Private Stan Blay, 2/6th and 2/7th Battalions, the Queen's Royal Regiment, remembers running into German tanks in Italy in 1943.
Stan Blay
Private Stan Blay

Well away we went and we got severely shelled going along there across some fields up to a track. We came out on this track, and we were going along there and there was a load of shells that come down all in amongst us. I don't know as anybody got hurt then or not but when I picked up, I put me gun down and I thought it was a, well, just a puddle but it was a crater more than anything else because it was covered with mud so I had to take the magazine out and shake - get the mud out you know, because it was, you know, the working parts were full of mud like, any way I put it on and this is where I made my - well... I say its my fatal mistake!

The others had passed me while I was doing this, put me gun on me shoulder, and ran to catch my section up which was leading section and I had just about caught 'em up and we saw, you know, ahead of us all these coloured lights and I remember saying to a chap "Well that 's pretty, isn’t it" you know, and we suddenly realised that they were tracers you see, so of course, down we went. Well then we discovered that our Corporal who was leading the company had been severely wounded. Anyway we got up to where he was and we tried to, well, make him comfortable and we couldn't get any further. What had happened was, we had run into some tanks and they were between us and the caves and that was as far as we went. Well eventually the Company Commander crawled up and said "Well look, get back to a house. There is a house way back on the track", we knew where he meant 'cause we'd passed it, you know, a short while ago and my platoon commander said to me "Have you got your gun? " and so I said, "Well look, can we take Corporal Kurzwell with us?" "Yeah! he said, "If you can manage him", he said. So I said "Well willl you take my gun sir?" he said "Yes". So he took my bren and we, myself and an Irish chap... can't remember, Mac somebody, Macdermot. And we tried to drag this chap back with us but he was too heavy and too badly wounded you know. Well of course, in that time all the others had, you know, gone back along this track and well, I suppose they gathered where they were told to. And, we sort of tried to get our bearings. Every time we moved, something went bang, or something fired, you know, and we thought well we are in a bit of a fix. Anyway when it started getting light a barrage from the 25 pounders [anti tank guns] came down but it was smoke you know and the place was full of smoke - you couldn't see where you were going.