Italy, September 1944. The following is a series of mixed events but that is how these things come to me as I write about something or after talking to Orme Payne or one of the other old farts [note old]. That was a cold blow below the belt .
They remind me of somebody or some incident and it flows back into my memory.
Lt McIntyre was a city chap and was used to getting quite a kick out of reading a newspaper that either Orme or I had sent to us.
This was the Swift Current Sun from the small city of the same name in Saskatchewan. McIntyre would read out the local news items submitted from locals at Neville or Cabri or Pambrun or Vanguard or many of the other small prairie towns. In these local reports Mrs Slim Benson may, along with some others, have had a bake sale to purchase cigarettes to send overseas, or someone from Toronto, or from as far away as Regina was visiting in one of the small towns.
McIntyre thought all these items were terrific and it sounded even more so when he read them out. Orme and I then would tell the Bob Murphy stories. We had our audience really interested as they used to ask us to tell these stories.
We ran out of Bob Murphy stories and used to make them up. I survived and was able to tell Bob Murphy that we told his stories all over and even made some up. His reply was I hope you did not exaggerate when telling. We just hepped them a bit. A Bob expression.
Oh yes some of it was fun and the comradeship of these fellow gunners so many years ago just made it so. On one advance party McIntyre and I came upon an exhausted cow that had run and run from shell fire. It was almost dead. McIntyre, a city boy, had never seen an animal in such distress. I being the farm boy thought we had better put the animal down so I coached McIntyre how to shoot this poor animal.
After this we walked along a path, heard a rustle, and saw a black snake wiggle away through some underbrush. This snake was about six feet long and had a body about an inch and a half in diameter with a small head compared to the body. This was the only snake I ever saw in Italy. It was apparently not a poisonous variety .
At this moment we heard some shooting and hurried to where our vehicles were parked. Here stood Orme Payne revolver in hand scattering grain down for chickens then neatly dispatching a chicken or two for supper. Head shot did not ruin the carcass. If I remember rightly this was the time of the year the God's were on the German side as the clouds opened and rain fell. Bridges were washed out and the tanks were getting bogged down in mud. Also cloud cover cut down on our aircraft flying very many sorties.