The long span was before writing the Otterloo battle 16, 17th April 1945. This part of my Memoirs was a very difficult one to put down on paper and I would start then the computer would crash or I kept putting off the start and the week would roll up to Friday. Here is the Friday stop. I worked with ww1 chap named Joe Gardiner, who had a superstition that you never started anything on a Friday because you would never finish it. So I would put it off for awhile longer. This had gone on for over three weeks, stall and more stalling.
Finally I had an email from Major Delaney, a teacher at RMC Kingston. He had received my email address from Stan Scislowski. Stan is noted for his book "Not All Of Us were Brave" . There was something in Major Delaney's note that triggered me into writing the Otterloo story, then continuing my Memoirs. There is a lot of background to finally writing prior to Major Delaney's email.
You will remember I sent a picture along of Fred Lockhart, Don Bulloch and myself with the subject, "A Load Lifted". I will go into what this meant. So bear with me.
The Battle of Otterloo happened on the night of 16, 17th April 1945. On this night Fox Troop had quite an engagement with the enemy.This resulted in the deaths of two of our fellow gunners and the wounding of around twelve or so more.
One of the gunners, Ken Nicolson, was badly wounded in the command post house and died before he could be evacuated. Here is where I will tell you how I felt. For fifty years I carried a load of guilt about Ken's death. I blamed myself for not getting him out of the house to an aid post. For all those years after I thought about this and every time I looked in the mirror I thought about it. I never told any one. Not Edith, our son Gordie, or Orme Payne, my best friend, until I think about fifty years after Otterloo.
We were at a birthday gathering of Lloyd Fraser's at the Old Dutch Inn. I was seated across from Don Bulloch who at the time of Otterloo was with me in the command post. We must have mentioned Ken Nicolson and his death and it triggered the fact I had to tell some one how I felt all these years.
Don was very supportive and assured me in no uncertain terms that I was not to blame for Ken Nicolson's death and that Ken had not lived for long after being hit with schmeiser fire in the abdomen. I felt some better and then in a day or so after this conversation with Don Bulloch I had a call from Don and he said he and Fred Lockhart were coming to talk to me the following day about Ken's death.
This is when I told Edith and Gordie about the long time guilt that I felt. I must say they were very understanding.
The following day Don and Fred arrived and we talked over all the events of that night 16, 17 April 1945. Don and Fred were with me at the command post and both had been in the room of the house when Ken was hit with the submachine gun fire, also Tom Coll was wounded.
I was outside the west window of the house and heard Ken ask me to get him out. I replied that we would as quickly as Lt Ross came back with help. A few moments after that I spoke to Fred Lockhart through the window and asked how Ken was? The reply, " He has passed away ". Getting back to Don and Fred's supportive visit, both men had made the trip to see me entirely on their own. We talked for over two hours on everything that happened that night so long ago.
The load they lifted off my shoulders only I can tell you. The visit by these two comrades was something I will remember all my life.
They were both in agreement that all had been done to help Ken Nicolson from the time he was hit, being bandaged by Vic Bennet, and his death soon after. When I said a load lifted it certainly was.
Further to the story Don and Fred's visit was about ten years ago and I had never put the Otterloo Battle on paper until late August this year. After that writing I felt even more I was getting closure.
After the writing of the battle I was speaking to our good neighbors Ron and Leslie Larsen and told them about finally writing about the battle and the feelings I had experienced and the visit by Don and Fred.
Ron and Leslie are psychologists and are the greatest. Leslie said you did not tell Orme and I said no but had in later years. Leslie then said. "Gordon what are you going to do with all the room in your head now that is down on paper ?" How right she was. There was room left to really put more on paper and say "CLOSURE ". Thanks to all after all these years, especially Edith for being there for me and son Gordie, plus Don Bulloch and Fred Lockhart , and Orme Payne who looked out for each other for many years. Too many others to name I owe for their support during the war and after, THANKS ..........