Pofi Italy, May 28th to June 7. Memory fails me concerning the actual dates that we stayed on the outskirts of Pof.i It was in this area that the First Cdn Division passed through our brigade and kept up the attack on the retreating Germans.
I do not remember what artillery regiment from First Division, whether it was 1st RCHA or 2nd, or 3rd RCA. It was a terrific day and we were waving to the artillery regiment rolling past.
The scene was broken with a few terrific airbursts above the road that the regiment were travelling. In a space of a few seconds a gun tractor was hit and went up in flames sending great billowing smoke skyward. This smoke cloud brought more incoming shells. The gun tractor had gasoline in jerry cans along with their netting on the roof of the tractor. The exploding airburst punctured the gas cans and also punctured the cab of the tractor. The gas ran down across the gun crew in the tractor and exploded killing the crew of five or six. No immediate help could have saved them. It all seemed so unreal as here we were standing along waving and cheering them on and in a split second, on this a sunny day, their lives were lost. That is the way the unsuspected happened.
Either later this day or the next we had a screaming group of women and children running into our area from a group of farm buildings about a quarter a mile away to our left. They were so excited and terror stricken that we at first could not make much sense of what they were trying to tell us. They were hollering about someone returning and, also we made out, it was very bad what ever that was. Al Tumino was an italian speaking chap in RHQ so we called Al who found out that black men had returned, shot a grandfather and all raped a young girl. Now it took us a moment to digest who these blacks were. When it hit us that the French Moroccan troops had gone through this area when the main attack was going on. Bill Lloyd a wo2 from another battery was visiting me this afternoon, and his response was let us find out what really happened. Bill, Al, and I went with this group of tearful people to a farm house not far away.
Oh yes, there was an old man shot and bayonetted on the ground and he certainly was well done in and was dead. Also there was a weeping young girl with the earmarks of being roughly handled. We now find out there were 18 Goums, French Moroccan soldiers, that had raped and killed. Bill Lloyd said Gordie we must go after them. I was unarmed and said so, also what are we going to use to bring them in? Well Bill slapped his 38 pistol and said with this! My reply was the hell with it. Bill said what if it was your sister? Again I said to Bill these Goums are on our side. it must be more to this story than meets the eye. I calmed Bill down and he agreed that we could not take on the Free French Corps and he would report this to the town major, and we left the scene.
The next day the same group came back into our area screaming that the blacks had returned. But by the time we went to the farm they were gone. So we talked the group into moving into Pofi to be safe, which they did.
The true story came out that the old grandfather was a Fascist and had told the attacking Goums earlier in the advance that there were no Germans on his property but grandfather lied and the Germans, hiding behind a stone wall, opened fire killing some of the Goums. The Goums remembered and came back and revenged the death of their comrades.