"In Chariots of Iron" can be ordered from Pagemaster at (toll-free) 1-877-855-9303

In Chariots of Iron

The personal adventures of a soldier in a Canadian Armoured Brigade during World War II from training to VE Day

In Chariots of Iron is the personal memoir of Corporal Ray W. Lane, an Alberta boy, during WW II in the Canadian Army. It begins with his training on Vancouver Island, an eye-opening view of army life in Eastern Canada and Britain and bloody front-line experience in Normandy and Northern Europe. Indeed, Corporal Lane got an unwelcome promotion to crew commander of his Sherman tank when the former crew commander suffered a fatal head wound.

After V-E day, there is a period of re-adjustment to civilian life. The author describes the smell of the tank’s diesel fumes mingled with the smell of a friend’s blood as it dripped on the tank’s hot transmission and cooked. After the War, Lane could smell this mixture whenever he was near a diesel-powered vehicle.

The painting on the front cover is one of four water colours I did from my war
experiences. I had a haunting memory of this small village of “Ifs” with its
shattered church tower, that stuck with me long after the evening I passed through it. 

Ray W. Lane

 "In Chariots of Iron" can be ordered from Pagemaster at (toll-free) 1-877-855-9303


Chapter 11 - Crossing the Rhine pg. 134-5

When I dared to peek over the edge of my turret, I was appalled at the destruction this one bomb had caused. There were several dead and wounded from both sides lying all about – stretcher-bearers rushing here and there, picking them up and tending them.

The worst case reminded me of the days when my father used to kill a chicken for dinner. He was never very good at it, and invariably after its head had been severed, the chicken got free and flew about all over the place. It never occurred to me it could be the same with a human.

The last German prisoner I had seen before ducking my head was still walking toward me, but with no head – a fountain of blood gushed from the place where his head had been. In a most grotesque manner, his right arm still in the posture of surrender was clasped behind a head that wasn’t there. The head with the left shoulder hung from his sleeve. He walked a few steps like this and collapsed beside my tank. This was a haunting face of death I shall never, ever forget – a nightmare I have relived again and again.

Upon seeing this, our captain, the new troop commander, went all to pieces. He became completely hysterical over the wireless as he described this ghastly scene. I’ve heard of hysterics happening to others, but only once before had I seen a man so overcome with fear – though not as dramatic as this.

This was an appalling display of fear to occur in the midst of battle. Our very lives depended upon one another keeping our nerve and doing our job. A reaction like this can have a paralyzing domino effect. It’s bad enough for an ordinary soldier to lose control; none of us expected this from the officer who led us.
My God! It was getting to everyone! The whining had to be stopped. He had to be shut up.

We had been taught in First Aid that the procedure for treating hysteria was a good sound slap on the face.

The [Squadron Commander] dealt the slap over the wireless. In a sharp commanding voice for everyone to hear, he put this officer to shame:

“Oh stop it! You’re breaking my heart! He’s a Heiny isn’t he? You say his head’s off? If you’re worried about him, you have my permission to finish him off. What do you want me to do? You want me to come and hold your hand and kiss him good-bye? Get a hold of yourself man!”

It was his way of treating shock with more shock and it seemed to work. We heard not another word from that captain.