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The First Night was Unforgettable

Heroes Remember

The First Night was Unforgettable

We reached, we reached this in Verneuil where we were crowded into an unfinished, an unfinished factory with a dirt floor. So that night, that first night was a night, oh I can't, I can never forget it, and all I could think of was the tea and pastries that I'd had in Little Hampton. My God, why can't I get back to England, why don't I, can't I sprout wings, why can't I do a disappearing act? Anyway, I was so dry my tongue was about that thick cause we'd had, I'd had nothing to drink since we left the mothership I scooped a hole in the earth where it was damp and put my lips and tongue against the damp earth. Just unbelievable. And there was guys moaning, there were guys moaning there because they were seriously wounded. They were walking wounded though, they weren't the stretcher cases because they were in pain. And, so then they moved us to this Verneuil a place called Verneuil, was a French prison camp. It had been a French prison camp. They had gallows in there and it had this smell, this is where the Vichy French Government tried to split the French Canadians and the English Canadians, you know, they done it a way back then. And they were giving out cigarettes and biscuits and cakes to the French fellas, the French speaking guys. And so they asked an officer, the officers were still with us, that's where they took the officers away. And the French Canadian officer said, “Yes, accept the offering, but split it with the Anglophones.” They didn't use the word Anglophones, that wasn't used then. So Pelletier, Pelletier, who was my friend, later we tried to get off the boxcar, he went, the French fellas that were in the Royals, went up, got this stuff and there wasn't much for the time you started to spread it around. But the German's told the French Canadians that they shouldn't be fighting because France wasn't at war and an officer said, “Listen, we're all Canadians, we're all Canadians and Canada's at war with Germany.” And that was what was said and I heard it said, see. We were there, I don't know how many days, I lost track, I had some blackouts there. Horrible, horrible place. We ate weeds and we ate the grass. So eventually they bring in this train with all these boxcars, cattle trucks. They load us in.

Having no food or water, Mr. Poolton describes the treatment and conditions en route to the POW camp.

John (Jack) Poolton

John (Jack) Abernethy Poolton was born in Toronto, Ontario on January 9, 1918. He was one of seven children. His father farmed 100 acres near Kapuskasing, Ontario. Mr. Poolton enlisted in the Royal Regiment of Canada and provides vivid, clear details of the allied landing at Dieppe, France on August 19, 1942.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
John (Jack) Poolton
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Royal Regiment of Canada

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