This sort of bizarre happening took place some time around the 29th May 1944. It happened in an area where Lt Jack Dowling was wounded rather badly, taking a tremendous amount of shell splinters in his back and neck from an air burst.
Before going on with the bizarre happening, Jack Dowling survived, married, and raised thirteen children. Jack, up until his death in the early 1990ís was still digging pieces of shell fragments out of his back.
Now on to the story. While we were in this area a nun came over to RHQ and through Al Tumino we were able to ascertain that an Italian civilian had been killed by shell fire a day or so before. The nun was requesting transportation for the body and the family to be taken to a village church and cemetery for service and burial.
At the moment I do not remember if the adjutant was Capt Pyper, but whoever it was said we could not comply with the nun's request, so I was relegated to look after this affair. Chuck Watson and I seemed to have a nose for the odd and the unexpected so Chuck, the nun, Al Tumino, and possibly Stu Goldstone or John Wiebe from the survey section, accompanied the nun across the road to a farmhouse to do something but we had no plan at the moment. When we arrived at the house we had no trouble finding what room the body was laid out. Watson said Gordie we will follow the flies as this poor chap had been killed a few days before and the weather was hot. That is what we did and here was the poor chap surrounded with a dozen or so weeping and wailing family.
I decided the best thing we could do was bury him right away. We went outside for air as things were pretty high. Outside we found some German weapon pits that could be extended for a grave. I thought the nun would have to bless the grave so Al Tumino spoke to the nun who said her rosary over the grave. How to move this deceased person? We found a door and slid him on to the door and covered him with a blanket which no one of the family wished to part with. We carried him out. How were we to get him into the grave, as rigor mortis had set in. I asked Al Tumino to have the nun and all move back into the house. We then on the count of three rolled him into the grave saving the blanket.
We called the nun who said a prayer, then shoveled the dirt in. I do not remember if the Italian family gave us a glass of wine but I believe so. Such was a burial under rather different times.