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Obtaining a Motorcycle

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Obtaining a Motorcycle

I remember we dug slit trenches. We had to dig slit trenches to sleep in, to live in literally. We slept in them and if you were lucky you could find some covering to put over to keep the sun off you or the rain or whatever happened. But that’s how we lived, it was pretty hairy. I remember we were a mixture of everything, infantry, artillery, para foo’s, you name it, all sorts of guys; army service corps, signals, everything, mixed bag. And you’re held there until the units send for reinforcements, some guy gets wounded or killed or you go forward. And until that happens, you are stuck in these holding units. So one day a guy in the Argyles and Southern Highlanders, a good buddy of mine, Gil Armour, oh I was down on the beach, Juno Beach one day and a tank landing craft which had been badly damaged in the landings. I was getting ready to go back to England to be decommissioned and a guy hailed me from the boat and he said, “Can you ride a motor bike?” And I said, “Ya.” So I went down to him, he was a sailor, he was a Canadian, I said, “You’re a Canadian?” He said, “Ya, we’re all Canadian on this. We came up from South Africa, North Africa.” He had this Norton motorcycle so he said, “Do you want it?” And I said, “Ya, what’s the score?” And he said, “Well, when we get back to England they’ll just take it and throw it the ordinance so if you want it you can have it.” So I cranked up the motor bike and road back to my slit trench and parked it. The old Gil Armour came over promptly and said, “Where did you get that, Wilk?” And I said, “Scrounged it down on the beach.” So he said, “Hey, how about running me down to the Argyles and I’m gonna see Colonel Stewart and see if he’ll call for me as a reinforcement, priority like.” So I said, “Sure!” So he hopped on the pillion and away we went. It was near Carpiquet Airport, we hadn’t progressed, that’s only about eight miles off the beach, you know, we hadn’t gone very far. I remember Stewart said, “How did you get here, Gil?” and he said, “Wilky brought me down on the back of his motor bike.” So he said, “Hell, I can do better than that!” So he called the batelage (sp) and said, “Get that Porsche!” They had a big Porsche staff car, the kind that Hitler rode around in, a big open touring car. They had taken it off some General I guess and they gave that to Gil so now I escorted him back and now we parked them, now we had a motorcycle and a great big staff car parked beside our hole, our slit trench. And the colonel came by and he said, “Where the hell did you guys get all this equipment?” So we told him our little story and he said, “Well, I am going to confiscate the car, you can have it sometimes,” but mostly, we had lost all our transport, our ship had been hit so all the trucks were burned so they had to use it to get water and other supplies. So we lost it but we had the motorcycle still.

Mr. Wilkinson shares his experience of being given a motorcycle by Canadian naval officers and how he put it to good use.

George Wilkinson

Mr. Wilkinson was born in England in 1918. Both his parents were from England. At the age of 16, Mr. Wilkinson was asked to join the infantry and at the age of 17 joined the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Division B Company. In 1939 he went overseas as a Lance Corporal in Transport Platoon of HQ Company. Having been wounded during training, Mr. Wilkinson found himself in a holding unit and with great anxiety for action, accepted an opportunity to become part of Provost Corps. Mr. Wilkinson joined No 2 Provost Company and served as a lieutenant landing in Normandy with No. 8 Company of Canadian Provost Company of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division. Mr. Wilkinson was repatriated to Canada in May 1945 surrendering his wartime commission and enlisting with the Canadian Army as Regimental Sergeant-Major. After holding subsequent positions in the Army he retired in 1967 as lieutenant-colonel.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
June 2, 2012
Person Interviewed:
George Wilkinson
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Armoured Regiment

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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