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Crossing the English Channel to Normandy

Heroes Remember - D-Day

Crossing the English Channel to Normandy

I relaxed, I tried to doze off a little bit and so on, but not really. I wrote a letter earlier in the evening to mom and dad. Interviewer: Did you acknowledge to them the chance that there was sixty percent expected casualties? No, we couldn’t, we couldn’t do that, because all our letters were given to the officer and they were censored. So, we just said what we had to say. Interviewer: And you remember that as an emotional letter for you to write? (Yeah.) As the evening wore on... coming on to day break... Well, we were probably aroused by 4 o’clock in the morning, you know, cuz we had breakfast and so on and the navy served us a little shot of rum to brighten up our day, you know and then we start loading up, oh, probably about 6 in the morning and our ship, we were lucky, because we are able to walk off the deck and onto the landing craft at the deck level and then they lowered us down to the water by winch. The fellas from “A” and “B” Company, they had to go down in scramble nets into their nets so, you know, they were more precarious, you know, but they were the “A” and “B” Company were the, the leading companies to, to hit the beach first, and then our company “C” went in behind “A” and “D” Company went in behind “B” as the reinforcement. Then the idea is if we didn’t make it, the Chaudières were supposed to come behind us and then the North Nova Scotia Highlanders were coming in behind them and that was the pattern to give continuity of the attack. Plus the landing craft tank and transport, see, the tanks were, had floating devices, big canvas bags that are built around them to enable them to float and they had a dual drive propeller to propel them in the water and to get them up onto the beach and the, the water was quite rough that morning and some of them launched too early and were swamped and they were lost. Our first two companies, they were delayed their approach to the beach waiting for the tank support, the tank support were supposed to come up and get out and silence the positions before the infantry arrived, but in our case, the tank support was late and then the “A” and “B” Company were given the orders to go in, period. Interviewer: What do you remember, Mr. Ross about the reaction of the enemy on the beach? Were they alerted to the fact that the invasion was coming? Well, they, they couldn’t help be alerted because, you know, the tremendous fire power that was hitting them from out in the water, you know, with the naval ships and then we had flat decks of rockets. Maybe a thousand rockets aboard one of the flat decks that they sent up in volleys and they were supposed to clean up the beach and help knock out a lot of the mines that might be on the beach and maybe take care of the beach defences. But a lot of the defences were still secure, as our first two companies went in, and the first two companies did a tremendous job. Interviewer: What are thinking about when you think of those two companies going ashore? They a, there’s a question that they were selected for it and it might have been us, but they were selected for it and they were well trained for it and they did a, an awful good job.

Mr. Ross describes his activities during the night crossing toward the beaches of Normandy, as thousands of Allied vessels moved forward.

Joseph William Ross

Mr. Ross was born in Montreal on February 15, 1925. His father served during the First World War and was seriously wounded at the second battle at Ypres. When Canada declared war on Germany in September, 1939, Mr. Ross was only 14 years old, working as an office boy for six dollars a week. Later, he worked as an apprentice fitter in the aircraft division of Vickers, near Montreal. Mr. Ross enlisted in the Army on his 18th birthday in 1943. After training in Quebec and Nova Scotia, he was sent as part of the reinforcement troops to England where he was assigned to ‘C’ Company of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. His overseas action included landing at Juno Beach on D-Day, and serving throughout both Normandy and Northwest Europe (Belgium and Holland). During an encounter with German forces, Mr. Ross sustained injuries from flying shrapnel.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Joseph William Ross
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Queen's Own Rifles of Canada

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