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Intense Training

Heroes Remember

Interviewer: For the next two years, roughly, the division stayed in England, (we stayed in England). How would you describe what you men did for that two year period? Well, all summer we trained all summer, all different ways, we trained, fighting, we would the same as we were in action, we would have slit trenches dug and stuff and we would have to crawl through with our small packs on and they'd be firing live ammunition with the Bren guns and going over top of your head, bullets going over the top. One guy had his back kind of come up and a bullet would come through the small of his back and he soon flattened down. The trench was only about 2 feet deep and maybe you'd crawl, have to crawl through and train you, they train you like that, just steady training all the time so you'd know exactly what you had to do and what you were doing there. All the poison gases and stuff. They had to test you and test all them things and put you through, they had what did they call it, where we had the tear gas and we had the mustard gas. They had to train you that, to give you a test of what it felt like so the mustard gas, they would put a piece like that, a piece on your hand and leave it there for a second and then wipe it off. And when that touched your hand you'd feel it burn, same as touching your hand with a hot cigarette butt. They'd rub it off and there would be a little spot and you went into these chambers. You went in and you circled all around. First ones they put us through was the tear gas because it was mostly tear gas, you know, your eyes would run water and you burn. And you go out and they walk you around then you got your gas mask on with a respirator. Then they,"Okay, remove your respirator." so you take your respirator off and then you go up and make one turn around and go out. You come out there with more tears and stuff and you come out, talk about getting out of there in a hurry. So that is just to train you then you have to go in choking gas and you try, then when you're through, stuff like that eh. You train, everyday you would do something, you train, eh. That's with our vehicles. They took us out what we called, what they called "Devil's Den" you had to go all through the rough roads and down steep hills and you had to drive all through those, to know what your vehicle can do and how to handle it and all that stuff. You had to learn all that, you know. Everyday you were, you wasn't idle too many times, you were busy.

Mr. Cromwell speaks about the training procedures used with weapons and poisonous gases.

Everett Sylvester Cromwell

Everett Cromwell was born on December 12, 1921 in Weymouth Falls, Digby Co., Nova Scotia. He was the fifth of ten children. At age twelve, he left school to work in the woods because his father, also a forestry worker, had fallen ill. Both of his parents were soon deceased, and the ten children stayed in the family home supporting one another. Mr.Cromwell supported the family by working for a local farmer and then in the local lumberyard. He enlisted in June, 1941 in the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps. After basic training in Halifax, Sherbrooke, and Camp Borden, he sailed aboard the Louis Pasteur to England, arriving on December 23, 1941. Two weeks after the D-day raid, Mr. Cromwell arrived in France with the 2nd Division, Motor Transport. For the duration of the war, his unit was responsible for transporting fuel, food and ammunition to the Front in support of the Allied advance on Germany. After being discharged from the army and returning home, Mr. Cromwell, recently married, reenlisted because it was ‘steady work’. He and his family were to experience institutionalized racism in Halifax, being denied accommodations because of their black heritage. This in contrast to the fact that he felt equal in all respects as a member of the Army. Mr. Cromwell and his wife, Elizabeth, currently reside in Shelburne, Nova Scotia.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Everett Sylvester Cromwell
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Royal Canadian Army Service Corps

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