Remembrance Day: A soldier keeps his silence

During the Second World War Lt. John Watson, with three tanks under his command, swept the hills of Sicily in search of retreating German soldiers. Before he knew it, Lt. Watson and his troops stumbled upon five Lorries (military trucks) full with German soldiers.

“When the Germans were retreating… the three tanks took out all the Lorries,” Watson’s son David said.

Throughout high school John Watson served as a cadet. With his experience, Watson entered the war as a lieutenant. At the age of 19, Watson left his home in Brantford, Ont., for service overseas.

Lt. John Watson, tank commander of the ‘Black Cats’ of the Canadian Armoured Corps, did not set out looking for action. Although his position routinely exposed him to violence, David Watson said his father never tried to glorify it upon his return.

“He didn’t want to talk about it,” David Watson said.

He found it difficult to share his war stories with his family because a few he lost friends in the war. He did not want to relive those moments.

“He would share the good (stories), not the bad ones,” David Watson said.

While others may see Lt. Watson’s battle in Sicily as a wartime triumph, his son doesn’t see it that way.

“It wasn’t a victory, it was a nightmare… he killed over 200 Germans,” he said.

In Sicily he ordered his troops not to look amongst the wreckage for German survivors. Instead he ordered they take a detour around the carnage.

“He didn’t even want to look,” David Watson said, “definitely not a victory.”

Upon his return to Canada, Lt. Watson maintained a volunteer position at the Brantford Armoury where he later retired as a major.