As I wrote before I now was in a slit trench with Sgt Darcy Spencers gun crew. Darcy had used great common sense in digging all except one of their crews slit trenches in front of the gun. This was unusual but was a good move as he had an unobstructed view of the whole area to his front.
I had not been long with this crew when Lt Alex Ross scurried into our area asking if we needed more sten gun magazines. I replied we did not. He then said you are here Sgt Major what about the signalers and the acks in the command post. I said that they would be okay as Sgt Copithorn was with them and he was experienced and would get them out.
Lt Alex Ross left us to deliver sten gun ammunition to the other guns. Lt Ross had just left us when out of the distance in the village I could make out the fire orders for mortars. I said to Sgt Spencer that is our friend Tommy Fluck from the Irish and the range he was giving was to be right down on top of us.
We hunkered down. Yes I did not have my helmet but Darcy had a spare so I put it on. When we heard Sgt Fluck holler fire we knew we were for it . But luck was on our side as far as Sgt Spencer and his crew. But the mortars rained down around the other three guns in the troop. Lt Ross had just arrived at Sgt Johson's gun when the mortars landed. One of Johnson's crew told me later that a strap binding a bed roll was cut by the flying shrapnel and the belt like a snake went around Lt Ross's neck. A good story as told later but not at the moment .
Shortly after the mortaring, a machine gun to Sgt Spencer's left rear opened up on us. Spencer grabbed the bren gun and said I will knock that SOB out of that window. I restrained him as it was either a Browning or a Vickers by the rate of fire and kept him from firing back.
The machine gun probably fired at least two hundred rounds into Sgt Spencer's gun and ammunition limber. The rounds chewed up the gun sights and riccocheted off the barrel into the slit trench that we were occupying. In the terrific fire from this machine gun we heard a hissing sound. Sgt Spencer said the ammunition limber is going to blow and it is either you or I Gordie to put it out. I said there is no smoke or flame wait until this storm of fire quits .
It did not go on fire and daylight showed that fifty bullets went into the fender and tire of the limber. That over with, we still could hear moans from the far right which turned out to be wounded Germans at Sgt Pop Barkwell's gun. The next thing that I remember was the signalers and acks running across our immediate front. Spencer and I called out to them did you all get out? The answer was yes and they proceeded towards the village.
They had left the command post when the Germans came up and went to fire through the windows on them. The returning attempt to fire the rifle cartridge miss fired, so out the opposite window they went. Fred Lockhart was to tell me that when they all got out the window they had forgotten the bren gun so Fred [ a cool young man } went back into the house through the window and out againwith the Bren gun and magazines and caught up with the rest as they left that area.
A couple of Germans lighted fire to the Irish truck at our command post. This lighted up the whole area accompanied with the exploding ammunition and fuel that it carried. A tremendous amount of firing and yelling was going on in the village.
While down the Apeldoorn, Otterloo road to our right flank the Germans were marching along with some horse drawn wagons with fires lighting them up so we could see them quite clearly. A couple of these tedeski's stopped and tried to light fire to an ammunition limber down near our command house but failed in their attempt. It was a pretty hairy night .