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Caen and Beyond

Heroes Remember

Interviewer: 3rd Division moved up, passing through south of Caen... Yeah Interviewer: the Orne River.Yeah, Well, before that, they were bombing at Hautmesnil Quarry Interviewer: Okay, tell me about that. Well, we were moved up, we were in different positions along there. We moved up on the 14th of, the day before the 14th of August and the quarry was there. I know, I've seen it since. It's on the right hand side of the road and our battery was put right in front of the quarry. One battery, I don't know which now, was in behind, right in behind the quarry and our other battery was in a field in front of us. The command post, our battery command post, was down in the side of the quarry where there's kind of a building. And a railroad track came along through the front of the quarry and through what you would call a “shell of a building”. Walls this wide. And all it was a support braces across to carry loads of aggregate from the quarry and dump it in the railroad cars. This is like a big open building. So, I had set my sleeping quarters up half way down one of these things, wide open at the top. And I was on the switchboard and around noon, I came off and I'm standing out there and they were bombing at the high ground, I forget the name of the ridge in front down there, the first bunch of bombers hit that, and I'm standing out there outside leaning on this entranceway of this building I was at and watching the bombers come over and just then a Bren gun carrier from the 1st Hussars came in and went down to see one of our officers and when the air planes almost got over our head, I looked up and the goddamn bomb bay doors opened. I know one thing I dived back in, and the walls were this thick, and I was right back in the corner. All I had on was my, no helmet, no nothing. We were there for 70 minutes, steady bombing. You couldn't see, hear, nothing. It just stunk. And I understand there was different ways to try and stop them from dropping it, but we had it for 70 minutes. And finally when the smoke cleared, the Bren gun carrier driver, I guess when the bombing started, he jumped under his carrier and I looked over there, the carrier was there but he was laying across the tracks and the carrier was laying on top of him. And oh, what a mess. That time we lost, there was 13, 15 killed and 60-some wounded. Our battery lost every vehicle that would run except the jeep. Our other battery suffered, they took a lot of our people to, and then we had to clean up. I don't know if you know this part or not but the jeep was there so Padre asked me to drive the jeep and the shells were exploding in the trailers, they're burning. He said, “Well let's go, we gotta go down to the quarry.” So he had a bunch of blankets and what it was, our wagon lines were down in the quarry. German shells could never hit ‘em, but air planes coming this way nailed ‘em. We had seven trucks down there and we went down there and our job was to find what we could find that was left. There was seven burnt-out vehicles all blown to bits, and he layed seven blankets out. We knew there should be seven people there. We got through picking pieces off the bottom of the trucks, we found enough pieces to represent six men. We never did find anything, we found a head and an arm, pair of legs, pair of feet, and a head and everything was burnt. And the one man that we never found, we did find his jacket. His name is in our book. He's classed in as missing in action because we found no evidence. We got them all packed up in a, rolled up and we took them up near the top and buried them. It's one thing that, not a very pretty sight.

The 3rd Division, of which the 12th Field Regiment is a part, eventually finds itself near Caen. They witness the destructive bombing that levelled the historic French city.

Frederick Rogers

Mr. Rogers was an infant when his father died as a result of gas poisoning during his service in the First World War. His mother brought him and his only sister to Canada when he was about two years old. Mr. Rogers joined the Essex Regiment Tank (militia) in Windsor, Ontario when he was 14 or 15 years old. He went on to complete Grade 10 and at the age of 16 went to work on a farm to support himself. He enlisted in the Canadian Army on February 18, 1941. Basic training was provided in Kitchener, Ontario and he was then sent to Camp Petawawa and, finally, to Sussex, New Brunswick to join the 12th Field regiment as a replacement. The regiment arrived in Liverpool, England on July 31, 1941 and were immediately taken by train to Bramshot, England.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Frederick Rogers
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Battle of Normandy
12th Field Regiment

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