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Expectation versus reality

Heroes Remember

Expectation versus reality

All we thought was the joy we were going to get out of it, I wouldn't say the joy but excitement. The thrill of getting across the world. Well, we were loaded on the ship, sent across to Lille I think it was, landed, and we weren't long before... there was a line up of trenches, you know, 1, 2, 3, 4 as you went and you got, you gradually moved into the line with the mud. Things weren't too good, we had to squat lots of times and dig a trench under the ground just enough, a foot deep, you know, so you could lay there. The shell fire, the Germans weren't that far away and it was clay, I remember you hit clay. You were working fast, bullets were flying around, you were working fast to get some shelter, see, and that clay, my God, we cursed it. We had funk holes, what you call funk holes, places where you flopped when you got so tired in the banks, you know, and rats, if you fell asleep the rats would be running over the top of you. Lice crawling all over you but the lice never bothered me and never did. They would be up over the back of my neck, I'd get them in the back of my neck. They never stayed with me, never liked me and they'd head for the head to get away. I'll always remember that.

Mr. Routhier discusses his expectations of high adventure being tempered by the reality of digging trenches and sleeping with rats and lice.

Harry Routhier

The third of five children, Harry Routhier was born in Chesley, Ontario on December 6, 1899. His father was a railroad engineer, and his grandfather has the distinction of having written the lyrics for “ O Canada”. Mr. Routhier's family moved to British Columbia, and lying about his age, enlisted in the 217th Battalion at Camp Hughes, Manitoba. Prior to deploying overseas, he trained in St. John, New Brunswick. Although Mr. Routhier's narrative centers on Amiens, his experiences there are typical of many of the battles which occurred during the First World War.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
July 16, 1998
Person Interviewed:
Harry Routhier
War, Conflict or Mission:
First World War
46th Battalion

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