William "Bill" Plant (Primary Source) | The Canadian Encyclopedia

Memory Project

William "Bill" Plant (Primary Source)

This testimony is part of the Memory Project Archive

In 2009, The Memory Project interviewed William Plant, a veteran of the Second World War. The following recording (and transcript) is an excerpt from this interview. Born on 21 January 1919, Plant served in the Canadian armed forces from 1939 to 1946. He enlisted in his hometown of Brantford, Ontario, at the age of 20 and joined the Toronto Scottish Regiment. Plant arrived in Caen, France, a week after D-Day and served in the Netherlands and Germany. In this testimony, he describes his experiences as a driver of a Bren Gun Carrier (a light armoured tracked vehicle). After the war, Plant returned to Brantford, where he remained until his death on 14 June 2014 at the age of 95.

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 started out at Brantford Amouries [Ontario], I joined up. I ended up in Niagara-on-the-Lake [Ontario] for training and then we left Niagara-on-the-Lake and went to British Columbia. We got all our equipment in Nanaimo and they then were going to put us on the boat to go to Hong Kong. Well, a couple days before we was to leave, Hong Kong fell. So that left us out in British Columbia. So then the next thing was, what are we going to do out there? So they thought, well, we’d better send you back east, and we ended up in Sussex, New Brunswick. Well, then they sent me overseas. One of the fellows that I was with, my sergeant, at Aldershot. [England] . And he went to Dieppe, but he had real black hair and when he come back from Dieppe, he was as white as snow. Well, that just scared the hell out of us. Well anyways, after that, then the next thing was going over on D-Day. I went a week after, and they took me up around Caen [France] and put me in a Bren Gun Carrier [a light armoured vehicule] there. The two fellows that was in it before me, I was the driver, the two fellows that was in it before met their Waterloo. So that left me with nobody with me. Well, after a couple of days, they put two fellows with me. See, we had a Vickers machine gun with us, because they had a ton of Scottish machine gun outfit. So these fellows that was with me, they lasted, oh, about, I would say about four or five weeks with me, and they was knocked off. So that left me as a driver with nobody in the carrier. And I was number one on the gun. Well, they wasn’t killed, they ended up in the hospital. So that left me all alone. Well, I was all alone most of the time after that for a while. Was going to bring in the zoom and we just went around the corner, with my carrier, and I got two more guys, I think they was a couple of DPs [Directors of Personnel] come from Canada with me. And one was standing up in the back of the carrier. Well, just down the street, there was an 88 [millimeter]. Well, when we went around the corner, he thought it was a tank. It was only a Bren Gun Carrier, see. So he let us have it. And the one fellow in the back was standing up in the back of the carrier and the shell just missed his shoulder, it burned his shoulder as it went past. Well, we thought, “Well, this is it.” So we all hopped out of the carrier and went into the side of the buildings in the doorways and the next shell finished my carrier off. I never had it. But what burned all of us was when they blew up my carrier, they blew up all the liquor I had stored in the, a big box on the back. Well, I carried that box, like I was with the infantry, and we, the infantry I think dug up every café, backyard, all the way along. And when they got a cache of liquor, they’d give it to me and I had it in this box. Well, when they blew my carrier up, the liquor all went with it. The infantry, they took a dim view of that. When it was all over, I was in Germany. We had just gone into a battle and that’s when war quit. Well, I had a case of moonshine, it wasn’t called moonshine, but it was a whole case of moonshine in my carrier when the war finished. So we had ourselves a German prisoner, and we made him to drink out of every one of those bottles. He lasted, so that’s when the war finished and we had a great time.