A pleasant and thought provoking surprise
Today I received a “special edition” newsletter package from my Grandfathers WWII Regimental Association. It was completely unexpected and looks to have been compiled by some of the surviving veterans, and some of their family members. My grandfather was a infantryman serving in The 8th Canadian Reconnaissance Regiment (14th Canadian Hussars) and he was in a small assault platoon. As a RECCE Regmt, their motto was First In…Last Out.
I have blogged before about one of the war diary excerpts that I was able to dig-up, which described an action that he was in, in which he was awarded a valour medal from the Dutch government. This newsletter was filled with a whole bunch more War Diary Excerpts that I simply was amazed to read. I wanted to share a couple with you that I really found amazing.It is important to understand when looking at the dates that the regiment trained in Southern England from 1942 to July 7th, 1944, and landed in Normandy exactly one-month after D-Day.
October 18, 1942 – “Weather extremely chilly and damp. Wash houses have cold, cold water. Good Canadian mail received.”
January 30, 1943 – “This evening A Sqn had a dance at the Drill Hall in town which was marvellous and colossal flop.”
September 29, 1943 – “Schoolhouse in Petworth hit by 3 bombs from sneak raids.”
May 29, 1944 – “Inspection along with 6 Brigade by Eisenhower held on Dover road near camp.”
June 6, 1944 – “News of invasion received.”
July 6, 1944 – “Up and anchor away. in the crap game English, French, canadian and US money passed from hand to hand. Water calm.” (My personal favourite for the irony)
July 7, 1944 – “French coast is sighted. No one was sea sick. Lancaster bombers are pasting the land ahead.”
July 11, 1944 – “Carpriquet airport. First casualties, 2 boys were hit by shrapnel.”
July 21, 1944 – “Padre bus, burying dead, our own & the enemy. Brettville-sur-Orne Beavoir Farm. Ifs more casualties, killed and wounded.”
May 5, 1945 – “Der Tag at 0330 hrs. stop offesnive and 0800 cease fire.”
May 6, 1945 – “German soldiers start to “wander” home.”
August 8, 1945 – “Elburg. Speculation running high about the atomic bomb.”
August 10, 1945 – “Rumor about the capitulation of Japan.”
This goes on and on like this, with many great bulleted points that literally make me swell with pride, and read with amazement at what this generation had to endure. My grandfathers war diary excerpt was not in here, but you can read them in their entirety here.
What I loved was the final submission of the diary, made December 1, 1945. I think it captures the essence exactly of why these were such special citizens of the World, embodied in the regular farmers, bankers and blue-collar workers of the time.
December 1, 1945
“Thus endeth the War Diary of the 1st Regt of the VIII Cdn. Recce Regt. (14CH). As the Regt goes into history we can truly say we fought with a will to win and to protect our way of life. New honors and glories have been heaped around our two badges, the Maple Leaf and the Horse Rampant in a manner becoming our slogan, Free and Fearless.”
Tell me that last bit does get you a bit.