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He Died Just Like That

Heroes Remember


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He Died Just Like That

We had one difficult spot, when we were on the way up to Groningen, northwestern Holland. I keep saying northern, but it’s western. We had a new CO who had come from the Italian campaign. The Italian campaign was over just after Christmas, I think, and some of them came as reinforcements. But we had this officer who came and he was like a Wild West man, you know. He said, “Come on, we’re gonna go!” and he didn’t pay any attention to the Brigadier’s official plan, you know. The enemy are in there and he got me and my… stupidly I went, with my staff and we went along into the bushes and gee, we were really beaten up badly. We were in a shed, and a company, a platoon commander was standing beside me and he got shot in the neck. He picked the bullet out of his mouth. But it had taken his carotid artery, you know, and he just died like that. Impressive. There were a hell of a lot of casualties there. We all put on white bands and grabbed stretchers and anything we could, or casualties over our shoulders and ran out. It was something else. This guy, the Padre, arranged through a roundabout way to get this fellow removed right away, because he was… I don’t know what he was thinking about.

Dr. Theal describes the consequences of cavalier leadership in an assault at Groningen, Holland.

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
Liberation of the Netherlands
Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps

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