‘My battalion was a member of the Irene Brigade. We were just about to advance. After we passed Eindhoven, our trucks and tanks went through Uden. In the evening we encamped on an old farm near Nijmegen. Behind the house there was an old wooden pump surrounded with bricks. This offered a fine opportunity for the soldiers to was away sweat and dust of hours of fighting. You can well imagine that we made good use of this opportunity. I was one of the group and so I tossed my jacket on the ground and hung my Scapular on the pump while I washed.
An hour later we received orders to proceed about a mile and a half further and to occupy a trench there. We were looking forward to being able to get a peaceful night’s sleep in that trench. I was about to lie down and was unbuttoning my collar when to my horror I realized that I had no longer had my Scapular. It had been a gift of my mother.
I had had it with me all during the war and now that we were approaching the lion’s den, was I to be deprived of it? To go fetch it was unthinkable, so i tried not to think about it any more and to go to sleep. I pitched and tossed from my left side to my right, but I could not get to sleep.
All around me, my buddies were sleeping like logs even though from time to time shells fell dangerously close. Finally I was overcome by the desire to get my Scapular back and I crept out among my sleeping companions.
It wasn’t so easy to get past the sentry, but I managed to do it and ran back the way we had come. It was pitch dark but nevertheless I had good luck and in a short time I was back at the farm and at the pump. My hands glided searchingly all over the pump but the Scapular was gone.
I was just about to strike a match when there was the sound of a dreadful explosion. What was I to do? Was that the sign of an enemy attack? As fast as I could, I ran back to our trench. Maybe I could do something for my buddies there.
Near the trench I saw the engineers busily at work, hurriedly removing piles of dirt and barbed wire. At the very spot where my companions had been sleeping there yawned a gigantic shell-hole. Before they had vacated this trench the enemy had placed a time-bomb in it and it had exploded during my absence. Nobody survived the explosion. If I had not set out to fetch my Scapular, I would have been buried under that rubble too.
On the following morning I went to the field kitchen and met a buddy there. He looked at me with astonishment.
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‘I thought you were in that trench!
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And I thought you were buried there! My friend continued, ‘I was lying in the trench, but before I went to sleep, I went looking for you. But I couldn’t find you. The corporal saw me hunting around and asked me what I wanted. When I told him what I was doing there he said, ‘Be sensible! Instead, go to that inn nearby and get me a bottle of water.’ And while I was on this errand, the explosion occurred.
Well, I escaped it by a hair’s breath too, I replied. But why on earth were you looking for me so late at night? ‘To give you this,’ he replied, and handed me my Scapular which he had taken from the old pump.
Story taken from ‘Garment of Grace’ from The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.