War stories

So who else has family who served in the war, or has heard of funny stories happening during the war?

Both my grandmother and grandfather were in the war. My grandmother was part of the Woman’s Auxiliary Corps (WACs). My grandfather was an infantryman in the North Shore Regiment in the Canadian army.

He and his regiment landed in Normandy on D-Day, and have the distinction of fighting further into Normandy than any other unit on D-Day (except, of course, for paratroops, but they don’t count 'cause they were dropped that far in). They played a critical role during the capture of Caen, forming part of the brunt of the push, particularly around Caen’s airfield at Carpiquet. Afterwards they and the rest of the Canadian forces on the continent played a large role in closing the Falaise pocket (where several tens of thousands of German troops, survivors of Normandy, were trapped and bombed and shot the hell out of until they all surrendered). My grandfather was wounded during this fighting, hit by shrapnel from a Nebelwerfer rocket exploding nearby (he still has three pieces of it lodged in his body, including one very visible in his scalp. IIRC he told the doctors to leave them in because he wanted souvenirs).

After the Normandy campaign the Canadians played a large, often uncredited role – they were responsible for clearing all of the Atlantikwall fortifications up the coast of Europe as Brits and Americans raced in tanks inland. For this reason Canadian forces became highly skilled at using flamethrowers. From Le Havre to Amsterdam they torched Germans all over Europe. Afterwards, the North Shore and other Canadian regiments relieved the 82nd Airborne at Nijmegen after Operation Market Garden.

I have this glorious book which is essentially the diary of the North Shore Regiment and contains testimonials from dozens of officers and fighting men and stretches from pre-war to 1945, detailing each and every occurance the regiment encountered. It’s written from a very personable and often quite funny perspective, by weary soldiers who still haven’t managed to lose their sense of humour.

Some funny stories contained therein:

A few days after D-Day the unit settled in a small French town. One night a few soldiers decided to try and have a hot meal in an abandoned barn. One writes: “Just as Lt. Bob and his boys started on their very tasty repast a big fat cow ambled into the kitchen from the barn. Suddenly she was in a hurry and instead of going back the way she had come, showed her feminine perversity by making a dash for an open window across the kitchen. She bounced the loaded table into complete wreckage. Right infront of the window was a sofa on which Lt. Albert’s batman had laid out his officer’s web equipment, with binoculars, pistol and compass. The cow tried to jump over the moon but only got her head and front legs through the window, rested on the sill with her stomach and beat all the equipment to the floor with her threshing hind legs. There she was, stuck fast, and the excitement caused her to have a bowel movement with a violence that sent a lavish splatter over the equipment, the softa, and the remnants of the dinner. Censorship forbids any further details of this happening.”

In Belgium, fighting along Dykes, the Germans launched a rather failure of an attack on their positions. From their good firing positions, two Canadians set up a little lottery between themselves. Every time they shot at a German and hit him, the other would pay him a dollar. If the man shot and missed, he would pay the other a dollar.

During some action, the regiment came under friendly fire from Spitfires and Typhoons who were strafing and rocketting their positions. An officer courageously grabbed a long yellow marker used for aerial identification and ran into an open field with it to ward the planes off. Little did he know that meters away in the woods beyond the field was a platoon of German infantry who were also being suppressed by the attack. After the planes flew off “…the Germans quickly surrendered, either grateful to me for saving them or awed by my new yellow weapon.” the officer wrote.

Canadian troops were nicknamed the “Canadian S.S.” by the Germans. One captured officer said “We can handle the Limeys [English] and Yanks, within reason. But you Canadians come at us yelling like madmen…”

One from my grandfather: One night in Normandy he was set as a forward scout with a couple of other men who spent the night in small foxholes. My grandfather fell asleep at some point and was awoken in the middle of the night to look up and see tracers from machinegun fire from the German lines firing over his head. He looked around and his buddies had already taken off and pulled back. So he spent the next few minutes crawling back towards his lines keeping as low to the ground as humanly possible.

In Belgium a couple of soldiers from the North Shore had found a dead cow on the side of a road. It was still somewhat fresh so they began to cut it up for steaks. This is usually a no-no. Then all of a sudden they heard some friendly Jeeps coming, looked up, and saw one of them had the flags of a General on the hood. There was no cover so they couldn’t dash and hide. So as they stood and saluted Montgomery himself drove by, headed for their headquarters. Later on the men asked their C.O. about what happened and he responded “So that’s what he was talking about!”. Monty had arrived at the HQ, set up in a barn where still-living cows also lived, and as he walked by them he said “Glad to see some still alive.”

In Normandy during brutal fighting for Quesnay Woods a Major led a unit in an attack. Suddenly four Tigers appeared and began shooting up the Regiment but they pressed on and charged, on foot, with no tank support, and some of the Germans withdrew. The Major ran into the woods and hopped over a bush, which hid a German trench behind it, which he fell in. Inside the trench was a German Sergeant-Major with a pistol. The German fired at him and managed to cut the chinstrap of his helmet with a bullet but failed to hit him. The Major lunged at the German with a flurry of kicks until he surrendered.

In France, a Sergeant with a few captured soldiers decided he wanted to get rid of the many dead cows littering the area and smelling it up. So he got some shovels and picks and gave them to the German prisoners and motioned for them to start digging. The Germans immediately began sobbing and wouldn’t move. An interpreter came along and found out the Germans thought the Sergeant wanted them to dig their own graves and would then shoot them. When they found out they were to dig graves for cows they were “two very happy lads.”

Same area, another POW story. A single young German soldier was caught during advance one day. He was questioned but would respond only with his name, rank and serial number. Not wanting to waste time organizing an escort for a single prisoner back to headquarters in the rear he stayed with them for some time. During the morning as they were having breakfast a Canadian came up to the man and ordered him out. The German thought he was going to be shot but instead he was brought to breakfast with the rest of the troops. Two Canadians volunteered half their breakfast rations for the German. An officer wrote: “About 20 minutes later the prisoner asked for a chance to speak to me again. The poor chap was in tears - he had been misinformed about the Canadians, he said. He had been told they tortured and shot all prisoners but the cooks hadn’t even paused in serving porridge when he held out the mess-tin, which was proof enough for him that this was standard practice in the company - so someone had lied… It was strange to see the change from surly, hardbitten Panzergrenadier to a lonesom, homesick young man with tears running down his cheeks.”
The North Shore spent Christmas near Nijmegen. On Christmas eve and Christmas day the Germans would play jolly festive music over loudspeakers and bugles. In response the Canadians would shell them with artillery. On one occasion the Canadians were privy to the pleasant sound of a single bugle horning on christmas carols. The next day they attacked and captured the bugle.

which war?

so you mean D-Day stories, not war stories

No, I mean the fact that he mentioned D-Day tells you which war it was.

Well, I don’t have any stories from my family members (although the grandfather fought in the war, he didn’t like to talk about it), but I have a story that was taught in schools during USSR times (one of the many stories, that is). I think that one is quite fun.
A Soviet bomber was returning home from a mission, having exhausted all the ammo and most of the fuel. Then there comes a German fighter and attempts to tail the bomber. Bomber’s gunner has nothing to shoot, so things start to look bad. At this time the bombardier finds a roll of propaganda leaflets which was given to him be the commissar (to drop over enemy lines). The bombardier starts to throw leaflets out of the hatch. German fighter pilot sees some white things that fly from the bomber and right to his fighter (since he tails the bomber)! Some of them strike his propeller and ‘explode’ in a shower of white pieces. So he decides it’s some kind of a new weapon and promptly retreats. That’s how propaganda helps to win battles.


my grate uncle (i think that is the right wording…) was killed in D-Day, my grandfather was an infantry man

My grandfather was in the US Merchant Marine during WW2.

In late 1943 his ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat in the Mediterranean. He took shrapnel in his leg from the attack; the ship itself was damaged but still seaworthy. They sailed to Naples, Italy, where the ship was to be repaired, and the crew was given housing with Italian families. He was housed with a family in the Spanish Quarter of Naples, which is a maze of very narrow streets notorious for being the home of the Camorra, or Neapolitan Mafia. During this time he learned Italian and saw the city. However, he contracted polio in his wound, and to this day he limps because his wounded leg is slightly shorter than his healthy leg. Eventually the ship was repaired and they sailed for the US, where he received a discharge because of his wounds.

Fast-forward to 2003, 60 years later. I and my family were living in Naples, and he came to visit us. He and my father (his son) went to the Spanish Quarter to try to find the apartment he had stayed in in 1943. Nowadays the Spanish Quarter is officially off-limits to Americans stationed in Naples; gun battles between rival Camorra families are common in the area. They walked along a street and saw two old men sitting on chairs in the middle of the road, with a table in between them, playing cards. They started to approach the old men, to ask for directions, when out of nowhere two big burly men appeared, and instructed them that the road was closed and that they could go no further. They asked if they could ask for directions, and one of the bodyguards went to the old men and talked; the old men motioned for my father and grandfather to approach. They talked for a while; they didn’t successfully find the apartment but the old men thanked my grandfather for his service in liberating their country (Mussolini wasn’t kind to the Italian organized crime families).

My grandfather is a Canadian/American dual citizen; he was born and raised on Prince Edward Island, where I still have relatives who are shrimpers and fishermen.

My grandfather fought in the winter war and the continuation war. I also believe he was in the Viking division, from what I remember from some old photographs. I never got to know about his war experiences more specifically, unfortunately.

My Grandfather made planes for the Nazis and, uff mx “Grand-Grand” Father was shootdown in Belgium. I have a lot of books and things from him, imagine they need to build every thing by them self for example a screw, anyway he builds the famoused German plane by Messerschmidt. :smiley: