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The Dumbest Guy in the World

Heroes Remember

The Dumbest Guy in the World

One day I was up on the top of a manure pile when we were there and I see two SS officers, two gestapos in their black outfits. Uh oh trouble! And I’m up on top. “Come down!” And then they’re screaming at me down there and I have my interpreter, Hoppe, is with me and I said, “You know, I could understand a bit of German. What’s the trouble?” He said, “They’re going to shoot you.” I said, “What for?” “Sabotage! You’re in charge of the party. You’re sabotaging everything here and you’re responsible for your men, you’re going to be tried.” I said, “Uh oh, here we go again.” So I get down there and he’s got his 40 Luger pointed in my face yelling and screaming at me. “Hoppe,” I said, “Hoppe, if you know how to speak German do a lot of it right now because I’m in trouble and let me know what’s going on.” We learned very quickly to play dumb. Don’t try to outsmart them, be the dumbest guy in the world, and let them call you all names but don’t try to be smart, you’re dead. Anyway, they decided to take me in under arrest, take me in and try me and if I’m found guilty, I’m executed. The night that I leave camp (inaudible) is the night they decided to pull a thousand plane raid on Stettin. And it was like Oakville is to Hamilton and so they pull a thousand plane raid, the British. Evidently a tanker from Sweden, who was a big ally of Germanys’, used to buy the oil from United States and deliver it to Germany via Stettin because they were neutral and the British were determined to get these two tankers that went in there so they got information about it, they sent a thousand planes in. They obliterated Stettin. I think the first stick hit the two tankers. Anyway the next morning I take the train in and appear before the general under sabotage. The German headquarters has been wiped out in Stettin. All these guys in Star Guard, the guards and that, have wives and families living in that area. Here’s a stupid Canadian up for sabotage in front of me. So I am getting horrible looks and they’re running up and I’m in the German headquarters off, out of the camp, down the street. I go before the general and they got my records in too good. And then he starts screaming at me. First of all he puts his gun in front of me. So he points the gun at my face and I learned by now, don’t move. Stupid, you better be the most stupid guy in the world. The guy calls me everything under the sun; garbage, crap and, you know, soldiers, Canadian garbage, doesn’t know how to fight and did everything to insult, every insulting thing they could say to you. And I looked at the ceiling, I didn’t look, I looked around like I didn’t understand nothing they were saying. I could get almost all of it. He said, “We’ll scare it out of him if he’s lying, if he’s lying we will find out.” So anyway they finally put the gun down and he says to the general, “Obviously he does not understand German or he would have answered a few of the things I asked.” And finally, I was thrown out in the hall, I’d be out there for half an hour, bring me in… this went on for eight hours, nothing to eat, nothing to drink, going out in the hall, bring back. The guard came out and he’s crying, he said, “They’re going to shoot you, I don’t want them to do that.” I said, “Don’t worry, if they have to they have to. I can’t do nothing about it, I’m not backing down.” So went back in there and they decided I was just a useless ninny who didn’t know anything in this world. I didn’t know which end was up. So rather than get in trouble with the, because they are now losing the war they are eh, get in trouble, now send him back to jail so back in to, this is 35 Group I go back in there and I’m going to spend indefinitely in that place, I could die there.

Mr. Ryan survives the firing squad once again, after being charged with sabotage, by playing the simpleton.

Joseph Anthony Ryan

Joseph Anthony Ryan was born in Montreal in 1920. The circumstances during the depression era saw him and his family moving to Thunder Bay, Ontario in search of a better life. Like many during this time, applying to Canada’s military was a way to find work, adventure and purpose, so in the late 30’s he joined the Lake Superior Regiment and began his training alongside the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians). From participating in operations from Iceland to Dieppe to his time as a prisoner of war in Germany, Joseph Ryan’s stories bring us a unique perspective on the price paid for our freedom.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
May 5, 2009
Person Interviewed:
Joseph Anthony Ryan
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Royal Regiment of Canada

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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