Language selection


What chance do you think we've got?

Heroes Remember

What chance do you think we've got?

We were sitting one day with our backs to a, to a stonewall outside of a place called the Abbaye d'Ardenne. And I was talking to Jimmy Kerr, who was a buddy of mine, an officer, and I was an officer at the time. And we were talking and I said to Jimmy, "Jimmy, what chance do you think we got of getting out of here?" "Well," Jimmy said, "take any ten of us, right?" He said, "three of us are going to get killed, seven of us are going to get wounded." I said, "Wait a minute" I said, "seven and three, that's ten." He said, "That's right, you got that right!" We didn't use that saying at the time but that always struck me that the only way you'd ever really get out as an officer, you know, would be to get killed or to get serious, seriously wounded. Wounded enough that they had to send you back, you see. That's why soldiers don't like to talk about the war. I mean nothing can be that bad to realize what it's like to take a shovel and go back after the battle and find Jimmy Kerr and find his body and bury him. And realize that you knew his wife, and you'd met his kids, and you'd read his letters, and he'd read his letters to you, and you read his letters to him. And no, no nothing can be that bad. It's, it's the most degrading, horrible experience you could ever possibly experience, you could ever possibly have. When you see one of your friends killed, I hate to say this, but when you see one of your friends killed, you don't have time to stop, and secondly you don't, you don't realize what it really means to have the end of life. That there's an extended family there, maybe at least a mother, there's a sister, there's You know you don't really think of it in those terms. I hate to say it, but it's, it's ashes to ashes, dust to dust, get on with your God damned job or you're gonna, you're gonna be next, type of thing. When we landed, my job was to land and take the carriers and go left along the beach and keep in touch with the colonel and tell him what you saw because the carrier is the eyes and ears of the regiment, you see. So I turned left and I said to the driver, I said "Sparky, lets go. Just follow the beach right along." And he stopped and he said. "What's the matter?" He said, "I'm not running over that body." And I said, "Yes you are," he said, "No I'm not." So he said "You get out and drag the gall darn body out of the way and I'll take the carrier where it's supposed to go." Well that's the first time I ever touched a dead body and I grabbed this guy by the ankles and I didn't look at him. I don't know to the day whether he was German or Canadian, I have no idea, but the next guy I knew. I knew him very well and I took a look at him and I thought, that's it, that's it, I'll take a look at his gator's and I'll take a look at his combat boots, I'll know he's a Winnipeg Rifle and that's all. Just drag him out of the way and go. Because if you get dwelling on the fact that, that, that this guy is Garth Henderson and, and he's not gonna be with you anymore and you're not gonna see him drink a beer or dance in a dance hall or what, and if you start thinking that, I mean it, it's just gonna destroy you, you're not gonna have the will to go. And I remember very well, the worst day I ever spent was when the colonel told me to go into this field and pick up all the Winnipeg Rifles that I could find, dead or alive. And I thought he's kidding. Dead or alive you know, what is this hop along Cassidy or something? But when I got out there and I realized that a lot of them were dead and some of them were alive and they had been out there two days and they had been crying "mama." Oh boy. And I said ok, on with the job, I don't care who they are I just take a look at their boots, I know they're Winnipeg Rifles See we had combat boots where ordinary soldiers didn't, we had mercury helmets which ordinary, only the D-Day troops had, the mercury helmets. So no, I just said, you, you can't identify with these people.

Mr. Chadderton talks about the odds of survival and the reality of death.

Clifford Chadderton

Clifford Chadderton, CC, O. Ont., OStJ, CLJ, CAE, DCL, LLD Mr. Chadderton was born May 9, 1919, in Fort William, Ontario, and was raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His mother worked as an accountant. His father, an entrepreneur, was a veteran of the First World War who suffered complications from being gassed at Vimy Ridge. Under the tutelage of his parents Mr. Chadderton was brought up to believe in Canada and the importance of education. He became interested in social events, politics, military history and the process of debate. These interests led Mr. Chadderton to become a news editor for the Canadian Press and a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press while attending the University of Manitoba. Mr. Chadderton even found time for another interest - playing hockey for the Winnipeg Rangers, the farm team for the New York Rangers. On October 15, 1939, Mr. Chadderton enlisted in the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, climbing the ranks quickly to become a company commander and an acting major by the end of the war. While serving in Europe he was wounded twice, once by a bullet at the Abbaye d'Ardenne in Normandy, and then by a grenade near the Leopold Canal in Belgium on October 10, 1944. There, he lost his right leg below the knee, and his military career came to an end. Mr. Chadderton never let the loss of his leg hinder him. In fact, it has made him a beacon of hope to many, and has given him the opportunity to work for the needs and benefits of Canadian amputees and veterans. He is the Chief Executive Officer of The War Amps, and Chairman of the National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada. A persistent, dedicated and devoted man, Mr. Chadderton is also known nationally and internationally as a documentary producer, creating The War Amps Never Again! series, which illustrates the realities of war. He has also written an inspirational memoir entitled, Excuse Us! Herr Schicklgruber, which is an insight into the personalities, feelings and hopes of the men who fought alongside Mr. Chadderton in the Second World War. Mr. Chadderton continues to challenge the world and enjoy life with no regrets, having made a home for himself in Ottawa, Ontario, and creating a legacy with his wife, two children, and four grandchildren.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Clifford Chadderton
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Royal Winnipeg Rifles
Infantry Company Commander

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: