Fossombrone Italy, November 1944. This small town was much like any small Italian town with old buildings and really not a display of being a wealthy town. I do not remember if it had sustained much war damage. The people were rather reserved at first, but soldiers, no matter what army, usually get to know the children. Children are curious and soon were looking out for their favourite soldier, some to just walk along with him, others to cage a cigarette for poppa or a chocolate bar for themselves. Canadians were sort of soft characters with the civilians and in most cases were good to them. Some white flour for Mama who would do up a feed of chicken and spaghetti. There must have been at least ten or so civilians in the lower part of the house where our sergeants and sgt majors were, mostly older ladies and some children.
Pop Barkwell was a Sergeant in F troop . Pop was older by ten years at least than most of us. He loved to go downstairs and visit with the elderly ladies. They loved him and after a few glasses of vino Pop would tweak the elderly ladies cheeks. Pop really could not talk any Italian but with the vino helping Pop's great laughter, the world was as rosy as the circumstances could be.
It was a fun time for Pop and he certainly brightened all around him including the rest of us. One night when Pop was down drinking and laughing with the ladies Orme decided to give Pop a ride on his bed when he came in to go to bed. Pop slept on a door to keep him off the cold concrete floor. Well Orme, Sid, and I had been out chopping down telegraph poles so we had some nice short lengths of pole. Good rollers, so Orme positioned one roller under the foot of Pop's door and the other at the head and using a piece of wood set it so a fair amount of movement would send the door shooting across the floor with Pop on it. We put our candles out and settled in for Pop to come in. Well Pop came up the stairs singing away happy as a little boy. Seeing lights were out he sort of suspected something and muttered away that I know you beggars are not asleep. No one answered so we heard him take his clothes off and what he did was get under his blankets then put both feet in the air getting the blankets to swing under him. As Pop did this, away he went scooting across the floor, door, blankets, and all. His words were, "Damn you Payne." Now how did he know Orme set that up. A good laugh was had and so to sleep. We were still boys at heart .