| consolidated on the high ground beyond the town and prepared for an enemy counter-attack, the C.O. went to check the siting of the forward companies and I went with him. After visiting the area where "D" company was digging-in, the C.O. was about to return to Battalion HQ when the company commander asked me to look at a platoon area to advise whether I thought they were on the edge of a minefield. The C.O. asked whether I wanted any of his protection section to stay with me but replied it would not be necessary as I would quickly follow him back to Battalion HQ.
|Having checked and given my opinion, I was about three or four hundred yards behind the C.O.'s party which had reached the cross-roads at the bottom of a hill and knew they were about to turn towards Battalion HQ. Walking alone down the slope with thoughts faraway, I was amazed to suddenly see a mere foot-step in front of me that the ground had opened up and earth, stones and shrapnel flew around me; immediately thought minefield! I knew I had been wounded but as I fell to the ground heard the whine of a shell -- apparently the second artillery shell -- followed quickly by another. I counted the next two or three shell-bursts and decided to try and get out of the target area and staggered towards a row of damaged houses. I lunged through a window-space as the final shell(s) struck the building. The RSM (Regimental Sergeant-Major) had witnessed some of what was happening and quickly rushed forward to assist me. When he found I had been wounded he lifted me up on his shoulder and ran towards the first-aid post. I was wounded on the morning of the 25 January 1945 by shells fired from heavy artillery guns in the Siegfried Defence Line supporting the defence of Heinsberg and now engaging and seeking to delay the British advance. Later, to my great sorrow, it became known to me that a close boyhood friend had been shot down and killed a few hours before and would be buried only 12 miles from the place where I had been wounded.
|Evacuated by ambulance from the battalion's first-aid post, sharing the journey with a German prisoner-of-war who had been shot in the stomach by his own officer when he had attempted to surrender. He was in great pain as we bumped our way across the rough terrain made worse by ruts of ice and snow. I spent a few days in this 'forward' hospital, and the surgeon who operated on my left leg and right arm had previously been stationed at the Peebles Hydro which had become a war-time Royal Army Medical Corps training unit and hospital. His wife
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