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Being in Battle

Heroes Remember


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Some of the battles were … you didn’t eat properly because you didn’t, sometimes you didn’t get the rations up, and cigarettes were scarce. Most of our food was dehydrated food in cans … used to come in cans, a lot of it. And then the other one was haricot ox tail which was 90 per cent bone, you know,tail Actual battles, you know, there’s a lot of noise and there’s a lot of people hit and you see people hit, and you see people dead and guys blown up. You wonder sometimes, am I next? No, it’s … you don’t think too much about it. Like I, one time the British division come around and they …at night time, the British all used to back up a little and reverse their guns. That was tradition. Well, the Germans came in that night and I guess took a lot of them out. We had to go into the tanks and get the bodies. That’s the only time I got sick. I was, you know, bringing up and stuff like that, because the guys were burnt and, you know, you grab his leg and it come off like an overdone stuffed turkey. I don’t, like I told you before I don’t mention it too much you know. It’s not the nicest things to see. Like in Dieppe, there’s this one of ours, Shushner, he was taken prisoner. He was wounded bad, from the shoulder down to the hips. You couldn’t put a quarter without holes in him and he had braces on both legs. He’s still got them on both legs and one of his arms. He’s still in bad shape, but you know that’s the luck of the draw, I guess. Yeah, we lost a lot of friends. Like, we were friends with everybody in the regiment. We’d been together three years, three, four years and we knew everybody. We knew everybody. They were like family and when some guy missed, you’d say, “Well (Bill) got her today,” and then it was just dead silence. But when we were over there, we looked at a few of the graves, but that’s a long time ago. I enjoyed going up at night in the trucks with the ammunition and the tanks. They were always shoot at us ‘cause they knew we were going up that special road, and they always had guns along the ... across the valley. They always had guns there ready to pot you, but they didn’t get me, so I was all right. You’re scared, oh yeah, you’re always scared. You’re not that scared that you’re petrified. I mean, some of the people went off the deep end. I don’t remember anybody, but they say that there was quite a few of them went off the deep end. But no, you’re scared. You learn quick to keep your head down. But no, I was okay. We knew we’d finally get them. Like, when we were driving them back in Italy there, we didn’t know how long it would take, but we knew we’d get them out of there. And you don’t go into the ar and that with the thought of losing anything. You’re in there to win the battle, and I think that’s what was instilled in us. But no, we figured we’d win the war, but we did figure it would take that long …five years. We kept going on and on and on, the same old drudgery. Italy was all mud and dirt an water. Well, you’ve seen pictures of it, the towns and that,just flattened. And you know, you used to have to sleep out in that. You didn’t have tents and stuff like that; you slept out in that. And if you, too many of you, slept in an old farmhouse or something, they’d usually shell it. So, that’s why they left a lot of those houses up, in case somebody moved in there. They’d just shell it. You never knew when you were going to get ‘er. You don’t in the army. You never know when you are go get ‘er.

Mr. Baker describes what it’s like to be in battle - the lack of food, the fear and the reality of life in the army. As Mr. Baker says, "You never know when you're gonna get it."

Thomas Baker

Mr. Baker was born in Pearson, Manitoba on October 3, 1923 into a family of six brothers and two sisters. While in Grade 9, Mr. Baker made the decision to quit school and join the army. Although his father was reluctant to let him go, Mr. Baker was determined to serve his country and joined the 14th Canadian Armoured Regiment, 1st Armoured Brigade (Calgary Tanks). During his service, Mr. Baker was wounded, but continued to serve until the end of war. In later years he was honoured as the “Poster Boy” for a local lottery draw held in Alberta - a special recognition and a great surprise to Mr. Baker. After the war, Mr. Baker moved to Toronto, Ontario, continued his education and began a 40 year career with General Electric.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Thomas Baker
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
14th Canadian Armoured Regiment
Tank Corp.

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