"I was there with the Seaforth Highlanders as an artillery observer and they had, in a 12-hour period, even the cooks and the drivers, they had to throw everybody into the battle."
I was one of the first hundred Canadians on shore when we invaded Sicily. And I got wounded in Sicily, wounded in the leg but I kind of hid it. I bandaged myself every day. Well, I went to the dressing station. We were with the British infantry at the time. And they bandaged my knee to start with and then I just kept bandaging myself because I didn’t want to leave the regiment. So I just looked after my own wound. We were mortared. The major I was with got badly wounded but I just got a splinter of mortar in my leg.
Then after we conquered Sicily, 40 some odd days, a very short period to conquer Sicily, the 3rd of September, 1943, we crossed the Straits of Messina, the Canadians were in the vanguard [the foremost part of an army advancing] in that and landed on the toe of Italy. Then we proceeded to follow the Germans, they were retreating. We followed them all the way up in Italy to, a quarter of the way up Italy. Very little action until Christmas of 1943. The enemy had a defensive line across Italy and they held out, and we were in a real tough battle in a place called Ortona. Of course, after Ortona, we had so many casualties, we had to rest and retrain people until about May, 1944.
We were on the Adriatic side of Italy, went across to the other side, the western side, and took part in the Battle of [Monte] Cassino. You’ve heard of the monastery of Cassino, high up on the mountain, the Germans were there and they could see everything that went on down below in the valley. So we slept every night and didn’t do much in the daytime, just didn’t move around, so they couldn’t see what was going on.
Then we surprised them by attacking them, they didn’t know we were there. And we broke through their defense, which was the Sangro River. And from there, we carried on. Then they had a strong defensive line between Cassino and Rome, called the Hitler line. And I was there with the Seaforth Highlanders [of Canada] as an artillery observer and they had, in a 12-hour period, even the cooks and the drivers, they had to throw everybody into the battle.
But then the next big battle was back on the Adriatic [Coast], called the Gothic line. Well, we surprised the Germans there too, they didn’t have their line completely fortified when we got there and broke through the line very easily. And from there, we carried on until we got to, around Christmas, a series of rivers. That was very difficult to get across and muddy and Italy, it never rains in the summer, just rains all winter. So we were bogged down there for, until spring of 1945. At which time we went from Italy over to France and Germany, northwest Europe.