Italy, The Gothic Line. August, September 1944. Now this particular segment I have no absolute dates.
For someone who receives this who served in the infantry at this period will note the absence of mention of all the great battles and lack of reinforcements. I acknowledge the task of our infantry. They were the greatest. If I started doing every battle in detail I would have to research all the ww2 history.
This research has been accomplished by so many talented writers in minute detail that I have left it to Stan Scislowski, Farley Mowat, and Nicholson for his great book, "The Canadians In Italy ".
I have said before this is how I remember what happened to me and those that I have the greatest comradeship for that were around at that time in my life .
It was terrific that my life long friend Orme Payne was back in the same battery. On every advance party both of us were there. His mother told me to look after him. Orme relates it was my mother telling him to look out for me. Late in August Lt McIntyre and I were at point 120 where the Cape Breton Highlanders had many killed and wounded. McIntyre and I were going over the area of this great battle. The Germans had cut every growing thing down to have an unobstructed view and create a killing zone. McIntyre and I walked along a path that the Highlanders had advanced to this hill . We counted 18 blood stained sets of webbing laying on this path spread at intervals where a Highlander had either been killed or wounded.
It had a sobering effect on us. We turned to go up point 120 and here built into the hillside were bunkers, deep into the hill, all framed and walled with boards with wooden stairs, and peering down we could see large reinforced rooms.
McIntyre said let us go down these stairs. My reply was I doubt whether the engineers have been down and those stairs are likely booby trapped. So we continued up the hill coming upon a dead German who had been out in the hot sun for a spell. We left him as he was. We thought better of going to roll him over and souvenir hunt his pockets.
Going up the hill, at every step we saw more and more thrown away German equipment, more dried blood on the road, and machine guns and empty cartridges by the thousands. The Germans had really been putting up a fight. As we reached the top of the hill we met up with Colonel Bill Greenlay of the 11th Field Regt. RCA who told us he captured a German in the great network of trenches on the hilltop. The Colonel said he was exploring this long narrow trench when he spotted a German soldier seated at a bend in the trench. The trench was narrow and the Colonel pretty big. He had difficulty in getting his revolver out of his holster [not a quick draw chap was our Bill Greenlay ]. So in English he said to the German do not move and I will get the pistol out”. Of course the German did not move and surrendered to Colonel Greenlay. At this point we met with a staff sergeant from the Highlanders who was full of vino. He had been preparing some four or so dead Highlanders for transport and final burial.
The sun was extremely hot and the bodies were starting to smell. Colonel Greenlay started to give the Sergeant hell. When are you going to get those smelly bodies out of here?? The Highlander Sgt replied as soon as the transport arrives I will have them removed. Colonel Greenlay said it better be soon .
Lt McIntyre and I were not too impressed with Colonel Greenlay's insensitivity. This area was like most of the Gothic Line with minefields every where. Some of the minefields were still marked and fenced with the achtung minen signs. The Germans had been pushed and did not have time to remove their signs.
Read Stan Scislowski's book, "Not All Of Us Were Brave" . He will tell you all about getting into minefields.