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A Friends Gives His Shovel

Heroes Remembers - Liberation of the Netherlands

A Friends Gives His Shovel

This fellow that we talk about, Juszklewicz, who gave me the shovel. This fellow, Juszklewicz, says to me, “Where’s your shovel?” I said, “I don’t dig a shovel, I don’t need a shovel.” And he said, “Here, take mine, you’re gonna need a shovel.” And then the last thing he said to me was, “Keep your…remember you got to be like a bird up here, you got to be watching all the time and remember that!” Because I was more interested in observing because jeez there’s beautiful farmland and everything is fine. So all of a sudden out of nowhere the machine guns open up ahead of us and we hit the ground. And I hit the ground and I thought holy mackerel these people are shooting at me. The very next night after he gave me the shovel that day, I woke up in the morning, got out of my slit trench and went over and I said, “What’s happened?” And here everyone was standing around looking at Walter; dead, two bullets one in each chest, two in each chest or two bullets in his chest. And I said, “What the hell, why?” I feel that it’s melancholy and I don’t feel good about his having – such a wonderful man to do what he did, to give me his only shovel and why did he look upon me, I was a young guy obviously he thought he was doing me a big favour, you know. Where did that kindness, I mean you talk about humanity sometimes; you talk about the bad things, where did that come from? This man, there was a certain gift and then to get… The only son of a mother, only son and here she was a Silver Cross Mother she was and was active with the Canadian legion which I am not and to think about as a boy his family came, immigrants came to this country and why does he get killed? What the hell! The senselessness of it all. Like it’s a good boy, you know, I’m sure the Germans or whoever nailed him might have been nice too. So how do I make sense out of that? All I see is a boy in the ground, pain of his mother. His mother must have suffered terribly. Her only boy.

Mr. Preece shares a heart-warming story of the interaction he experienced with his buddy in providing his shovel and offering some advice only to find this friend is killed a short time later

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

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