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Rat extermination

Heroes Remember

The Germans, they had a thing there, they had a piece of sheet iron like that sunk into the ground and there was just room for two people to crawl in underneath that. They were down below ground level and it would take a direct hit from someone to get ya if you were there and another fellow and I grabbed, got in there and we weren't there for more than an hour or two and there was a rat walking over my face. That wasn't the kind of thing you enjoyed so in the morning I began looking around and where the iron came down like this and here was a rat hole under one side at the end of it. So it just happened that there was a lot of shrapnel shells, the cordite exploded, drove the shells, you see, and cordite would burn but when you confine it, it will explode. There was some of this lying around there so I got some of this and I experimented and got three or four pieces of cordite and put it in the hole there and let it burn and finally I took a whole big handful like that and I put that in the hole and left one piece out and shoved the casing of the shell on top of it and then I touched off the one remaining piece and I had flames coming out of the ground thirty and forty feet away and also rats and it was the most peculiar thing but a fox terrier turned up and killed all those rats. I never saw the dog before or afterwards. I don't know where he came from or how he got there but he put three or four great big fat rats, he killed as they came out, when the flames got shooting there and I expect there were a lot of young rats in there and everything else underneath it. It all get burned and everything. Anyway, that was the end of the rats. We didn't have anymore rats and I slept in that hole for some weeks, I think.

Mr. Burton discusses the presence of rats in his bunker, and using abandoned German cordite to blow the vermin out of their tunnels.

Robert Burton

Robert Burton was born on February 21, 1896 in Dundas, Ontario. After public school, he was accepted into university which he attended from 1914 to 1916, in the Canadian Officer Training Corps. For a time, he worked at Massey, checking shrapnel shells. Despite being shortsighted, Mr. Burton was recruited into the 13th Brigade in Mar, 1916. In England, he joined the 5th Division, a reinforcement unit, and deployed to France with the 2nd Division as a sapper. Mr. Burton became a mounted courier at Courcelette, and had several interesting experiences in that capacity. He witnessed and was attacked by Gotha bombers at Arras, and was shelled at St.Pol. Mr. Burton also served in the trenches at Amiens. During the 2nd World War, he was a very successful engineering instructor at camp Petawawa, where he attained the rank of Major.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Robert Burton
War, Conflict or Mission:
First World War
2nd Division (Special Force)

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