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  • Author: Jim Smythe
  • Date Posted: Monday, April 30, 1945
  • Category:
  • Address: venice italy

1 April
Although I never got to bed until 0400hrs I was up again at 0745hrs had breakfast after we had put the net up over the gun. The pit was finished and everything a”Home” as we were so close I dug it about 2 1/2ft deep. I was on picquet but off duty tonight. The area is very quiet for such a place in the line only MG fire and a few shells can be heard. We won’t be putting in our big show for a few days yet, everybody has to get into possition yet.

2 April
Breakfast this morning was two boiled eggs and fired bacon with tea etc. We cleaned our gun and the rest of the day was to ourselfs. I was mistaken a bit there because we now have to move again to another possition. This possition is reserved by some Tommies who are bringing 4-5—in. Our C.R.A told our Cpt just to dig in here in case the Tommies changed their minds about coming here (they never) so we now move at 2000hrs it is just dusk then. These men are supposed to be our leaders and they muck us about like this. Today is a very hot day and I think the summer is here alright. As far as we know we are getting our summer issue on the 15th of this month. Moved at 2000hrs but we only went about 500yds back we are on the other side of the canal and we are now firing on our nearest point at 2700yds instead of 2300yds, but so far we have not fired a round yet. Hilda’s birthday I think. Wrote Janet card.

3 April
Finished this pit put the net up and the rest of the day we spent in digging ourselfs in. We are going to be here for a week or more so we all made a good effort in our wee “homes” Received five cards three from Janet one from Bob Christian and one from Mum. I had my shirt off today and I got sunburnt a bit . I don’t think I will peel because there was still “tan” on my skin from last summer. We had a slight rain at 2030hrs. How much we are going to get remains to be seen. Wrote Janet and Bob Christian. We have 1000 rounds per gun on the possition ready for the big attack we are going to put on very shortly.

4 April
Up this morning at 0820hrs but never missed my breakfast as the cooks were late also. Wrote Janet and Mum. To night was very cold so to bed we went early There is going to be a frost I think. Jerry threw a few shells around the area but out of 15 he never got a good one, they were all duds. At 2400hrs we were called out to fire three rounds. Jerry had sent out a strong patrol around the back of our infantary so back he had to go before he seen too much. The rest of the night was quiet for us but there was plenty of firing from both sides

5 April
Wraped up a 2nd NZEF “Times” to send home. There was no firing today and we don’t know yet when the big attack is going in. We ourselfs expect it to come off on Sunday as this seems to be the Armys big day always. Although the sun has been out today it has been a very cold wind blowing. Wrote all feb in this book which I am using for my 1945 diary. I got an Itie girl to fix up my second grey shirt today. I washed it and my sleeveless jersey to-day. This is the first time I have ever washed my jersey since Frances gave it to me over two years ago

6 April
Very cold this morning and there are not very many shorts being worn today. We handed in one blanket, our jerkin and one battle dress to=day. We start taking our “little yellow pills” tomorrow, we are building up a resistence for the “mossie season” nearly starts. Bob Flureys (?) birthday today. He is 25 so he paid for our beer issue yesterday. He is our No 1 at present and I am 2 i.c he is only a “BOR” and I am a “gunner”. He is a very good chap. He was also the first chap wounded in Italy out of our Battery this was at the first possition on the Sangro River. In bed by 2100hrs. Jerry started to shell us at 2330hrs and he was still going when I looked at my watch last which was 0030hrs. The shells were going just over our heads and landing 150yes behind us, they were landing amongst our infantary and near F.Troop. The 25,26, and 23 Batts were dug in behind us waiting for the day to move up for the big attack about 150 shells were landed in the area and as far as we know no one was wounded, one landed four yards away from the trail of F4 gun. I turned my stomach into the bank of my slittle, buried my head into a corner and went to sleep in spite of Jerrie and his shelling. Wrote Frances card.

7 April
Jerry kept shelling for three quarters of a hour after I went to sleep last night so the boys informed me this morning. They told me after finishing the shells he started with the “Minnies” and for all their noise which is terrific I never woke. One sure gets used to all the “funny” noises in this war. This shelling last night was the biggest concentration of Arty fire any of us have heard Jerry put over since we have been in Italy which is 18 months. Wrote Janet card also a small surface letter sending cutting out of 8th Army News

8 April
I have now caught up on this years diary. I have been all morning writing up the month of March and the few days of this one that have passed. The time now is 1133hrs and I am sitting in my slitty because there is a very strong cold wind blowing everybody is humped up in their tents either writing or reading. We have no word about our coming attack yet we expected it to come off tonight but it doesn’t look very much like it now. Wrote Janet 2 cards. The news reports the Allies only 7 miles from Hanover and at the nearest point only 157 miles from Berlin. A quiet night but a cold one.

9 April
A rumour came out last night that our “D.Day” in Italy was starting at 1500hrs this afternoon. We will know if this is to be or not to be within a few hours, the time now is 0850hrs.
Our D.Day is here starting at 1520hrs. We are going to rake Jerries F.D.Ls with H.E. up to a certain point then back again then up and back again. The infantry are putting in their attack at 1920hrs. The whole show today is going to take 700rounds. All the new 3rd Div chaps are here with us, gazed with awe at the hundreds of rounds that are stacked up in each pit, they have never seen so many rounds in one pit in all their lives. They will know what war really is after this big attack is through. We are going to be at it for two days about 1000 planes are helping us to-day and tomorrow. Time now 1216hrs.
Heavy bombers started to go over at 1340hrs and they will be coming over in twleves up to 1520hrs. We can see great columns of smoke rising up from over the other side of the Sario (?) RiverThe planes are flying fortresses, Mediums and Fighters are going to follow them after. Time now 1930hrs and up till now we have fired 222 rounds .Our gun broke down at 1800hrs and the Reg Tiffie is now on the job.We will be ready to fire again within one quarter of an hour. We are firing the barrage for the Infantry now, only our gun is out of action. 40 Poles were killed and 40 wounded by the bombing by the heaveys early this afternoon. We were in action again by 1950hrs and we only missed 60rds of the barrage. The barrage was of 250 rounds. We fired altogether today just over 500 rounds in bed by 2320hrs.

10 April
Up this morning at 0030hrs, we were called out to fire fire. C.D.F targets all over, three rounds each, the rest of the day up till we moved was quiet for us. We were told to be ready to move though we had to move as soon as we were ready. The time was 1150hrs when we moved and our new possition is 800yds from the Sario River. We are all settled in now, the time is 2010hrs, we have not fired a shot so far and we may not fire from this possition as the tanks and infantry are still moving up and not meeting hardly any opposition. The great push is on, we are using everythink including “flame throwers”. We had planes over us from 1340hrs until some early hour this morning, they were droping flares then going in to bomb. I am going to bed very soon. I may write and I may not.

11 April
I never wrote last night as I was too tired, I never got into bed until 2130hrs. We were up at 2440hrs this morning fired 27 rounds harrassing fire and again at 0240hrs we were up firing 24 rounds gun-fire. I was awake at 0730hrs and was told that we are moving at 0915hrs. There was a rush for us to do this but we were all ready to move by 0925hrs. We moved up about 6 miles crossing the Saino (?) River and our possition at present is halfway between the two rivers the Saino and the ——–. So far today time now 1620hrs we have fired 40 rounds. We are still going forward every where along the entire front. We are firing on a range of 4000yds from here. The day has been very got. I have had my shirt off all day and I am starting to get brown again. Air Force over all day again to-day fighters, this time. Started firing about 1800hrs and it turned out to be almost continuous until 2300hrs in this time we done ½ a hour harrassing fire on a Jerries S.P gun. There were crowds of Ities coming through our lines from up the front. Their houses were all blown down by Jerry they said. There was three men, one woman and two small boys in one batch and they had only passed about two minutes when a Itie “Partisian” came running down after them and yelled out to us that one of the chaps was a “TED” two of our chaps grabbed rifles and went with the Itie. It was not necessary because after the Itie had taken a shot at the Ted some Tommies smartly grabbed him. He proved to be a Jerrie Captain dressed in Itie clothes. The Itie said he had been waiting four months for the English to come so he could “get” this Jerry who had made him work very hard at the point of the pistol.

12 April
The rest of the night was a very broken one. I was on picquet from 0045hrs until 0130hrs and were up firing at 0350hrs, 0550hrs,and again at 0700hrs. I stayed up then. So far from this possition we have fired over 200 rounds made up of the odd 3,5,7 rounds gun-fire and this is a lot of rounds when they are fired in this fashion and we have not been here 24 hours until 1020 this morning. News came over the radio this morning that “New Zealanders” had smashed their way across the Sanio River and up to the next one the ‘SENTERNO RIVER. Wrote Janet card. Received cable from Janet, she was in Auckland when she sent it. Dated 5th April. The news is still very good over the air. Fired only 150 rounds so far today time now 2030hrs. We may be moving again tomorrow morning our Infantry are still going forward. In bed by 2045hrs Off duty. Rained 1 hour

13 April (Friday)
Fired a barrage this morning of 240 rounds. At 0910hrs we moved up again this time some four miles! And we are just on the outskirts of Massa Lombarda. After digging ourself a slitty we done the pit. We had a shell land only 20 yds from us this morning but we were lucky as none of us were hit. A chap on E.2 was hit in the forehead but was alright only there was a lot of blood, he was Ivan Watson who came over in the 14th Reg. He was a 3 Div chap who came over with Ray Mac. Fired 150 rounds so far today and so far since “D.Day” we have fired 1230. We are firing a 300 round barrage at 0200hrs in the morning. Time now 2030hrs We are on harrassing fire from 2320hrs until 2400hrs. All the boys are now feeling the strain of the Battle. We have been at it night and day since the 9th we are getting our sleep only a few hours at a time. Passed through LUGO this morning at 1000hrs.

14 April
The time now is 0525hrs and I have just got back into my slittie after firing the Barrage. It lasted 2 hours 40 minutes (300rds) Sleep was impossible after this because we fired 30 rounds in smashing up a counter attack. The time now is 0600hrs and it is daylight. So I have only had from 0010hrs until 0150hrs sleep, 4 hours last night and 3 hours the night before. I am feeling the strain myself now. The T.S.M and Tiffie made us a cup of tea at 0430hrs very nice to. Started to write Janet at 0845hrs but could only do five lines. We were called out within 10 min of getting back into our tents. We were called upon to fire 30rds before breakfast so any further rest or writing was impossible. We moved this morning again at 1115hrs going forward 6000yds. We are in a very open possition and only 3000yes from the River bank which we can see. Had a few shells around near our area but no damage done. We are very glad that we have moved from this last possition because of the dust we got from the road. Air Force over all day. I bought another pipe yesterday it cost me 500Lire.

15 April
I had a complete rest last night going to bed at 0815hrs and to sleep never woke up until 0800hrs this morning. We fired about 30 odd rounds before lunch. Jerry has brought one of his crack Divs in front of the 2nd NZF the 4th Paratroop Div it is , that’s why we are stoped a bit, we are firing a big barrage again soon so we will most likely be on the move again within two days. Finished writing the card I started yesterday morning. We fired 75 rounds harrassing fire between 1530hrs and 1800hrs and at 2100hrs we started a barrage which lasted 2 hours s50 minutes, 340 rounds were fired and the attack that we fired it for went off very well every company got well past their finishing line. The 25B.T got four “Tiger Tanks” and about 200 P.O.W were taken. There were only two D.F—fired so Jerry could not have had much “guts” left when we ended the barrage.

16 April
This morning we have fired about 40 rounds. The sky is slightly overcast and there is a chillie wind blowing (all shirts are on). There is a possible chance we may move today as the Ressie (?) party are going out after lunch. We were tald at 1230hrs to prepare to move which we did but we never expected to have to wait for several hours until we moved. Our time to move came at 1930hrs and it was getting a bit chilly by this time too. We had only gone half a mile or more when our first hold up came and from there on we only moved a few yards at a time until we got to our new possitions at 2130hrs and we are only 3000yes shorter in range than we were at the last possition. The area we are now in was the scean of hard battles and destruction of both houses and human lives. Jerry had just brought up 500 —— before we opened up our barrage (which was only last night) Each gun fired 50 rds on the opening line so there were thousands of rounds fired into this town. The Jerries were lying everywhere along the road in and in the town itself. But the grimest sight was not the jerries or the buildings .What we had done we done! There were men , women and children lying on boards, sheets and on the ground, Dead! When one sees small children , three and four lying dead, killed by shellfire it is a sorry thing, to know he helped to do it, I did! Because I fired our gun in this barrage “May they forgive me”

17 April
Up at 0800hrs no firing last night. We are moving again at 1245hrs to a possition 6000yds up, we are still advancing very well. We arrived at this possition at 1345hrs dug our slitties and fixed up our beds etc, just as we had done. This we were told that we were moving again but this was cancelled again so we are now “bedded down” for tonight, we have fired 30 rounds from here already , time now 1700hrs. Fixed up “Times 8” Army News etc to send home. We fired nearly 100 rounds harrassing fire tonight but I was off duty, but on picquet from 2245hrs until 2320hrs. A barrage was set for tonight of 240 rounds but it was cancelled at 2000hrs, it was timed for 2300hrs. We now have a 3rd Div Sgt in charge of our gun.

18 April
The time is now 1030hrs and so far this morning we have not fired a round. There were a few shells near our area last night. I think the Barrage will be fired tonight, there is talk of one that will cover 480 rounds but we have been told not to prepare the ammo in case this is changed. Wrote Janet card. Received card from Janet 2.4.45. The barrage was on ! and it lasted until 0140hrs. The night was a warm one but a watery moon was shining.

19 April
I was in bed by 0210hrs this morning and up again at 0800hrs. Just as we fired our last round this morning the church bell tolled, why I don’t know may be for those caught in the murderous fire from our guns and flame throwers. We have just finished cleaning our gun down. Since D.Day we have fired 2626rounds out of our gun which means about 189.050 for the Div Arty since the 9th April ten days today. Wrote Janed card “growling” Wrote Anne. Only fired the four rounds all day and by the looks of things we will be moving tomorrow. In bed by 2130hrs but I had to get up for picquet from 0450hrs till 0825hrs (near town of Medicina)

20 April
Up this morning at 0600hrs for the day. We were to move at 0700hrs. Breakfast was at 0615hrs and we never moved until 0755hrs. Our advance was only 3000yds but this brought us to within 4000yds but we may be moving again because “Ted” is moving back all the time. We will meet him at the Po River. I suppose there he will try ;and make a stand. We did not move for the second time today at 1120hrs this time we went forward 6000yds and on the route we seen the grim realitys of war as grim as any sights one could see. After leaving our first area we got onto the main road and after going only a few chain down we came to a “new” cemetary. No one was buried in it then but there was a line of twenty men, all wraped in a blanket waiting for the holes to be dug. We passed several small villages all of which had been hit by our shellfire and it was not very long before we were in the area that Ted had been there only this morning. This could be seen by the amount of gear lying around, there were Kau— trucks, hay-stacks, and tanks of both sides burning some with men still in them. When we came to the stop-bank on which we fired our barrage two nights ago we seen for ourself what destruction we had caused. The flame throwers helped do what we seen also. The stop-banks are the sides of canals dug years ago by the Ities for the irrigation of their land. The banks are ten to twenty feet high and every one we came to there is usually a fight and a bloody one at that. The first two we crossed were no exception, the dugouts the enemy dug in these banks showed what price “he” is paying to hold this country. All along the bans were dead men, some just lying peacefully while others were still standing up in these dugouts where they had either been bajoneted, burnt or shop as our boys came over the top. Of all the men we seen these will stand out in my memory forever, the first must have been hit in the stomach because his inside was sticking out, blown up like a great bunch of baloons, the next one was hit with shrap because the top half of his body was gone and the third was caught in a truck. He was burnt to a cinder. A bit further up they were a bit fresher because the ones we seen were just lying where they had fallen only twenty four hours before. One was all over the road though where he had fallen was right in the path of a tank and there had been countless tanks and trucks over this part of the road before daylight fell. I hope his wife or mother thinks of him buried peacefully in a quiet little grave”somewhere in Italy” but he couldn’t even be buried. My thoughts were far away with my darling wife, why? I cannot say here! I will tell her when I get home and she reads these pages. When we neared our new possition even the Itie people were not above going down into their dugouts because they never knew who a gun or a tank belonged to for a start. We dug a pit and after a wash went into our own slitties to sleep. We only fired 30 rounds from the time we got here until we went to bed.
21 April
At breakfast time I got up and by 0900hrs I was shaved and ready for what the day may bring. We received news of a parcel mail that was sent from Nov 1st until 4 Dec. All the boys got salt water in them but they are sending the oridginal bags up to us so we may salvage any pieces we can So it looks as if my new Diary will be in this lot. We moved this afternoon at 1730hrs and our advance this time covered 9000yds. Jerrie broke today and we are after him with everything. BOLAGRIS (?) fell this morning and the 6th Arm Div took FERRARA. After we dug our own slittys we dug a “one spit” gun pit and went to bed , we fired 15 rounds harrassing fire. Wrote Janet card.

22 April
This morning is a better one the sun is shining and the sky is almost cloudless. Time now 0900hrs we have just had breakfast. We were told to be ready to go mobile by our new G.P.O our ex 3rd Div “boy” 22 he is and what is he dumb, any-way we took our own time and got ready to move as we always have done. He told us at 1150hrs and we knew when we would move. It is now 1507hrs and we may be here for the night even yet. Our Infantary are 16,000yds in front of us and are still going. We won’t be needed until they come to a halt somewhere, this is not much good to us because we have to remain packed up ready to move at a moments notic. Time now 2000hrs and there is no more before first light in the morning. We have now put our tents up again and ready to bed down any time at all.

23 April
Up at 0500hrs and we were on the road by 0545hrs after traveling nearly twelve miles we came to a halt in a Reg area just outside the village of St Georgie but our stay here is only going to be a few hours because we are on the move again at 1200hrs, lunchtime now 1130hrs. Weather fine. I think the Div is being pulled out. This time we moved went through St Georgia and travelled north for about two miles where we are now going to stay for about two days. Our welcome to this part of the country was different because of our quick advance. Itie flags were hanging out and the people were lining the streets. The great advance is going so well now that our Infantary doesn’t need our support and the front has got narrower too because some Divs are being squeezed out. The Poles are out now because the Yanks cut them out. Went out for a walk after tea and went into a cassa the Ities were very pleased to have us and came from nowhere . We stayed there until 2015hrs, it was very cold so we came back cooked four eggs each then went to bed. Wrote Janet letter “safe conduct sheets”

24 April
I was up this morning at 0805hrs this morning (just in time for breakfast) and by 0845hrs we knew that we were going into action again , not as if we had been out but we have not been firing for a few days, only following up. Until today at 1700hrs when we came into the possition we had been waiting up to eighteen months to take up, this was the possition in front of the Po River. We are now only 8,000yds from this river and the war is so good that we were not going to dig a “pit” even but we who are “here” know the same thing can happen now as it did two, three or four years ago wo we take all safty measures and will do so until the “cease fire”. We left our other area at 1045hrs and pulled into another possition for lunch, we were told to stay mobile as we may move at anytime , we did and the time was 1600hrs and after one hour and a half travelling we arrived here. Our Armys have crossed the Po River in several places I don’t think Italy has very long to go now. It is still a matter of Jerry in one house for breakfast and we are there for tea. I am in bed writing this, the time is 2120hrs and I think there is going to be a very heavy mist come from the river.

25 April
Up at 1245hrs and it was to fire a small barrage for the 23rd Batt to cross the “Po”. The 21st Bat had a company across yesterday but the Air Force (our own) drove them back to the Island again, this island is in the middle of the river (like the one at Kaitangata in the Clutha) (a river in the south island) I don’t think there is going to be any great battles for the Po River. It is on and on now until there are no Teds left in Italy. The battle of Berlin is still on. Time now 1545hrs. We have just been told that we have to be ready to move by 2100hrs tonight, over the Po River. It will be this time I suppose. We moved at 2220hrs and the journey was a slow one, my first sight of the Po was at 1140hrs and we just got over the bridge by 2359hrs so our crossing of the Po was made on Anzac Day. It is the biggest river we have seen in this country, it was easy 150 yards wide where we crossed.

26 April
This morning at 0100hrs found me digging a slittie and I was bedded down by 0130hrs and I never got up until 0810hrs breakfast time. The time is only 0930hrs and we already have 40 eggs and two more chaps have gone out to get some more. We moved from this possition at 1000hrs and after travelling about four mile we went into action again. This is No 14 possition since “D.Day” April 9th, the time now is 13f40hrs and we are packed up ready to move forward again even at this stage the Po River is a long way behind. It is a dull day and we have had the odd shower of rain but it is warm. Moved at 1530hrs and after a very good trip we found ourselfs within easy range once again. We had fired right up to 11,675yds and now we are down to 4,000yds. This new possition is just in front of the river. We have dug our pit and our own slitties, the time is 1835hrs and we have just finished our tea. There are a few spots of rain falling but I hope we don’t get very much more. Fired 60 rounds today so far. We have taken up three different possitions within fourteen hours. This is the first time we have had more than two possitions since we have been in Italy. The food is scarse and it is not very good either. We haven’t even time to wash our clothes which are at the present time very dirty. My wish about the rain was not heard because at 2100hrs it stated but as I had my “bivvie” up very well so I went to sleep.

27 April
I was awake this morning at 0410hrs. The rain woke me up it was that heavy. I give my “wee home” the once over but it was holding the rain out alright so I went to sleep again not waking until 0820hrs when our breakfast came around. Although it is not raining, the sky is overcast and it is cold. We have several “bridgeheads” over the river in front of us so as soon as they get a bridge across we will be on our way again. Last night we got a 800lb bag of sugar for each sub. We are going to sell it as we also split up two more amongst ourself for our own use. Done some washing this afternoon but there is very little drying. We may even move tonight yet. Wrote Janet card. We did move and at 2330hrs too this trip was going to be a long one too our advance this time is going to be over the Adigli (?) Rr. After travelling for 4 1/2hours (a yard at a time almost) we put our guns down at 0400hrs on the morning of this day the 27th. We went to bed at 0430 in a Itie house.

28 April
Up at 0810hrs this morning and after only 3 1/2hours sleep was very tired. Just loafed around this morning and this afternoon so far I have done nothing. I think we will be staying here tonight, we are going very well up here but they are going back so fast we don’t know where to move to so we can still be in range the next morning. The rain was on all last night again but so far today it hasn’t rained but it looks very much like it. We moved again today at 1545hrs and just as we got into our Quad it started to rain, we were able tokeep dry which is the main thing. We had a very fast trip of about 7 miles which brings us to the view of the hills. The Ities all gave us a very good welcome, lining all the streets of all the towns we went through (if we could have only stoped) if the rain had stoped we would all have been on top of the quad. Now for a very grim tale, These stories have been wrote about in the paper for years and whether they are believed or not they will be when I write this. I have seen both with my own eyes. In this cassa where we are now there is one such story only last night if we had been here it would have been different. At 7.30 yesterday morning two “Teds” came to this Cassa and demanded food to take away for his men, the Ities refused to give them any so these two shot five of the Ities who are now lying in the next room to us now all were old, no babies I mean. So “you” can imagine the Ities being very happy here, this house is a very dull sort of place. Now for the other one which is only another cassar. This one is only a few yards down the road. The “Teds” demanded the same here weither they were the same Teds or not I don’t know but five Ities, two men and three women were locked into a room then hand grenades were thrown through the window, those who were still alive (there were three) were fired at with a rifle and then for good luck all were hacked to pieces about the face with a sharp end of a pick. There faces were just a mass of blood and wounds. The day is coming when men like these killers will pay the price. It is these things that make us laugh when we see such sights as we did with the dead terrier lying dead on the Senio’s stopbanks. We are now going to shift Ted out of this country starting tomorrow we are going flat out. The time now is 1945hrs and we are going to pack up ready for a very early move in the morning.

29 April
This morning I was up early 0315hrs to be exact we had to be ready to move at 0345hrs and we did. The time now is 0800hrs and we have been on the road for four hours but not travelling all the time. Last night I never seen two more dead Ities in the second cassa, they were by themselves and they were two children, one 14 and one 7 years old. They were the only remaining members of a whole family that I never seen. The day is overcast also. At a halt in a village we had breakfast and on again but there were several stops until we got some very stumbling news of two columns of Teds heading for the town of PADOVA. We were on the road at the time of course and we put the guns into action right on the road. Due to the very scattered front there was a mix up and the “Teds” turned out to be the 6th Arm Div who had got mixed up somehow. We got going again and we are now having lunch 1320hrs. (later) The time is now 1635hrs and we are still waiting on the road we move about ten yards a hour, it looks as if we will be travelling all night. Had a very heavy downpour about 3 oclock but it was just a thunderstorm which passed over. After passing through several towns we came in sight of VENICE at 2000hrs. The only very large town which is on the map was PADOVA then a right turn towards the coast,. We are now camped about eight miles from Venice our objection was supposed to be Trieste but the Tito forces took this place yesterday so I don’t know where we will head for. Italy is just about cleaned out of Jerries. Wrote Janet

30 April
Received 4 cards also one from Anne. Cards were 2nd (1) and 8th (3) We were told that we would be moving about eleven this morning but the time is now 1410hrs and there is no sign of a move. We travelled 58 miles after we got moving last night after 1700hrs and the people gave us a tremendous welcome everywhere. The Jerries had only left the same morning. It was a very good sight after so long in Italy. For them the war is finished. Wrote Mum “K” card
At 1510hrs word came round that there were eitht men and one Sgt to go into Venice on leave so our G.P.O picked them out. He is a 3rd chap so he picked all the 3rd Div cobbers of his, we the old chaps only had one rep. This made us feel very good after fighting in Italy for 19 months. We were done out of seeing Venice after all, all because the 3rd were trying to run us just how they thought fit, we didn’t like it at all, so we took the law into our own hands and went into Venice AWOL nearly the whole troop went. We left our area at 1610hrs and arrived in Venice at 1700hrs, we hich-hiked in of course. The first thing we done was have a ride in a “Gondola” and from it we seen several places that were very beautiful buildings that were that old that I don’t think anyone knew how old they really were. Our journeys end was going to be at the great Cathedral and it was worth seeing, it stands at one end of a great square (the size of Hagley Oval) It came on to rain then and this mared our sightseeing a bit. This City is all that one reads or sees in pictures about it. There are hundreds of canals but one can walk through it just the same, by going over several small bridges. There were only about three shops open in the city. I never seen them but three of our chaps did! The streets are very narrow only about ten feet wide, the main ones were very wide though. Our welcome was very warm and so it should have been because the Kiwis had only taken the city 24 hours before we got there. There were some very beautiful women in this city. A very funny thing can be noticed about the buildings in this place, most of them are three stories or more. Our “Leave” came to a end and 2030hours we were going along the courseway again, this built up piece of land is about 40yds wide and it must be many miles long, I should say “three” We arrived back at 2100hrs and the cooks had our tea still. Bed was next and just as I got into mine it started to rain.