Veteran Stories:
Reginald Herbert Roy

Army

  • Unidentified Canadian infantrymen advancing towards Melfa, Italy, 23 May 1944.
    Credit: Lieut. Alex M. Stirton / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-132878

    Unidentified Canadian infantrymen advancing towards Melfa, Italy, 23 May 1944. Credit: Lieut. Alex M. Stirton / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-132878
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"I remember going across a bridge, which was broken, and nipping across that with the machine gun bullets pinging across the girders."

Transcript

When I joined the regiment [the Cape Breton Highlanders] in Italy, I became a Pioneer officer which was okay because I had been in the Pioneer platoon and I knew about mines, booby traps, all that sort of thing. It took quite a while for example before you entered a house. You never went up the middle of the steps because there’s more give on the step in the middle. And that’s where the Germans would plant a contact for a mine, and blow the house up. If you went into an outhouse, for whatever reasons, you were very careful about pulling a chain because there again, the Germans had a nasty habit of booby-trapping the chain. It would blow the whole outhouse apart. If you went into a room and there were some pictures on the wall that were a little bit askew, the natural thing to do was to straighten out the picture. You didn’t dare do that or again, you’d make contact and bam, everything would go. I do remember one thing up in the Bay of Comacchio, when we were attacking, that’s C-O-M-A-C-C-H-I-O, and we were attacking to the north. And I remember being ordered to go ahead of the regiment and see what I could see and what to avoid and how safe it was. And I remember going up on a flat field was the first area and there was a soldier’s leg. He had been cut off at the knee but his foot or the lower part of his leg, shoes and pants, up to his knee, was just left there in the field. I went past that; that didn’t cheer me up. Then I remember going across a bridge, which was broken, and nipping across that with the machine gun bullets pinging across the girders. And then going up sort of a road or a path and getting shelled. And of course, you flattened out as soon as you could and you looked around for anything to hide against or what have you. And I remember, there was what appeared to be a bit of a box. So I ducked behind that. And when the shelling was over, it turned out to be a box, or not a box but it was a mine, it would be about, what, two and a half feet long and about two and a half feet square. And this turned out to be a mine and I didn’t know it was a mine at the time. I hid behind that. It turned out to be an R-mine, which is called a Riegel mine. It had about 12 pounds of TNT in it. That I remember.
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