Tilmon Arsenault (Primary Source) | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Tilmon Arsenault (Primary Source)

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.

My name is Tilmon Arsenault, my service (regiment) was the Eight Princess Louise New Brunswick Hussars (8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s)). Canada didn’t have training grounds for the tanks. England had one. We went to Wales to be trained on the tanks. We went to Italy for a year and a half (during the military campaign that began in July, 1943 and ended in May, 1945). From Italy, we met up with the convoy ( the Allied forces) that was on its way to liberate France. We defended the city and the infantry fought in the city. We spent Christmas there (1943). After Christmas, it started raining and it was wet every day. It became so muddy that we couldn’t do anything with the tanks. Outside of Ortona, two months, January and February (1944). The infantry was fighting in the city and we were on guard. We were lying down in trenches that were 14 or 15 inches deep and we each had a small tent that was big enough for two people, to bring your knees up under. In our tents, all that we had was a mattress and some tree branches with a ground sheet and a blanket on top. We only had two blankets each, one underneath and one on top. That was it, that’s where we slept. We were completely soaked through, sometimes too soaked to dry our clothes or to sleep.

We were there for two months , in January and February (1944). It would almost start snowing and then it would turn to rain. We didn’t see the sun; we maybe only saw it once or twice for two months in a row. In Italy, you weren’t allowed to have only the Canadian insignia or badges on your clothes because the Italians were with the Germans. We were spies.

One tank departed and rode over a land mine. It blew up. When a tank blows up, you have to get out of the tank. There is only one place where you can exit, and you have to do it quickly because it’s blowing up. There were five of them in the tank, and two got out. We all got out. We weren’t in that tank, but we weren’t far. Two of them got out and started running. The three others rebelled and weren’t taken prisoner. They were killed right away by bayonet (by the Germans).