground, that helped us out. It knocked us over, but didn't kill us or anything like that. It was a close one. And another experience in the same position was about two or three days later. My gun happened to be out of action mechanically, not from the enemy, so I happened to be standing handy, just finished my breakfast, and I happened to be there standing handy where the officers quarters was. He came out and he had a message in his hand. He seen me, he says, "Turner, take this up to number one gun".

Soldier standing amongst rubble.

Number one gun was shooting and it was a lovely morning and no shells falling around so I took the message and got up and passed it to the sergeant. Just as I was passing it to him a German shell landed along side of the gun, that cut into us and blew me off my feet, wounded the sergeant, and killed the gun layer. So when I got to my feet I immediately took charge. I didn't see anybody there that was taking charge. The crew started to beat it so I yelled for them to come back, and there are wounded men here, so they came back. I sent two men for stretchers and we carried the wounded fellows through shellfire to a first aid post. Came back with an empty stretcher through shellfire. When I got back I was ordered to put that gun back into action. That's the first time that ever happened. So I got me a crew, we put the gun back into action. This was all under shellfire. I can tell you but you were facing danger every second you were out there. Got the gun back into action, on the third or fourth round we silenced the German battery. Everything was Jake after that.

Mr. Turner describes two incidents where his battery was shelled, the first with no injuries, the second with tragic consequences.

Brenton Harold Turner

Brenton Harold (Jack) Turner was born in O’Leary, Prince Edward Island on September 24, 1889. His father was a general merchant, and he worked in the family business. Mr. Turner enlisted in Charlottetown on September 25, 1915. He sailed to England aboard the Lapland, arriving in December, 1915. He trained in Horsham, and then went into action as a Corporal in the 2nd Canadian Siege Battalion, arriving in France in May, 1916. Mr. Turner saw action at the Somme, Vimy and Passchendaele. Despite orders to turn in all cameras, Mr. Turner smuggled a German-built 2" x 3" format camera in his clothes behind the front lines and took approximately 100 photographs from the war zone. After the war, he returned to Canada aboard the Mauritania, married, and became a farmer. Mr. Turner died on October 6, 1989.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Brenton Harold Turner
War, Conflict or Mission:
First World War
2nd Canadian Siege Battery

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