Not far from Coriano Ridge Italy 13th September 1944.
As I awakened on the morning of the 13th it was really early. If I remember we operated on three times fast time to take advantage of every hour of daylight. As I went to get out from under my pup tent I noticed a very large piece of blackened shell. It looked at first glance like a part of a 25 pounder shell. In its blackened state I thought one of our guns must of had a premature explosion and the fired shell had burst almost as it left the gun. I wondered if this happened that no one had told me. I did not hear a sound during the night but that large piece of shell was not there when I crawled into my slit trench. While I wondered about this, I still had to get out and do my ammunition report that went to the RSM before 7AM each day. I pulled on my pants and started out of my pup tent. Just then there was a swoosh and a violent explosion into a clump of bamboo about twenty feet from me. The resulting explosion flattened the bamboo and the dirt and dust going over my head. The 13th are they trying to get Mum Bannerman's boy Gordie this day?? It looked like it anyway I went out did my ammunition report and found out what happened during the night that had that large piece of shell being where it was.
During the night a British Artillery unit was going through the village to our rear when they came under accurate shell fire, hitting an ammunition limber which burned, and the exploding shells rained down around us. I had slept through this and that was the answer to the blackened shell.
We had been doing a lot of firing in this position and there was a lull in the activity so one of our chaps said let us get some binoculars and lay down on the hill top and watch the Desert Airforce strafe and bomb the enemy positions that lay before Coriano Ridge. I agreed and borrowed Lt Ross's binoculars.
As the other chap and I went to start up the hill I noted that a driver whose name escapes me at the moment was loading empty shell boxes into his lorry. As I watched he jumped into the lorry to adjust his load and as he did so the lorry started to roll down the steep hill. He jumped back to the ground and tried to catch the lorry, which he was failing to do .
I was in not bad shape so took after the truck, catching up to it as it rocketed down the hill. The only trouble I was in the left side of a right hand drive truck. I tried to get hold of the steering wheel and on one attempt the lorry hit a shell hole and the result was the motor came up hitting me in the forehead. Blood flowed freely but again I attempted to get the lorry under control and as I looked out here was a gun muzzle to our front and we were closing on it fast. I would like to say I pulled the steering wheel but I do not know anyway it was bail out time so I hit the ground running with a head wound streaming blood all down my shirt. The lorry missed the gun but it took the pup tent off one Bdr Andersen who said God damn you Gordie you nearly killed me. I replied you stupid SOB you know I'm not a driver and you are lucky. Well the lorry ran past this gun and part way up the hill then back down then back up each up and down getting less distance and finally coming to rest at the bottom of the hill where Red the driver came and drove it away. I had a small shell dressing applied to my head got on my bike and went to the nearest casualty clearing station where I had a number of stitches to my forehead. Everyone said the 13th was an unlucky day for you. My answer was no it was the luckiest day of my life! I survived!