63. Fine Wine Tales
The position of the regiment was a static front with I would guess limited patrolling by either side. That is the way war time communiqués used to read when in reality , the infantry was out patrolling every night, and every once in awhile a vicious clash would happen if a patrol from one side was more aggressive then the other.
Our job was to have certain tasks ready to fire at a moments notice or to bring fire down on an area where one of our Brigades patrols needed help. This brought on a stern lecture from Major Lagimodiere. Some one had fired a gun or guns off line and had killed or wounded one of our infantry patrols. He assured us that it was not us but he was laying it on hot and heavy, saying the Brigadier was not very pleased that this happened. He further said there is no excuse for this to happen and in his mind this was murder and we gun sergeants were warned to check our gun layers to be sure line and elevation were correctly placed on the gun. This we took to heart as Major Lagimodiere was a tough fellow and a no nonsense officer and we knew it.
We were under command of 5th Cdn Armoured Division instead of Brits, New Zealander, or Indians. Here our division was trying to get other units into the line to get battle experience. At a distance of a hundred feet up against a house the Lord Strathcona Horse had a tank and crew. This crew used to interchange with other crews as the area was so muddy there was no chance to keep changing tanks. Now this house and shed that the tank was up against had massive vats of wine, probably hundreds of gallons and maybe a thousand or so gallons. The LSH tank men were into this wine day and night and we could hear them at the gun position hooting around at all hours. We wondered how long this would go on as our gunners were not allowed to be drinking while manning the guns. Oh it did come to an end with a couple of LSH officers and I think their RSM arrived in a jeep complete with tommy guns and a good supply of ammunition. The officers got out of the jeep spoke to the tank crew that were there. Then we heard the damndest amount of submachine gun fire! What was going on ? Well what was going on was, the LSH officers riddled these vats with sub machine gun fire. The result of this was thousands of gallons of wine flowed down toward our gun pits so much in fact that one of our guns had to be moved and the gun tractor was stuck in the mud created by the flow of wine necessitating another tractor coming to the aid of the first. I recall the LSH officers drove away and we had no more noise from the now sober tank crews.
Some great wine tales come out of this static front. Word was out that one unit had some really superior wine in a shed so other units came with jeeps, trucks and motor bikes to pick up some of this fine wine. The pickup would be by bringing large glass demi johns, small kegs, down to water bottles. Now years later there has been a lot of tales about this wine who had it. Was it the Perths, Irish, Cape Breton Highlanders, or one of our batteries? All claim this fine vintage. Well the story goes as the large vat started to get low something would plug the spigot and this somethings would have to be pushed back or removed , As the vat was getting much lower some chap thought he would check the level of wine . On removing the wooden cover he found a woman's body in the vat. Apparently she had been killed and the Italian family were not able to bury her. Seeing the family had to flee the area , they placed the woman in the vat to preserve the body until they were able to return and bury her properly.
Myth ?? Truth ?? Who knows? But there are hundreds of servicemen still out there who swear it is true!
I'm just the relater of good yarn . .