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First Enemy Encounter As An Infantryman

Heroes Remember

First Enemy Encounter As An Infantryman

We were called up, our unit had advanced up Monte, Monte Micesio (sp) and they'd pretty well captured it, but hadn't taken it all, and the commanding officer decided before he wanted pushed on, he was going to need support from his support weapons, his anti-tank guns, his mortars and his machine guns. So we were called up, and I remember, climbed up this hill and we got about half way up, well three-quarters of the way up and we were stopped, and our officer went, had to get his orders to find out what he, what the CO wanted. And he came back and told us the attack wasn't going to go in for half an hour, so we could stand down, and we're on the, the other side of the hill from the Germans, like just over the crest, and I remember we were standing there talking, the driver and myself, and about twenty yards from where we were standing there was a German dugout on the reverse slope of the hill. And the PPCLI, about five hundred yards to our right, were attacking another hill, and they were getting pretty heavily artilleried, and we could see the shells landing in there and doing some damage to the Pats. And we'd been there about twenty minutes and there'd been nothing coming our way at all, and all of a sudden, the driver said to me, he said, "Gill, I think we should go down to that dugout." "Oh, okay." So went over to the dugout and we started down the stairs and we got there, and by God, we were blown the rest of the way down into the dugout. A shell had landed right where we'd been standing. So I often think, "What caused this guy to do this? Was it his guardian angel or what?" Something was looking after him. It wasn't me this time, it was him, you know, and, and then we went ahead and went in the attack, we set up our machine guns, and added enfiladed fire while the troops attacked, and of course, these Vickers machine guns would fire a good mile, so we were about a half a mile behind the front of the action, I guess, sort of enfilading fire, make sure there was nothing coming in from the sides, and I guess we, we layed down quite a, quite a barrage of machine gun fire there and the troops went through and captured. We went through the field afterwards, and it was a real slaughter. Must have been four, five hundred dead bodies. Both ours and theirs lying where they'd, they hit, and whether our machine guns had had any effect on them or not, I don't know. But our battalion, the 4th PLDG, the first time they had infantry, they were awarded a battle honour. And the commander, the divisional commander, and even the 8th Army commander, sent a commendation to him and praised him, at what a wonderful job that'd been done in about two to three months, converting from straight reconnaissance to an infantry battalion, and that is one of our regiments battle honours.

Mr. Hyde, now a machine gun operator in his new infantry unit, recalls his first encounter with the enemy.

Gilbert John Hyde

Mr. Hyde's father was an electrician with the Moose Jaw Power Company and also a Veteran of the First World War. Mr. Hyde was an only child. He enlisted on 18 October 1938, two weeks after his 18th birthday with the PPCLI. Basic training was taken in Winnipeg before sailing from Halifax to Scotland in December 1939. On arrival, Mr. Hyde went directly to Aldershot in England where he spent several months in further training. Mr. Hyde then moved from being a military police officer to the job of dispatch rider - to a signaller assigned to a signals battalion with the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards. That was followed by a 3 ½ year stint on a Bren Gun carrier. The squadron was eventually posted to Scotland and eventually sailed for Sicily where Mr. Hyde participated in the landing there and went on to a number of battles in Italy before returning to Sicily, where his troop, the PLDG, received several awards, including a battle honour and a commendation from the Divisional Commander and the British 8th Army Commander.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Gilbert John Hyde
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards
Machine Gun Operator

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