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Run Over By A Tank!

Heroes Remember


This video contains graphic content that may offend some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.

I saw lots of wounds of mines, but the bigger mines that were anti-tank, of course, they usually killed everybody in the neighbourhood. But there were, oh, rifle shots, mostly, and machine gun shots, and two inch mortars, which is a little short, looks like a cannon, a baby cannon, and they put the shell in and it goes up and lobs up and comes down fairly nearby. And they do lot of damage. It causes shrapnel wounds anywhere on the body. These wounds have to be cleaned out and bandaged, and sent back, or put a clip on it if there’s a bleeder that won’t... that doesn’t stop with pressure, or a tourniquet if you’ve blown off a hand. These are the sort of things you see. Quite a few casualties came in with injured feet, broken ankles, broken feet, from “shoe” mines. These mines are made of some casing that’s not metal, so that the mine detector depends on picking up metal, so it’s very hard to find these “shoe” mines. And they did a lot of damage. A lot my casualties that came in were feet and legs. One interesting thing happened. We were in a defile between two hills, and it was particularly wet and muddy And the fellows were in slit trenches there and the tanks came through, and a tank ran over a slit trench and squashed the occupant in the slit trench. His companions jumped out and gathered him, and cleaned him, cleaned his mouth out, and got him back to me, and he was ok by the time he got back to me. He was breathing, but if his friends hadn’t been right there, you know. That was very interesting. And I put the thing on this... I sent him back anyway, but he didn’t seem to have any other injuries, it was so muddy.

Dr. Theal describes the more common wounds which he treated at the outpost level, and describes a bizarre close call.

Dr. Gordon Irvine Theal

Dr. Theal was born in Grimsby, Ontario on April 2, 1916. His father, a farmer, operated a feed mill and later became a grocer, at which time Dr. Theal was old enough to help in the family business. At the insistence of some friends, he enrolled in Queens University’s medical school in Toronto. With the outbreak of war, he joined the Officer Training Corps. After graduating, Dr. Theal married and moved to British Columbia, where he went from camp to camp, encouraging enlistment in the regular forces. After shipping overseas and a couple postings in England, he was shipped to France during the D-Day invasion. His brigade accompanied the Allied advance from France to Holland. During this time, Dr. Theal and his team performed triage. This was the first contact the wounded had with a doctor and he would provide emergency medical treatment before the wounded moved back to the larger field hospitals. After completing his tour, Dr. Theal returned home to Ontario, to his wife and daughter, and took up private practice. He currently resides in Courtney, British Columbia.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Dr. Gordon Irvine Theal
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps

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