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First World War Audio Archive

Valenciennes there was too damn hot. I only had two guys with me

Portrait of Airman with his spouse.

and we were holding what, 150 yards there. It was pretty galldarn hot with them Germans all around you. You didn’t know where they were. There was one, there was this sniper spotted us and he was up in about a three or four story building. I happened, his shots come pretty close there. And jeez, I kept out of sight then in there and told this other guy and had the other one closer way up at the end there watching and I was down on this other end. So I happened to spot this movement in this here window, so I took my helmet and put it over the side there, eased up

Picture of Airman with his wife, holding his child.

and started just... when I put the helmet over there, he shot there... just come down close. It didn’t hit the helmet. It was darn close to it there. And I spotted him in this here window. So then I got my rifle, eased it up and I fired in this here window and I don’t know if I hit him or what the hell happened. I never had any more trouble with him. I don’t know if I hit him or not, but these here guys that come up when I was in this trench when I was right to the edge of it along where the railroad track runs, right along there. I went there and jeez, I spot five Heinie machine gunners coming up the track. One guy

Airman beside his wife.

was carrying the machine gun over his shoulder so I told this here guy, I says, that was with me, I says, “I’m going to pick out this here machine gunner. Wait now, don’t fire till I do.” I said, “I’m gonna get the guy that’s carrying the machine gun. You get one of the others.” So when I fired, jeez, I hit him and knocked him and got a couple of others. He got one, this fellow got one. The other guy run across the track to the fence there, went through this goddamn fence. I don’t know if it was corn or some damn stuff growing. It was high anyway.

Two older couples posing for a picture together.

He hid in there, I couldn’t see him. Bugger, he hid in there, he fired and fired at us, oh, all night there.

Mr. Skeates describes eliminating a sniper positioned in a house, and ambushing a German machine gun crew attempting to get repositioned.

Charles Darwood Skeates

Charles Skeates was born in Ingersoll, Ontario on February 3, 1894. He worked as a barber until his enlistment at Swift Current, Saskatchewan on March 11, 1916 in the 209th Unit, 4th Infantry, despite his original hopes to be called into the cavalry. Arriving overseas in England in October, 1916, he joined the 9th Reserve Brigade at Bramshott and then the 128th at Whitley as a band member. He went into action as a member of the 46th Battalion, 10th Brigade. Mr. Skeates saw action in several major offensives; Passchendaele, Valenciens, Amiens, Drury Mill where he was wounded, and the Oppy Front. Mr. Skeates was a machine gunner during his tour of duty. After the war, he resumed his work as a barber and married Bessie Becker Maitland, on June 13, 1921. During the Second World War, he served as a barber with the RCAF in England, and finished his military service in 1968 after a 13 year stint in the Canadian Army. Mr. Skeates died on December 5, 1982.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Charles Darwood Skeates
War, Conflict or Mission:
First World War
Oppy front
209th Unit

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