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Posts Tagged ‘Sicily’

It is just a month today that I landed in Sicily and since last writing here I have moved with the battery about 20 miles from Catania which during the past few days has fallen. Everything seems to be going very well and it shouldn’t be long before the Germans evacuate the island.

Our present gun site is not as good as the last one, there is no cover and all around are R.A.F. dumps of bombs and petrol, heaven knows what would happen if a bomb hit one of those dumps. We are defending the port of Augusta so naturally we are quite close to the sea. For the first few days and nights there was little or no action but now that the moon is coming up action is here in plenty. Last night in particular was a real fireworks display. About 20 bombers came over and for about an hour it was ‘Hell let loose’, bombs were dropping close to the ships some of them very close to us, shells were bursting thro’ the air, tracer bullets were everywhere and the whole harbour was floodlit by the flares dropped by the Jerries. I saw two planes brought down thanks to our own Radio Location, one of them was pretty ghastly. I heard the plane screaming down and thought it was going to attack us but just as I though it was all up with us a terrific crash and flash from the plane as it hit the earth about half a mile away and if the pilot was still in it I hope he had a quick death.

I have talked with one or two families here and I am surprised to see how friendly they are towards us. They are people much like us, peace loving and I am sure they dis not want war. They are mostly Roman Catholics and dislike Mussolini intensely. It is almost funny to see them scuttling like rabbits every time a gun goes off but it is also tragic to see the older people having to run for their lives too.

Letters from my darling Evelyn are very few mainly because the postal service isn’t in fiull swing yet but nevertheless I am loving her more than ever. I pray for us that we might be together again soon so that I can try to realise my ambition of making her the happiest wife in the world.

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AFter nearly a week at Agropoli we have moved contrary to my expectations to a place only 8 miles away and close by a Yankee aerodrome. Latest information is that we shall be here for a further three weeks before moving up. We are now part of the Fifth Army comprising Yanks and British troops.

Our journey from Sicily is now completed. The highlights of the journey were first the crossing from Messina to Reggio which was made in the company of fifty or so girl students. They were packed in with the troops and lorries and the whole trip was very pleasant. Second, the mountain pass which we climbed on the third day, what a magnificent view from the top after four hours climbing and what a surprise to see a railway so high up. Third the village of Rivello which looked like something unreal. Perched on the summit of a mountain it reminded me of a scene from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

My impressions of Italy are not too good. The rural people are very backward and live in poverty. They are as hard as nails and their houses are very badly built though they create a good impression from the outside. I think there are  still a great many Fascists in Italy and some of them are not afraid to give one that impression.

At the moment we are billeted in an old bakehouse and the rats are the biggest I have ever seen. The rain still pours down and the sickening mud gets higher and higher. I have had one letter from Evelyn this week, she doesn’t mention anything about our argument though she may see my point of view and all will be saved. I don’t really think my darling will ever let me down like that, she is too sensible and firm and she will never listen to other people if she thinks her own way is best. I love you Evelyn and I am dying to see you and hold you in my arms again.

I am fairly happy here at the moment, more so because there are a few Yorkshire lads here. Jack Taylor from Leeds, Joe Shastall from Leeds, Vic Middlesworth from Skipton, Eric Benson from Stanningley, Monty Bloomsbury from Leeds and Joe Naylor from Horsforth.

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I don’t really know why I am writing this tonight but I feel that I must write something. My little world of hopes and plans and dreams seems to be toppling over these days and all I can do is to hang on and hope that it will come through all right. My first shock came when Evelyn told me she had left Ackworth to take up a job as inspector on the Milk Marketing Board. I really should be pleased but I’m not because it looks as though Evelyn against my wishes wants to be a career girl. Shock number two came when she suggested that I should give up radio after the war and take up a job connected with farming or something. Now she wants to buy a car out of our savings to drive around on her inspections. This is the last straw. I always thought she was wholeheartedly behind me in radio but it seems that her mother has changed all that. Our savings we agreed would be left in the bank until after the war when we could use them to give us a good start in our married life. I am very disappointed. I have told her not to buy a car and had a really straight talk with her in one of my letters and I just hope for the best.

I am still thinking very much of S. Africa after the war and yesterday I wrote to the ‘John Hilton Advice Bureau’ to see if any arrangements are being made to help potential emigrants after the war.

I am still here in Sicily and it now looks as though the regiment is likely to become fairly static.Each battery has got a fair amount of negros from Basutoland in Africa and each battery is losing much of its transport

Tonight I have seen Greer Garson and Ronald Colman in Random Harvest at the Excelsior, Catania, What a lovely actress she is, she is so typically British.

 

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Events have moved rapidly since re-embarking on 417 after a week’s stay in a ‘rest camp’ just outside Tripoli. As soon as we got on board we were told that our destination was the invasion of Sicily. The 8th army has been given the task of invading the home country of the Italians and our share in it is Sicily. So now at 3:30 p.m. I am writing this whilst travelling in one of the biggest convoys ever. Tomorrow at 6 o’clock in the morning we land (all being well) and I embark on the greatest adventure of my life and I am looking to God for the strength and courage to sustain me during the battle.

I shall be thinking as always of my darling wife Evelyn. whom I love more than life itself and I am praying to God to bring us speedily together again so that I can make her the happiest girl in the world.

God be with all my relatives and friends and especially with Evelyn. Nan and my mother. Here’s to the future, a very successful one.

Article about the Sicilian Campaign

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