Language selection


Close Encounter With The Enemy

Heroes Remember

Close Encounter With The Enemy

I was in an observation point which was about two hundred yards in front of the regiment one night and what we do we dig in and put somebody in front and you’re supposed to make sure if anybody is coming you let everybody know or whatever and hope you can get out of it. But when we went up there, I just got settled and all of a sudden about three Germans were coming, it was night time, black as the ace of spades, and I could see them coming ahead and I said, well I told them to “hand hock!”, you know, and they came at me but they kept walking. I had a Sten gun at the time. A Sten gun is a small gun, machine gun and I pointed it at them and they kept coming and I pulled the trigger and it didn’t work. My gun did not work; it went “bang!” It didn’t work but suddenly I thought I got to do something so I just waved him back to the regiment. Fortunately they kept walking. Funny enough when I got to the line, one of the first things somebody said to me, “Are you crazy Preece, what the hell are you doing bringing those guys here for?” They both all had their guns and everything. And fortunately it landed alright. And I said, “Well, I’ll tell you, you bastards, my gun doesn’t work!” But you know what I don’t’ like about that, I was prepared to kill them and I don’t’ feel good about that but… I want everybody to forgive me, I hope God forgives me or somebody forgives me. That is the part of my personality that I am worried about that I was prepared to do that cold bloodedly. There’s one thing about shooting people at a distance and all that crap, you know, but it’s another thing to face people, facing right there but a whole pile of things, scared, I didn’t know what to do and blah, blah, blah, and my first reaction was I had my hand of the trigger and I just pulled it and I thought, ewe, am I ever glad, those three guys would have been dead now and they didn’t do anything, they were ready to give up. They sent me back to the same place and a Jerry was setting up a machine gun this time and I looked down at him and I said, “Get out of here!” I took him back and one of the few times in my military career I said I’m not going out there anymore, I’m not going to do that anymore, I said there’s no way I am going to do that, I’m not going to keep going until I get killed.

Mr. Preece speaks about an instance where he encountered the enemy and struggles to accept the fact about his personal willingness to defend.

John Preece

Mr. John Preece was born October, 1926 in Toronto, Ontario. Mr. Preece grew up without a father and at the very young age of fifteen left home and joined the Norwegian Merchant Marine. After some time, he decided to join the army, enlisted in Canada and travelled overseas where he then joined The Royal Regiment of Canada. As part of the infantry, Mr. Preece experienced combat and while in action became wounded which resulted in him being unable to continue active service. Mr. Preece returned to Canada after the war, achieved his grade 12 education and continued on to university. In 1959 he received his B.A.Sc. at University of Toronto, C.O.T.C. 2nd Lieutenant, a B.A. Arts (Psych) degree in 1971 and retired with a P. English. His career included many management positions in varied businesses. Mr. Preece is now retired and resides in Ottawa with his family.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
April 30, 2015
Person Interviewed:
John Preece
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Liberation of Holland
Royal Regiment of Canada

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: