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Taking Prisoners

Heroes Remember

Interviewer: The patrolling that went on during that winter of ‘43- ‘44 was active patrolling? (Oh yes.) Interviewer: Can you tell me a little about the patrolling? Oh yeah, you'd go out, you know you had to wait until dark, was good and dark, and it had to be very quiet, and just patrol up and down the German lines and see if you could catch somebody. You know, the Germans aren't stupid, they'd stay back, they know those guys were out there, and they're not gonna come out and find out. Interviewer: Were they patrolling? They would patrol too. I never seen any of them, but I know they were there. I knew where the Germans were, but I didn't, you know, I wasn't gonna walk into their camp. Interviewer: Now you were on, on some of these patrols as well? Oh yes, oh sure I've done lots of them. Interviewer: And you'd be looking for prisoners? Looking for prisoners or looking for their position. Interviewer: Now these fellows that... If you could take a prisoner, otherwise you just shoot. Interviewer: Okay. So you'd come across somebody in a trench probably, was that the idea? Well, yeah, pretty well. Yeah, I was going to, slit trenches are all small, and if we was by himself and you could capture him, you would. I mean if you point a tommy gun in a guy's face and say, "Achtung," he's gonna give up, or he's gonna go to the happy hunting ground. Interviewer: Did you take many, did the unit take many prisoners in? Oh yeah, they took quite a few because they had to have them because they, you know, they wanted to get information on what was going on, and you know, you don't know anything. Interviewer: The intelligence that would be gathered would it, it would tell you what unit that soldier was from, I take it? If he would tell you. Interviewer: They wouldn't have any insignias? No, well as a Canadian, even the Canadian Army all you gave was your name and your, you regimental number. But the intelligence would know, if they gave their number who they were.

Smokey tells us about patrolling for and taking prisoners in the winter of ‘44.

Ernest “Smokey” Smith

Ernest “Smokey” Smith VC, CD, was born in New Westminster, British Columbia, on May 3, 1914, and was educated in elementary and technical schools there. He was the second of five children having an older sister, two younger brothers and a younger sister. Both brothers served in and survived the Second World War. Smokey left his work with a contracting firm to enlist with the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada in March of 1940 and began basic training with the Royal Canadian Regiment in Toronto. He went on to complete his training at Camp Borden before sailing out of Halifax in June of that same year on the Monarcher of Bermuda, heading for Europe and joining the regiment overseas a few months later. Smokey was injured while fighting in Sicily, but returned to battle a few months later in Italy. He was a private when he won the Victoria Cross, Canada's highest award for valour, at the Savio River in Italy on October 21-22, 1944. After the war, Smokey left the Army for a short time, but rejoined and served until August 1964, when he retired and was released with the rank of sergeant. After leaving the military Smokey and his wife established the Smith Travel Agency in Vancouver. In 1995, Smokey was appointed to the Order of Canada. At the time of his death on Aug. 5, 2005 Smokey Smith was the last surviving Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Ernest “Smokey” Smith
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Seaforth Highlanders

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