"So I told him, you want to know what’s going on? Get up off your butt and come on up here and take my place and I’ll take yours."
We landed in Scotland when I went over, but didn’t get on the land. We went right into England, spent the night there, the next morning in front of an officer, checking what I was in and everything, I wanted to transfer with my brother. Wouldn’t take it. He said, you’re better trained than he is. So the next morning, I’m on the ship again and I thought I was in the [Royal Canadian] Navy. One onto another one, we were heading for Italy. But we didn’t get there. Because torpedo planes come after us and they scattered, and the convoy did, we landed in North Africa.
And usually anyplace I was at, if they didn’t have military police, they put me in. And this Christmas night, I was in the city of Phillipeville, [now Skikda, Algeria]. I had a terrific headache and went in to get some Aspirin and they put me to bed. My temperature was 105 [degrees Fahrenheit or 40.6 degrees Clesius] when I walked in. Then went 103 [degrees Fahrenheit or 39.4 degrees Celsius] and put me to bed. And later, I wound up in Italy, with the regiment. At Ortona.
They put us in the trenches for a little while and then took me out for radio work. And after that, they got through Ortona and everything, we went up through Monte Cassino and from there we hit another place, I had a film showing us waiting for them to clear a road with bulldozers for us to go through. The officer and myself were standing up in the turret of the motor, of the armoured car. I don’t know where the film went. And we went on through and wound up outside of Rome, I could have touched the Coliseum. And I got a call on the radio, I had to report where I was all the time. Don’t move, we’ll call you back.
So they called me back and said, come on, back out of there. That’s when they moved us out of there. And I wanted to know why, and the major said, the American General Mark Clark had called and had said the, any Canadians or anything were in there, you shoot at them. So I wanted to know why, it was an open city, but Canadians had to back off. Well, they run things. I says, why didn’t you tell me? It’s because, you’re a young bugger, it’s what he said, he said, you’d go to meet him. I would have too.
Well, we always had to go first and find out where the enemy was. And find out what we could about how strong they were, whether we could break through or what we could do. But we found where they were and called back and then they’d send the tanks in.
My trouble with the officers I had when I was going up to Rome. The one beside me says, call the Major. So I called him, said, I want to talk to him. He had his own mic [microphone] and everything, you know. He’s holding the mic open and asking me what to say. He’s going over the air. The major come back on and told him to get off the radio, not touch it again. Let me do it. So another one behind him, another lieutenant, what’s going on, what’s going on, what’s going on, what’s going on. I got fed up on that, you know, because I’ve got this guy to look after and the driver, everything. So I told him, you want to know what’s going on? Get up off your butt and come on up here and take my place and I’ll take yours. And the one with me in the armoured car said, you can’t talk to him like that, he’s an officer like me. And I said, if you don’t shut up, you’re going to be nobody, you’ll be laying beside the road if you keep going. I’ve got to put up with you and him too? Driver’s hollering, shoot the bugger, Bill, shoot him, shoot him, get rid of him, he’s going to get us killed. And I said, no, he won’t.
That night when we stopped, the major come up with the other man, got them both together and made them both apologise to me. And then he come over and he said, you young bugger, I was only 19, see, he said, you don’t care, do you? And I said, no, not if they’re doing that. And he said, I know, he said, I know they’re, he said, I’ll look after them don’t worry about it anymore. And that was it.