Italy, January 1945. When I first started to write my memoirs I was not going to mention names but as the writing progressed I found that I was naming friends more often. They were such a part of my life those many years ago. How is it that I remember those comrades that I only knew for about six years and cannot remember many of those that I worked with after the war? We were very young those days. We grew and hopefully matured with our fellow soldiers. We shared 24 hours a day with these fellows, the danger and the fun all blended together, and we remember the great times more often than the bad times .
The comradeship of those days is something that only those of us were there can feel to each other.
Back to Italy and our last gun position near Mezzano only we did not know this at the time. Our forward troops and observation officers and staff had some stressful days especially with the rationing of ammunition. they could not fire on targets that would have been fired on in days past.
At the guns during January, if I remember correctly, we did not have much shelling and causalities were few. But the one that I think I mentioned before was when I/sgt Burton and Gunner Cowan were killed, and Gunner Spink was badly injured by a drunken sergeant Major of the 11th RCA who was driving a vehicle and crashed into our people. I will write more on his later.
On the 23rd of January the regiment had orders to move out of the line with our position taken over by the 2nd RCA. We limbered up the guns and in a cold windy snow storm started down the road, destination Cattolica. I was on my motor bike on this trip doing my share of point duty. I should say it was cold as the devil. I had layers of clothes on and even then it was a cold drive down the road.
Coming along the road the convoy had stopped. Standing outside their vehicle was Orme Payne, Bassham, and I think, Jack Beckwith. I slithered to a stop beside them, [the road was icy ] greeted them and said a snake had bitten me. Where, was the query? I said under all these clothes and in the middle of my back. They knew that I had a flask of Rum in a leather cover and they lost no time in unbuttoning and digging it out. The thing to do for snake bite was to drink that rum so, standing in the blowing snow, we proceeded to share the flask of rum.
The convoy started to move and we were on our way once again. I had not gone a half mile when I was flagged down at a lorry. Here someone decided that the motor bikes might get damaged if the road were to become in a more icy state. The bikes were all loaded [ no worry about the bike riders just the bikes]. I then was picked up by Lt Alex Ross who was seated in TLF troop leader Fox troop vehicle. His driver was Bombadier Bob Cochrane. This vehicle was an old British small truck [ name has escaped me ] with no windshield just a piece of canvas that came up to their chins. Both Lt Ross and Cochrane were freezing cold and announced so loud and clear. I replied that I did not feel the cold at all and in fact was glad to get in the truck off the motorbike. My comments about not being cold had this from Alex Ross. 'sergeant major by the smell of your breath I can see why you do not feel the cold. With Alex's warm words I suspect I just went to sleep. No use three of us watching the road,
Next stop Cattolica. The truck was a Bedford .