Naviglio Italy, December 1944. This was a gun position that Fox troop occupied over Christmas 1944. I had written about the low laying fog that seemed ever present in this position. It gave a ghostly, still sort of feeling, also there was little firing or aircraft activity. What I do remember that Sgt Sid Robertson over on ETroop was a scrounger par excellent, also Sid took the law in his own hands. I remember hearing Etroop guns firing a few shots. I had been in our command post and did not hear E troop getting any orders to fire their guns or gun. I think the next day I had occasion to wander over to E troop and was talking to Sid Robertson saying I heard a gun firing over here last night but did not hear any fire order. Sid said I felt the Germans needed awaking and I thought we better wake them up. No reason for those beggars to be sleeping. So, Sid said, I cranked the elevation up a bit and fired a few rounds. Well to this day I cannot understand why or how Sid got away with that. How his Gun position officer did not hear the muzzle blast echoing off their house. But you had to know Sid. He was about ten years older than most of us and was a very capable man but a born con man, scrounger, liberator of anything not bolted down, and even if it was bolted down if Sid thought his gun crew needed i,t they had it.
He was a good provider for his crew and was a brave man under shell fire. Sid passed away in 1965. RIP old friend. I will write more on you another day.
In Fox troop area we had a good farm house and out buildings. The house was used for a command post and it and the out buildings sheltered the off duty gun crews and signalers. The farmer who was a man in his early fifties stayed in a room of the house. He looked after his livestock. As Christmas approached we bought chickens and I believe a turkey from him, paying most likely in cigarettes. This farmer butchered and cleaned all the fowl and on getting some white flour he not only baked some bread in this great out door oven, he also roasted all the Christmas chickens too. I should tell you of this old outdoor oven. It was very large and was brought up to roasting temperature by burning a lot of wood in the oven then as the wood went to red hot coals these coals were raked out. The oven was swiped with a wet mop and the bread dough, chickens or whatever were placed in to cook. What a tasty way to do the whole dinner. I believe he supplied the wine too as each troop had a stand down period for Christmas.
I remember that when we left this farm the farmer gave me a very fine bottle of Vermouth that he said was a very fine wine and I had treated him fairly and our gunners had not destroyed his property or shot all his chickens. Yes it was a good bottle, probably the best I ever drank. I missed saying the Oven was built of blocks or stone covered with a hard baked surface. It was about six foot tall with a bottom storage for the wood. Bread or chicken was taken from the oven by a wide long handled wooden flat ended shovel for the lack of the correct word.