Mezzano Italy, January 1945. This is a continuation of asking Orme Payne to help take care of a problem with Fox troop drivers. As I had mentioned the drivers had a still operating and Bobby Cochrane was the chief distiller. I had a notion that I could, with Orme's help, sort of get this group back in line. I had a quart of lime cordial super strength. It would make a gallon of lime juice when water was added, a potent substance plus about three bottles of Guiness's stout. How and where I obtained them I forget. Gathering all this together I thought if I drank a couple of raw eggs to line my stomach for the assault on the drivers' drinking prowess. I walked down to the driverís house and Orme walked down from the battery command post. I was to be the drivers' guest and knowing me I said well here is how it is. I will make you a Bannerman cocktail. Glasses were brought forward and we all sat around a great old table. Into each glass I poured a layer of pure lime cordial [a nice green color remember that for later ]. Then on top of the cordial a good layer of the distilled liquor, another layer of stout, a layer of the lime, and topped off with a shot of the distilled booze. Down the hatch fellows. I at one time could drank a pint down in one gulp, a trait that I could always do. After a couple of the Bannerman cocktails there was the sound of loud sickness, the numbers at the table decreased with Orme hanging in there. Again the glasses were charged and again we lost a few to the green. Then the phone rang and it was a call for Orme from the battery command post. It was Jack Beckwith phoning to tell Orme that he better come back as the main phone line to the observation officer was out. I said Orme send Bombadier Beckwith as you are in no shape to go. But, knowing Orme, he said he had to go. I saw Orme out the door and he wandered away up the road and vanished into the darkness.
Back I went to the table but only a couple were left standing, Curly Wells and Cochrane. I wandered back to our gun position the night's episode over.
Next morning most of the drivers were at breakfast.
But before noon they were not going to let what I had done to them the night before detain them from firing up the still, which they did. But it exploded, so as he told me later, it was not to be and he and Curly would see that the drivers would be dressed correctly, shaved and cleaned up and the vehicles would get all the care. Their word was good and I never had to scuttle this group of fine chaps again. Beckwith had just called Orme on a phoney errand to see that he was recalled and rested for any emergency that might come up. Everyone looked after the other fellow.
Beckwith drowned on a family holiday in Costa Rica in the nineties. He was one of the greatest. RIP old friend and fellow hockey player. Curly Wells and Bobby Cochrane and many of the other drivers have passed away. Rest In Peace old friends and comrades. You were the best ....... .