You will note that now I have the 24th of May for the original crossing of the Melfa river. I have to make an apology to the Westminster regiment as they crossed the Melfa on the 24th May not the 25th as I stated. This was pointed out to me by a Westminster Regiment Sergeant that was there and will remain nameless, but his initials are F.W.
I knew better about this date but just got carried away, also Lt Perkins was not with the BCD's, and I certainly knew that but again I had the BCD's on my mind. As just before this we had BCD's around our gun position and then on early in their first action C squadron BCD's lost seven tanks to one sp gun. The tanks were caught in a sunken road and the German gunner shot the last tank in the road then in a matter of moments with six or seven more shots brewed up the rest of the tanks. Apparently there were only two fatalities and a few wounded, which in itself was remarkable.
Oh yes It was Lt Perkins of the Lord Strathcona Horse not the BCD's that were first over the Melfa with the Westminsters. I just had my thoughts being carried away, so any of you history buffs likely picked that one up.
A lot of people wonder how I remember as much as I do. Well, this came from having the daily situation map marked up with who, where, and what units were in the order of battle. Also I talk a lot about the war and read a lot of WW2 history. Mind you like everyone I make mistakes. If three persons saw the shell fall all would have a different story of what actually happened, so I try to write it like I remember. And thanks to Fred for jogging my memory.
Somewhere during this advance the German engineers blew great craters in the roads. Coming up to one of these massive craters, there laying in a number of pieces, was a small bulldozer. I knew the Canadian Engineer sergeant that was directing the repairs. [ he was the fun loving big Irishman who hit our fellows on the back of the head at dance in Petawawa in 1941] I asked him what had happened he said the bulldozer started to fill the crater and made one pass when it hit a bomb that the Germans had buried in the bottom of the crater. I said was the bulldozer operator killed and he said no, just blown about twenty feet into the air. He was bruised and battered but would be back in action in a few days.
Then I believe that night the German aircraft came over and bombed a Royal Canadian Engineer unit. The bombing came as next to the Engineers a British unit moved in and had to brew up their tea using gasoline in dirt filled cans as a stove. All these fires were what had attracted the bombing. The engineers lost a number killed and quite a few vehicles destroyed, all the result of the careless attitude of the British unit brewing up their tea and lighting up the area.
I must say I slept through the bombing and the parachute flares that were drifting down with all the rifles and Bren guns firing at the chutes thinking they were paratroopers floating down.
The advance up the Liri valley was a very fast moving with guns being rushed up because the infantry and tanks were calling for help. Then when the move was critical the roads were so congested that we were out of range by the time we arrived. So where possible it was fire and move.
Soon we were in the Pofi area and the first Canadian Division moved through taking over from 11th Brigade. Being in Regimental Headquarters, I do not think that I was ever past Pofi. But our guns were still in action until the fall of the town of Frosinone.
The Canadian Corps did not stay in action in this area too much longer. The Germans were in full retreat, so politics entered the picture. The south African Armoured division took over the chase. Also the British 78th Division and the British 6th Armoured Division who, in our thoughts, were taking their own sweet time coming up on our right flank.
But now the glory of on to Rome looked like a fine thing and the Canadians as valiant as they had fought were not going to get a run to Rome. Somewhere we were told the British 6th Armoured Division took over a bridge that our engineers had just completed, They took this at gun point and history I think tells us that Gen. Leese wanted the British to get on along Highway #6 and the race to Rome was on.
The Canadians were left sucking a dry teat so to speak !!!!!