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Lucky Break

Heroes Remember

The bunch of us were up north of the Sangro River and we had been shooting. We came back and we went into this house and there was a big table there and we hadn’t eaten. So we decided we’d eat. Now I’m sitting here; where you are there’s an open window and the river is there. So we’re talking and everything else and finally I got up and I said, “Anybody want coffee?” And they said, “Yeah.” So I got up and I went over and I just picked up the coffee pot and boom. In came an 88. It hit just below ... on the bank just below the window. “Anybody hurt?” “No.” So I went back and sat down and Herbie says to me, “Normie look over ... turn around.” And I said, “What for?” and he says, “Turn around.” And I turned around and in the wall was a hunk of shrapnel that big, where my head was. Now, I guess that’s the closest that I could say that I came. Mind you, I have been pinned down lots of times, but that would be the closest, that would be the closest. I never got hurt, I was very lucky. After the battle of Ortona – after Ortona was taken – I was working with Alex Stirton and my driver was Kenny White. We moved in to Ortona and the Jerries had gone a couple of days later and we stayed at this ... we took over an old store and we set up in there. Well Jerry pounded it and did he pound .... night after night, night after night. I’m sitting there having a drink of rye and I started shaking. Just like that. But my head’s clear, my head’s clear as a bell. And Alex Stirton looks at me and says you need another drink, here. So the next morning we get up and we go out and sitting outside in this – it was a little store – outside the store were two, 85k boxes of Italian explosives. If Jerry had ever hit even close to us .... he pounded us all night long; 88s and the moaning minnies, the mortars. Anyway, from there we pulled back into San Vito. That’s were the whole outfit pulled back into. I’m standing out side one day and ... I think it was still in San Vito ... and Terry Roe was a still photographer from Windsor and he came by and I said, “Your not saying hello Terry?” says, “Oh, hi Norm.” I said, “What’s the matter?” He says, “I’m going to Anzio,” he said, “and I don’t want to go.” I said. “Well tell them you don’t want to go, then don’t go.” He said, “I got orders to go.” I said, “Who’s going with you?” He said, “Colin McDougall and Davie King’s the driver and myself.” He’s the still photographer. He says, “I’m not going to come back.” I said, “Come on.” You know, we all got that feeling once in a while. I said, “Terry come on, you’re gonna come back.” Never did. Got killed the day that they landed there. Colin McDougall got wounded. Davie King got wounded. Gordie Hutton ran out and pulled their bodies in while they were still alive ... but Terry wasn’t ... he was killed outright by a 20mm shell that came in. So he was the first one ... he was the first one to get killed.

Mr. Quick talks about a time that he was lucky to escape death. He goes on to talk about another photographer who wasn’t so lucky.

Norman Quick

Mr. Quick was born in Toronto, Ontario on April 22, 1921. His father, a cinematographer, moved the family to Ottawa when he was very young and he remembers in particular, playing a lot of hockey wearing homemade equipment. Mr. Quick enlisted in the Medical Corps, but quickly transferred to the Film and Photo Corps once it was formed in England. His active service took him to Italy, where he filmed such notable actions as Ortona and Monte Cassino. Interestingly, he and his crew adopted a teenage boy named Ilio, who accompanied the Canadian film crew until its tour in Italy ended. Mr. Quick was then deployed to NW Europe, where he served in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. He remained in the Canadian Army as a cinematographer, but left after Paul Hellyer amalgamated Canada’s Armed Forces. Mr. Quick currently resides in Ottawa, Ontario.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Norman Quick
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Film and Photo Unit
Staff Sergeant
Film Camera Operator

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