WWII Memories of Frank Dennis Gent


Did I ever tell you that during the war each and every tank crewman had a first-aid kit which included a hyperdermic syringe with a massive dose of morphine. If you were mortally wounded you could inject yourself or, if you were not capable, one of your mates would do it for you.

I remember once in Italy we were being heavily shelled by German artillery. A local Italian family had taken refuge in a small arched tunnel, or culvert which, unfortunately for them, was close by our Shermans. Shells were landing amongst us and one fell near the entrance to the tunnel.

The family came out calling for help, supporting a poor old man, the only one who had been wounded. I took one look at him and was profoundly shocked. A large razor-sharp piece of shrapnel had slashed from side to side across his face so that it hung like a mask supported by the skin of his forehead. It was horrifying. As he felt for it, it moved and I could see his tongue and tonsils behind.

Our medical officer went to him immediately and when he came back I said, "Poor devil, he hasn't a chance, has he?"

The Officer replied, "No, he'll be dead by morning but I've given him so much morphine he won't feel a thing".

No-one could have done more for him.