Ray Bartlett served with the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals during the Second World War. During his service he participated in the Normandy Landings on D-Day and organized communications for his regiment.
Please be advised that Memory Project primary sources may deal with personal testimony that reflect the speaker’s recollections and interpretations of events. Individual testimony does not necessarily reflect the views of the Memory Project and Historica Canada.
I joined in 1941 and first of all, we were in the Horse Palace in Toronto [at Exhibition Place} , you know. And then we went to Brantford for basic training and then we had a little test of those who could differentiate between, well, the dots and dashes [morse code] to us, but other than that, we were picked and I went to Kingston into the RCCS [Royal Canadian Corps of Signals].
Once we got over there, they broke up the Grand Simcoes [The Grey and Simcoe Forresters] and I went directly to the 1st Hussars, which was part of the [Canadian] 2nd Armoured Brigade. And I remained there.
Well, I went to Europe, I landed on D-Day [the Normandy Invasion], we all did of course. And then we just went all the way through to Germany. It was almost dark I guess and first of all, we were on the landing ship tank, which is an LST as it’s known, four days before the [June] 6th  because of a storm in the English Channel. But we finally cleared up enough and on the 6th, we landed early in the morning. And our tank was knocked out on the beach, tracks only though, it wasn’t, we weren’t hit or anything.
There was a high bank there. We ran up to that and somehow, we all became separated and I ended up on top anyway off the beach and dug a slit trench that night. A little slit trench and got down in there where the shrapnel wouldn’t fly around and hit you too much.
And the next day, we all got together again with the tank. Don’t ask me how I got up that bank, I don’t remember. The next day, we just seemed to walk into one another and there was the tank. This landing ship tank holds, I don’t remember how many, but to get off that ship, they had barges that would hold four tanks, with two outboard motors on them. And put the four tanks on the barge and then the outboard motors would push it into the shore. Well, the one ahead of us blew up and I remember the sparks flying up, you know. That was our introduction to war, right there.
I was an operator of this equipment and the tank and when we were stopped, we had a half track with the same equipment, same transmitters but one extra one in there, we could travel the little longer distance. We were in touch with London and we were in touch with of course three infantry squadrons too, as well as our own three armoured squadrons. So the two of us were sent to each regiment to handle this stuff.
But that was my job, it was two of us had it, we were 24 hours. We were in charge of the communications. Everything that came through the regiment came through us first. We were in headquarters, regiments A, B and C, we gave them all their instructions. And also, we were in charge with backing an infantry group and we had the three regiments hooked up to those people too. And in there, there were two signalmen, RCCS, operating equipment also. That’s where we were all through infantry and the armoured, to keep the airwaves open.