I was transferred to RHQ on the 17th Feb and away from the guns to an area slightly to the rear. RHQ command post was in a large two story house and it was not damaged very much.
My duties were to be always during day light hours to be around where the RSM could call upon me to ensure that the guard was always posted,unit sign out for day and lighted at night. And, if the RSM did not have time I was to take the map that the RSM had all the information posted as to who was in the front lines and where, also by intelligence reports what German units were defending to our front. Now the RSM took this map daily around to all RHQ personnel and explained what in the best of anyone's knowledge what was really going on. When the RSM was not available to take this map around I did.
And right there I had my appetite whetted for WW2 history.
Since then I feel I have a good touch for times and places of where we were at all times in Italy !
I have spoken to many veterans and a lot of them said all they ever knew or were told was another hill to take or another crossroad, and the little towns and villages they fought through were just so many blasted buildings and no name rubble. Here at RHQ I did not have to leap out of my bedroll, called a fart sack, when a phone rang. I did put the odd time in on a duty phone. I took over a dugout on the reverse slope of a small knoll, put my pup tent over it and settled in. I think I had a two level hole. One level was covered with the fart sack and the other to place your sten gun, boots, and other gear. I remember that the flying observation officer flew low over head and dropped a message telling Colonel Armstrong he would be dropping in as soon as he landed and jeeped back. Now there was a rest area set up down the coast at Bari. The morning after the air OP had dropped by, I was just getting out of my tent when I heard the whistle of incoming shells and they sounded like freight trains. As I looked toward the RHQ building I saw the RSM's batman start going towards the building. A big shell landed not far from Bill Cain. This shell must have went into the ground at least ten feet then exploded great junks of earth were thrown skyward coming down all around Bill. I thought Bill will not survive this shelling as he kept dodging around still going toward the house. These big shells kept hitting all around Bill all hitting deep into the soft earth. Well to cut the story short Bill made it to the house caught the lorry to Bari and started a few days rest. As the shelling stopped I was still amazed that Bill had made his run through this and survived. I went over to check the area and see if any of our people or equipment was damaged. The shell holes were immense and the clods of dirt that had rained down around Bill were some over two feet in diameter. It was a large calibre gun that had fired on us. I would say the Germans knew our house was a headquarters by the number of vehicles coming and going, also with the flying OP buzzing low, it confirmed that our RHQ was a command post to be dealt with. Bill was a man in his forties and by being a batman at RHQ made the trip to Italy otherwise he would have been left in England.
I certainly had a view of this near tragedy and could not believe that Bill made it.
Bill Cain died in 1977......