Our gun position immediately below Coriano was to be an exciting one if nothing else. While in this position we had a bomber crash and George Hegan rescuing a couple of Italian soldiers from a mine field and a burial service for Black watch soldiers. We seemed to have a great view of fighter aircraft in combat high above us and to our front. During these combats in the air we saw aircraft being sent crashing to the ground. Some were ours.
One Spitfire came straight down about 400 yards from us. It was nose first and going so fast that we saw it hit the ground and fly to pieces before the noise of it diving came to us. Strange to see it hit the ground, then hear the roar of the dive after the fact. Some of our fellows were very good artists and using material from aircraft wind screens turned out rings and bracelets. Others went to get the radio out of this downed Spit and when they were moving the radio there was a self destructing charge in the radio so that all frequencies were destroyed if it fell into enemy hands. No radio and no injury when it exploded.
We saw the pilots parachuting down and in one case the German pilot landed in allied lines and our pilot landed in the German line. Another Spitfire roared along to our left flying full throttle about thirty feet above the ground. It was without a pilot as we had seen the pilot bail out when engaged in a fight closer to the front and at a good altitude. Soon this runaway plane slammed into the hills to our left rear.
Later this day I was coming back from the wagon lines when I saw a great cloud of dust and heard the crash of a shell in our command post area. Orme Payne relates that a signaler of his called Smith was standing where this explosion occurred. In the ensuing dust cloud no one could see Smith but when the dust settled there was Smith still standing and I think his words to Orme were, "Imagine That" . . Miracles are hard to explain but Smith was a living walking miracle as he did not get a scratch. When I arrived on the scene all I could see was a very dust covered Smith, a miracle indeed.
During this time the 60th Battery had a direct hit on a gun pit killing Sgt Tom Stewart and wounding the rest of the crew, including Roy Childs. Tommy Stewart had also been promoted from my gun detachment .Tommy was 22 years old and was one of those gifted with a photographic memory. I have visited his grave in Italy a couple of times. RIP young friend.
The clouds of dust along any of the roads drew a lot of enemy shell fire with resulting casualties .From this area we fired a couple of barrages , .