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  • Author: Jim Smythe
  • Date Posted: Sunday, April 30, 1944
  • Category:
  • Address: taranto, Italy

APRIL 1944

1 Saturday
Wrote Frances No 66 (13Pag)
Today is very cold just like the day we entered this camp the wind is coming off the sea again. We had egg and bacon for breakfast this morning and it was not bad either. We done 1 1/2hours digging this morning so we never done any exersizes this afternoon. Went to the pictures and seen “the Life of Vernon and Irene Castle” it was not a bad sort of picture. At 0200hrs we put our watches forward one hour.

2 Sunday
Church parade at 0900hrs thhis lasted until 1000hrs. Just loafed around until lunch time and in the afternoon “Watty” and I went to the airdrome for a walk we seen and “touched” Spitfires and Hurricanes. There are several things on the real planes that I have not got on my models the latest ones have two large raidors one each side now and they also have a air intake on the body just below the prop. To day has been warm and after tea we went for a walk up to San Serprio
3 Monday
wrote airgraph (1)
Got up when the bugle went for breakfast 0730hrs. Parade as usual at 0830hrs then on with the digging until 1110hrs when I was graded again , now I am B 2 so I will be leaving B company and going to A company tomorrow sometime. We are now on duty until 1500hrs each day so we will not be able to go for our walks in the afternoon.

4 Tuesday
wrote Frances No 67 (8 pages)
Received 2 Airgraphs from Frances. Heard that Jeff Rashlio (?) has been killed. It is right because there were three hit by a 88 shell. Burt Dodds was hit in the ankle and Ray Dellow in the sholder. Feff got it in the back. That makes our Casa list to date KILLED 9 WOUNDED 14.
Killed Mitchell
G. Grant
Pop McLaine
W. Pearson
J. Rastire(?)
Two houses with chaps buried in so far two of HQ troop killed in the one where we used to get our meals from the cooks.

5 Wednesday
Went on leave to Bari. We have to hitch-hike in but we get a ride home in the leave truck. We (Watty, Bill Martin and I)arrived in the town at 1110hrs and we put our overcoats in the cloke room, we then went on our way around the town. There are a few shops open but not very much in them, plenty of buttons though I had forgotten what color frances dress was so I could not buy any. There are one or two houses of ill fame in the town also, had a look inside one and there were about 50 Itie soldiers waiting there turn. Got my photo taken. They will be ready on Sat they cost me L 200 for 1/2day.

6 Thursday
Worked nearly all day in the garden. In the morning we dug under some orange and lemon trees. They are going to plant lettuces in it. Worked up to 1530hrs this afternoon planting onions silverbeet and the lettuces. There were 1000 of each and it took 12 of us three hours to plant them. At night we went to the village to see the pictures but there was none on why I don’t know so we had a walk round and then came home. A very dull day indeed.

7 Friday.
Wrote Frances No 68 (12 pages)
To-day is a holiday. There was a parade at 0800hrs and after the roll call we were fallen out. I wrote the above letter before lunch time. In the afternoon Watty Bill and I went to the village and they got a tandam and I got a ordanory bike. We then went up the road to the “upper” village we had a ride around and then they went to find a place to get a drink. They found one and the time was 1400hrs . at 1615 I asked them if they were coming home and they said no so I left them and came home by my self. No pictures on to night either. The boys came in at 2115hrs and woke me up they were very worst for wear they had fallen off their bike 3 times on there way back.

8 Saturday
Eggs for breakfast this makes four times this week very good a what. Working on making a brick wall this morning we never done very much for no one seems to be very interessted in us. We got our beer ration on Thursday and I still have half of my bottle left yet. Received the parcel of chock waffers and hum from Hilda. Received the recipt from the pay office for the two pounds I sent home. Seen picture called No No Nannette. There was a shaffly (?) plane over at 0145hrs and up went a barrage.

9 Sunday
Wrote Frances No 69 7 pages
Church parade, This had just finished when it started to rain it kept on right on through the day on and off. The ground is in a terrible staate again but we are used to this mud now it continued on all through the night. Received two airgraphs from Frances.

10 Monday
wrote Air (1)
It is raining again to-day and everyone is wearing his gascape(?) There are no parades only a talk by the cpt of our Com. It was only a talk about of the war. There was not much doing because of the rain so we decided to play pontoon we played all afternoon and I came out winning one pound. After tea we went for a walk just the three of us.

11 Tuesday
wrote Airgraph (1)
Today is fine so we dug the garden again. The onions, lettuce and silver-beet as usual we worked after morning tea and at the 1.30 parade I told them my knee was getting worse. They are now putting hot packs on it and they are giving it massage for a few days to see how it gets on. I played cricket in the afternoon (only batted) I got top score which was 26 the game was between North and South Island the North won by 60 runs. After tea I went into town and seen the play called PYGMALION by GB Shaw. It was not bad

12 Wednesday
I am having hot packs on my knee twice a day now to take the swelling down they are helping it slightly. Received two parcels from frances, one was soap etc and the other was a cake which I wont open just yet. Bought Frances some buttons 73 altogether, they cost me 663 Lire which is one pound 18 and ½ pence. They were large 6d each buckle 40 lire and the small ones were 8.5lire each.

13 Thursday
wrote Frances No 70 (8pag)
First four years of war casualties in the New Zealand Forces. Killed 2111 , Wounded 1337, P.O.W 7,305, Missing 801. These figures were given in the Union Jack. They were a mmistake for as anyone can see the killed and wounded are in the wrong places for one thing.We were visited by Tiney Fryburg(?) this morning. Played pontoon for 1 1/2hrs this afternoon. Lost 15/- Went to the pictures in the village tonight it was a Itie one, we could not understand any of the talk and we could only get a guess of what the story was. It passed away the evening which was all we went in for

14 Friday.
Received a Patriotic Parcel to-day. Mine came from Moseborn Southland Ladies Patriotic Commettie. It was dated July 13th 1943. There were one tin of apricots, cream biscuites, tooth paste, gum, meat paste, oysters, soap, 2 cakes. I never got any pay to-day as I still have a few Lire. I am going into Bari on leave to-morrow to get our photos and a few more buttons some green and pink ones small this time for I have already got some large ones. The CmBDE is going to move from the Cassino front and they are going to “side step” over to the Central Sector they will be there when I get back there I think.

15 Saturday
Went into Bari on leave for the second time. Got the photos and some more buttons this time they were some small green and pink ones. The day has been very hot. I went to 3GH and Ray Dellow is not there yet he is still to ill to move from 2 HG yet he was hit on the sholder very bad. Bart Dodds was up and able to walk about.

16 Sunday
Sent Frances a parcel. Buttons, broach, necklet, two photos, two buckles put on the price as 10/- but really it cost me two pounds. Excatly there were 90 buttons altogether in it. Received a letter 5 pages from Frances there was no number on it and it was post-dated 17.2.44. Wrote airgraphs to Gran, Frances and Clarice. Received letter from Clarice. Went and seen the picture “Pride and Preganise” I had seen it once before at home

17 Monday
wrote Frances No 71 Sent the other three photos 3 pag
I was graded A at 0940 this morning so I won’t be in this camp very much longer. Wrote a note to Norm telling him I would be seeing him soon. Played cricket North V South picked from our company only 10 in the side. Won this time by 122 as against 47 . Watty made 52 and I a duck. I took three wkts for as many runs. Never went out of the camp to-night same picture still on. Received money from Frances it was four pound sixteen shillings she must have sent six pounds.

18 Tuesday
Went and seen the OC and he said he thinks I will be alright so I will most likely be going out to-morrow sometime. Played cricket North V South again we won again I got top score again 36(?). Never went out of camp to-night either because the Movement orders came out at 1600hrs and my name was on it so I will be going out to morrow morning at 0850hrs. I had to pack my gear ready for the early move.

19 Wednesday
wrote Frances No 72 8 pag
Moved from Com Camp at 0900hrs and went to NZ advance Base Italy which is between Bari and Taranto. We came 30 miles south of Bari and we aare 80 miles from Taranto. The main towns we passed through were Casamasa, masa and JOYEA. This camp is a fair size and everyone seems to be here. There are APR’s and graded men also. There is a canteen here and only cigs are rationed of course choclate is to it always have been. Tea on in the YM every night but nothing to eat. The Lowry Hut is a fair sort of a show , it is every bit as good as the one in Mardi. We can buy wine here to it is anything from 60 to 80L per bottle. They say it is not bad either.

20 Thursday
The days are very hot now and a lot of chaps have been given shorts etc. I went up for my MI this morning and the doc just said see how I get on for a while in “depot” which is on the other side of the camp they are all in there lots Arty etc. The meals have droped a bit for where in the hospitals and Con Camp we were on 1 ½ rations we are back to one which is our usual front line ration. This is a day a lot of chaps will remember for to day the 11th REINFORSEMENTS arrived in Advance Base from Egypt.

21 Friday
I was shifted from Recption depot over to A Depot which is the Arty Depot. This is a step nearer to the front line. There are quite a few shaps who I know in here they are from our REG. There are also a few chaps who came over with the 11th. Yesterday who I know. The first one I seen was George Simmions he came over with me and the other was Charlie Spinks (?) he came with me also they have been doing _gardens and Charlie has been cooking. Wrote airgraph to Mother. Started letter No 73 to Frances. Rained very hard at 1500hrs and it kept on and off all night it is very cold again.

22 Saturday
wrote Frances No 73 6 pages
Had a depot parade this morning then it was interior econimony(?) that meant the rest of the day off. To-day has been very cold but to get out of this place for a few hours I am going to an Opera to-night. The trucks are leaving at 1618hrs and the opera starts at 1800hrs the name of it was LA BOHEME. It was not bad for a change there was very good singing in it all the actors were Italian and the words were in Italion. It only cost us 25L each it was very cheap for this only 1/- ½ We arrived back at camp at 2215hrs it was still fairly cold the play was in the Garrison Theatre Bari.

23 Sunday
Wrote Frances No 74 7 pages
This morning there was a church parade which was voulentry it is still a bit cold but the sun is shining. There was tea on at the YM from 2pm to 4pm this afternoon. I went over for it pasted away half and hour, away I say because that is the hardest thing to try and do in this camp and that is to try and pass away the time. Received 6 Airgraphs from Frances dated on them were 27th 29th 30th March and one was 2.4.44. Also a Cable dated CHCH 14.4.44 Cold tonight so to bed I went at 2000hrs.

24 Monday
On Guard to-day from 0700 to 0600hrs tomorrow morning. I put my name down for leave tomorrow we aare going on a sight seeing tour to some caves and some old villagges. It will be a break from this camp there is nothing at all to do here. I started writing letter No 74. I will finish it to-day sometime. If I can get out of Guard for 1 1/ 2 hrs after tea I will be playing hockey tonight at 1830hrs. Did not play hockey because the guard was put forward one hour making it 1900hrs. Wrote to Gran and Harry. Shift on Guard 1930hrs till 2210hrs.

25 Tuesday
There is a camp parade this morning but we don’t have to go in it. The Guard is of duty until 0900hrs. I missed the game trip today if the boys say it is any good I will go on Thursday if it is no good I will go to Bari instead and go into the hospital. It is a bit warmer to day for the wind we have been having the last few days has died down. Went for a trip this afternoon to a place called NORI which is inland. It is a very dull sort of a place but very clean up against the rest of the villages I had seen. To night there was a concert on here in camp it was given by a gang known as the Mud Larks.

26 Wednesday
wrote Frances No 75 (9 pages)
It rained last night but it had stoped by the time we got up this morning but it is very cold. We had a parade at 8.30 this morning but were dismissed and there is a pay parade at 1100hrs.. It rained all afternoon. We had a very good tea tonight. Pork (roast) mashed potatoes, cauliflower and apple sauce. For afters we had raisen squares with milk. If the weather is not better in the morning the same trip will be off.

27 Thursday The weather was alright this morning so away we goes to the caves. We went through several villages but most of them were small. We went through NOCI again and then the caves. These were not bad but they can’t be a patch on our own ones at home for the stalignites were only about two or three feet in length but just the same they were very good. They were only designed in 1938 there are electric lights and a good parth made right through. Received a letter from Burt Dodds. It rained once or twice during the day but it was nothing hard.

28 Friday
I bought a book yesterday so I will be able to write my story down from Rangiora camp to the time I left Egypt to go to Italy. There are 120 pages in this book. I will be able to fill it up I think if I do there will be over 18.000 wowrds in it. This should make very interesting reading. I started the book this after noon and is a good thing to have in this camp because it is passing my time away in grand style. It is very cold to-day and it has been the same for nearly a week now.

29 Saturday
Received a letter from Burt Dodds he is now in Con Camp. Ray Dellow is still in 2 GH. Watty came out of Con Camp yesterdy and he said he is coming over to the depot tomorrow morning. I played Housey tonight but never won anything. I spent about 60 L . A chap who was in Con Camp with me won three and a half houses he won altogether 1900L in all them. I went to bed early because it was to cold to stay up any longer. Wrote more in my book.

30 Sunday
Woke up this morning only to hear rain falling. Breakfast to-day is at 0730hrs so every one was in bed right up till 0725hrs and just as we left our tent the rain stoped for long enough to allow us to get over and into the mess hut without getting wet. No parades to-day so I was able to write my book up to page 50 which is not very far from half way. It has not rained this afternoon but it is sure cold, the wind is strong to, we are tighting up the ropes quite often during the day.