By Mark Nielsen, PRBN Staff
Even as a mechanic, Ed Carlson, now 75 years old, saw his share of action during World War II.
Carlson was among the Canadian troops who landed at Juneau beach in the south of France on June 6, 1944 — D-Day. He doesn’t say much about it.
“You just thought about getting the hell out of there and getting down on the ground some place and do what you’re supposed to do,” he said.
Carlson was a 17-year-old farm boy living in Owlseye, a tiny community northeast of Edmonton, when he enlisted in 1941.
Why did he sign up?
“Just like everybody else did, for the adventure. Everybody went to town that day and I went with them and we all signed up.”
It was some time before the adventure started, however. While taking basic training in Grande Prairie, he caught the mumps and scarlet fever, which prolonged his stay.
After advanced training in Halifax, he took trades training in Woodstock and Hamilton. Finally, in the spring of 1943, he went overseas to England.
Carlson was stationed in Bramshott, southwest of London, where, true to military doctrine, he was re-trained in many aspects of mechanics he had already known.
“Whatever we learned in Canada was all behind us and we had to learn everything all over again,” he said. “They just thought we didn’t know nothing, so they trained us all over again.”
The Battle of Britain had been over by then but the Germans were sending over doodle-bugs, a self-propelled bomb, on a regular basis.
“When the engines shut off, you had 30 seconds to get the hell down in the ground because it was going down within 30 seconds when the engine had shut off,” he said.
During that time, Carlson also took a non-commissioned officer course and became a Staff Sergeant. “It meant I was getting two dollars and twenty-five cents a day plus my trades pay,” he said.
It also meant he was in charge of 65 men in the 120 Light Aid Detachment.
About a year after arriving in England, they went to France.
Like many war vets, Carlson is tight-lipped about what they went through in Europe. But he did say that they advanced as far as Holland and Germany. He added it was a year after the war had ended before he came back home to Canada.
The mechanics were an indispensable part of the Allied machine because they kept the tanks, trucks and other vehicles running.
“The army never turned without mechanics and armourers and so forth,” he said. “They couldn’t operate without them.”
Even so, his training as a mechanic wasn’t recognized in civilian life. Carlson had to go back to school one more time to get a ticket in heavy duty mechanics.
From there, he worked all over the far North.
This article is taken from the Peace River Block Daily News, Dawson Creek, with the permission of the publisher. The Daily News retains all rights relating to this material. The information in this article is intended solely for research or general interest purposes.