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Isiah Halkett: SL39163

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      OCTOBER 1989      p05  
Isiah Halkett I was raised at the Little Red Reserve but was born at Sturgeon Lake. After finishing school in '37, I went back to our Reserve. They told us there was going to be a war. didn't understand what war was, being very young. Around July 1st, 1941, we went to P.A. While walking on the street, I saw two men coming towards us. One was from our reserve, the other one from La Ronge. They told me they were going away. They had put their names in to join the army. One of them told me, "Ah, may bro-in-law. I have no partner. Come with me". So we went into this place to have a drink. Finally, I told him would go with him. This man is called Mosquito.

So I went to join and this guy told us we would go that evening to Saskatoon to get our uniforms. My parents didn't know at that time that I was going away. We went to Saskatoon and were given exams and got our uniforms. We were kept there drilling and marching. Then the C.O. came and told me I could go home for two weeks. I didn't know, but my parents didn't know where I was. When my mother saw me in my uniform, she just dropped. I told them I was home for two weeks. I went back to Saskatoon, then they sent us to Vernon, B.C. I was there all summer and when I was finished they sent us home and transferred us to S.L.I. I took some more training and they sent us to Dundurn. We were separated there, the ones I had joined with, I was still very young then. I was kept there for two years, had my training. Finally it came about, we would go home for the last time. When I got back to Shilo, after two weeks leave, they sent us to Halifax. There, they told us we would be going on board the ship tomorrow. This was November '43.

About half a night out, a torpedo glanced off our ship, narrowly missing us. Escort ships came and planes were above us to protect us. The waves were about 40 feet high. We were anchored for one day because it was too rough to travel. It took us about five days to cross the ocean. Finally we got to England. We were in port for two days because the tide would come up. There were lots of soldiers there.

We travelled about 1 1/2days with an army convoy until we finally got to the barracks. The houses looked like barrels. We were given two bags to fill with straw. The bigger one was to use for a mattress, the smaller one for a pillow. There we did all types of training, day after day. The one thing I refused was to be a sniper. You generally got killed as a sniper.

Finally, we got to Aldershot. We were there not that long after Dieppe raid. They used little tugs with about fifty men it to cross the English Channel. When we got there, there were animals laying around that were accidentally killed. I was behind the lines all the way until finally we got to Belgium. Fighting all the way through Holland, until finally we got to Germany. When we got to the front fines, we didn't do anything. We were waiting for May 8th. Waiting for instructions. There were skirmishes here and there. I saw some fellows knew from home.

The Germans were retreating. We were told to get out on patrols. They told us German SS were hiding. We were out gathering them. In the meantime, we were told there was still some trouble with the Germans and they sent us there.

So we went with three white men and MP's. We came to a bunch of jackpine and we found a bunch of shacks. We found the tombs of Jews that had been burned. There were still bones left that had not burned. We saw where women and children had been burned, and I often still think of that.

Finally, they told us we could go home. They sent us to Holland. We were there for two months and then in England for two months. Finally, we got to Halifax. From there we went to Regina. I was given leave to go home. I never thought I would see the day that I would be home again.

I was with the SSR. I was home and I waited to go and get my discharge. We were promised all sorts of jobs and yet today I have not seen any of that. I received my grant of $2,300. I tried farming but we didn't get any machinery. My land was sitting there doing nothing for a long time. One of my brothers joined the army for Korea. The other one joined too. So I was left all alone. Then I joined up for Korea. Instead, they sent me to Germany. I had joined up in Saskatoon. We did very little training. I was with the young fellows in Germany, and I completed my three year stint.

When I got home we didn't get anything like the others got. I had a very hard time. I had to go trapping to feed my children. Then one day a white man told me I could get W.V.A. He said he would speak on my behalf. He took me to the Legion. It took about six months to receive this.

I hope there is never a war again. I think of my grandchildren. I hope there is always peace!

Harry Black, Vincent Gamble, John Bird, Norman Henderson and Isiah Halkett.
On leave in London, L-R: Harry Black, Vincent Gamble, John Bird, Norman Henderson and Isiah Halkett.