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  • Author: Jim Smythe
  • Date Posted: Friday, December 31, 1943
  • Category:
  • Address: Orsogna, Italy

1 Wednesday

It started to rain at 0900hrs the first for 4 days. Seen a kittihawk shot down by Ack Ack gun, pilot never got out. Seen where Mitchell was killed there were parts of the jeep scattered around for 50 yds it was 7 mines he hit. At 1600hrs 10 messies came over our position. We went to earth smartly they dropped several bombs but everything came out alright. They never came back.

2 Thursday

Up at 0700 hrs. Traveled 8 mls. Ready to move at 0400hrs. Jerry is getting out of it . Moved at 1430hrs arrived at our new possitions at 1645hrs had 11 messies over just after we got here. Shells landing nearly all the time so far but they are some distence from us. We are on a hillside and the wagon lines are down in the gully a fair enough place I think. Dug me third slitty. Weather fine but cold.

3 Friday

Guns fired 72 shots at last possition. Very heavy frost this morning. Seen a messie shot down by a spitfire 1300hrs second one at 1545. On picquet at 0115hrs with a tommygun. The ridge above us was shelled all day. I don’t know what they are after for there is nothing there at all. Roy Murry had arm blown off with Ack gun. Mag left here on side of road was lucky to get out himself jeep blown up also.

4 Saturday

Was going to move to=day but the Infantiary had a set-back so we will be here for a few days yet. Seen no messies to-day but our spitfires have been around all day. We got stuck into the veno which was in the house where the C Post is. We got 7 bottles filled . Kiwi Cam (?)got drunk and Bob Witter was nearly as bad. Went to bed at 2000hrs and was woke up very smartly by shellfire.

5 Sunday

Wrote Frances No 32 … Airgraph Weather fine

Was up at 0230 hrs Shells were busting all around us.I could hear the shrapnel thudding into the ground by the Quad, 88’s and 210”s they were. Got out of Quad and slept in my slitty the rest of the time. There are a lot of holes in the ground that were not there before, no one hurt. Buried the Iti who had been lying by a hedge for 4 days, Jerry shell hit him and someone shot him to put him out of misery. Ouch, foot

6 Monday

Received 9 letters Gran 5 Mum 1 Harry 1, Frances 2. Wrote Frances Airgraph. Was on picquet to-night. We was shelled again to-night at 12.30am Jerry landed 7 by the waggon lines, but they were all duds Thank God. It was a very misty rain all day and the ground is very slipery again. Tom and I are sleeping in a wide slit trench now safer than the Quad.

7 Tuesday

Weather misty. We was shelled again this morning about 30 came over and shrap was falling all around.. I was unloading Amn when the first two landed and by the time I got down to the Quad and I just had my braces down when they started. I dived into our hole and they were close one rained earth on the tent, shrap 8” by 2” landed 12ft away another cut the Caugh net and went into the ground 2ft from my door. Fired big barrage, big atack.

8 Wednesday

Atack a failure a lot of men lost with it. They were all pushed back by tanks, red x going all day, was raided by missies three times, no shells close to-day. Seen one of our bombers get a direct hit with a 88, it jusst went up in a sheet of smoke (finish) Weather fine. Received letters 84 – 90.

9 Thursday

Wrote Frances no 33

Had a hot shower at the NZ Red X. Showers ok. Very quite day to-day. About 25 Missies came over at 0912hrs but done hardly a thing . Still having very good meals. Received letters 82 – 83 so my line is now completed up to 92. Have no parcels yet but hope to get them before Christmas, don’t know what is going to happen at Xmas here. I hope we get a good dinner.

10 Friday

Was shelled again to-day, no damage done, we gave it back thick and heavy and they shut up. All the drivers encluding me got down a big drain and stopped there for a hour. The weather is still holding out, helped the cooks dig theire rubbage over and dug another big hole. Had fresh meat for tea. Went into garden, took basket of marrows for tea tomorrow.

11 Saturday

6 Months in Middle East

Made a road and in between times picked over the bombed building, 3 shotguns were found also shawls, stockings cups etc and about 4000lire by three different chaps. It was in parcels which the Jerry’s were sending home to their people, soap made up one of the main items. They must be very short of soap in Germany. Rain at night.

12 Sunday

Wrote (F) no 34. Also sent her money, wings(?) stamps. It rained hard last night. There was a church parade at 1030hrs. Compulsory everyone. Reg fired 31,000 rounds since we went into action in this country. Lt. Col Walters D.S.O. Bob Hodgson M.B.E. Very quite to-day seen no Jerry planes at all, a little shooting but not much. On picquet from 2000hrs till 2045hrs in bed 6.30. Got dyrear.

13 Monday

Received No 93

Did not go to sleep until 2am because of the guns. Done some washing and cut my big toe nail, the ingrown one, got my boots which were away being mended , a pretty good job too. The food is getting a bit on the poor side again but we are still getting a lot of fresh meat. Guns were shooting all through the night about every hour , slept very little.

14 Tuesday

Cable, Airgraph, also Clarice

I have got the runs to-day in fact I had to change my under-pants at 8.30 this morning. I am a bit better this after-noon . A thick mist coming up.I think it will turn to a drizzle before the night is over. Food is getting very poor. The rain did not come and the ground is very slipery with the drizzle on it was playing cards (500) for 2hrs tonight.

15 Wednesday

Wrote (F) No 35

A Barrage started at 0100hrs and the guns have been firing right through up to 1300hrs this after 100 smoke. Just before lunch our tanks crossed the road to Rome and dug in 19 of them, the whole of the 8 Army is going to put in a big atack in three days time. I have got a very weak stomach. I have been to our W.C. about 20 times to-day.

16 Thursday

Messies came over at 0800hrs , done no damage , everything opened up on them. Rifles Bron’s, Spand—–, Tommy guns, borfos. They came again at 12 and again at 3pm. Seen one shot down but he landed in his own lines. I still have the runs. Got some suplies from the Naffi, chock, digs, matches. Weather not bad, very dark- no moon until 2100hr

17 Friday

Wrote Frances No 36

It is overcast this morning. I still have the runs. It rained a little to-day about 3.30pm. Not much firing but the 26th Batt and the tanks went into San Cusonia to see if Jerry was still there. I don’t know if he has gone or not yet, no word through as yet. 23rd were pushed off three times the other night but retook it after the third and held it.

18 Saturday

To-day is very dull and very cold, we was thinking we was in for a fall of snow. Still got the runs. Was told the 23rd Batt was resting up in the town on top of the hill above us. I might get a chance to see Norm, have not got my new boots yet. Y.M. staff in to-day. Received 4 papers to-day. Dates 15,22,25,29 Sept.

19 Sunday

Sent airgraph.

Met B.Brooks, Seen Norm. Received 1 parcel and 4 letters 1 from Gran and 98 – 100 from Frances. Norm has been hit twice but no blood, just bruises once in the leg and once in the shoulder. He came to see me. I went up the hill to see him but he was another two miles further on. I never had the time. A very good day.

20 Monday

Wrote no 37.

Prepare to move at 11.15hrs Will not move to-day. Jerry is shelling the place we were going to and is he knocking holes in it. I am very pleased to be here, not a bad sort of place, don’t know when we will move now, the day has been very cold and the snow will be on us in a few weeks, they say it is a very mild winter so far, there are still leaves on the trees so autum is still here.

21 Tuesday

Received letters 96 –97

I can’t see where they get there winter from . Have to be ready to move out at any time. Our guns are still firing though. We will only move at night now because Jerry can see our possition all the time, very nice “e what” Rained a bit. I hope it does not last. On guard again, very cold . In bed 6pm Jerry shelled us 11 o’clock damage nill, shells 14, 8 died

22 Wednesday

Wrote (F) 38

Rained very hard from 0345hrs until 0700hrs. Ground very slippery and of course muddy. Bill Brooks came to visit me. Received letter from Norm saying he had decided to come over to me. I wrote out my claim and had it in 1 hour after I had received his letter, wrote and told him to put in for a transfer also. Will post them both tomorrow I hope we meet with much success. Weather cold no rain.

23 Thursday

Up at 0515hrs moved guns at 0700hrs, 2500yds up the road. Tom took ours up, said it was very muddy and he got boged several times, wagon lines back here where the guns were using the G.pits for the Quads. Big atack going in to-night, guns might come back here if the atack is not successful. Cook house still here. Did not move in old house as Sigs were still there. Raining all night

24 Friday

Wrote 39 NZEF Times to

Norms birthday 24 years old

The town which is holding us up is Orsogna it is a fortress now. Still raining a drizzle and the ground is just a lake, it is very hard to even walk. Moved into the house after tea . We are going to have a party, for we have 2 bottles of beer each.

25 Saturday

Wrote Frances No 40

Still raining. So this is Christmas Day in the army, it is the same as any other day, only a little quiter our side. We had a good victory in the morning with our guns around Orsogna, our rations to-day were very good. Wrote it all in letter No 40, issue of rum was the only extra we got. Went to bed at 8.30 and there finished the day out, thought very hard of home

26 Sunday

Still raining, rations back to normal worst luck, and on goes the war again, it never stopped by a long way just slowed down a little. Wrote a bit more to letter no 40 got Toms pair of No 11’s out, my other boots are wet right through. Have not got my other ones back yet. Went to bed 1715hrs very cold and wet . On picquet from 2.30am until 3.15am.

27 Monday

New Boots, Pongo ones

Stopped raining at 1315hrs and the sun has come out but it is still very cold. Had fresh turkey for tea. Bob Witter got 6 Jelleys in a parcel , we made them up per instructions on the packet. We had fruit, nice with figs in Jelly and tinned cream and was we full. We are still very muddy but if the rain holds off we will be able to get cleaned up.

28 Tuesday

The rain has held off and I done my washing. Had a shave and a good wash myself, changed my sox, boots also, still very very cold but no snow yet. Made PLAN of Letter Box –Quad. Very windy and clothes drying good , hope to have them dry before night. No parcels yet, hope my diary comes soon three days to go. To bed at 1800hrs, very cold still but no rain

29 Wednesday

Up at 0715hrs, fine and no snow yet. Received word that the guns are coming back into the third possition and are going to dig in for the winter, we the drivers are going back to a village to stay. The infantary say they can only move 1000yds at the time so it is not worth it. We are all waiting for the 2nd front to start in the spring. Ground dry again. Norm came over to my troop this afternoon 1430hrs

30 Thursday

Moved quads up by the railway this morning. Started to dig in but was told to stop for if it rained we could not get out so they are going to see if they can get us a better place. The village seems to be out for the present. Wrote F. 47 8 pages. Still in this possition ,quads are now in the railway line very dry, all stones, weather frosty tonight. To Bed at 1949hrs.

31 Friday

Frost this morning followed by rain at 1300hrs, very cold. Dug our hole a bit deeper this morning. Don’t know yet if the Quad have to stay here, or go back. Started to rain very hard at 1600hrs trouses got wet through going down to tea, came back and went to bed. Still raining, was going off to sleep very nicely and at 8.30pm my leg felt wet. I put my hand down and it went down into water up to my wrist. We decided to shift into the quad for the rest of the night.

Very cold, made our beds as usual, one on the seats, one on the floor and it was so cold we could not get warm enough to go to sleep. We did get to sleep after a while but it was still raining and hard too, good-bye old year 1943 you have been a hard one.