March 28, 1943
Many thanks for the cigarettes which arrived quite recently and were much appreciated. Well, we have finished our great manoeuvre in fine style, having routed the “Enemy” thanks largely to Gen. McNaughton’s strategy. The whole affair went off well and I think can be considered a large success. We saw a great deal of Canadian “Ram” tanks and, judging from their performance, they are a real fighting machine. -------
A good time my battery was on its own, apart from a regiment cooperating with an infantry unit. I was on guard on the gun at 5 a.m. one morning when the “fire orders” came through. It had been previously arranged that one round of blank should be fired at the opening of any new target. When the order came through the speaker system from the Command Post, I loaded and fired the said blank round. The funny part of the story is that a company of infantry were fast asleep on the other side of the fence. You should have seen their faces when the guns went off almost together just across the fence. Of course, you know the Artillery is very superior in their dealing with the “Gravel Crushers,” so it was just another one on them.
During the course of the scheme, we travelled almost 400 miles and saw some lovely country. For the last two weeks, we were issued with “Camp Packs” or individual rations for each gun crew. I volunteered for the job of cook and think I did quite well. We had definite instructions not to buy any food, as the army wanted to test their supply system and the rations too. While we didn’t obey this order to the letter, we didn’t scrounge much but what we did get certainly made the stew taste better.
I’m afraid I wouldn’t care to be a farmer in an area chosen by the War Office for a battle ground. You should have seen some of the hedges and fields after the tanks had had a scrap. I saw several farmers surveying the damage and shaking their heads after it was all over. -----