In April 1943 near Enfidaville, Chan Keller was standing on the bumper of his ambulance, looking through his field glasses to see where the shelling was coming from. To the German artillery marksman he must have looked like an enemy artillery officer on his staff car. It was a pretty good shot at nearly point-blank range. The 88mm shell struck his ambulance below the left windshield cowling, making an 88mm-diameter round hole through the instrument panel and the back of the (unoccupied) driver’s seat. It destroyed the spare and rear tires, barely missed the gas tank, and buried itself in the ground without exploding. Understandably, Chan was shaken to the core. He was still a bit “bomb happy,” laughing inordinately and shuddering, as he told me about it later.
In North Africa, the Germans generally respected the red crosses that were clearly marked on all our ambulances. As things got worse for the German army in Italy, we had to camouflage the ambulances at forward posts, because the red cross seemed often to be a target.
Copyright © 2011 by John Candler Cobb, II.
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