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Well, as best as I can figure...

August 14 2017 at 2:31 PM
Dan Martel 

Response to Lots of questions answered


My joke "Michael who?" was directed at Mike, as in "Who is this Michael Dorosh?" My wife is always telling me I'm the funniest person I know. Thank God I still have my looks.

Q: As near as I can tell from his records (which are a little hard to understand), he seemed to move around a lot. He started out in #1 CARU then #2 CARU. He was TOS to 1st Medium Regiment on June 12 till Sept 16 when he went back to #2 CARU (Canadian Artillery Regimental Unit?) So the #2 CARU is where he was just prior to being TOS to 3rd Medium on Dec 24, 1942. I don't know what the difference is between a CARU and a Regiment.

CARU stands for Canadian Artillery Reinforcement Unit, of which there were three located in England. 1 CARU handled reinforcements for field regiments (25-pdr guns), 2 CARU for medium, anti-tank and survey regiments, and 3 CARU for anti-aircraft units. This organization remained in effect throughout the war. So it makes sense that he was transferred from 1 CARU to 2 CARU and then posted to a medium regiment. Regiments were operational units in the artillery, meaning they were engaged in combat. Reinforcement Units were for holding and training soldiers until they were posted to an operational regiment.

Q: The Gun Layer position seems to be pretty important job and I'm looking forward to sharing this information with my family. I'm impressed and proud of him that he did this. (Well, I was impressed and proud anyway regardless, just more so now).

The Gun Layer was a very important, and a very technical, position in the gun crew. Layers were paid at a level higher than a general duties gunner.

Q: Incidentally, I started actually "reading" not just skimming through The Guns of Normandy - what an eye opener to what these men went through - it's so heart wrenching.

I've yet to meet anyone who's read the book who hasn't had their view of the Normandy campaign and the Canadian Army enhanced.

Q: My dad explains the account of what happened in his own words (pretty neat to read them). The injury he sustained was definitely accidental (cordite went into flames) but it is not known WHY it went off. In the “Statement of Commanding Officer” it says: he was “not guilty of negligence or misconduct with regards to this accident” so that's good to know.

There is some conflicting information regarding the accident. On the "Field Medical Card" (filled out at the time of the incident) it says "Cordite burn while firing guns in action" But in the "5th Canadian Field Dressing Station" report it says "Cordite exploded during a rest period while in dugout" So we can’t be sure EXACTLY what happened and I guess we’ll never know.

This is very interesting. I think I know what happened, because it still happens today.

Artillery ammunition consist of two parts, the shell (that part which is propelled up the barrel towards the target) and the casing (which is brass, contains the primer and the propellant, ie cordite,) which remains in the breech and must be removed before a new round of ammunition (shell and casing) can be loaded. British artillery ammunition was delivered to the gun lines in two parts; the shell and the casing. These were loaded into the gun's breech separately. (I think this is explained in The Guns of Normandy.)

The propellant in the case was not loose but contained in eight bags, or charges, of equal amounts of cordite. If the target was at maximum range, all eight bags would be left in the case. As the ranges decreased less bags were used. Unused bags of cordite were put to the side in a safe place until the firing was complete. After a busy firing session there could be dozens, if not hundreds, of unused bags of cordite located beside each gun. This extra cordite had no intrinsic value as new ammunition cases being brought forward would each have their own eight bags. So all of this highly flammable material had to be disposed of safely and quickly, especially if the guns were due to move to another location.

The method used was to build a fire and toss the cordite charges in. This is not as dangerous as it sounds as a small bag of cordite will go 'woof' in a plume of bright purple. The danger comes when someone decides that if one bag is not dangerous, how dangerous can a hundred be? Burns could be incurred during cordite disposal depending on the circumstances. There seems to be four different versions as to how the injuries were incurred. Suffice it to say, no matter what the exact circumstances, it involved cordite and fire, and the Commanding Officer didn't find him negligent. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) it took him out of the war.

Well that's all I have for now. Again, anything I can help you with I will.


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