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The Day I Should Have Died: 4th Queen's Own Hussars in Italyicon for Recommended story

by Ron Goldstein

Contributed by 
Ron Goldstein
People in story: 
Ron Goldstein
Location of story: 
Italy
Article ID: 
A2513134
Contributed on: 
12 April 2004

Diary entries for the 15th to the 18th of April 1945

Wednesday 18 April 1945
"Stonked near wood for solid hour. Corporal Todd wounded badly in head when air-burst caught their Honey. Farmhouses burning, stuck in ditch."

The entry in my diary is fairly innocuous. Checking back using Regimental Diaries I can see that we were with the 2nd Armoured Brigade column in the Reno bridgehead area and that I had been with the 4th Hussars for about three weeks.

The day had started with my tank commander, Busty Thomas MM, going sick, I believe with an old wound, and he had been replaced for the day by Sgt. Broderick. Shortly after moving off at dawn we came under mortar fire from dead ahead, and Broderick craftily directed Hewie (Steve Hewitt, our driver) to place us under a knoll, or hillock, that was directly in front of the wood from which the fire appeared to be coming.

As I've already explained in an earlier tale, our tank was an old Stuart tank from the days of desert warfare and its turret had been removed to make it into a light reconnaissance vehicle. Protection from shell and mortar fire was not one of its major priorities.

It soon became apparent that we were safe, or relatively safe, as long as we stayed where we were. Every time we tried to move, however, the mortars landed within yards of us and we saw other tanks getting hit only yards away.

They say that when you are about to drown all your previous life flashes in front of you. Well, that is exactly how I felt that day and I could almost read the article that would appear in the local Hackney and Kingsland Gazette. "We regret to announce the death of trooper Ron Goldstein on active service in Italy. It is ironic that whilst on leave in Egypt some six months earlier he had tried to see his brother-in-law Jack Rosen, without success and only a few days before his death he had also tried to see his brother Mick, a Sgt. Major fighting with the Jewish Brigade, but again without results."

I just can't remember how long we remained sheltered in this manner but the German mortar crew ahead of us must have found some more interesting targets and Broderick was able to get us away to regain our position with the rest of the Squadron.

By the time the long day had finished and whatever we had to do had been done I realised that I had survived and that I was therefore not due to be killed that day after all. Looking back now over this period of my life, I realise that it was pretty much the toss of a coin that decided whether we lived or died. On that day my coin landed the right way up.

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - The day I should have died

Posted on: 14 April 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Ron - the coin flipped the right side for many of us - just think - we have had 60 years bonus !

 

Message 2 - The day I should have died

Posted on: 14 April 2004 by Ron Goldstein

Hi Tom
You're spot on.
I for one, have always been grateful to have survived and yes, it has been a wonderful bonus of 60 odd years.
Do keep well
Regards
Ron

 

Message 3 - The day I should have died

Posted on: 27 June 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Ron

Yet another great contribution, but the real contribution is not the words, eloquent though they may be, but the deeds.

Kindest regards,

Peter

 

Message 4 - The day I should have died

Posted on: 27 June 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Ron -
I have just re-read your saga of wasting a days battle by hiding at the back of a hillock,it's no wonder it took so long ! and it struck me that I had always thought of the 2nd Armoured as having a bit of "nous"
but to send some guys into battle without a turret over their heads is not on... and at the same time when they were due to do their "Musical Ride" at the Vienna Tattoo, the 4th Hussars showed up without their sabres and we had to give them our Lances....sheeeersh... we had to sharpen up some clothes poles !
Some guys !!!!!!

 

Message 5 - The day I should have died

Posted on: 28 June 2004 by Ron Goldstein

Hi Peter, Tom
And all I wanted to do was to add an image to my story!
When the image eventually sees the light of day light you will see that it is merely another page from my infamous Diary.
Ideally I'd like to see that all my submissions have got a picture attached. If I eventually get to the stage when I can't find one that is 'suitable' for the article in question, I will probably put a picture of Tom and the ice-cream van that he sent me in an un-guarded moment. The caption will read 'Strange creature spotted whilst serving in Italy'
Ciaou
Ron

 

Message 6 - The day I should have died

Posted on: 28 June 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Ron/Peter -
no problem with that photo as long as it does NOT read ''Strange creature spotted whilst serving Ice Cream in Italy "

I was/am the one sitting on the saddle eating the Ice Cream , just a few yards from the Colloseum as I recall...and it was my 21st Birthday after all !

That whole area has been revamped to allow a sightseeing gallery for the old Forum ruins, but Julie Caesar is still on his pedastel, and I think his cousin was learning the fiddle...he should have asked a politician for lessons !

Message 1 - Theday I should have died

Posted on: 04 March 2005 by Frank Mee Researcher 241911

Ron another cracker, I bet you never thought of those diaries as History at the time you wrote them, we are glad you did though.
We tend to forget the bad times, well put them at the back of the mind. a few words written at the time brings it all back as it really was. How many more kept secret diaries although soldiers were forbidden to do so. I hope we see more such diaries show up on this site.
Regards Frank.

 

Message 2 - Theday I should have died

Posted on: 04 March 2005 by Ron Goldstein

Frank

I trust the MOD doesn't monitor this site !

Do you think that if they did, I might get hauled up on a charge for keeping my diary or does the statute of limitations mean that after 61 years they can't touch me ?

If they did I'm relying on you to speak on my behalf !

Best wishes

Ron

 

Message 3 - Theday I should have died

Posted on: 04 March 2005 by Frank Mee Researcher 241911

Ron,
Not to worry, I got where I was by breaking every rule in the book and then some. No goody two shoes me.
My way of doing things is always read the other chaps rule book, you can bet on it he did not. I can quote KR&R or QR&R as it became but not the usual sections 40-41 where they think they can hang draw and quarter you. Read on and you find the sections that blow those out of the water.
As the proverbial barrack room lawyer purely as a defensive action against base wallah's who thought we up country boys easy meat, I think I could rescue you from the firing party who usually cant shoot straight anyway.
Regards Frank.

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