"the boys say, how did it go last night? I said, not too bad. Well, they said, well, did you see the holes in the back of your vehicle?"
I was dispatched with three other vehicles to pick up some empty munition boxes. We were going down the street or, I should say, road and we came to a crater created by a bomb. We had to turn around. I wasn’t driving, of course, I was in charge of three vehicles. As we turned around, we backed up the first vehicle from the road onto the tracks where other Italian carts had been driving, and the back wheel got blown up by a landmine. Lucky that I was standing on the running board. The vehicle went on its side. I wasn’t hurt and the driver wasn’t hurt either, but he was really shocked, so we had to pull him out. So then we decided to stop the job, and we went back to headquarters.
To start with, my lieutenant said, sorry, but we haven’t got a map, so maybe you can look at this and you can try and get to this place without a map. And so I thought to myself, well, now I’m in trouble. I went to see the lieutenant. He said, you know, he says, there’s another job for you. Tomorrow, you go down to get an engineer and get him to find other mines, which they did three or four more, you know. So then I went back to headquarters to get the wrecker truck to pull this vehicle off the field. So they just rolled it over and they brought it back to headquarters; and then it was de-mobbed [demobilized] because it was no more in service. So that was one of my big experiences that day, yeah.
We did all our transport at nights, so we wouldn’t be seen. And the army had the big searchlights. This was in Italy. And they would form some kind of a moon up in the sky to kind of give us a bit of daylight at the same time. So one night, we were delivering ammunition to the front; and I was sitting in the spare driver’s seat of one of the vehicles, half asleep. All of a sudden, I look out the window, German soldiers going by. Then I said, oh. I just went back and like this; and a little while after, there was Canadian behind him with his rifle on his shoulder. They were prisoners; they were taking them back to the line. So that was one experience.
Another one also that, while I was in the service in Italy, we were delivering Bailey [portable truss] bridges across some little rivers, so the tanks could go across. We started building this bridge, oh, probably 3:00 in the afternoon. And it was wintertime and there was a field of ice on each side of us, and the ditches were all full of ice. First thing out, we could see a jut of water coming out from the ice; and we didn’t know what it was. But we were under mortar fire and we didn’t realize it. And the mortar fire was getting pretty close to the bridge. So when the officer saw that, he says, okay, let’s go to the first house. So we started running. And I always say that I beat everybody. [laughs]
So after a while, it was dark again and starting to get dark. The officer said, well, we need some volunteers. Nobody said a word. He said, okay then, we all go. So we all went back. So by that time it was morning until, by the time the bridge was finished, then it was stark daylight and they started mortar fire again. The first time that we took off, we left the vehicles, the three vehicles there by the bridge. To myself, next time, I’m not going to leave the vehicles, I’m going to, if I have to, I’m going to drive one away.
So by the time we got this mortar fire, early in the morning, I started running to the vehicle. And, of course, the driver also. So it was him and me, which one was going to go into the vehicle first? So there was a little bit of a tussle there. By that time, the bridge was finished and the lieutenant waved goodbye, so we pull out three vehicles away. And we got to our camp, it was breakfast time. So some of the boys say, how did it go last night? I said, not too bad. Well, they said, well, did you see the holes in the back of your vehicle? [laughs] No. [laughs] So that was another incident, you know.