Last time I was talking about how much I had enjoyed hearing Norm Christie’s Canadian viewpoint about World War I:
But let’s move forward to World War II.
Probably my favourite story from Norm’s programmes is when he recounts an incident in Normandy in the weeks after D-Day in July 1944.
It’s a long time now since the glory days of 1940 and 1941, when leather overcoats were handed out free:
By July 1944, a lot of the Germans were beginning to realise just how gullible they had been, both as boys in the Hitler Youth, and then as proud young men in the German army.
Anyway, here’s the story, taken from the soundtrack of the programme. The events are recounted by a Canadian infantryman:
“I led my section down a small hill from the north into the main part of the city .The Germans were headed my way and we crossed at the end of the hedge. I had brought a Sten gun with me and I poked it through the hedge and fired. Three Germans went down. The rest put up their hands and surrendered.
I stayed with a mortally wounded German. He had a few words of English. He got across to me that he was 23 years old. He was a very good looking boy. He showed me pictures of his parents, his girlfriend. He gave me his parents’ address and asked me to go and see them when we got to Germany. He knew he was dying. I would have given anything to save his life. But I was helpless. And to make matters worse I was the one who had shot him.
He held both of my hands in his and cried, and then pulling them up tight under his chin, he coughed up blood all over my hands and then he died.
I threw away the things he had given me. I went back to my men and washed the blood from my hands.”
Only one person is guilty here.
The one who started the war.