Funny Moments

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Medium: Video
Owner: Veterans Affairs Canada and Testaments of Honour
Duration: 7:25
Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Subjects – in order of appearance:

  • Paul-Émile Pouliot
  • Valmont Poirier
  • André Guindon
  • Robert Decorby
  • Jean Charles Bertrand (J.C.B.) Forbes
  • André Bernardin
  • Wilson Dionne
  • Joseph Gautreau


We did it all … I shouldn't be saying this… We weren't always angels, huh? I was never paid a salary in the army [laughter]. I never got a salary. We used to sell blankets, and… We saw Italian women, with blankets… We took the light ones, the light grey ones, they had a black line on them. So, from time to time, we'd see an Italian woman wearing a coat with a black line across the back, and [laughter]… She'd be wearing a blanket…

When I went… we changed places. I would go see the doctor for crabs. (laugh) My blankets were full of crabs. And me too! (laugh) I even had some in my eyebrows, here. It was because the dirty pig didn’t wash himself. They hadn’t washed the blankets. So each time… I was unlucky when it came to that. They would give you a bottle of lamp oil and say “Go in the shower, pour that over you, all over, rub yourself, and then take a good shower.” And after you’d done that, and taken a shower, there were none. Talk about something that bit! (laugh) On the Parade Square… Hey! Poirier, what’s the matter with you? Stand up straight! (laugh) What’s the matter with you? I said, I got a dose of crabs! What do you want? Get out! (laugh)

On board the Chambly, they called me “Mister Ding Dong.” The captain was insulted. "How can you let them call you Mister Ding Dong?"

They couldn't pronounce it.

Say it in English!

Interviewer - Guindon*

Guindon* Ding Dong

It was the rear… tail end gunner’s job to go piss on the back wheel. It was the thing to do, OK… The last night, I didn’t go, and that’s when we were brought down. A few weeks later, after we were in the camp … We’d get together often, the whole crew, and I said: “The night we didn’t …we were hit, I forgot to go piss on the tail… “, the tail …the back wheel, meaning that maybe that was the reason we were hit. I don’t think they found it very funny.

We were walking behind a barrage, artillery, we weren't taking any chances. We were advancing, and advancing. I thought the bombs were falling a bit too close, so I gathered my guys up and we went into a bombed-out house. In the house, a nice place, there was a grand piano, one of the legs was broken and it had fallen over. I found a violin. I took the violin, I opened the case, the strings, everything was intact. I got out the bow, and the guys said, "Shit, lieutenant, you know how to play the violin?" I started serenading my boys [laughter]. Rêve des anges by… right then and there. The guys, that's nice… but at the same time, the advance stopped … Georges Degrandpré, the company commander, bounced up and said, "Hey! The commander is shouting from way back, what's stopping our advance?" We'd been up front. The guys said, "Major, the violin" but he said, "We'll take the violin with us." They took the violin and they wrapped it up in covers, then they put in on the carrier, behind the company commander. And we were off. On our way again. The violin, it came out again later. We took it with us, and I serenaded my men now and again. It was fun, that's for sure! Nothing like a good violin! I still have it…

An officer came to see me and - we were seven or eight guys - and said, “I need a volunteer…” But you never volunteer in the army. So he said, “I need someone to bring food and water to the Edmonton regiment on the mountain. You and two others: go and get twelve mules, behind the lines…” about two or three miles back. We loaded them up with cans of water, loaded them up with food. We left in the morning at eight o'clock, and it took a long time to get there, three, four hours…three or four hours to get there… up the mountain. But before we got to the top, we were about, I would say, a quarter mile, a half mile from the summit, and all of a sudden, the mules decided to lie down. We were about a thousand feet up. I had a big lighter…They say that mules are as stubborn as a mule… So I went behind him, took his tail, held it to one side, and put the flame against its flanks. I burnt its hair. I burnt it in three or four places…burnt! I was burning it but it didn't budge, it didn't get up. So I said, “We have to do something, ….” The three of us leaned against the side of the mountain and we put our feet against it and I said, “On the word go…one, two, three, go, we're gonna give it a big push and it's going to go over the side. It's the only way we're going to be able to get rid of it.” So, one, two, three, go, and it tumbled down, it fell…I don't how many times it rolled…a hundred times, it rolled to the bottom of the mountain, all the way down…

There was a Greek ship next to us. They had their cows, and their chickens, everything they needed to feed themselves. They got to eat fresh food! So every morning, a guy would go off and milk the cow. We said, “Well, it’s about time we had fresh milk.” We knew what time he went, so one morning we went earlier and milked the cow. (laugh) When he came to do the milking… “I don’t know what’s the matter with the cow, it doesn’t want to give any milk this morning.” (laughs)

It was at a place they called Vierville… When we jumped, I landed in a spot where there were small trees, and I thought “At least I didn’t hurt myself.” I could hear someone walking nearby. I thought, I just got here and already the Germans are after me. I got my gun out in a hurry because the person—or whatever it was —walked to another tree. So I got out my rifle and stopped behind the tree where he had been. When he walked a bit further on, I moved up behind the next tree, and I kept following him like that. Then he stopped walking. I thought, here’s my chance, and I took off running to fight him. When I got there, it was a cow.

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