"Our sergeant went out one night and they found him the next day with a knife in his back. There was an awful lot of fascista there, yeah."
I guess like most others, there was not a hell of a lot to eat around those days and things were tough. We went to Branch 16 of the Pictou [Nova Scotia] Legion and had a physical test with a doctor. We all passed, so a lot of us out of the 17 went down with The Pictou Highlanders, we were in that. I was sent up to Avellino [Italy], up in the mountains. That’s the holding [reinforcement] unit and has people from all kinds of different regiments. So up there, we done a lot. Our sergeant went out one night and they found him the next day with a knife in his back. There was an awful lot of fascista [Italian fascists] there, yeah.
Well, I was at headquarters, the headquarters of 5th [Canadian] Armour[ed] Div [Division]. After being with the 5th Div for a while, Cassino was bombed flat, there wasn’t a building standing. So we went through Cassino and up to Rome. I was taken up alone because they must have saw my documents that I knew how to type. They gave me a pass for the city of Rome to dig up the history of the city. It was a 20 mile radius pass and as they come back from the front [on a] three day holiday, when they come back, you’re not in the lines all the time. Right away, they’d be walking around all the places. They’d have no money, the Canadians. I would write about Piazza del Popolo and Vicenza, and the Catacombs and the Borgo in St. Peter, and all that. I was through Pompeii which was buried for 2,000 years, with a pass. We were taken through and up the top of Mount Vesuvius with guides when you had a pass. I looked down in the crater. You could see the clouds would rush up towards you. You were above the clouds, to see the Mediterranean.
I went from the hospital shop when I returned back to England. A number of us went directly to the hospital, just outside of Birmingham; and the girls that worked in this big plant where they filled the BSR [belt-fed semi-automatic rifle] belts up with bullets for the air gunners. They worked there; they used to come out. I think somebody said there was 5,000 worked there, as they come out to visit us, the sick and wounded in the hospital, just outside of Birmingham. The girls would come and bring a shilling to you, that’s a quarter, which was a lot then. This day, two girls come in and they went to several beds. They stopped at mine; and I looked at this girl and she looked at me; and right away, we knew we were for each other. So when I got out of the hospital, we got married.