Bill Gunter was born February 27, 1925 in South Hull, Quebec. He grew up there in the 1930s, alongside his older brother. When the war came, both brothers joined up, but Bill’s older brother was killed in a horrible elevator accident at the naval headquarters in Ottawa. Bill joined several army reserve units while he was just 15, but when they began to ask for birth certificates he had to leave. As soon as he was able he joined the Navy in his own right, and he was off for training and getting ready to play his part. He saw a notice in those early days: the Royal Navy commandos were looking for volunteers for dangerous duty – the 17 year old Bill decided to give it a try. He did significant training and ended up being involved in D-Day, or the Normandy Invasion – where he was tasked with being a crew member on a landing craft. Bill saw many difficult images on that day. His landing craft hit Juno Beach at approximately 7AM, discharging men and supplies. Bill was manning his Oerlikon guns right at the front of the ship, opposite German defenders looking to push them back. The ship was disabled though, and later towed back to England. After repairs they continued taking supplies across the Channel, and they also had a chance to see a bit of England. Bill was returned to Canada before VE Day; there was no more need for landing craft in Europe by then, so the RCN reassigned him to coastal patrols in Canada, aboard the HMCS Grandmere. That’s where Bill would conclude the war; he was offered the chance to fight against Japan, but he declined. He had met his fiance by then and within a year the two were married and finding their way in postwar Canada. Bill Gunter was interviewed by Scott Masters at the Perley Veterans’ Centre in Ottawa in August 2022.
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