"And it was very devastating, one of the most frightening times of the whole war I guess as far as we were concerned."
I was a sergeant personally and I had a gun crew. And you were always given I guess, [orders] came down from army headquarters, down through the ranks, down through the division, down through the regiment, down through the battery and down through to, there was three troops in each battery. We were, and there was six guns in a troop. So that’s the way I think, that’s the way the orders were sent down. And you were given a certain area to put your gun. And that was your responsibility: find an area that was well protected and at a better advantage to perform what you were going to perform. That was your responsibility; get that gun and that gun crew into that position.
The first thing we did was dig your slit trench, to protect ourselves, because there was always a lot of shelling from German 88s, guns. And then we had to get our gun dug in, as well as we could, for protection. And that was the way you were ordered to advance if there was an advance on against a German counterattack or a German defense line. That was basically what our job was.
Well, the first bombing we had by what they called ‘friendly fire’ was right around Caen [Normandy, France], before we got Caen and we were bombed one particular day by the Americans, the Mitchell aircraft and that was the first encounter we had with friendly bombing. But the big one was down further on, between Caen and Falaise, which I think you probably realize was a battle all the way down between Caen, the main objective from there was Falaise. And I think about halfway down one day, we were going in on a big attack, four o’clock in the afternoon. The bombers were the RCAF [Royal Canadian Air Force] and the RAF [Royal Air Force] were going to bomb ahead of the attack to soften the defenses of the Germans. And then at four o’clock, the attack was going to go in.
We were in our positions. I can remember a squadron of tanks had pulled into a wooded area just above where we were situated for protection and on the way, the bombers came over, as they were directed to, right about the right time, just before four o’clock and flying very low. And the first couple of waves went well over and the third wave for some reason or other opened their bomb doors and bombed short. And so the next two waves, I think it was, followed suit because they had [been] following the one ahead of them I guess. And we spent, oh, I’d say, maybe, oh, it wouldn’t be that long but it sure seemed long, probably half an hour of bombs dropping from friendly aircraft. And it was very devastating, one of the most frightening times of the whole war I guess as far as we were concerned.
And finally, one of our aircraft, little aircraft, they called them spotters, that spotted the enemy for us, or the artillery, he went up among those planes and somehow directed them on. About the fourth wave, caught on and went on ahead and did, stopped the bombing. And that was an experience that I think that you’re referring to, it was very frightening and it was very devastating. There was quite a few of our people that were killed and a lot of them wounded. I remember it was August the 14th, 1944; it was a bad day.