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Danger Getting to the Front Lines

Heroes Remember

Danger Getting to the Front Lines

There was many dangers there. One time I recall being strafed by a couple of planes as I was following along the roadway along these trees that sort of shielded me from the aircraft. Another time I was bombed, not particularly bombed, but this one plane crash-landed and just blew up, and I went over there about an hour later to see what was left of the plane but all I could see was just shreds of metal and flesh and this sort of thing which was an unpleasant sight because the whole area for a good length, giving an idea just how long the plane had been on the ground before it completely blew up. There was another time when I saw, oh, many dead cows and tanks that were full of dead soldiers, dead Germans, and some of the cities that we went through were just devastated to a point that you can imagine that the bombing of these areas was so serious and so devastating that it’s amazing that the bombing was done prior to our getting into these areas, especially when we landed at the Falaise where most of the bombing started. That day, no it was night time when we arrived in Falaise, or on the shore of France there just before we went into Falaise, the sky just lit up and it just seemed that the bombs were coming down, but where do we go? There was no holes that we could get into, and, of course, I was with one of our armoured command vehicles, which is a very large vehicle. It weighs about four tons and it had to have this sending equipment inside so luckily I was able to pretend that this was going to be some protection for me but before I knew it things calmed down a bit, thank goodness. This was the worst of my entry into France. But then after that I had to work and work like mad to start working on the front lines where the communications had to be looked after and so it meant I had to go towards the front and all these things I used to see and the smell of burnt cattle, human beings that were laying all over the place. It wasn’t a very pretty picture, but I think that in war these things are what is common place. But those were terrible times, but after that, we had occasions where bombing also had an effect on all of us and luckily, and thank the good Lord there we were able to come out of many of those areas with some success. You could only imagine the effects on most people that were not the cause of it, were involved. The local people that live there, they used to protect a lot of the enemy. The Germans lived in a lot of these houses that were bombed, bombed out and a lot of civilians lived there too. And when you go into a town and the town is almost covered with rubbish and debris from the buildings that were once there, and what is below that, your imagination could go away with just feeling, well, can you imagine, are there people still alive there? You would go into some of these houses and the big wine vats would be filled with dead people and this sort of thing. It certainly brought a sense of, this is not real, you know, it’s not real, but it’s happening and it takes a while before you realize that this is what war does. At that time we just went through the war expecting to see more of this, and it had to be done, it had to be done, and as each war, each phase of the war proceeded with more killings and more destruction, I think that was a relief that at least we can get away and relax and get over it before we start the next phase of the operation, you know. So I think a Veteran has a lot of impressions in his mind that he’s gathered from his own experiences, which differ from one Veteran to another. So, I think that it has an effect on you which you’ll never forget.

Mr. Daniels shares with us the danger and the devastation he witnessed from the bombings when first arriving in Falaise.

Welsford Daniels

Mr. Daniels was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on September 14, 1920. In 1923, the family moved to Montreal where his father was employed with the CNR. Mr. Daniels joined the Reserve Army in 1939 and served with the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals during the Second World War. His work in the army involved repairing all types of electronic equipment for all the communications, and staying close behind the front lines to report casualties of war. After his service, Mr. Daniels attended Sir George Williams University in Montreal and graduated with a degree in commerce. His love for sports led to extensive travel throughout the world. In 1986, Mr. Daniels retired from a career as manager of the Immigration and Manpower Department and later moved to Ottawa.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Welsford Daniels
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Instrument Mechanic

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