Nasso: Memories of a Veteran
Nasso never planned on going to war.
Born in Ottawa on May 9, 1915, he eventually made
his living working in a factory assembling washing machines.
When the Second World War broke out, Nasso applied
to the Canadian Air Force. After two years with no reply, he decided
to join the army. His training was to be overseas in England. Nasso
left on a boat from Halifax and landed in Scotland.
“It was a terrible situation when we landed,”
he remarks, remembering the chill in the air and the rain pouring
down, turning the ground into mud.
Nasso’s training lasted almost two years. He
was assigned to Third Division Ordinance, a mobile supply outfit for
the soldiers. His unit landed in Normandy 10 days after the infamous
D-Day (June 6, 1944) to bring supplies. They arrived during the night
and Nasso remembers vaguely seeing the scars of war and wreckage on
place was a mess,” he says.
it wasn’t Normandy that scared him. The worst memory Nasso has
of the war was being under attack in Holland from German bombers.
They were moving through a forested area when bombs started falling
from the sky. He remembers thinking that he’d reached the end
of the line because there was no shelter around. Hay bales on which
they’d hung clothing were hit and shirts and pants flew everywhere,
landing in the trees and dangling from the branches.
bad no one had a camera to take a picture,” Nasso laughs.
also remembers the discomfort and hassle of having to sleep in “slit
trenches” – a trench dug horizontally in the ground
so a soldier could essentially sleep in the ground. This was to
protect them from shelling.
Nasso during his time in service.
recalls the horrors of “air bursts.” Germans would use
an “88” to launch a shell into the air over the target.
The shell would explode in the air creating a blindingly bright
light. The explosion would send shrapnel flying in all directions,
causing excessive damage to everything below.
you were hit with these hard metal pieces you were in a real mess,”
Nasso writes in his personal memoirs.
war impacted Nasso’s life in more ways than one. In the days
leading up to Victory Day in Europe, Nasso got leave to go to Paris
for 48 hours. It was by fluke really. Only two soldiers were given
leave to go to Paris and be put up in a hotel. Names were drawn
from a hat but Nasso’s was not one of them. However, one of
the men whose name was picked did not want to go so he asked Nasso
if he would go in his place. Nasso happily accepted.
arrived in Paris on Victory Day, May 8, 1945. The war was over and there
was dancing in the streets. Nasso and his companion decided to go to
the opera and it was then that they noticed four women walking in front
of them. One of these women was Germaine, Nasso’s future wife.
Nasso did have to return to Holland, he managed to make it back
to Paris as the military was offering a few months stay in Paris
to its troops to learn about French culture, language and history
at the University of Paris. Nasso managed to see quite a bit of
Germaine during this longer stay in Paris and before he left again
for Holland, he asked her to marry him.
and Germaine were married on January 26, 1946. Nasso returned to
Canada in April of the same year. Germaine followed several months
later. They now have two sons and two grandchildren: a boy and a
back on his military service, Nasso has only one thing to say about
terrible, absolutely terrible. Countries should find ways to peace
because war is a miserable situation and accomplishes nothing.”
article was originally published in the November 2001 issue of Il
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