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Getting Wounded Ended My Service

Heroes Remember

Getting Wounded Ended My Service

We were on trucks, we got off a truck on a road, jumped on the road and the Jerry’s were firing. I don’t know, we both were firing a round so somebody, okay everybody outside. So we jumped off the road, across, not too far away were Jerry trenches and there were some Germans in these trenches, say one hundred yards away or something. So we got to get those guys, we got to get those guys and that’s all I heard so I said, “Okay, let’s go!” Because I was young don’t forget, you got to remember when you’re eighteen years old you think you can conquer anything, you don’t have, you’re scared out of your mind but you’re used to get going whereas anybody over twenty had a few more brains, you know. But anyway I ran across a road and there were no Germans in the trenches. They got out by the time we had organized they had taken off. And there was somebody, a whole pile of people, Jerrys or somebody a couple hundred yards away so I turned to somebody and I said, “Give me the gun!” Because we usually carry rifles, one guy in the section carries a Bren gun and everybody else has rifles, you take turns carrying a Bren gun and often times it’s voluntary, if you don’t want to carry it, not everybody wants to carry it because it draws attention that you have a machine gun but anyway, I set the Bren gun up and I picked at some shots and all of a sudden,“Bam!” I thought I had been hit with a two by four. If you can imagine being hit right across your, I got hit on the right arm by the way. It just felt like somebody had just, “bang!” like that and I didn’t know that I got hit because I thought, “What’s happened, the roof had fallen in on me or something?” And I fell back, of course, and it scared the hell out of everybody else around me because everybody wondered where the hell did it come from? I had on me at this time a battle dress, a great coat and a gas cape because it was raining and it was cold. And I got hit, they didn’t know where I got hit because all they could see there was blood coming out my arm and around here and I had British, English stretcher bearers, English army stretcher bearers came upon the scene, made me lie down and gave me a couple of needles and the next minute I know I was in some regimental aid post and then I was lying beside the road on a stretcher, I didn’t know where I was and then they – by the way I wound up in Barouge, Belgium and how I got there I don’t know but I can remember vaguely being on boats and that sort of crap going across canals and stuff like that and I wound up there but the funny thing about there I wound up, it was a big hospital and when I arrived there, there was two or three people, I was one of the first guys hit. God when I woke up the next morning, the ward was full of soldiers but you know what, half of them were Germans. German soldiers beside me, one on each side. Can you imagine? And I thought holy mackerel, German soldiers. I first thought maybe I was a prisoner but then I saw we had Dutch soldiers on guard on all the wards with the rifles standing on guard and well there I was trying to make sense out of talking to somebody. I was in a daze, what do you mean a guy talking to me in German? It took me a while and then one of the most beautiful things happened in my whole life, a nurse, a Canadian nurse came along. I am telling you, you have to, it’s almost beyond when you’re looking at a baby, I don’t know what it is but when she came upon the scene and she put her hand on my shoulders and on my head and she says, “You’re going to be alright John.” She called me John. Isn’t that nice? It wasn’t sort of Mr. Preece, and she was so sweet and nice and she said you’re going to be okay. And then she told me about where I was and I said, “What are these Germans doing here?” She said,“It’s okay, you even have some German doctors so take it easy, you’re going to be alright.” So I was there but then she gave me a needle. I was on penicillin now every three hours and then I heard doctors talking about maybe we have to take his arm off and I could hear that see. They didn’t know that I was awake. I thought, oh shit, I can’t bare this. But anyway, then later in the night, the same nurse, I don’t’ know these nurses must have been on 24 hours a day. In the middle of the night she came upon me and said, “John, you’re going to be okay but gangrene has set in, we got to get you to England.” And I said, “Well I’m glad because I don’t ever want to go back to action again.” She says, “Oh good because you’re going to be okay and we will look after you and you just take it easy.” I was there two or three days lying there, half in and out and that nurse, she left me with feelings that I will never forget. I will never forget ever, it’s almost like you were talking about a love affair, or love, the kind of unconditional thing that when she looked at me and when she looked at me and touched me there’s nothing to compare with it.

Mr. Preece recounts the situation where he became wounded and the path that followed being cared for in hospital by special doctors and nurses.

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

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