Mointemaggorie Italy. Out of the smoke and falling earth and dust came Bdr Floyd Burton. Floyd was the signal NCO of Fox troop and he was making his way to the command post to check on the signalers and staff. Humble and I hollered is everyone okay and all answered no one hit so we had dodged the bombs this time.
But in a matter of a minute or so the air was full of the flutter whirr whistle of a stonk of mortar bombs so into the slit trench we leaped once again. This time the bombs seemed to come down on us with increased fury as if they were mad not to have got some of us from the previous bombing. Humble and I were sure that no one could survive this amount of mortaring.We just sweated it out almost deaf from the crashing and exploding bombs and we thought in any second we would get a direct hit on our slit trench.
Again as the mortaring started, it stopped. We were alive and stood up and hollered is every body okay?Shouts came from all over the gun position and all were okay. The most memorable answer was from Henry Redfern who laughed and said pretty G-- damn hot eh Gordie and laughed some more. This broke the nervous spell and there were cheers and laughter. We again had dodged the reaper.
Bdr Bert Cox came to me and said come and have a look at his slit trench. I did and in the bottom of his slit trench was his blankets in small pieces as if a rat had chewed them up. Layng in with the torn up blankets was his rifle well and truly destroyed. I said Bert where were you when your slit trench took the direct hit? Bert replied he had a feeling that he would be killed if he stayed in his slit trench so in the middle of this tremendous bombardment he left the slit trench and took shelter in the big gun pit Some one was looking out for Bert.
Now the 48th Highlanders were not so lucky as we were during this mortaring.
The 48th being about a hundred feet up the hill from our guns were in some taller trees and the bombs were hitting and exploding in the trees showering their men with the deadly pieces. Their call for stretcher and aid people happened after every shelling. The 48th were also worried about the washing laid out on the hillside so a small patrol went to investigate and found some Italians with a radio and binoculars. These same fellows had been sending the information to the Germans regarding just where we were. I cannot remember if these fellows were put down or taken to Brigade HQ for questioning.
It was hard for we gunners not to fire in return to this viscious bombardment but this would have given away the role which we were playing and that would soon end when our big barrage would start at midnight 25th August 1944.
Our new officer Lt Alex Ross certainly had a big day for his first one in action which I'm sure he has never forgotten. Floyd Burton was killed by a drunken Sgt Major of the 11th Fld Regt RCA on 4th Jan 45. Bert Cox is long gone but did survive the war. Henry Redfern passed away last year and Nels Humble a few years ago at 88. Lt Ross at 88 is still hale and hearty living in Sault St Marie.