Italy 1944. Every once in awhile another memory of events come back to me.
All ranks were well briefed in the handling of explosives, whether it was our ammunition or theirs.
Leave mines and other assorted ordinance that you knew little about were left to the engineers. In one of the rest areas, a good friend of mine, Bob Anderson, was walking past the rear of a truck where some of the fellows were doing something. Bob tells me they called him over and said have a look at this fuse. Bob took one look and said leave that dangerous stuff alone.They were taking fuses off 20mm cannon shells. Bob said "I'm leaving, that is a stupid stunt."
Bob had gone a few feet from the back of the truck when there was an explosion. Bob relates that as he turned around Gunner Jeffery was holding his hand up now minus a finger or two. A rather war ending lesson. Oh yes we all did some stupid things and survived. Some one must have looked out for us .
Through a combination of circumstances on the 22nd of July 1944, I was informed by Colonel Armstrong that I was no longer the senior sergeant in the regiment but now I could sew on the crown and wreath of a WO 2, as sergeant major of Fox troop. I was promoted and went to report to Captain Brown Fox troop commander.
Another chapter in my life this happened almost four years after I joined the army. Battery sergeant major Bill Lloyd was eager to congratulate me on my promotion and presented me with the brass crown and wreath attached to a wrist strap. This wrist strap I wore all during months when we did not wear battle dress. I still have this memento.
Bill Lloyd passed away before his 90th birthday a year or so ago. Towards the end of July King George the sixth traveled incognito to Italy. King George reviewed the Cassino battlefield.
At this time 100 of our officers and other ranks went to witness King George pin the Victoria Cross on Major Mahony of the Westminster regiment for valor at the Melfa river crossing. A well earned decoration the highest in the British Empire and Canadian forces. Anyone who had ever met Major Jack Mahony agreed that he deserved all the awards that could be given to him.
I think at this time Lt Perkins of the Lord Strathcona Horse received his DSO. It was the only time that a Lt. received such a decoration. It usually went to Majors and above.
Both deserving recipients