William (Earl) Earl Wells (Primary Source) | The Canadian Encyclopedia

Memory Project

William (Earl) Earl Wells (Primary Source)

This testimony is part of the Memory Project Archive

In 2010, The Memory Project interviewed William Earl Wells, a veteran of the Second World War. The following recording (and transcript) is an excerpt from this interview. Born on 6 July 1918 in Hoosier, Saskatchewan, Wells enlisted in the Canadian Army as a private on 8 November 1941 at the age of 23. Assigned to the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, re-supply division, he trained in Jolliete, Quebec, and Camp Borden, Ontario, before travelling overseas to Europe. In this testimony, Wells describes landing on Juno Beach seven days after D-Day and his unit’s journey through Bayeux, Caen, the Falaise Gap, and eventually the Netherlands. He also recalls being seriously injured while riding a motorcycle at the head of the convoy of trucks. After the end of his service in 1946, Wells moved to Calgary, Alberta, where he died on 5 January 2013.

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.


We got on boats and we must have been there for maybe seven or eight, or nine days, I just can’t remember that, and then we landed, the first off the truck because we were in No. 1 Platoon. The corporal I was with was Andy Campbell and then I had another kid that rode with me as the leading truck. He was our MV [motor vehicle] fitter, he was like a mechanic for that platoon, Billy Smith. We got notice that we were off the boat. And when we got off the boat, we had a lot of training in England on going into the deep water with the trucks, but I never did. I never got into that. And then when we come off the boat, we come out and it leveled off; and I had a three tonne truck and we were all overloaded on account of the supplies we had to get them across there. And then we hit a hollow spot or something in the land there in the English Channel, and I was sitting in water. And Billy, he up and says, have you got your foot on the gas? I said, Billy, I’ve got them both. Once we got in Juno [Beach at Normandy], and we got in that little French town, and then it was all at night, we had to de-waterproof and get ready to move in because the airborne guys were in there and there was a lot of guys tanks and gosh, everything going [on] that beach. And from there, the town that we were near first, Bayeux, we seemed to be stationed there for quite a while because it took quite a while to get through Caen and then Falaise Gap. And that was a tough stretch, the whole thing. But then after that, once you were in Holland, it was still dangerous, but it’s, you still had little openings anyway. Each section, I think it was seven trucks in each section, and there was about seven of us, seven sections. And they all pretty well worked together, so I’m on a motorcycle, corporals are on a motorcycle, like the corporal of each section; and then there’s a lance corporal, he’s driving the first truck on each section. And then you have the rest of the guys are in there fall behind. And when we’re going, we played like what they called leapfrog, directing traffic. You’d go on your motorcycle and if you were the lead guy, you’d take the next intersection, throw the bike over and wave our convoy right through. And then when you’ve got all the trucks through, and the tail end come through, you jump on the motorcycle and then head for the front again, to catch the next U-turn and direction, you see. I went by the one truck and it was Porky Connelly, he was from down east; and we got not too many lights or anything either. I don’t know what happened. I got no idea. I ended up eight or nine hours later in the hospital. They got me home and then they sent me to England, and I was so sore and I was just an awful mess. I never did find out what hit me, but we figure it was maybe a rifle of some kind, because it went right through the gas tank. And I was on a Norton [British motorcycle], you see. And missed both my legs. And they kept the motorcycle until I got back out. I was in there for five or six days and they kept the motorcycle. They wanted me to make sure I seen it. And it was just a scrap of metal, that’s all it was. So I was very fortunate I didn’t hammered more than that, I guess. The officers we had, and Don Cummings and Elmer Bergel, I forget the major, and then there was … We’d been together for so long. As a unit, we were a very close knitted bunch of guys. And I don’t know how many men would be in there, but I’ve never counted them, but there’d be maybe 150, close to 200 guys gone and everything. And you’d get pretty close related. But a lot of the guys, they’re just friends and a lot of the guys are pretty near like family.