Veteran Stories:
James Arthur Lumley

Army

  • The Memory Project, Historica Canada
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"And there was one big bang pretty close to us and I think, I don’t know whether these lads were killed or what, but they didn’t move after that. And I got a piece in the leg and had to get out of there. So that’s where all the hassles started. "

Transcript

I think of the boys today, being down in these other places and I know there was, we had reinforcements come up when we was in Italy and to this day, I don’t know what kind of training they were getting, but they couldn’t have got too much because we were making an advancement on this valley and there were two new reinforcement lads in our sections. We got fired upon with mortars and we went to ground. There was a plowed field, and I went into a furrow, one of the plowed furrows, and stayed there while these things were dropping around. And I hollered over at one lad, he was laying across the furrows, and I hollered at him to get down into the furrow. The lad behind me had got into the furrows too.

And there was one big bang pretty close to us and I think, I don’t know whether these lads were killed or what, but they didn’t move after that. And I got a piece in the leg and had to get out of there. So that’s where all the hassles started. That’s kind of what I think about sometimes. And seeing that the lad was laying across the furrows instead of getting into the furrows, my thought was, what kind of training did you get back there; did they give them at the time? But just seemed to go on and on, you know, sometimes. Like I never really got into the heavy, really heavy fighting, like in the towns because every time we got in towards one, I’d wind up in the hospital pretty close. I broke a foot and hand wound, and leg wound, so that kept me out of the really heavy fighting and like going in and cleaning houses out, and stuff like that.

I know when we first got into Sicily, this one lad, he wondered what it was like and there was a German lad laying there. He had been killed, I guess; and he says, I wonder what it’s like sticking a bayonet in a person. I don’t know whether he did it or not, but I thought, you’re nuts. You know. Why do you want to go around doing that stuff? So no, there’s a whole lot of things come back to the mind sometimes and I don’t dwell on them, mind you. But I think on it.

This lad, we used to call him Slim, and he was from St. Catharines, I think. We were sitting beside an old building here one day; and for some reason, I don’t know why we were sitting down, but we were sitting there and for some reason, a little piece of concrete fell out of this building just above us, above my head a little bit, and it come down on my shoulder. And I looked at Slim, I said, we’re sitting on the wrong side of this building, Slim. I said, let’s get out of here. And so we did, we got out of there and we went around the other side of the house. And we stayed there for a minute and then Slim went inside the house. And there was a bed there and he stretched out in this bed.

Now, I walked in the room and Slim was stretched out there, doing nothing but laying there; and I said, you’re on the wrong side of this building again, Slim. I said, I think we should get out of here and get out of the back end of this thing. So he decided, yeah, it might be a good idea. And then a shell come through that, outside the building there, hit the building and gave a big blast; and when the whole building shook and we went into see what the world they hit. Well, where the bed was that he had been laying in, well, for crying out loud, there was a big chunk of metal in there, where he had been laying. So I kind of figured that was a good move for us to get out of there. So that’s the only thing I can think of, outside of my own personal mix-up with the thing, like getting shot and shot at, and stuff like that. But the reason I wrote that because I never heard a shot from this. I could see the enemy in the distance and I don’t know who was the marksman, but I guess there was a marksman there somewheres, laying their sights on us.

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