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Defending Brighton

Heroes Remember

One of the things we did was to defend Brighton. We used to put tanks on the waterfront with our guns and our machine guns and the Germans would come in over the water and strafing with their 20 millimetre canons. Brighton just carried a war to the citizens and we were trying to shoot them down as they came in. Well, they got smart enough to come in six miles down the coast, come in land, and come back out, shooting Brighton out and going away from the guns instead of into them. And at that time, I was running a driver and mechanic school on the Brighton golf course. I hated what we did to that golf course. We had 16 tanks and we were training people and in our innocence and lack of training, I arranged for food to be brought out to the clubhouse, which was empty. There was no one in the golf course; wasn’t operating, and I fed the men in the clubhouse. Well, two German planes came over and saw 16 tanks around lunchtime around a building and it wasn’t too hard for them to figure out who it was and they just turned on their 20 millimetre canons and they just riddled that place. I had something like 80 men in there for lunch and through the grace of God, only one man got hurt and that wasn’t even from being hit by one of the rounds. It was a splinter off the floor sliced him open. And the CO said to me that night, “If any of the men had been wounded or killed, you would have been up for court-marshal for doing that.” But that’s part of learning the business. And that was the first time I was shot at in England, just beside Brighton.

Mr. Finestone describes defending Brighton and training his men. He also recalls the very first time he was shot at.

Bernard J. Finestone

Mr. Finestone was born in Sacramento, California, and moved to Montreal when he was ten months old. His father served with the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery during the First World War. Mr. Finestone joined the COTC while he was studying at McGill University and when the war broke out he was in officer training. Mr. Finestone served as a tank commander in Italy and during the Italian Campaign, he was severely wounded. Mr. Finestone is an active speaker. He speaks to young Canadians about his military experiences and being a Jewish veteran.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Bernard J. Finestone
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Atlantic Ocean
Battle of Britain
5th Armoured Division

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