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Second Attempt to Enlist Succeeds

Heroes Remember

Second Attempt to Enlist Succeeds

We were to close down the coal mines ‘cause the Germans were extracting the coal, taking it to Germany and they were making fuel out of it, and then they'd have the residue as the coke to heat, use for heating, or whatever they were doing. But they had the technology in 1941 to be able to do that, make fuel for their submarines, which is unbelievable. Interviewer:</strong> So at this time, Norway was an occupied country and that this was to be a raid into Spitsbergen and to destroy the coal production? That's what it was, yeah. Norway owned the island and the first place we went in, there was a Russian town. There was two towns: Longyearbyen and Barentsburg. Now I forget which is which but they dropped a bunch of the boys off in the Russian town and we went on into the Norwegian town. And then the ship, oh we got on to a destroyer so we could jump ashore. And the ship went back to this Russian town and, to pick up I think it was about two-thousand and some Russians they had to take back to Arch Angel in Russia, which some of our boys went with it and they did that. And then they come back. Of course, we were doing demolition work and killing the animals and everything. Interviewer: Tell me about the resistance. Was there any resistance, German resistance, there? No, there was none. I guess they told us there was a German plane would fly over once in a while. I think there was about three ships in the harbour, merchant ships, that they caught loaded with and they took the crews prisoners. And when we landed, I got up on the wharf and I come, kind of running by and I looked and there was a couple guys gutting fish. And this Norwegian looked at me and I looked at him, we just kept going up the bank. It was a hell of a big hill to climb. We got up on top, our whole platoon, and we were running down the main street and we passed the mining shacks and a guy come running out of the mining shack and he came up beside me and he says "I'm from Red Deer, Alberta." And I says "Well, what made you come here?" He says "There was no work in Canada." Of course, I never seen the guy again. I would have liked to have talked to him. We run to the end of the street and there was nothing there and then we started consolidating our positions.

Mr. Lenko eventually finds himself in England as a member of D Company of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment. He and his company remain in England through the end of the Battle of Britain. In September 1941, Mr. Lenko's company is put aboard the Empress of Canada to be taken to Spitsbergen, off the far north coast of Norway. They had a very specific task to perform there.

Sam Lenko

Mr. Lenko enlisted in the army in Edmonton of February 14, 1940. He took basic infantry training in Calgary and then travelled to Halifax by train where he boarded the Duchess of Bedford, where he sailed in convoy to England. The ship arrived in the port of Liverpool and he was sent immediately to Aldershot for further training.His service included Sicily, Italy, France, Belgium and Holland. He returned to Canada and to Calgary on August 29, 1945, eventually training as a barber. He ran a barber shop for 20 years before changing his job to an unspecified occupation. He spent his working civilian life in Sangudo, Alberta.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Sam Lenko
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Loyal Edmonton Regiment / D Company / 17th Platoon

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