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Heavy Losses at Caen

Heroes Remember

Heavy Losses at Caen

I'll always remember my first battle. We got across this open field, and we got half way across and all of a sudden hell breaks loose, machine gun fire, shell fire, and we hit the ground. And I remember I was going to stick my head up and have a look to see what the hells going on. And he says "Keep your head down," he says, "might get it knocked off you know." And the word comes to me and says, "Curiosity kills the cat.". So from there on I tried to keep my head down. Because it was a hell of a barrage you know. But I, that was my first experience in battle. Interviewer: What do you remember thinking about it. Do you recall any emotions running through you when this first happened? No there was no emotions because it seemed like when hell breaks loose around you, it seems like you settle down. It's before you go in that seems to put the pressure on you but once it happens it seems that it's ok, you know what I mean. That you are there and you just do what you have to do right. And you see your buddies get it, you know and wounded and everything else You do what you have to do. Interviewer: During that first engagement with the enemy Mr. Letendre did your platoon or company take any casualties? Not on that day, no, not on that day. But I remember later on in the day we advanced further and we got into just about night battle I guess. And there was about 125 strength I guess, somewhere around there, in our company. And the next day we regrouped and there was six of us. I was one of them. Then got the company back together and regrouped again. Interviewer: What company was that of the Calgary Highlanders? "B" Company Interviewer: The rest were either missing, dead or wounded. Either one, don't really know what happened. It was night, couldn't see what was happening. Fire all over. Interviewer: Do you often think about that night? Sometimes. Interviewer: Why do you think it was Mr. Letendre that you and those other five men survived that fire fight? Love of God I guess, I don't see any other reason. I guess I said many prayers when I was there too I guess, when things happen.

Mr. Letendre was assigned as reinforcement to "B" Company of the Calgary Highlanders in the midst of the battle for the city of Caen. He recalls the casualties on the first night of battle and reflects on being one of only six men in his company who survived the fighting that night.

Hugh Victor Letendre

Mr. Letendre was born on March 4, 1925 in the small hamlet of Lac Ste-Anne, Alberta. As a Métis, he grew up speaking Cree, French and English. He came from a large family with one brother and eight sisters. His father was a trapper and did a lot of commercial fishing. Mr. Letendre learned how to hunt and fish from his father.

When he was 11 years old he became the janitor for the one-room school that he also attended as a student. He would sweep the floors, make the fire in the morning, and haul water and coal. For all that, he was paid $4.00 a month which he gave back to his family because they had very little money at the time.

He enlisted at the age of 18 and served during the Second World War as a rifleman with the Calgary Highlanders. His overseas deployment included time serving in the Normandy Campaign after D-Day. After the war he became a leader of Canada's Aboriginal Veterans Association.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Hugh Victor Letendre
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Calgary Highlanders

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