The regiment was finally able to clear the terrible traffic jam of vehicles both going to the front lines and back from the front. Traffic control seemed to have vanished and chaos taken over. Finally the Regimental Headquarters that I was a part of rolled along through the area of the great battle of a couple of days ago, Dead Canadian and German were still lying in the ditches and some all mixed up together.
Soon we came to the main Hitler Line. Here I remember counting ten or twelve Churchill tanks knocked out by one 88mm gun well hidden in a pile of rubble. The tanks were all in a semicircle and in the centre was the gun that did them in. Some times this gun was just blasted over but on one occasion a little further down the road, the 88mm gun was blown straight up in the air. Its long barrel not doing any more damage and pointing at the sky. Also here we saw all the vegetation had been cleared down so not a blade of grass dared raise its head. a killing ground and that is what it was! Dugouts and weapon pits all around! Here the defenders shot and killed our infantry men from the first Canadian Division. How our boys were able to get through this killing ground was a heroic feat.
Going a little further we entered the outskirts of the town of Pontecorvo which was a pretty beat up place. At the outskirts of the town some one had a German soldier sitting at the sign post, cigarette in his mouth and rifle in hand as if on duty. Mind you he was dead! I thought at the time that was a ghoulish thing to do.
Going through Pontecorvo we stopped for the rest of the day. Here a couple of young Seaforth Highlanders wondered had we seen any more of their friends. If I remember rightly, they could only find 23 of C company. They were a couple of pretty beat up young fellows!
The Churchill tanks that were knocked out all over the area apparently were British tanks from the North Irish Horse. They were undergunned but manned with exceedingly brave fellows. Here I found a beautiful Beretta sub machine gun. It did not have a magazine. I gave it to Bob Anderson who fashioned a magazine from a Schmeiser mag. This Beretta was carried up into Holland and when I come to April 16th1945 I will finish the story on this sub machine gun.
That night we were in a field and could not go any further forward. I had noticed a scab on my left arm and being a picker I picked at it and found that when I had been hit under the truck a few days before I had also been hit in the arm. So there was a small piece of shell in my arm which I flipped out. The next day while digging a slit trench I noticed a scab on my left side on examining it I found another piece of a mortar shell embedded in my side. Our Medical Officer was cleaning and filing his finger nails a short distance away. I said MO have a look at this. He came over and with his nail file flipped the piece of shell out of my side. I wrote Capt Strashin about forty years later and related this to him saying I should sue for malpractice. His answer was my memory was better then his, and was very glad to have heard from me. Capt Strashin survived the war and went on to owning and operating one of the largest medical clinics in Toronto.
A wonderful compassionate fellow was our MO .