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Close Relationships

Heroes Remember

So many things that make you smile afterwards. Like I remember we would sometimes jump on the back of a tank, go up a little distance and there was a chap, was a lawyer. He wasn't a lawyer then he was studying law, but he was an artillery FOO from Ottawa Interviewer: A Forward Observer Forward Observation Officer. I'm sorry, yeah, for the 12th field and we used to sometimes jump on the back of a tank and ride a short distance or go on behind the tank if there was a part on the front, but not much comfortable of a place to ride, but you didn't do it very often. But sometimes it served the purpose. But, but this chap and I were, when a tank stopped in a deep ditch and the crew got out to, to have a smoke and my friend the artillery captain said to the tank commander said, "Boys I wouldn't want to be one of you fellas in there." He said, "You're just so closed in," he said. And the Armoured Corps fella looked at him and laughed. He said, "Are you crazy? I wouldn't want to be one of you fellas out there." He said, "You've got nothing around you," he said. So it all depends on your point of view. But this same, this same person, same man who, the artillery FOO he and I were, became very good friends and after the war when I, when I was moved from New Brunswick to national headquarters of the Legion in Ottawa. When I bought a house, I went to, to him. He was a lawyer in practice then and not for a cheap deal, but because that's where I would take me business to, my friend and I always remember and I still have it someplace the bill where he, he listed the various items that he had to pay out for, whatever they were, registration and so and so forth. And then the legal fee was, "paid for with friendship". And I always remember that chap died a few years ago, but, but again those are the kind of things that are hard to explain, that kind of relationship that developed under those circumstances. But it's the old thing of the other fella knows that you won't let him down and you know he won't let you down. It's a family.

Close relationships developed as a result of wartime service. Mr Thompson reflects on one that lasted a lifetime.

Donald Thompson

Mr. Thompson was born in West Saint John, New Brunswick on August 19, 1922. He was the middle child in a family of three boys. His father worked as a railway engineer and fireman with the Canadian Pacific Railway. Mr. Thompson was first introduced to military training at an early age becoming involved with the militia when he was roughly 12 years old. He received his Royal Canadian Rifles certificate as a qualified infantry machine gun sergeant in 1939 at the age of 17. He was chosen to go overseas with a company from the Saint John Fusiliers as reinforcements. He travelled overseas on a pleasure boat that was in the midst of being converted to a troop ship and arrived in Liverpool, England. From Liverpool he travelled by train to Aldershot and then on to Crookham Crossroads. There he joined the Cameron Highlanders and trained to support an infantry battalion. In 1943 - 44, while only 21 years old, he achieved the rank of captain and was in Inverary training for combined ops amphibious landings. They trained, in preparation for D-Day, in a camp that was surrounded by barb wire and no one was allowed leave. On June 6th 1944 he landed on Juno Beach as part of the second wave behind the Winnipeg Rifles. On the third day of fighting after landing on Juno Beach he was hit by shrapnel and subsequently sent back to England on a hospital ship. Although he tried to return to action his wounds proved to be too much and he was sent back to England a second time and then eventually back to Canada. After the war Mr. Thompson worked with the Canadian Legion (later to be the Royal Canadian Legion) in Saint John. He moved up the ranks with the Legion and ended up in Ottawa as the Dominion Secretary. In 1970 he was appointed Chairman of the War Veterans Allowance Board and held this position until he retired in 1987. Mr. Thompson was also named Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the Cameron Highlanders.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Donald Thompson
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Captain, Platoon Commander

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