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Entering Rome

Heroes Remember

Some of the first troops they had going into the Vatican city. We're invited there to visit the Pope. I was one of the first one's there. Interviewer: What do you remember about that? Well that Vatican city, it ah, was a city it's a right in the center of Rome. It's, it's all guarded by Swiss guards eh, we went in there, boy what a beautiful place eh. It's a city in it's self. The Pope got up there and addressed all the Canadians and glad to see us come. And it was sure, you know it was something to see, to get into the Vatican city because it's well guarded ya know. When the Germans left, they bypassed it, most of the troops bypassed it ya see. Interviewer: Tell me Mr Berard, that was June 5th 1944 when Rome was liberated? Yeah. Interviewer: The next day was June 6th, D-Day the day that the allies landed in Northwest Europe. Yes, and that was, that was good news. I remember we came back into the airports in North Africa and Italy and everything. And ah, when that invasion, we looked up in the air and it was cloudy. There was that many planes. The ground just shook, day after day and I'm telling you it was amazing you know to see so many planes. Interviewer: Tell me Mr Berard, shortly before the taking of Rome Lady Ashter is reported to have called you men that were fighting in Italy the D-Day Dodgers. Do you remember that? Well I heard some myth about it after, but not then. Because I don't know why but there was something said about MacKenzie King. I remember when he, we were in England when he come over there and started shooting off and everybody booed him. They booed him right off the bridge square, and ah.. Interviewer: You had other reasons to be upset by that time in Italy because of the reinforcement problems? Oh yes. Interviewer: What do you remember about that? I remember there in Ortona there at the front there, we had, we were getting reinforcements you know. I had 16 men and when we left Italy I only had 8 and I remember some of the reinforcements there. I remember I ended up in the hospital there in Salerno and ah, I asked these guys how long you been here? One guy says, "4days". They're just reinforcements they just put them in a line and they got hit right away. Ya know and these some of these guys had hardly any training, they must have had some but, but ya know. I was just saysaying that how lucky you are, you just got your foot blown off, and ya know and the shape some of these guys were in. Cause I'm telling you I lost some good friends over there. Interviewer: So it seemed to you that the reinforcements were coming to you under trained? Oh yes. I think so, because you know that you have to, these guys come under your wing, ya know, ya have to look after them you know. It's a funny thing about when your with guys, that sleeping with guys and, and everything. We looked after each other, and we're lucky that when a guy got a parcel we shared ya know, we had ah, when we went out there to Leer Valley there. Oh, Chris Vokes told us. "Boys don't go hungry, there lots of beef in that country." and ah, most of them guys was easterners there. I was with one guy, was a butcher and if he saw spotted a pig or a beef at night, that was ours.

Mr. Berard remembers being among some of the first troops to enter Rome.

Robert John Berard

Robert John Berard was born in 1921 in Tofield, Alberta, son of a farmer, with five brothers and three sisters. In 1941, he enlisted in the Edmonton Fusiliers and was sent to Scotland in June 1942 as part of reinforcements for the Regina Rifles. He joined one of his brothers with the Royal Canadian Engineers in Sicily.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Robert John Berard
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Royal Canadian Engineer

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