'A' Troop at Cassino
An example of the type of hazard which could occur on any gun position took place at A Troop's position on March 25th 1944. A Troop was behind D and E Troops and closer to the big American guns. Those guns must have been a source of annoyance to Jerry who directed a lot of shell fire at them. They were probably protected by Trocchio from direct observation. On this occasion the War History states that 20 170 shells landed around A Troop's area in quick succession that afternoon. Sergeant Fulford received a head wound from which he died.
Brian Bassett says it was a calm day and a column of black smoke rose vertically from A Tp's position, making a splendid signal to the enemy OP. Brian was TSM of A Troop at the time and dashed to the scene and organised efforts to extinguish the burning tyres of A1's limber. He recalls that two of the troop involved with him were Jack Beale and Tom Hanna. Fire extinguishers were obtained from an ambulance at the nearby RAP and from a truck on the gun position, but they were ineffective and water-cans were called for from the gun crews. The flames were doused but there was still a risk that the shells and charges in the limber would explode. A proposed attempt to open the limber was abandoned and all took cover. Sure enough the limber exploded shortly afterwards. It seems that part of the debris landed on E Troop's position some distance away. Enemy shelling had continued during the excitement.
A sequel to the incident was the award of an MM to Brian, in recognition of the actions of those involved and also of earlier outstanding action by Brian.
This article first appeared in a 5 Fd Regt Newsletter.