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Civilians Caught in the Middle of War

Heroes Remember

Civilians Caught in the Middle of War

We arrived in, in Ortona and one of the first buildings that we entered we could hear people in there, and of course we don't know if it's Germans in there or, or civilians. Anyhow, we told them to come out in German, you know, they were hollering in German, "Kommen Sie heraus." And nothing happened so we blew the door off and there was twenty-one people in there, civilians. Kids, women, old, old people, and they were dirty and it stunk in there, and they said they had not been out of that building for two weeks. They were hiding in there, eh. Interviewer: Wow. What do you do? This is the bad thing about war, you know, it's not soldier against soldier, the civilians have to suffer and man do they suffer. You know, little kids, you know, it just tears you up, ya know, but... Interviewer: So what do you do at that point? Well first of all we, we ah, if anybody was injured or anything we helped them, you know, dress their wound or whatever, and give them water, and give them some food. You, you have to do that, eh because they were literally starving to death, they were scared, and oh it was just, you know, you think, you know, this is people and they could be your family, you know, so you have to think about that. That's one of the things that makes it so bad about war. For the kids have to know, you know, it's not just soldier to soldier, it's human beings. Well, I think what should be impressed on the young people more than just soldier to soldier, is the civilian people that are involved. The mothers and the kids, and the grand, you know old people that, cause they are just as much involved in it as soldiers, and that wasn't their choice by any stretch of the imagination. And these kids have to know that, there's people get killed, I mean civilians get killed. I've seen mothers holding their kids in their hand you know, dead. They, they have to know this. Interviewer: That's difficult. Yes, yes it is, yeah. I think most kids, you know they're, when you're talking to them, they're thinking soldier against soldier and it, I think they have to know that there's mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters that are involved.

Mr White recalls his unit finding a group of civilians holed up in Ortona, having been too scared to even step outside for two weeks. He then explains how important it is for youth to understand that war doesn’t only involve and affect soldiers.

Maurice White

Maurice White was born in Coldwater, Ontario, on January 2, 1925. At a young age, his family relocated to Grassland, Alberta, where he was raised. After being rejected as too young by the air force, he successfully enlisted with the army, joining the Prince of Wales Armoury in Edmonton, Alberta. By the age of 17 he was an instructor, carrying the rank of corporal, but anxious to serve overseas he left his rank, to serve as a Private with the Loyal Edmonton Regiment. For 23 months Mr White served in the Italian Campaign, seeing action in such cities and towns as Ortona, Sicily, and Ragoona. Although not a religious man, his numerous near death experiences left him believing someone may have been watching over him He served with the military police for a year after the end of the War before returning to Canada.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Maurice White
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
1st Special Service Force

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