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So Many Nervous Guys

Heroes Remember

So Many Nervous Guys

I never went back to my regiment because I was five months in the hospital. They were digging stuff out of my eye, and shrapnel. Then after that I went into England, I call a reinforcement unit. Now in Europe the war was still going on because that was in March. So I was kind of training for just walk, just kind of exercise I guess, parade and stuff like that in England. I was attached to some English regiment. And then they put me in as an instructor on tank in Britain. Now this instruction, there was a special order I had to follow. They were all officers and I had to teach them just to move it, just to be able to move that thing. They didn’t have to know nothing about the power or the composition or whatever the thing. Just in case that everybody was wiped out and they had to move that thing. All they had to know was to start it and drive it a little ways, you know. And you never seen so many nervous guys. I got asked that these guys, well, I would drive the first two or three around, tell them what to do, drive around. And it was a bush in a field there, trees and stuff like that, in England. And I’d say, “Okay now you take over.” I could just see them shaking. I said, “Don’t worry about it.” So then we’d go around about two three times, find out whether they’re good. Then I… I wouldn’t let them go alone. I just stay with them all the time. But the last round, I went up on top. This was a Sherman tank with a turret. That was in Britain, and I’d go up on top and see what he was doing. He’d probably stall it two or three times. But they’d just passed their test and that was it. That’s all they need to know.

Mr. Ducharme describes being reassigned to teach officers how to drive tanks.

Paul Ducharme

Paul Ducharme was born in Montreal, Quebec in 1919. His family moved to Lorraine, Ontario where his father had a successful career with the Abitibi lumber company. Mr. Ducharme left home, penniless, at the age of thirteen. In the years leading up to his enlistment, he was employed as a trapper, a guide, a male poster model, and a mushroom picker. He enlisted in Ontario and volunteered for the new 19th Self-propelled Artillery Regiment being formed in Borden, Ontario. After shipping overseas on the Queen Mary, Mr. Ducharme took part in the D-Day invasion, landing at Juno Beach. He saw further action in France, Belgium and Holland. He was wounded by shrapnel in Holland and sent back to England. After leaving the service, Mr. Ducharme operated an auto body shop for 40 years.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Paul Ducharme
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Tank Driver

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