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Death And Life

Heroes Remember


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We went forward and, I think it was Smith and I just went beyond our trench and, I come on a Seaforth, he was blown in half, half there, half there. And we were in the line really, you know. And then we run across our own guys, bayonets in the ground. We had to stick a bayonet in, put their helmet on it. They were dead, starting to swell, hot. And we went forward and I found a German tank dug in the ground and this tank was a whole tank, not the turret. And about that far up the spout, one of our tanks had shot and put a shell in the spout and it was demobilized, but there was a set in there, a German set, a great big radio set about that wide, so high, so wide, and a microphone and they were talking away, you know. And I got in there and I switched it on and I don't know what, I said "(German)..." Like, German soldiers go shit your pants, and the mic, it went off. And beside the tank, there was a one of these treadle guns, a 20 millimetre cannon that was pointing up, it was a German one. And I come back after and I reported this, I made the remark and this brigade, this artillery major heard me making it. He says, "Well, I'd like to get that radio set." And he says, "I'll come around this evening, pick you up, and you take me up and show it to me." And I said, "Yeah, I'll do that." So that evening, about 6 o'clock, he come with the jeep, I got on the jeep, I was sitting on it with a Red Reed and a Sergeant Hoffman and this major, and the sergeant was there and he says, "Lenko, you got your trench dug yet?" I says, "No, not yet Matt." He says, "You get off there and dig that trench or I'm putting you under open arrest." So the major says, "Well, by your description, I think we'll find it." So they took off, and I dug my trench. And on the way back, their was an Irish tank regiment started going through. But they were going through in tapes, the tapes were down the line. And here I'm watching this jeep come back and they pulled out to let the tanks go by and they ducked off on the side under a great big tree and all at once they hit a mine. Well Jesus, everything went up. Red Reed was killed, Hoffman was killed, the major was killed. But how did that sergeant play that much into my life? Each time he saved, well, the first time he didn't save it, he was just asking if I was alive. But this time, he saved my life, you know. It's unbelievable when you think of it.

In the midst of the battle for Monte Cassino, Mr. Lenko has to deal with finding bodies of other Canadian soldiers and relates a remarkable chain of events that takes the lives of three of his comrades while sparing his own.

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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