Veteran Stories:
Melville Storrier


  • Mr. Melville Storrier. January, 2012.

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"We dug a communal grave, put four guys in the grave, laid them all down on there. One guy had his hand like this, sticking up in the air and we buried the four of them and his hand was sticking up."


[Landing in Sicily] I got involved with the Seaforth [The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada where Mr. Storrier was attached as a member of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals in Italy]. Because the officer was, one of the officers was beach commander and that was already a man I worked with him. So for years I wondered how I got ashore without getting my radio wet and I found out Operation Husky [the Allied landing in Sicily, July 1943]. Because what happened, there was a duck aboard this ship that I was on and they put the duck in the LCA [Landing Craft Assault, a landing craft to ferry troops] and he got in the duck, so I got in the duck. Well, when the LCA went in, I hit the sandbar […] we drove off the LCA, across the sandbar on the shore. Never even got my feet wet, that’s how I got into Italy. There was a big storm that night and the waves were smashing everything. So anyway, what happened, I was on the beach and I was helping everybody going through and my truck, I had a signal truck, but my friends were in it, four of them, and they drove by me and kept going inland. So I spent the night on the beach. So what I did is behind the beach are big sand dunes. I walked up into the sand dune and dug a slit trench, put my ground sheet and I climbed in and I went to sleep, spent the night there. All the fireworks in the sky, planes are coming by and 400 ships out there, boy, all the ack-ack [anti-aircraft guns] was flying around I could see. So the next morning I got up and I followed the road the trucks made to cross the farmland. I was walking across this field and I heard people talking and I smelled coffee, I figured, oh. I kept going. My truck was parked on a lane and they were having breakfast. So I came up and I had my breakfast. When I was eating my breakfast, orders just came and we loaded up, we’re taking off. I said, no, I’m going to eat my breakfast. Get in the truck. I said no. So I went to get in the truck and all my friends were in the truck, there was no more space, they wouldn’t let me and every time I put my hand on it to pull myself, they’d bang my hand. The truck behind came right up behind me, put his bumper behind my knees, so I sat on the fender. And I was sitting like this, looking that way, and that was the airport Syracuse [Sicily]. I was sitting there watching this plane take off and it just took off about 20 feet and the truck was about three feet from where I was sitting and they hit the truck, killed all my friends in the truck. So I saw them coming, I jumped in the ditch. So that night, we went then and we moved out, we had no chance to bury them. I came back that evening with somebody, buried them right there for them. It was funny, you know, some of the things. We dug a communal grave, put four guys in the grave, laid them all down on there. One guy had his hand like this, sticking up in the air and we buried the four of them and his hand was sticking up. So somebody got a shovel, boom, knocked off his arm. Then we covered them up. [Interacting with the Italians] Italy was a mix-up, oh, like you wouldn’t believe. Even the officer didn’t know what was going on. What happened, we came to a main street, main highway, we came off the highway to cross it and we couldn’t cross the highway because there was Italian soldiers marching down, four abreast. They blocked the road so we came up and we stopped. And they were stopped there too because the house at that corner had a well in their front yard and they had no water, they were all getting their water bottles filled. I went over and helped them. In Sicily, one of the, my dispatch rider found a small hand operated sewing machine, about the size of a shoebox, about that big. He brought it back to camp, we took it apart, cleaned it up, fixed it […] and it worked, we made it work. When we were in Italy, we were up in the mountains […] getting no wine, there wasn’t much wine. What we would do, we would stop somewhere and there was a town nearby. Two dispatch riders would get in a jeep and they would take the sewing machine with them and they would go to the nearest town, go into the […] and go into tavern, hand out cigarettes and say to the Italian: ‘(Italian) Where is the fascist?’ So they would tell the […] the chief of police, they would [drive] in their jeep towards his house, knock on the door, when a lady came, they would say, do you want a sewing machine and her eyes would go about that big. She never saw one before in her life but she wanted it. So we’d talk to her about wine. So we would sell it to her for [a small amount]. And they would load the jeep with wine and they’d come back to camp. The next day, two motorcycle men or a dispatch rider wearing blue and white band on each arm, […] turn back up there, in front of her house and rev the motorcycle, got off the motorcycle and walk up to the door and knock on the door. He’d come to the door and say, Policia! and walk in the house, pick up the sewing machine and take off with it.
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