Italy September 1944. While writing these memoirs you will note that these are my memories of those days so long ago. I have not tried to cover the large picture of the Canadians in Italy although I have read a lot of ww2 history on that subject. This is the way I saw it and remember. Oh yes I will not remember it the same as the next person but this is ME.
The days of the early part of September were hot and dusty. When you rode your motor bike down the road the fine dust was up to your foot rests, fine as fine flour. The dust from convoys or almost any vehicle rose high in the air giving the German gunners a fine target to fire into the dust cloud. More times than we liked they would hit and set on fire a vehicle.
Fox troop for the past few days had been very fortunate in not getting shelled while other units of the regiment sustained casualties amongst signalers, gunners, and observation post officers, and assistants.
The 17th Regiment was in position to support the attack on Coriano Ridge. We had moved into position around 11th Sept on a reverse slope of a fairly steep hill. Fox troop was just below a small village. In this village our battery command post was located. Some time in this spot, L/sgt Elmer Applegren and a Bombadier, Mickey Lalonde, were up at the observation post and were given two German prisoners to bring back, to deliver them to Brigade for interrogation. Elmer and Mickey loaded the prisoners in their jeep and started to return to Headquarters. On the way down the road they came under German shell fire. They took shelter in an old house which had a good supply of wine. Elmer and Mickey had a few drinks then thought that the German prisoners should have a drink too. After many drinks Elmer arrived at our Battery Headquarters, walked in and reported to Capt Hand and said look what we have in the jeep.
Capt Hand came out to see what was going on and one German prisoner was driving the jeep, the other prisoner was holding the tommy gun and Mickey very drunk in the back of the jeep .
Capt Hand said, along with a few other chosen words, it looks like they brought you here not the other way around. Brigade was not happy as the German prisoners were too full of vino and ready to sleep and in no shape for any questioning.
Here is what happened after this. Sgt Al Ede, our signal sergeant, was requested by 8th Army to help coordinate communications in the 8th Army. He now left a spot open for a promotion. After Elmer Applegren’s handling of the prisoners, he was not to be promoted. At this time my best friend Orme Payne transfered back to 76th Battery from 60th Battery. I was really pleased to see him back with us and It did not take Orme long to have all the signalers doing a bang up job. When I went to my slit trench and went to sleep on the night of 12th Sept I did not know what the next day my 23rd birthday would bring. But I will write about that next segment.