Veteran Stories:
Bob Ross

Army

  • Extraction from Mr. Ross' Service and Pay Book, Feb 1st 1944

  • Pocket from Mr. Ross' pants, cut off after he lost his right leg at Caen in August 1944

  • Mr Ross on Guard duty, 1939

  • The goggles worn by Mr. Ross when driving a Bren Gun carrier in France, 1944

  • Mr. Ross, February 2011

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"Then I looked down, my leg was off. Holy mackerel. Shrapnel must have hit my leg. I says, “God, my leg is gone.”"

Transcript

Foothold in Normandy

I came out of this little town, then I could hear the shells are just screaming and the stonk came in right away. I was just coming up to where the reinforcements were and when the shells started to come in, I ran past them, I went around the corner of the building and flopped down because I knew that by the scream, they’re going to be right up my keester. And so I just flopped. And I waited, the firing went down and it started again, I kept hugging the wall and then there’s a long space of time, I don’t know how long, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, I don’t know. And I thought, there’s a chance for me to go, going to go. Then I looked down, my leg was off. Holy mackerel. Shrapnel must have hit my leg. I says, “God, my leg is gone.”

My leg from my kneecap down to my foot, there is just a piece of skin about that wide hanging, and my foot was hanging to it. And I tried to break it away from the bone that was sticking out at the end of my stump, I tried to break it away so I could make it to this horse trough so I could get under cover. But I couldn’t because it was slithering in the guts and that, you know, and there was just a little piece like that and I couldn’t break it. And I left my big jackknife in the Bren gun carrier [the Universal Carrier, a British light armored tracked vehicle] and I said, “How am I going to get,” you know, “under cover.”

And anyway, I found a piece of flat rock and I put the bone resting on the flat rock, I remember that, the bone that was sticking out at the end. More shells were coming in and I saw parts of the bodies going past me from the reinforcements, broken entrenching tools, rifles and hanging in the apple trees beside me. And they must have really got it bad and in between the stonks, I was yelling, “Hey, you know, give me a hand.” And nothing happened.

I was there with my leg off for most of the day until two of our fellows came along and I don’t know where they came from. And then I waved to them and then they came over and nobody, didn’t see anybody alive all day long. You know, what happened? There was fear there but you know, no pain though, I wasn’t in pain. And I found out, behind the wall where I was wounded was the regimental aid post, which must have come up during the night. Of course, I wasn’t in the building the night before, I was on the roadway.

Then I came to a tent hospital. It’s a Polish guy beside me. He had two fingers on this hand, pulled the sheets, he had no legs on and his other arm was off and two fingers on this. From that day on, I said there’s always somebody worse off than yourself.

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