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(Courtesy of The Memory Project/Kenneth Daynard)
"We were put on board ships, not told anything of where we were going, but we were there for about four days."
I'm Ken Daynard. My service number was B142756. I joined the Army in Toronto in January 1943. I did my basic training in Simcoe, Ontario, advanced training at Camp Borden, and then I went out to Prince Rupert until I turned the age of nineteen.
I went overseas on the Isle de France – a troop ship – and wound up with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles. We were put on board ships, not told anything of where we were going, but we were there for about four days. Then on the 5th of June, we sailed. We were then informed we were going to Normandy. I landed on D-Day. I was with the Reserve Company. My initiation was being strafed by two Me-109s – Messerschmitts. Welcome to Normandy.
When we went inland, we ran across some POWs who were sitting on the side of the road. I lit a cigarette and one of them got up to asked me for a light and he was told to sit. When I left, I threw him a book of matches, and with a big smile he said, "Danke! Danke!"
My next little episode was a mine-laying detail. We were loaded onto three trucks and drove for quite a distance, and when we stopped and started unloading the mines someone asked, "When did we start putting sidecars on our motorbikes?" The Sergeant in charge took a look and said, "My God! That's a German!"
I was sent out on an outpost with the section Bren gunner for the night. Sometime in the night he was shot by a sniper, and in the morning the RSM, Mickey Austin, came along and wondered why he was asleep. When he shook him, the guy fell over dead. So Mickey Austin put the Bren on my shoulder, out through the hedge row, and he shot the sniper. Then he told me, "Pick up the Bren and come with me" and we went back to company lines. I became the section Bren gunner after that.
Our next episode was Carpiquet airport. We were dug in, and we were shelled and mortared continuously all night. At one time through the night a shell landed and it was a dud, and it pushed the side of my trench in, covering my number two on the Bren, and he was covered with dirt. I dug him out by hand, and when I got him out he looked at me: "Jeez, that was close, eh?!"
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