Mr. Alex Colville from Wolfville.
Liberator of the Netherlands
I was with the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division,
was one of the places where the paratroopers landed in
mid-September of 1944. That was the 82nd Airborne Division
and also the 3rd Canadian that I served with to relieve the
Once the action is over, the parachute people tend to go
someplace else. We were in Nijmegen from some time in
November, until, I think early February, so it was quite a
long time. We were actually quartered right in the small
village. That was the longest period of my stay in Holland.
I was in the army for 2 years, and because I had been a
fine-arts student, I am now a professional painter; I was
made a war-artist in May of 1944, and flown rather
dramatically to London. I was only a lieutenant, and to be
flown to London....I couldn’t imagine what as happening.
When I got to London I was told by a colonel that I had been
made a war-artist, and I took it from there. I had been
trained as an infantry officer, the bottom of the army, in
the sense that they are on foot and have comparatively light
weapons and I did a painting, when the war ended, it was
based upon numerous drawings, it was called "Infantry." It
is now in the Canadian War Museum. It simply represents
about a platoon of Canadian soldiers marching along, not in
formal, marching order, with one section on one side of the
road, and the other on the other side of the road, spread
out in a typical way of moving across the country. They
would be scattered, so that they would not be all killed at
once with one shell. This painting has been reproduced a lot
for things having to do with WWII in Canada. I think that
expressed in a way my sense of feeling about war, not so
much a melodramatic and heroic thing, although it was that
too, but it was a question of persistence, of walking in the
rain and the melting snow and the cold and the constant
element of danger and so on....the endurance factor.
Particularly admirable in the infantry, and characteristic
of the war which wasn’t, it seems to me, melodramatic so
much, as it was dogged persistence.