At the last gun along came three drivers from battery headquarters who had been in advance of our position and had been up the field to another house, I suspect looking for a glass of wine or just goofing about. A sten gun started to fire so I hollered at McDonald the chap with the sten gun to quit firing and smarten up. His reply was I cannot shut the sten gun off. This sten gun was on a sling hanging down his back and for no reason other than being a damn sten gun it started to fire. All McDonald could do was stand with his legs apart and knees bowed while the sten gun fired some 25 rounds into the dirt between his legs.
That episode over I continued either to the wagon lines to talk to Bdr Wells regarding them digging slit trenches or back to the troop command post. Back at the command post all were either digging slit trenches or had completed them so I dug one for myself not far from the command post and a few feet from an Irish Regiment truck that normally would have been pulling a six pounder anti tank gun. With this truck was a Corporal and two other infantry men. I noted that they had not dug any slit trench and I kept at them to do so until they likely thought we will never get this sergeant major off our backs so they then dug a good slit trench on the far right hand corner of the house closest to the track and low trees.
I do not remember whether we were on daylight saving time or not but memory tells me that it was getting dark about nine o'clock. No firing was being done and really no reports in from either of our headquarters. So most of the chaps had turned in for the night with the gunners out in the field with partial crew always on duty, and the same with the command post staff who bedded down in slit trenches outside the house. Others including myself put our fart sacks on the floor of the house and so to sleep Don Bulloch, Lt Alex Ross, and a signaller, I believe Fred Lockhart, were on duty in the small attached room at the far end of the house. Somewhere along about eleven o'clock I was awakened by Lt Ross saying there were reports of German troops moving about in the bush north of the house. He had also heard from Lt Stone at Battery HQ that they were hearing troops coming down the road and it looked like we were to be under fire in a very short time. I, along with the rest, got up in a hurry and pulled on trousers and went to the door of the house. This door faced to the guns but on the rear of the house. Just then the Irish infantry men fired a few rounds from a tommy gun. Lt Ross said sergeant major get someone out to the corner of the house. I did not make a move so Lt Ross said Briant you cover that corner. I put my arms over Bill Briant and said stay here. Just then a mortar bomb hit where Briant was to go. Then another mortar bomb whispered through overhead and exploded between us at the door and Sgt .Humble's gun. Then through the air came a piece of the bomb making a fair bit of noise and it hit someone. Sgt Bill Copithorn said that hit somebody and I said yes me. It hit with a good punch to the lower abdomen so I retreated into the house passing gunner Stubbington who was crawling out from under all the window glass. This glass was from the first bomb exploding. I lowered my pants and found just a trickle of blood on my stomach. It did not seem serious. From here I accompanied Lt Ross back around the corner of the house to our command post. Just as we went into that part of the house Sgt Humble arrived with either four or five Germans that he and his crew had captured. I did not mention that we had a communication system between guns and command post called Tannoy this we used on a two way basis .
Sgt Humble left the prisoners with now Don Bulloch and I. Sgt Humble also said do not use the Tannoy system as the Germans approaching were alerted to the voices coming over the speakers. Lt Ross said Sgt major stay and look after the command post and he would go back into Otterloo for help. This seemed a start of a very violent night .