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Serving Uncle Sam: A Military Life in WWll

Gerald Schwartz USAAC 1940 - 1945

   

Chapter 22: Our First Fresh Meat. Shelled by 88mm Cannon.

Aug 22,1943: With the war in Sicily over, our operations are reduced considerably. Only one bombing mission, the day before yesterday, at the Railroad Marshaling yards in Naples.

My three months stay in Sicily was notable for many things, however two events take precedence over the others.

The first occurred shortly after we arrived at our second airfield (Scordia) in early August. A small group of us (Pilots and ground crew) decided that It was about time we got to eat some fresh meat after a year of canned corned beef. Accordingly about 7 of us got on a weapons carrier (a small truck) and we set off on the coast road seeking a herd of cattle of some kind. About an hours drive later we looked down from the high coast road and saw a herd of cattle grazing on the Plains below us.

On the way down we had to pass through a camp of Redcaps (British Army Constabulary), and they stopped us demanding to know where we were headed. We said we were going to kill a bull and have fresh meat for the first time in a year. They said we could not do that because when we drove over the dirt road enroute to the herd, the dust would roil up behind us and the Germans who had 88 mm Cannons in caves on Mt. Etna, would shell them. In addition, we could see the British Infantry advancing from farmhouse to farmhouse.

Well, we weren't going to take no for an answer and we just drove right through them, and sure enough we left a huge trail of dust behind us. It didn't take long before shells were passing over our head heading for the Redcap camp. It seems we were too close to Mt.Etna for the German cannons to be depressed low enough to target us.

We approached the herd and our line chief, Sgt Beck, shot a bull between the eyes with a Springfield Rifle (303 caliber). We had brought engine change chains with us and we wrapped them around him and somehow managed to load him on the truck. He was so large that his head and neck hung over the tail gate of the truck.

I felt embarrased somewhat for having killed the bull, and I gave the young boy who was guarding the herd, a case of canned corned beef. He said it was not necessary, because the herd belonged to the "patron", and he was in Naples. He only used to come to Sicily one week each year, on vacation. So there was no harm done. I gave him the case of Corned Beef anyway.

As we drove back through the British Redcap camp we were lucky to escape with our lives They were sore as a boil having had to endure a shelling so that we could get fresh meat. I can still hear their angry shouts of "Bloody Yanks!" ringing in my ears !

En route back to our camp, in the August heat, the bull began to swell up, and by the time we returned to camp he had ballooned somewhat ! We hung him up on an engine change tripod and turned him over to a couple of Texans who skinned and butchered him, and turned him over to our cooks. They gave us the liver which I subsequently cooked on our little gasoline stove in our tent. So, for a few days The whole camp had fresh meat due to our determination to get it any any cost! We repeated this operation several more times during our stay in Sicily, and it served to make our lives a little more bearable.

In my next chapter, I will tell of the other remarkable event which occurred during my stay in Sicily.

So ends part 22 of my wartime memoirs.

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