Italy August 21st 1944. This was a day we moved closer to the Gothic line. We had been briefed that it was going to be quite a show. We would move in supporting the First Canadian Division.
Our advance party, after leaving Jesi, and I being a member of that party, arrived in an area of rolling hills and some orchards. Here we came upon a peach orchard. That was out of this world. Peaches were bending the boughs with their weight. Shell fire that had hit around had shaken some peaches on to the ground resulting in the ground being covered with the most beautiful peaches as big as large grape fruit.
Most of us had never seen a peach orchard and of course gorged on the tree ripened fruit. I remember First Division chaps loading jeeps with all the peaches they could pick up. In this area Colonel McIntosh toured each troop to meet all of us. I think I had him repeat his name to me. He, after leaving me, asked Lt DeBelle did you not tell Sgt major Bannerman my name? Lt DeBelle had of course but I was not sure. Anyway it was the only time I ever spoke to Colonel Mc Intosh as he was killed wihin 24 hours of that meeting.
I will go in to that soon. Either this day or the next I was sitting on my motor bike looking over the country side. I was on a high rolling hilly area and could see for miles. I remember feeling a shiver got all over my body and I thought oh no I must not get Malaria so reached in a pocket and took a couple of Mepacrine tablets [ Quinine]. As Isat on my bike I saw convoy after convoy coming through a small village to my left rear. The German gunners knew all this as the dust cloud was raising high from the convoy's passing. In the distance I heard a very large gun firing and soon the whistle of a shell passing high overhead.
The shell crashed into the village, Bricks, stones, and a massive cloud of dust was what I could see. But the convoy kept coming through this shell fire..
As I sat there as a spectator, shell after shell burst into the buildings and near the road. I should have said that I would hear this distant gun fire but the exploding shell in the village would happen before I actually heard the whistle of it passing over head to my left. This was a vaunted large railway gun that our spit bombers had tried to knock out. It would run out from a tunnel fire a few shots and retreat into the tunnel. This gun was to cause us a lot of trouble. I was on an advance party to Montemaggoire and was left on the hill to direct others where to go, not just having a sunny afternoon to contemplate my navel .