Box 024, folder 15: Donald Fowler

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Fowler, Donald Maxwell

CAN INT Juno

NO release

Box 24, #15

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(Cornwall,) Ontario

For Cornelius Ryan Book about D-day

THOUSANDS OF MEN, ON LAND AND SEA AND IN THE AIR, PARTICIPATED IN THE INVASION OF NORMANDY BETWEEN MIDNIGHT JUNE 5, 1944 AND MIDNIGHT JUNE 6, 1944. IF YOU WERE ONE OF THEM, PLEASE ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS. What is your full name? DONALD MAXWELL FOWLER What was your unit and division? STORMONT DUNDAS & GLENGARRY HIGHLANDERS 9TH CDN. INF. Bde 3Rd CDN DIVISION (AT INVASION TIME * CDN. DENTAL CORPS. LATER BACK TO THE SD&G HIGHLANDERS) *NON COMBATANT) Where did you arrive in Normandy, and at what time? BENY-SUR-MER 18 JUNE/44 What was your rank on June 6, 1944? PriVATE What was your age on June 6, 1944? 18 Were you married at that time? NO What is your wife's name? EVA ELMA Did you have any children at that time? N/A What do you do now? SUPERVISOR AUTOMATIC ELECTRICAL (CANADA) LIMITED (BROCKVILLE, ONTARIO) TELEPHONE & COMMUNICATIONS MANUFACTURER When did you know that you were going to "be part of the invasion? WHEN I ENLISTED BUT MORE SPECIFICALLY WHEN I WENT ON VEHICHLE WATER PROOFING COURSE IN SPRING OF1944. AS IT TURN OUT I DIDN'T MAKE THE FIRST WAVES. What was the trip like during the crossing of the Channel? Do you remember, for example, any conversations you had or how you passed the time? CROSSING WAS VERY QUICK WHEN THE LST (LANDING SHIP - TANK) I WAS ON WITH MY MOBILE DENTAL CLINIC GOT UNDER WAY. THE TIME PASSED QUICKLY BECAUSE OF THE ACTIVITY, NERVOUS TENSION AND THE NEVER ENDING WAVES OF BOMBERS GOING FROM ENGLAND TO EUROPE. I CAN SPECIFICALLY RECALL THE SICK FEELING I HAD ABOUT MY FRIENDS WHO WERE IN THE FIRST WAVES AND OF COURSE I HAD SOME REMORSE ABOUT BEING SO FAR BEHIND BUT THAT HAS AFTER MANY YEARS FINALLY PASSED. I RECALL A RUMOUR (LATER CONFIRMED) THAT MY FRIEND BERT BOX HAD BEEN THE FIRST ONE KILLED ON THE BEACH. I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT NOT AFTER ALL THE YEARS TOGETHER. What were the rumors on board the boat, ship or plane in which you made the crossing? (Some people remember scuttlebut to the effect that the Germans had poured gasoline on the water and planned to set it afire when the troops came in). ALSO ON BOARD THE LST I HEARD THE "GLENS" HAD BEEN SERIOUSLY PINNED DOWN AT A PLACE NICKNAMED "HELLS CORNERS" AND THE TOLL HAD BEEN HEAVY. (I BELIEVE "HELLS CORNERS" WAS GRUCHY FRANCE.) LATER ON NORMANDY, ONE OF MY FREIND WITH WHOM I PLAYED IN THE PIPE BAND: - ART "GOODAY GODOY" PARNELL THEN A STRETCHER BEARER TOLD BE (BEHIND THE LINES) ABOUT THE TROUBLES HE SUFFERED TRYING TO GET ENOUGH BREN GUN CARRIERS TO TAKEOUT THE WOUNDED. HE APPARENTLY COULDN'T GET ANY CONVEYANCES AND TRIED TO DOTHE BEST HE COULD AS AN INDIVIDUAL. WHEN I MET HIM HEWAS VERY UPSET AND SOMEWHAT SHOCKED. HE WAS VERY UNLIKE HIS USUAL GREGARIOUS SELF.

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- for Cornelius Ryan 2 - Your name Donald Maxwell Fowler

Did you by any chance keep a diary of what happened to you that day? ONLY IN MY MIND.

Were any of your friends killed or wounded either during the landing or during the day? YES

Do you remember any conversations you had with them before they became casualties? I RECALLED TALKING WITH BERT BOX [insert] GLEN 1ST KILLED IN ACTION [end insert] ON THE COAST OF ENGLAND WHEN THE SOUTH WAS BEING PREPARED AND HE JOKINGLY SAID "GAD I SHOULDA JOINED THE NAAFI. (NAVY ARMY & AIRFORCE INST.) ALLUDING TO NAAFI GIRLS.

Were you wounded? NICKED BY SHRAPNEL ON THE FOREHEAD FROM A BOMB BUT NOT HOSPITALIZED. A FREAK ACCIDENT.

Do you remember what it was like--that is, do you remember whether you felt any pain or were so surprised that you felt nothing? PREVIOUSLY EXPLAINED SOMEWHAT.

Do you remember seeing or hearing anything that seems funny now, even though it may not have seemed funny at the time? I RECALL AFTER I LANDED HEARING THE BOYS WERE DOING WELL AT "CALVADOS" WHICH I LATER LEARNED TO BE THE MOST POTENT BREW EVER DEVISED BY THE MIND OF MAN. I WAS INTRODUCED TO THE STUFF BY AN AUTHORITY - ONE DOUG LALONDE ALSO A BANDSMAN WHO WAS MOST ADEPT (WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF CALVADOS) AT STEALING GERMAN COMMAND CARS AND RACING LIKE HELL ALL OVER THE COUNTRY LOOKING FOR WOMEN AND SOMETHING STRONGER TO DRINK. WE NEVER FOUND ANYTHING STRONGER TO DRINK.

Do you recall any incident, sad or heroic or simply memorable, which struck you more than anything else? [insert] Post D-Day [end insert] [crossed out] Yes - SEEING MY FIRST REAL SHOCK VICTIM, AN RCAMC (MEDICAL CORP) AMBULANCE DRIVER LAYING COMPLETELY DORMANT. EXCEPT WHEN STARTLED BY NOISE. I.E. SHELLS BURSTING. HE HAD WORKED NIGHT AND DAY FOR ALMOST TWO WEEKS WITH ONLY OCCASSIONAL CAT NAPS TO RESTORE HIS [crossed out] NERVOUS [end crossed out] ENERGY, AND LATER THREE DEAD HITLER JUNGE IN A TRENCH ALL BLAST VICTIMS. THE FLYS WERE BEGINNING TO GATHER AND I RECALL WONDERING HOW THREE YOUNG KIDS COULD LOOK BLOODY MOTIONLESS. I RECALL FEELING NAUSEOUS WHEN I REALIZED THEY WERE LESS THAN MY AGE. [end crossed out]

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- for Cornelius Ryan 3 - Your name DONALD MAXWELL FOWLER

In times of great crisis, people generally show either great ingenuity or self-reliance; others do incredibly stupid things. Do you remember any examples of either from D-day? [insert] Post D-day [end insert] [crossed out] ONE OF THE VEHICLES BECAME LODGED AT A HIGH STONE WALLED NARROW "T" ROAD JUNCTION AND WAS BLOCKING A SMALL [insert] AMMO. [end insert] CONVOY. IT WAS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO MOVE IT UNTIL THE CONVOY COMMANDER A LIEUTENTANT FROM RCASC (SERVICE CORPS) HOOKED A WINCH ONTO THE TRUCK AND BENT IT AROUND THE CORNER. IT WAS DRAGGED ALONG THE ROAD AND DISCARDED IN A FIELD. I NEVER DID LEARN IF THAT OFFICER EVER MADE CAPTAIN. I SUSPECT HE MADE MAJOR INSTEAD. [end crossed out]

Where were you at midnight on June 5, 1944? OUTSIDE SOUTHAMPTON IN A VEHICLE COMPOUND.

Where were you at midnight on June 6, 1944? SAME PLACE.

Do you know of anybody else who landed within the 24 hours of D-day, June 6, as infantry, glider or airborne troops, or who took part in the air and sea operations, whom we should write to?

[crossed out] SUGGEST YOU CONTACT THE FORMER "GLENS" [underline] IN MY OPINION HERE ARE A FEW OF THE COLOURFUL PERSONALITIES [end underline] ----"PORKY" COLLIN BATES - in Sudbury now (5'2" TALL) P----"SPIDER" *JOE SOMMERVILLE: - 455 4TH ST. WEST CORNWALL (6FT 4" TALL) Drummer ---- LITTLE SPOTS" GORD BERGERON 23 BEDFORD CORNWALL (AVERAGE HEIGHT) ? "BUM BOY". DOUG CAMERON SUMMERTOWN, ONT. NEAR CORNWALL (B.H.Q. & C.O.'s CLERK) --- "NIG" RAY LAPENSEE - CORNWALL MERP." ALF MERPAW 663 GEORGE ST. PETERBOROUGH. ONTARIO "SCROUNGER" DOUG LALONDE - CORNWALL [insert] THE SMALL GROUP FROM BROCKVILLE COULD DRIVE TO CORNWALL. THERE WOULD BE ABOUT A DOZEN. [end insert] "YOU BLACK BASTARD" -JOHN PEER BROCKVILLE ? - ERNIE BISSONETTE " AJAX - LOCHINVAR - DONN FOWLER [end insert] PERHAPS THE BEST ARRANGEMENT WOULD BE FOR ME TO LINE-UP A GROUP "BULL" SESSION AT CORNWALL AND HAVE YOUR MONTREAL REP. BRING ALONG A TAPE RECORDER AND REFRESHMENTS. PERHAPS AT THE HOTEL CORNWALLIS ON A SUNDAY. OF COURSE I CANNOT GURANTEE RESULTS BECAUSE THE MOOD OF THE GROUP WOULD HAVE TO BE STIMULATED AFTER SO MANY YEARS. I FEEL CONFIDENT THIS CAN BE DONE. I KNOW ALL OF THEM WELL. [end crossed out]

PLEASE LET US HAVE THIS QUESTIONNAIRE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, SO THAT WE CAN INCLUDE YOUR EXPERIENCES IN THE BOOK. WE HOPE THAT YOU WILL CONTINUE YOUR STORY ON SEPARATE SHEETS IF WE HAVE NOT LEFT SUFFICIENT ROOM. FULL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT WILL BE GIVEN IN A CHAPTER CALLED "WHERE THEY ARE NOW;" YOUR NAME AND VOCATION OR OCCUPATION WILL BE LISTED. THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP.

Cornelius Ryan

Frances Ward Research, The Reader's Digest

[insert] * WE - 2 - 6829 Tues Aug 19 at 3.30 [ end insert]

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[insert] PHONE 3140 (OFFICE) [end insert]

Major Clayton Fuller, 27 years old at D-Day, married. Runs Canadian Brass In Galt now, RR1 Galt, Ontario Wounded D plus 12 (not sure of exact day) when they were strafed by RAF.

Was with 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, 6th Brit. Airbo[crossed out]u[end crossed out]rne Div.

Has a nice home in the country and just built a swimming pool for his three kids. Has broiler chickens and large garden. He has a mustache, and is a kindof raunchy-type guy. Typical of him is that when we got to Dick's house, he patted Dick's wife on the fanny. Damn every other word, heavy set, hairy. Dick's father gave him a job after the war. 5 ft. 9 or so. Pete Griffin was under him on D-Day.

When Clayton jumped, he thought he saw a nice hard road surface beneath him, and landed in about 2-4 ft. of water in the canal. [insert] (Dives) [end insert] "My God what a shock that was." As he climbed up the bank, he saw his batman and his batman saw him. But they each thought the other was a German, and almost shot each other.

In jumping Clayton lost the butt for his sten gun. The first person he ran into was a limey, who had a typewriter and an extra butt. Clayton asked him if he had an extra sten gun butt he could have, and the limey said, "Yes, but you can't have mine because I signed for it."

Clayton only heard of one chute that didn't open, and saw two guys a long distance away whose chutes got tangled. Both died.

Clayton had given Capt. Griffin orders to blow the bridge, and he was [crossed out] looking for [end crossed out] [insert] to locate [end insert] Battalion headquarters. Clayton saw Griffin on the bridge, but didn't speak to him. (See Griffin for account of this. )

In looking for the headquarters, he went into a farmhouse and saw a huge plate of butter on the middle of the table. He said he hadn't seen butter for 4 1/2 years. He remembers the moaning of the cows that day who hadn't been milked.

Clayton remembers seeing, on D-Day, an old man carrying his dead wife in a wheelbarrow. They tried to get him off the road because they were being mortared, but he wouldn't go. He didn't know where he was going or what he was going to do. He just wanted to take her somewhere.

He said they had a German prisoner that day (doubt it was D-Day) whose arm was off, and he was bleeding like mad and needed a transfusion. The doctor picked out the biggest Jewish lad in the bunch. The German refused, but finally had to take the transfusion from the Jew.

They had another prisoner that day (most of the troops in the area were Georgian conscription troops) and the Regimental Sergeant Major had him digging a long thin deep latrine. The guy thought he was digging his own grave, and the Sgt. Maj. let him think so.

Last edit about 3 years ago by Scottie
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