Dec. 10, 1943: a shrapnel wound

We set out in our Jeep – Sgt. Hodgkins, on motorcycle and Slim and I in the jeep – the Padre (Smith) and Fred Ware in the jeep following us. We start down the face of the crest and are subjected to mortar fire. One mortar falls in the road about 40 feet ahead but causes no trouble. We proceed up the valley – cross the detour which the Engineers have constructed and ascend the escarpment towards San Leonardo – pull off the side of the road where two Calgary Tanks have been mined.

One Ontario Tank backs up, striking a mine and seriously wounded Slim, Sgt. Hodgkins and Fred Ware and one Ontario boy. We attend them, load them on the jeep ambulance and rush them back across the valley of the Moro to the Car Post, which I have established on top of the crest, by the rest of my section. Some German prisoners are wounded by one of their own shells and one of my boys Jack Carter goes to help him and is himself wounded.

A Canadian Sherman – Adjunct of the Calgary Regiment – driven off the road north of San Leonardo di Ortona, Italy. Source.

I have been alone in regt. with only the Padre to help me. Jerry shells our line very heavily, hitting several PPCLI which we look after and evacuate. Then a most terrific barrage sets in – we jump into a ditch and I am wounded in the right ankle by shrapnel. I am able to carry on though for a while. Bruce Hunter and Bert Rutledge pull up and their RAP and we set up together.

In the evening we get called forward to San Leonardo to evacuate a wounded Seaforth. In this Town a few minutes before, the troops had been forced to evacuate due to heavy shell fire. It was perfectly quiet when we were in. On return to RAP my ankle is so painful I am forced to give in and the Padre drives me into M.D.S. #2, 2nd L.F.H. at Marino San Vito, where the tentative diagnosis is fractured Fibula and I am placed in a cast and put to bed.

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About Rob Alexander

I am a writer, photographer and historian and the author of The History of Canmore, published by Summerthought Publishing of Banff, AB.

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