World War II Veteran recounts Military history

Dixon Carter

Three Hills resident and WWII veteran, Dixon Carter, shared briefly his history with the Canadian Military. He served in England as a Motor Vehicle Mechanic from January ’42 to September ’45.

When asked as to any particular impression that stood out to him about the war, he related the “shock” that he as a young Canadian farm boy felt when on an early de-embarkation leave he and a friend made a trip to London to visit one of his cousins, and saw, for the first time, the utter destruction there as a result of the bombings.

In his words he “couldn’t explain the devastation”. We don’t begin to grasp the impact now, because we see so much of this on TV.

Perhaps the other reality, was not spelled out so clearly in a single statement but was revealed when Mr. Carter related later about finding employment when he returned to Canada and ended up joining the reserves and then reengaged with the military. It was when he found a former comrade who had been in the infantry, also re-engaged and gave as his reason for re-enlisting that he likewise could not find anyone who wanted to hire someone who had “been trained as a killer”. Although Mr. Carter had his trade, there wasn’t a demand for it then.

As a young teen, Dixon had found an opportunity to work at his brother-in-law’s service station. When it looked like winter coming on and prospects for being kept on were slim, he went to Portage La Prairie where he had opportunity to work as an apprentice mechanic. Then he heard that the army was looking for recruits so he decided this might be a good place for him.

At 17 years of age, professing to be 19, he went to the Manning Depot in June of 1941 and since they needed mechanics, he was accepted. He was sent to Trade School in London, Ontario, and then to Camp Borden, in 1941, and to England in, January, 1942.

While overseas he “married a Scottish lady” Netta, who was serving in the British Army in the Auxilliary Territorial Service (ATS) and he returned to Canada with her in 1945.

He found employment then as an automotive machinist but was laid off so that another person could be hired and trained. This meant having to take a training test and found a job as an automotive mechanic. (Civilians didn’t recognize “army qualifications”.) But again when things got slow, it was the trainees that got laid off first.

This led to his moving to Winnipeg and not finding anything really permanent. He had joined the Reserves in Brandon, Manitoba earlier, and so in 1949 he decided it would be better if he went back into the military so he re-engaged as a mechanic. He served in the army then as a mechanic and as an instructor until 1969.

Mr. Carter then settled in Oro Township near Barrie, ON. He worked in the Post Office for some of that time.

The Carters came west to visit their daughter and son-in-law, Wendy and John Ibbotson, and in 1980 ended up buying the home he lives in now.

That he should have enlisted in the army came as no surprise. His father had been a WW I veteran and his grandfather a veteran of the Boer War.