Near Coriano Ridge September 1944. While writing the memoir of 13th September I could not recall exactly the driver of the runaway lorry. I knew him as Red but could not remember the rest. Well it was JA [Red] McLlellan and he came from Nova Scotia.
Some time on the 16th of September our advance party went forward to just below Coriano ridge that had been taken with fierce fighting a couple of days before.This position had a great amount of mines everywhere, anti personnel and antitank. Along a small path we came upon the remains of some British Black Watch soldiers. It appeared that they had been walking along the path when the lead person tripped a wire setting off some teller antitank mines. The body of a British officer was laying there and his head in his helmet was up in a tree so violent had the blast been. The others with him had not faired too well either, two more being killed with him and a foot from one minus the shoe and sock was a couple of hundred feet away. They had been laying there for at least two days or more. At the moment we did not do anything with the bodies as the guns were coming late this night. On the 17th of September we gathered up the bodies and body parts of the Black Watch soldiers and buried them in shallow grave . Our padre was an older man coming from the 48th Highlanders. While he was doing the burial service, Germans started to shell. This shelling kept getting closer to where we were having the service. The padre interrupted his prayer to say his knees would not let him get up and move to a slit trench but if any of us wished to do so go for it. None of us left, but I had my eye on a hole close by. The last shell hit a hundred yards away and the service was completed anyway.
While walking back to our wagon lines I heard a roar of a low flying plane and glancing up I saw a Mitchell bomber flying as if to crash. A door opened on the side of the fuselage and one after another five men jumped out and opened their parachutes. Someone with me said there is five but there should be one more crew member and in a few seconds the sixth man jumped. Mind you his chute had just opened and he hit the ground near our gun tractors. The plane went a few more yards and crashed just missing our wagon lines. When the plane crashed it exploded into a gigantic ball of fire. The first five men out of the plane landed safely but the sixth, a sergeant, was dead. He had hit the ground with a lot of force killing him on impact. Bob Anderson was in the area and went to where the sixth man hit the ground and verified that he was dead.
Within moments after this crash I heard an explosion back near our guns and saw a flash of flame, a small cloud of smoke and heard some screams. I was some distance away and thought that it could have been one of our chaps who had stepped on a mine so I ran back to that area in time to see Sgt George Hegan carry an Italian liason officer down from the hillside. This officer had stepped on a mine and had his foot blown off. His batman was still standing near where the mine went off making a lot of noise. George Hegan went back up to get this man. I thought he might need help and as I came up to George and this frightened Italian, George said watch out Gordie there is a mine there and another one there as he pointed out Schu mines all over. George did a brave thing and did not need my help. The Italian soldier was a bat man to the officer that George had just carried out. This young man was not wounded but too scared to move. I cannot remember but I'm sure George carried this chap out too. I thought it was Orme Payne whose jeep took them away but Orme said it was a Medical Corps ambulance. The Italian officer asked for a shot of morphine and he and his batman were transported to a casualty clearing station.