Oil, water, and blood were over everything.

 Capt. Laurence Guy Alexander, Medical Officer for the 14th Army Tank Battalion, Calgary Regiment (Calgary Tanks).


 “Our boat was now hopeless, all the Naval crew were either killed or blown overboard and we floated sideways into the beach, receiving broadsides from all the shore guns.  Machine gun bullets were beating a constant tatoo on the boat. 
“Men were blown overboard, many of whom I had just finished bandaging, when I turned back I found they had been killed, and nearly all were blown completely off the ship. "We were a complete derelict... the smoke stack and bridge of our boat was blown away, the hull was riddled with holes large and small — thirty-three holes were registered by direct hits from large guns — and I have no idea how many were there from small ones. "Oil, water, and blood were over everything."
The Invasion of Sicily, July 1943: July 13 – Leave Malta behind on July 12 and the following morning came in sight of the coast of Sicily. Hundreds and hundreds of vessels, each crowded with troops. Made a good landing on the front street of Syracusa at 11 p.m. — Fritz gave us a good pounding from the air. Move south by Convoy to Casabelli and laager in a peach orchard.
They dive bombed us again during the night.  July 14 – Expect to move up on forward position and go into action tomorrow. Have never seen it so hot before in my life. July 15 – Troops coming ashore by the thousands. Indian Ghurkhas and Ethiopians both present.  July 16 – Thousands of troops still landing and the Beaches are crowded. More and more ships arriving. July 25 – Have just received a very severe reprimand from Mike for wearing socks with holes in them… Many happy returns to myself on my 45th birthday. Aug. 8 – Made a statement that I had never seen the morale of the Unit as low – a statement that is true. The Col. Did not believe me and instead of investigating, as he should – fired me from the Unit. I went before the Brigadier who sent me to Field Ambulance for a month – then to be returned to the Unit.
Major Laurence Guy Alexander, a Calgary doctor and commanding officer of the 6th Canadian Field Dressing Station (also served with the Calgary Tanks), based in Zeelst, (Veldhoven) Holland (Arrived Nov. 18, 1944) Nov. 20/44 – I now have the best billet I have ever had.  Dec. 6/44 – Santa Claus day. I am having Santa Claus with the family tonight. We have Xmas parcels piled all over the room and Joep and Johnnie (children of the Wilbers family) are in the room busily wrapping parcels. I got things for each of them in Antwerp and am just as excited as they are. This is a wonderful place I am in — a real home away from home… This is the first real touch of home life I have had since leaving home  and I love it. Dec. 25/44 –  … had a beautiful Xmas dinner and spent another evening dancing. It was a wonderful Xmas – we can never be too appreciative of the Dutch – they are grand. Jan. 1/45 – At 9:30 a.m. a terrific German air attack on the Eindhoven airport. The windows in our buldings were broken and I believe 40 German planes took part in the attack. About 45 of our planes were destroyed on the ground and there were several killed and wounded. I have never seen so many German aircraft in the skies at one time since Dieppe. May 8/45 V-Day A beautiful day, but everything appears the same — only no aeroplanes, no guns — all is quiet, but still we cannot really believe that the war is over and once more we can live as human beings.


From the journals of Capt. Alexander:
The Invasion of Dieppe, Aug. 19, 1942.

 “As far as the eye could see, the sea was covered with ships of all descriptions. We could see one near the shore which we took to be our leading TLC (Tank Landing Craft). There was a deafening roar over all, and smoke from firing guns and smoke screens were making visibility difficult... “As we drew nearer the beach the second time, Germans could be seen on the shores by the cliffs... we were caught in a terrific hail of fire from shore batteries, field guns, and a constant hail of machine gun fire and bursting shrapnel. The wounded and the dead were everywhere. “The fire grew worse as we drew nearer the shore. We were called to our stations —the motors of our vehicles were again started, and when we were within fifty yards of shore, all hell broke loose. The call for stretcher bearers was heard in all directions.


Stories by Rob Alexander,
his Grandson.
Rocky Mountain Outlook, Canmore.