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  • Author: Jim Smythe
  • Date Posted: Saturday, December 30, 1944
  • Category:
  • Address: Riccione, Italy

1 Friday
Left the Rest Home at 1240hrs and we traveled back the same way as we went down, FORLI,CESENA,SAVIGNANA,REIMINI,RICCIONE. When we left it was a very dull sort of a day but it came out a bit warm near Cesena. We reached the guns just at tea time and after eating off plates for a week the food never tasted very good out of my dixies. I was in bed about 9 o’clock and was I tired, the journey up was very tiring. Received two Aircards from Janet (that’s Frances)

2 Saturday
Wrote Janet two (2) Aircards
This possition is a very muddy one and the days are now very cold. All we done today was to pull the gun through and clean it up a bit. We are firing very little because of the state of the roads. We are restricted to ten rounds a day. This saves us a lot of work in the mud even if the “war” is not going forwaard very fast. Played bridge after tea but this was interupted at 1900hrs when we had to fire three rounds. We continued playing bridge after this and was in bed by 2100hrs but not to sleep because at 2153hrs we were up to fire one round and this was repeated at 2211hrs, 2235hrs, 2310hrs and at 2320hrs all one round each. I was on picquet from 0330hrs till 0500hrs so I never got very much sleep at all tonight

3 Sunday
Received one aircard from Frances. Started to write Frances No 115.
Just a dull sort of day the same as usual this time of the year. No firing up to tea time. Played bridge for about 2 1/2hrs before and after lunch. At 1920hrs we fired a small barrage of 94 rounds a gun, this was a mock show but it done the trick because although no atack was going in where we fired Jerry pulled back and st——— the road and nothing was there. The real attack went in on the right where the Tommie 46 div crossed the river and with the Poles made a bridge – lead with 4, 6 pounders and 2, 17 pounder guns

4 Monday
We continued the mockery this morning at 0715hrs when we fired 10 rounds per gun of smoke. This was to bring Jerries fire down upon the spot in the river where the smoke screen was supposed to be shielding our chaps who were putting up a bridge. There was no bridge or men but Jerry used all his guns on it and so saved the men who crossed the river during from a very unpleasant time, we won this battle on this way. FAENZA will be ours soon and so on to the next river. Off duty tonight , it is very cold too

5 Tuesday
Finished no 115 Frances 6 pag.Wrote Gran 3 pag
Slight rain tonight and it made the ground very muddy. I was on duty and we were out about nine times between 1910hrs and 2300hrs all for one round each. When we got up this morning it was a very funny day, it didn’t know wether to rain or not. We never fired a round from 2300hrs tonight so we were lucky to get several hours sleep. Received (2) Aircards (F)

6 Wednesday
Wrote Frances Aircard (1)
I am off duty tonight and it is just as well too because it started to rain at tea time and it rained nearly all night. Those on duty never had to get up to fire so everyone was lucky. The war up here is still very grim one and we are pushing on despite the mud etc. This day we took RIVENNA. Everywhere else are advances also we should with any luck at all have this all over with in a few more months. Received Aircard Frances.

7 Thursday
Wrote Frances Aircard (1)
Received Aircard (F) Received three parcels, two from Frances, tobacco and papers Also a cake from Gran, this made up the three.
Very quite today and we never fired a round until 2100hrs tonight. These were (3) and no more after these. These parcels were the first I had got since Sep 18th. Dull today but otherwise quite warm. I am off duty tonight again. One of our gun crew went out today with Yellow Jurndous his eyes were very yellow. Percy Bedgood his name was.

8 Friday
We were told to be ready to move today at 1100hrs but this was canselled until tomorrow sometime. There are some chaps away this afternoon to the final of the “Div” football. The 22Bd is playing the Div Am team. The winer I will put in later here: Received two more parcels from Frances. I have not opened them yet I think one is wafers.The recce(?)party went forward this afternoon. Norm went from his gun sub with them. We have only fired six RdS within the last 48hrs

9 Saturday
We are firing very little now only about five rounds each day. At 1020hrs this morning we had to fire over Jerries lines some pamphlets. This was fired in the usual way (in smoke shells) The first was fired in ten rounds gunfire then over a different target. There was another 10rds at 1100hrs then another fire again over another area at 1210hrs. This made 25rds per gun. Only our Baty fired this made 200shells altogether. Jerry never seemed to like them because within half an hour of our firing he sent off over “real shells” just to show us how we wasted our time. If I had my way they would have been “real” ones.

10 Sunday
Today was a dull one no firing at all only one at 2300hrs. I done some washing and had a bath. Played bridge after tea.

11 Monday.
Moved today at 1300hrs to our new possition which is very close to the front line. In one way it is only 1500yds from Jerry, in one phase and it is only about 1 ½ miles from FAENZA. We are sleeping in the farmhouse which is a large one. Three of us sleep on a dugout near our gun every other night. This dugout is dug under a haystack. The weather for the last four days has been very dull. Two Tommies were wounded this morning not very far from our gun but we were not here then.

12 Tuesday
A very quite day so far. Time now 1550hrs. I hope it continues to keep quiet. Finished our pit and put up a tent to keep our tents etc dry just as well to because at 1300hrs it started to rain and it is now very cold. The Tommee Engineers blew three houses down to get the bricks to make up a road the It is just had to get out. That was all this is “total war”

13 Wednesday
Another quiet day (in one way)
There is going to be a big attack going in very soon. There is going up the road all day today tanks and all types of stuff. The weather is not so bad and if it holds off we may be able to do something this time. The food is not much good just now. I am off my hunger(?)anyway just now. We can see FANEZA from the upstairs window of this house of ours

14 Thursday
Wrote Frances Aircard (1)
There is an attack going in tonight, the zero hour is 2300hrs and the barrage is 390 rounds per gun and a whole comp is going to fire it. This is going to be a very big attack so we all hope it comes off as we may finish this country off before long. The Indians are going to take FAENZA tonight , we the NZ’s are going to cut Highway “9”. Finished the barrage at o240hrs firing 402rds then to bed off course this was after a cupa. It is now dark at 5.30pm now the shortest day in about six days.

15 Friday
Up again this morning at 0645hrs to fire 20 rounds at 60 seconds. We never went to bed after this. After the barrage last night it took us two hours to clean our gun up this morning. We were called upon to fire quite a few rounds during the day. I made a top for my pensil. I lost it when I was in Burnham. I am off duty tonight. The wafers were from Hilda not Frances as I thought

16 Saturday
On duty tonight and we were up and out firing quite a lot. During the day we only fired about twelve rounds. Rained a bit and it is very cold. Wrote Frances Airgraph (1), Wrote Hilda Airgraph (1)

17 Sunday
Received two aircards from Janet and a Xmas cable from Gran. Tonight I was on picquet and it was just as well because there were two shoots in the early hours of the morning one was at 0350hrs of 30 rounds(20 sec _) the other at 0450hrs another 30 (20 sec) altogether we fired 120 rounds during the night. As I was on picquet I made a extra man for the first shoot, we had to un-box all these rounds that’s where I came in. I was off picquet by the time the second shoot came and in bed by 0500hrs. Received parcel no 40 from Janet.

18 Monday
Rained slightly today making things very unpleasant again. A quite morning but the afternoon was a lively one until 1515hrs when our gun on firing one round of “sniper (?)would not run back so we will be out of action . This will mean either the L.A.D.or Workshops for some of us tomorrow. Played bridge after tea. Sat talking around the fire until 2230hrs.

19 Tuesday
Up this morning at 0700hrs and this was because I was one of our crew who were going out with the gun.We were away by 0830hrs down to the LA.D. where we were told we were staying for about four days. We are firing on a house with our R.E.chaps. Today is a fine one. They fired another barrage tonight of 430 rounds per gun.

20 Wednesday
Wrote Janet Aircard (1)
A very quiet day, had a clean up this morning and changed my clothes giving the dirty ones to the Itie women to wash. Played bridge this afternoon (for fun) Tonight I drew the plan of the firescreens using only a nitric rule and my pensil. Jerry has broken throkugh in the north of France and we are (according to the paper) unable to hold him up at all, we wonder.

21 Thursday
Colored in my drawing of the firescreen with my coloured pensils. Was going into Forli this afternoon but the officers of the L.A.D told us that we would have to go back because he had told Reg that the gun was finished . We left at 1430hrs and had the gun back in the same pit as we took it out of by k1600hrs and by tea time we were all back in our old places in the house. We fired 16 rounds during the night. I was on duty on the guns as well as on picquet , this meant I hardly got any sleep as we were up three times before I went on picquet. 0115hrs and all went firing again at 0230 and 0425hrs. I should sleep well if there is no barrage on tomorrow night.

22 Friday
Wrote Janet No 116 6 pag. Sending the drawing of firescreen, shovel and pages from Cue metals.
This morning is very cold,, the sun came out this morning the first time for several days so Mr Barron took a photo of each Gun ——-It looks very much like snow and it certainly is cold enough for me. It remained dull and cold all day and bridge was played in the afternoon. I was on duty tonight and we fired quite a few rounds. Jerry planes over tonight droped a few bombs near Forli.

23 Saturday
It is very cold this morning and I won’t be all surprised if it doesn’t rain or snow (time 0945) The time is now 1045hrs and it is snowing not very heavy but its snow and the air has seemed to have cleared now, it is not as cold as it was. Played bridge tonight and Mac and Sid was beaten by Imkit(?) and I by 1300 points. We were told at 2100hrs tonight that there was a small barrage on in the morning of 81 rounds. The zero hour was 0645hrs. The snow will be thick every where then I suppose. On picquet from 2100- 2200hrs.

24 Sunday
Up this morning at 0615hrs. The snow had stoped but it had covered everything to a depth of one and a half inches. This was soon washed away from the gun after the first few shots however. There was no more snow the rest of the day. The 6th Fld Reg had their xmas day today this means I too. The Patriotic Fund done little for us, we had pork, cauliflower, roast potatoes, pumpkin, steam pudding was instead of plum duff. We got three bottles of beer and a parcel with 50 cigs per man all from the Patriotic Fund. We may get some things extra tomorrow. We were shelled this afternoon no one hurt but one shell landed just behind our house don’t know how it missed the house. Norms birthday today he is 26.

25 Monday (Christmas Day)
Wrote Frances No 116/ 9 pag
Today was a sunny day and we never fired a shot. In fact we were “out of action” from 1700hrs until 0700hrs tomorrow morning. We had pork and cauliflower for dinner with a small quantity of plum pudding after. This was all we got soup, bread and a few nuts. I was on duty and picquet but there was no firing or no picquet done. Everybody had a few drinks today. I had one drinking the health of my darling wife. As the burner the cooks use to cook our meals broke down we even had to cook our own breakfast this morning. We had a good meal too. Out of our own tucker boxes the cooks gave us sauguers and bread etc.

26 Tuesday
Wrote Frances No 117 5 pag
We fired this morning at 0830hrs two rounds and two more at 1422hrs. I wrote nearly all afternoon and during the day everyone just loafed round because the drinking had sort of made most of them “dull”. There was very little drinking done today. Played bridge and in three hours play my partner and I were beaten 3230 to 779. I am going to bed now the time is 1906hrs and it is cold “enough”. Outside there is not a cloud in the sky and the moon is making it like day, it is very near full. Jerry has had planes over every night since last Thursday

27 Wednesday
Wrote Aircard (1) Janet
Norm went away today down to B.Cmp his leave starts tomorrow to Florence. We got five more chaps in the troop tonight, three of them were old chaps who were in hospital but the other two are 11ths both are ex 3rd Div men one of them was an officer in the 6th Reg I was in at Rangiora. His name is Bill Rhoads. He came over as a Sgt but will be a hunner very soon the same as the rest of them. He is a very good chap. Jerry had some planes and put over a few shells tonight.

28 Thursday
Received 2 Aircards from Janet. Played bridge with the two new chaps tonight they won by 650 points. I was off duty tonight so I could take my pants off when I went to bed. The meals are very poor just now. The weather is wonderful just now. We have not had any rain for two weeks not to speak of any way there has been the odd drop. The snow was the only thing to make the Christmas a wet one. We have not fired a shot for over 24 hrs but our range at one point is only 7500yds.

29 Friday
Wrote Aircard Janet (1)
This morning it was very cold because of the very heavy frost and there is a strong cold wind blowing. The time is now 1315hrs and we still have not fired a shot. This makes it nearly 48hrs. I think we are being held here in this possition in case Jerry tries to take FAENZA back which would put him to within a mile from us again but if he came this side of the river we would be forced to “sort of move back” We are all getting another needle for thyfus because it is raging up here.

30 Saturday
Wrote Aircard Janet (1)
This morning it was very cold because it was snowing not very heavy but it was snowing and snow anytime near the new year is no good to us. The morning was taken up with a bit of work this being collecting wood for our fire and cleaning up our room in general, we were told we might be sstaying in this possition for several days so we thought we might as well jack ourselfs up a bit. The afternoon was a dull one. The evening was passed away on bridge when four of us had a real game changing around every “rubber”. Fired five rounds before 2400hrs.

31 Sunday
Today is the last day of 1944 and unlike last year it is a beautiful sunny day wih not a cloud in the sky. Last year we had rain and a very heavy snow fall of some nine inches deep. There is quite a lot of washing going on today both of clothes and bodys. We have jacked the barber “Tubby Simmond” a real chair etc and we are all having a haircut. Went and seen the Kiwi Concert Party after tea. Arrived back home at 8pm. The New Year Party was just started and we had a very good evening, the best the old boys said they had ever had. We said goodby to 1944 in a good way after a toast to my darlling wife I went to bed after a cooked supper. In bed at 0230hrs (1945).