Heroes: the Canadian Army
Perth Regiment of Canada, 11th Infantry Brigade
of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division
Recalling Remembrance Day
Every year in the week before or on Remembrance Day itself, some young person will come up asking what Remembrance Day means to me, and I have to stop and think. It's not always been easy to answer. For me it means a lot of things. I sort out my thoughts into some semblance of order as memory carries me back over the years to those grim and frightful days of 1944 and '45 and I begin to tell the young person what goes through my mind on that day.
For one thing, memory takes me back to Jan. l7, 1944 when my regiment went into battle for the first time and the first shock of fear swept over me. When the Inortar bombs fell out of the overcast sky in the early morning hours of that day and the dying and the hurting began, I knew the hours of battle ahead would not be the glorious event that in my callow, pre-teen years I had always pictured they would be. And when I saw my first platoon mate die in the blast of a bomb right behind him I knew in a blinding instant that battle was hell, and I wanted no more part of it. But I also knew that there was no way I could get out of it unless I too took the fatal hit or suffered a grievous wound, or took the cowardly route by running away. The latter I just could not get myself to do today and in battles that followed. I was amazed how I could remember them and the manner in which they died. And I reminded the questioner that most of those boys were about his age, not that long out of high school. And I went on to say that there was the time when in the advance down the Liri Valley past the town of Cassino I came close to 'buying the farm' myself in the obliterating blast of a landmine that took the life of a Sergeant who was once in command of my platoon, big Pete McRorie, and dying right beside him was Corporal Bob Adair. It was a sunny day in late May, bright and beautiful, too lovely day in which to die. Pete was on his wayback from a Recce along a rutted wagon-track as we were marching up in a long single file in the advance towards the town of Ceprano whose rooftops we could see across the wide, grassy meadow straight ahead. As Pete :ame abreast of me I said, "Hi, Pete!" Six paces, maybe eight paces later a tremendous blast behind sent me flying headlong on my face. Pete had stepped on a mine and he and Bob Adair who happened to be right next to him died instantly. Only three seconds meant the difference between life and death for me.
As the days and weeks and months went by I wondered how long I could keep going on and maintain sanity, or go like so many others I once marched with, trained with, laughed with, and went into battle with. When would my turn come when someone would wrap my remains in a death blanket and bury me in some dusty field or vineyard or olive grove?
And so, at every Remembrance Service over the past 57 years I've bowed my head, and these same thoughts came to mind and the faces of my comrades-in-arms passed in front of my mind's eye, and I thought about them, how they were in the morning of their lives when the golden trumpets called them to Eternity.
This then, is what Remembrance means to me.
Original Story from messages received on 7 November 2002.
Story originally submitted on: 18 November 2002.
The story above, Recalling Remembrance Day, was written and contributed by Mr. Stan Scislowski, who served with the Perth Regiment of Canada, 11th Infantry Brigade of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division. The moving story is a part of his published work entitled: Not All of Us Were Brave which was published by Dundurn Press.
Would you care to read more tales of World War II written by Mr. Stan Scislowski? His work is featured on a website devoted to the Perth Regiment of Canada. Check out this very interesting website and while you are there look at Stan's Corner .
We at World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words wish to offer our profound "Thanks" for the excellent material contributed by Mr. Stan Scislowski.
September 5, 2002.
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