"one of the soldiers hollered at me. What happened to you, you’ve got blood all on your neck. I said, oh, I hit a clothesline on the way in."
The tank that we were on is all open at the top. There’s no top on it; and the gun is on the tank, and the barrel of the gun is nine feet long. It’s all open inside. And you have a rack, you have two racks on either side of where the tracks was, and you had your ammunition all piled up on there. And then we had a couple of cupboards in the tank for armour-piercing shells. And that was obviously locked, closed up. But all the other shells when we were firing, we never knew how many shells we were going to fire, so we got them all piled up. We maybe had 50 shells all piled up. And sometimes you have to take the caps off. The caps on the shell are screwed on and sometimes you have to leave the, sometimes they tell you when you’re firing, leave caps on or take caps off. So some of them we had caps off, most of them it’s the caps off because when the cap’s off, the shell when it hits, it’ll explode right away. But if you leave the shell, if you leave the caps on and you’re going into a house, the shells will hit a house, it’ll go through the house to the bricks, then it will explode. So thats to explain what’s happening inside your tank.
In Holland, I remember you’re going through these villages and these farming places, you can stay in the farmer’s barn because there was six of us on the gun crew, and you never had six people during an operation. You maybe only had three on the tank and three resting, and maybe sleeping. We used to have to rest in these barns; the farmer would allow us to sleep in their barns. So we did that quite a bit, but most of the time, if there’s no barn, you’re sleeping in behind the tank on the ground, you’re sleeping in behind or you’d dig a slit trench and you’d maybe sleep individual in a slit trench. Dig a hole in the ground big enough to sleep in. [laughs] Not very comfortable, but we had to do that a few times. We had to do that.
I remember one time when we were in, I think it was Belgium, and we were in a rest period; and we were to clean the guns and pull the barrel through, and clean all the metal parts off the barrel. I was sitting on top of the tank and I was writing a letter home; and there was a Polish outfit right alongside of us. They were in this field and a shell fell over, came over from Germany, and it hit this little wee water tank, a water truck. And the tire blew off the water truck and it flew right over top of my head, on top of my tank. So I had to rush down and I got in underneath my tank because the Germans had started to fire right after the rest period. So I thought after, we didn’t do any fire because our guns were all apart and we were cleaning them all. But, anyway, only the one incident happened. So, but that was a pretty scary thing when that happened.
Another time I was in Holland. I was on the gun and the orders came down for a barrage; and there was only a couple of us on the gun. The rest of the soldiers in our tank was in this here barn, sleeping. This was pitch black at night. I ran in to get them and when I ran into the barn, I hit a clothesline wire on my neck and I still have that scar here, to wake the fellows up. And as soon as I ran into the barn, they asked me, one of the soldiers hollered at me. What happened to you, you’ve got blood all on your neck. I said, oh, I hit a clothesline on the way in. Oh, I said, okay, you’d better get back out on the guns; they’re calling for a barrage to come down. So, and then I went back and I never did get it looked at. I just put a rag around my neck or something, and that was it.