Click play to hear Paul Dumaine’s complete audio story
Between getting engaged and his marriage in July 1945, Paul Dumaine, an infantryman with the Fusiliers Mont-Royal, survived serious wounds on the beach in Dieppe, and three years as a prisoner of war.
I met a young woman, Joan, who I became engaged to. We didn’t want to get married because the war was going strong and I could have been hurt or killed. So we said that we would wait. On Aug. 19, 1942, I arrived in Dieppe. My fiancée had no idea where I was. The battle was poorly organized. We landed in broad daylight. We got there and the beach was ablaze. The battle was full-on. Everyone was getting killed and falling down all over the place. It was terrible.
I collapsed after an hour. My head was injured. I couldn’t walk. It was like I was paralyzed. I was bleeding. I wanted to go wash myself off in the ocean. My legs were paralyzed from the shock. I had to drag myself on my elbows to the ocean. I washed my head. There was a great big boat called a tank landing craft; a boat that carried tanks. The doors opened and the tanks came out. One of them had foundered on the beach. We used it as a shelter to hide from the Germans.
After three years as a prisoner of war, I was released. I was ill. When I got to England, I stayed in hospital for a month. Joan was still in the army. The colonel called her to his office and said, “Joan, I have some good news.” She thought it was news from her parents. “Your fiancé is in England, at Aldershot. I know that you would like to see him.” She said, “Yes, yes, yes.” “I am giving you a pass. Get dressed in civilian clothes and go see him.” I was lying in my bed. They said to me, “Dumaine, you have a visitor.” She was there. It had been three years. When I saw her, she was so beautiful. I took her in my arms.