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They’d be wringin’ wet with salt water

Heroes Remember

They’d be wringin’ wet with salt water

I was training to be an infantryman, but I wanted to be a signaller, and I became both eventually. But I got my chance to go away on a signal school with a friend of mine. And we took this school, and then we could not get back to our regiment because it was full. And, so, we had to stay at the school there and got into other things. But that winter, we were asked to go to Manchester, England, to the base post office, Canadian Base post office, to sort mail that had been dumped into the sea by ships which were submarined. And they would get these bags of mail out and then . . . wringing' wet with salt water. But that was our job, then, to try and sort that stuff. We'd take it out and dry it out a bit. Some of it, some of it we never could. Some of it was scattered from one place to another, and then we'd have to, to the best of our ability, put that stuff together, and get it to the soldier to whom it was sent. And it was a very . . . well, it was kind of a sad job because you see mothers who sent pictures of the little kids, and dad wasn’t gonna get it. But we did our best, anyways, and we spent a whole winter sorting that stuff. It was real tough. It was real emotional, actually. I might say at this time I never realized when I was in the service and overseas about my parents' feelings, and I didn't . . . I feel sorry that I didn't contact home, you know, more often than I did. I should have been writing every week or something, but we . . . I never thought much about it and I didn't. I wrote but not as often as I should. And I come back, and it hit me how my mother must have suffered, and my dad too. Had I to do it over again, there'd be a lot more correspondence.

Mr. Hall tells a poignant story about having to sort mail jettisoned at sea

John Hall

Mr. Hall was born in Whitewood, Saskatchewan, in 1921. He worked on the family's farm until he enlisted in the Royal Regina Rifles. He was shipped overseas on a converted sugar freighter. Once in England, Mr. Hall experienced the Battle of Britain from the perspective of the local citizenry. He spent more land duty in a mail sorting depot until his Regiment joined the D-Day invasion at Juno Beach. He was a radio operator. Mr. Hall took part in numerous actions, most notably Caen, Calais and the Leopold Canal and the Liberation of Holland. After leaving the Army, Mr. Hall worked in the Canadian North with the Department of Natural Resources.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
John Hall
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
436 Squadron

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