Q: How old were you when you decided to join the military?
A: It was in 1942 and I was 20. I was living out in Robert's Arm but working here in Gander. That's when they were staring to build Gander and the Americans were here building the airport. I worked there as an ordinary labourer. I left Gander by train and went to Grand Falls-Windsor and volunteered, and that's where I got my medical and everything. After I was accepted, I went into St. John's and did training. I was trained to march and to handle guns.
Q: Where did you land when you were first sent overseas?
A: I went with the 166 Royal Newfoundland Field Artillery Regiment to England and then after I arrived there, I took different training in artillery and that was vicious artillery. That was heavy artillery. I went on from there to action in Africa and Italy and that lasted two-and-a-half years.
Q: What were your first impressions upon arriving in England?
A: My first impression was, I wondered what had gone wrong with the world because at that time, when we arrived there, that's when the armies were bombing Great Britain and we had to stand guard during what they called The Blitz. That was an awful experience that I don't want to talk about, actually. But you know, how the British people stood up and put up with it and still kept in there - that amazes me because there were hundreds of thousands killed by the bombings. My other first impression, I suppose, was that we were all going to be destroyed but that we had to fight on. We had to fight.
“My first impression was, I wondered what had gone wrong with the world.” - Wesley Oake, veteran
Q: Many veterans don't want to speak about the harsh realities of war. Why do you think that is?
A: It's just because they know what war is. War is to kill. That's what it is. When I was first going in and speaking to school classes as a veteran, first of all I would tell them, ‘You can ask me any question but you may ask questions that I will not answer.' For instance, the first question they'll usually ask a veteran when he goes in is, ‘How many did you kill?' You don't talk about that. That's not what it's about. But it's important for them to know war is killing and war is terrorism, really. It's got another name now - terrorism. That's what it is. We're at war now, really."