Language selection


Not Prepared To Be So Frightened

Heroes Remember

Not Prepared To Be So Frightened

The only thing I have, I have got to remember that you’re in the war to fight and much of the things I think about is you should have played it more safe. But if I had played it more safe, you wouldn’t be much of anything, you know what I mean? You got to do your thing. Just like telling anybody to do something, that’s what you do, well I found that I spent most, as I told you I wasn’t prepared to be so frightened, so scared and to be around death so much. Like even when Walter was killed, I didn’t accept that too well. There’s a couple of occasions when I went around a corner once chasing, I don’t know what and there was a guy lying on the pavement; he was a sergeant and he had a leather coat on and something I always wanted when I was in the war because only the NCO’ s and officers managed to get a hold of them. But anyway, he was lying there just stiff like that, he was dead as a door nail and I can remember thinking, sergeants don’t get killed, holy mackerel, I mean what was he doing there, why would he do that? I thought that, I still had the thought that it was only for me, not for privates, not for sergeants or anybody else. Again, I thought that was what you were supposed to do. The only way I am going to prove this, I got to be somebody, I got to do things. I’m afraid somebody is going to tap me on the shoulder and say, “John what the hell are you doing here, you coward you.” I would probably do the same thing again, maybe a little more careful. I’d like to train people, hey be prepared, take a deep breath. When you’re there, you know, don’t absorb it so much. If you see somebody dead, okay, it’s not the end. Like I wanted to lie down right away when I saw, I just want to put the rifle down, lie down because that’s the end for me. But you know, you couldn’t do that because you had to do it. Many things, I saw men a couple times when they said I am not going any further, that’s it, I am not going to move anymore. And when officers call the lieutenant over, he said, he’s not going to go. So there’s separate things I have seen where officers have said, “If you don’ t go, you’re going to be here forever, so get your ass going, you know.” And that’s the way it went, you had to get going. So if you don’t ever want to be like that, like me, I wouldn’t want anybody to know that I was frightened like everybody else.

Mr. Preece discusses the expectations he had on himself in being a good solder yet realizing that he was never prepared to be so afraid.

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: