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I can't let my friends down

Heroes Remember

I can't let my friends down

Firstly there's the visceral fear. I mean it starts with your, with your pucker strings and you just feel it inside and you feel it all the way up and into your throat and you can't swallow and you're dry. That's the physical sort of part of fear. You beat that back by saying look I, I, I'm out here to do a job, I can't run, I don't wanna run, I want to do my job, I can't let my friends down, my buddies down. So then you enter into the cerebral part of fear and then you say well, I've thought this through, and that's probably where you rationalize a bit, say well how many people are gonna get killed? Well, the statistics are, they're there for you to see. I mean you can see it. You say how many guys in our platoon that landed in D-Day are still with us and how many of them got killed and how many of them got wounded and what not. So you realize that not everybody gets killed and then you, you fall back on the oldest bromide of them all, where you say it's not gonna happen to me. That's the cerebral side of fear. How do you rationalize fear? Well the other thing I wanted to say about fear is, it's easier to be an officer than a private. Why? Because I'm getting, it isn't the money, but I, I'm out there leading and, and how do you sort of, when you lead thirty troops or forty or fifty troops, how do you live with them if you turn around and say "Jesus Christ, I can't go any further," or you duck into a hole and say go ahead. Now there were cases, where people were, where that happened to people but they were damn rare. I mean if they weren't rare, I would have heard about it because I was in action a long time. And I know Dennis Whitaker who's quite a writer, writes about one guy who jumped in, one of his officers jumped into a slit trench and couldn't get out. Just literally could not move. He was paralysed with fear. It's a good term. Paralysed with fear, that is what he was. So fear has many faces and many manifestations, I think. But generally speaking, I think that the Royal Winnipeg Rifles had the best antidote for fear I can think of and that is to put everybody in a tent and let them sleep it off, and then if they still wanted to go and they still wanted to go home and be known as cowards, let them go, because that's, that was the reality of it. No guy would want to walk the streets of Winnipeg and somebody says, "Well Harold, what happened to you?" And I don't know how much of a lie, they'll find out and I thought that we had the best system, just put them in a tent and let them all talk it out. And if then, they still said I want to go back, then you had to send them back through the medicals. But I saw this work you know, this, what I call, this mass hysteria can work in different ways. But this, this mass feeling of, it's not all that bad or if I do get killed, so what. I mean I'm not alone. I mean, God knows what these guys would talk about when they were in a tent alone at night. I mean, I can never tell you ‘cause they wouldn't let me in and I didn't want to go in, but God knows. But I mean it was a self administered dose of courage. Let's put it on, let's leave it at that and that's really what... because I saw it work. I don't ever remember one guy in four and some months of action, I don't ever remember one guy who went out because of fear. I don't remember one.

Mr. Chadderton describes coping with fear.

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

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