We had another kind of "Friendly Fire" in Germany, in 15th Field Regiment- rounds bursting just in front of the guns,
and also bursting in the guns themselves. It also shouldn't happen, but it did- several times!
Above- Your editor Roy Parrett in younger days!
There are safety devices to prevent shells from bursting prematurely. The fuses have a steel ball on a spring,
which sets back when the gun fires, the ball blocking the passage to the explosive charge. But, investigation, after several
disasters, showed that the all-important ballcheck was missing! It appeared that the munitions workers were on "piece work"-
paid so much for each fuse turned out. And being a bit of a bother to depress the spring and inset the ball- it was left out
with fatal results in some regiments.
Here are happy gunners who survived the premature bursts.
There were mines strewn everywhere during World War 11. When located they were usually marked with "MINES!" signs,
and streamers and cones marking them. But, sometimes, the Engineers were busy, and we had to clear minefields ourselves.The
Germans often installed booby traps with their mines blowing up the unwary. But, sometimes we were lucky- Once, near Whilshaven,
three of us were sweeping with a detector and marking each mine for disposal. These land mines would project the explosive
device waist high, when stepped on- where it could be the most lethal. While sweeping, one mine was struck by the sweep, but
failed to jump into the air. So the brave (foolish?) operator of the device assumed that "all" were duds, so merrily
went along hitting the projecting prongs, and- sure enough- none had not been properly armed. Later, we found out that these
particular mines were laid by sea-going personnel from the nearby naval base. Perhaps, not being foot soldiers, they didn't
know, or didn't take time to activate them. (Lucky for us!)
These MAPLE LEAF highway signs marked the route.
Another problem in World War 11 was manpower in Canadian units- there were never enough soldiers.
Infantry companies attacked with platoon strength and platoons with section "strengh"- a handfull! In the artillery we usually
had guns served by three or four, and on 24-hour duty. (As in the drawing above.)