Navigation Menu
  • Author: Jim Smythe
  • Date Posted: Monday, February 28, 1944
  • Category:
  • Address: cassino, italy

Wrote Frances no 50 13pgs

1 Tuesday
To-day is very misty it is thick enough to leave our clothes damp if we put them down anywhere.
We went on a 1 hours route march across country this morning. Soldered the new bottom on the
condenser of our Quad we made a good job too, it is now very cold and I am going to bed early
to get warm. We got wind to-day that we are moving on Thurs 3rd but don’t know where to. I
suppose it is closer to the front line in case there is a break-through if so we will be in
action shortly.

2 Wednesday Wrote Airgraph
Had a route march of one hour this morning all across country. it was a very nice walk though.
Came back and did not do very much before lunch time. At 1325 we had a talk by a field sersecurity
chap a very interesting talk it was to. I had a bath after this and washed my hair. It is a bit
warmer to-day in fact the sun was real good. Received an Airgraph from frances dated 13th Jan
1944 she never mentioned the parcel at all.

3 Thursday
This is the day we were told we were moving but as it is now 1515hrs I don’t think there will be
any more today. The ** party went out this morning and have not returned yet. We had ______
visit us today he just looked around 30th Baty lines, guns Quads etc he was dressed in Battle
Dress and wearing a Culengary (c cap) he never came very near our YM so I never seen him very
close he did not stay very long either. It is a bit cold to-day. Had route march this morning
No more to-day so a warm bed to-night.

4 Friday
Parade this morning at 0910hrs were told we were moving and that after 1100hrs we had to be ready
to move within a quater of an hours notice. It has been raining on and off all day hard too the
ground is muddy and it is very cold. our tents are still up and as the time is 1455hrs and we are
still here we might not move to-day even. We can go to one of two places which one it is going
to be we don’t know. Norm and I on picquet from 0100 hrs to 0800hrs.

In Action 19 days rest

5 Saturday
Moved this morning at 1024hrs we are going 82(?)mls to take up positions which the yanks have
shifted out off. We stoped at 1320hrs after traveling 25miles, we are in a very muddy spot.
I1 got their gun in alright but as we were the only quad with chains on we had the job of
putting the other three in. The other Quads could not get their chains on. We are now living in
dug-outs which were made by the yanks. they are very good too. We had to take the ammo out of all
our Quads and spare limbers because the Amm trucks got lost. We also had to pull a truck out after
thhis, the time being 2000hrs we got to bed at 2100hrs.

6 Sunday
We were shelled a little last night and we could not go to sleep not used to the shells bursting and
the guns firing, we did eventuarly but had a very broken sleep. We were up at 0730hrs never went
to breakfast cooked our own. Jerry is very active with his planes over this front and he also
seems to have plenty of guns. We have to walk 300yds to mess, we have it down at the guns. We
have had one killed and one wounded so far killed – a chap called Garret (?) wouned Gordon Buick
he came over with me. A ffew shells over to night but no damage done. Received 3 letters from
Frances No’s 112. 114. Also one from Gran

7 Monday
Very heavy frost this morning making it very cold. Bombers were very active all day. Started to
write frances no 51. Went to tea at 1630hrs and we got shelled while we were eating it and about
five minutes later over came four Hetty hawks and dropped a few bombs. no kiwis were hurt but one
of the bombs droped on a yanky cook house killing 10 and wounding 15 they took a very grim view of
it all. Our guns fired about 70 rounds last night. One or two shells came over but nothing much.
there is supposed to be a atack going on either to-night or in the morning some time.

8 Tuesday – finished No 51 Frances (9 pages)
Another very cold morning, a very heavy frost, had a fire going right up to lunchtime. Went down
to the cooks and got 4 rations of bread came back and had soup and toast. There is a terriable
amount of shelling going on from both sides. Received Cable from frances. Another quite night but
it rained very hard the wind blew it in through ourlittle door way and the bottom of my bed got
quite wet, our guns have to fire harrasing fire all night.

Wrote airgraph Frances
9 Wednesday
It was still raining when we woke this morning and it is very cold but the sun tryed to shine
about 1115hrs but there were to many clouds. Aircraft very active “Dive Bombers” Mustangs they are
We are in a large valley not far from Mt Cairo this mountain must be a fair height because it is
covered half way down with snow while all the other hills around are almost bare except for a
little snow in gulleys. We were shelled a little last night but I was sleeping so soundly that I
never heard any of it.

10 Thursday
wrote Frances no 52 (9 pages)
Another heavy frost this morning but the sun is shining now and the sky is very clear. There were
two jerry planes over this morning at 0745 hrs they did not stay long for the sky was full of flack.
There is a lot of AckAck guns around this place which is a good thing. We drivers were making a
road this morning at 1145hrs and jerry started to shell the place no one was hurt but Tom Callisan(?)
got his shoulder tab on his battle dress nicked. One of the shells landed in amongst the yanks
and wounded one chap. The huns were firing very heavy last night. There must be something on.
Still raining.

11 Friday
Rained all last night and it is still raining this morning. The hills at the back of us are
covered with snow, not so good for they are only 1/2 mile away we might get some down in this
valley even yet. Jerery must have come down last night for we were firing at a very short range
in fact our shells were landing just at the edge of our valley about three miles away. The guns
everyone of them have been firing non stop all morning so something must be doing one way or the
other. The guns got shelled tonight no one was hurt but Clary Carew and another chap got there slittys
blown up by a shell. They had left them only 3 min before

12 Saturday
Received 4 letters from frances No 108 -111 also one from Gran. No 109 had the photo of frances
and Joan etc in. Very heavy frost again this morning.This has been very bad for us we have been shelled
nearly all day spent a lot of time in our “fire hole” there were shells falling all over the
valley all day. E1 Quad got several pieces of shrap through it. We had yound Bob Gibbs to see us
and he could not go back to his own hole until 8.30pm because of the danger of shells. We were
scared even to wander away very farr from our own holes.

13 Sunday
wrote frances No 53 11pages
This morning was opened up by more shelling. Jerry started up at 0645hrs and went for about 10min
To dangerous to go for breakffast so one of our chaps went down and got the porridge and bread.
Assie got two tins of spah out of his quad and we made toast. Jerry has been very quite all day
we don’t know what he is up to but I hope it is nothing bad. We had a very heavy frost this
morning but the rest of the day has been very sunny but not hot. In bed at 1845hrs a very safe
place so far and I hope it continues to be the same

14 Monday
wrote Frances No 54 (10 pages)
Another very quite night. There is a truce on this morning until 1011 oclock to enable both sides
to bury there dead. I hear there are a lot of Jerrys killed. Fighting is going on in the streets
of Casinno(?) Jerry asked for a truce because our guns got in amongst his troops killing 250. God
knows how many were wounded. Very quite all day and so far tonight. time now 1922hrs. Rations very
short we had no pudding at all tonight we are on 1/2 rations at present. We are feeding a Tommy
Div why I don’t know. We have got 1/5 of Cassino so far.

15 Tuesday
wrote Gran
Today is a day Jerry will remember for a long time. The Monestory which is on top of a hill, in
front of us near Mt Cairo. It was very heavily bombed by flying fortrusses starting of at 0115hrs
with 70 then as they were going back another 50 came over. they did not do very much damage on
the building but the ground around it got a terrible hammering I was watching it all through
glasses. In the after noon there were over 100 Mitchells. they sure put some holes in the
building. Our guns were firing on Jerrys Ack Ack to keep him under the ground while the bombers
done there stuff of the 220 planes not one had as much as one shot fired at them nor were there
any Mossies around. 1000rds

16 Wednesday
This morning Benedictine Monastery of Montecassino which is on Abbey Hill looked a very sorry
sight after yesterdays bombing and shellings. This afternoon
Kitty Hawks dived bombed the
Monastory until 1100hrs. The weather looks as if it will change as clouds are covering the whole
sky and the snow seems to be piling up on the hills and mountains. The night is warm so we don’t
know if we are going to get rain or not. The front is very quite only harrassing fire can be heard.

17 Thursday
wrote frances no 55 9 pages
At 0640 hrs Jerry started to shell us. I think he does his day’s work before we are up propely
because if he left it any longer we would be able to see his guns firing. he has not fired this
morning since the weather is very good this morning the *** got some heat in it for a change.
Helped the gunners with their ammo after tea and Keith Cam and I had to come back at 2100hrs
and help on our own guns we started to fire at 2115hrs and we stopped at 1115hrs started again at
0115hrs and went to 0235hrs firing for the Indians, Maoris and Engineers who were putting a bridge
altogether we fired 320 rounds all objectives were taken. The river they had to cross was the REPIDO(?)

18 Friday
wrote airgraph
Slept in this morning I never got up until 1000hrs. The Mombadeer brought me in a slice of toast
and honey and a cup of tea. The wind is very cold. Our guns have been firing almost non-stop since
2100hrs last night. This sector is a very stiff place, last nights attack was a British one only.
At lunch time word came through that Jeerry was massing for an attack, it is not in so far. Time 1545hrs
all our guns are ready for it if it should come off. RECEIVED 3 airgraphs, 22-25 25,1,44 last
letter reseived by frances was no 27. The Maoris (?) were pushed back last night, I think they
have had a very hard battering to things, at present seen in a bit of a mess

19 Saturday
No frost this morning but the wind which is blowing very hard is very cold . enough to make us
keep inside our dug-outs. In the past 24 hrs our guns have fired over 550 rounds a price for
hardly any gains. This is Jerrys winter line we are trying to smash (a tough job) The tanks weren’t
back last night so I don’t know what is going to happen now, everything seems to be at a stand
still on both fronts.News of our crossing Italy came over the air last night it said we fought our
way across which was not so – unless they meant fighting the weather. Received 1 freelance Truth
and 2 sports (FRANCES)

20 Sunday
This morning is dull and cold. The heavy guns are firing a lot but it is only on CDF –
Consintrated Defense Fire. How long we are going to be in this possition we don’t know for it is
now exactly the same as it was at Osonigna (?). We all hope the second front is not long in
opening. Rations are scarse again for tea to-night we only got MV Tea, no pudding of any kind.
We (Two Toms, Don, Ossie and myself never went down we cooked our own which was 1 tin of pork saugs
peas and carrots very tastey I must say. Some of the yanks arent out to night and a tommey
outfit with 25LPS took their place.

21 Monday
wrote airgraph
This morning looks very promising there is no frost and the sun is well up. a few clouds are
about through. (later) the clouds got thicker and have now blocked out the sun it is warm still
but dull. Jerry started to fire by us with an 88 * gun and things were whistling through the air
for a time. Gnr B.Kerr Hemmingway was brought back to the front to be tried by the C.O. We drivers
have to stand guard over him 24 hours a day until he goes out. Never went down to tea because
Jerry was shellilng the area between us and where we get our meals and we were not going to walk
through it.

22 Tuesday
Another fine morning. Kerr-Hemmingway was before the C.O. this morning he got off very light
getting only 7 days Royal Warrant and 28 day the Field Punnishment Center we are still on guard
over him two hours at a time and also two men at once. We have been shelled nearly all morning
some very close. One man hit slightly in the knee, he name was Bob Webb. Shelling has continued
all day. Some Tommy’s were hit very bad one had several pieces in his head one in his upper lip,
one in his leg and a very bad piece in his back poor devil (?)

23 Wednesday
Time 1015hrs and so far it has been very quiet. It is very dull so visability is very poor we can
just see the top jutting out into the sky of the hill which Jerry is still holding. At 1130hrs it
started to rain and in less than 1/2hr the ground was in a terrible state. We are now back to the
worst hardship a soulder can face rain without proper shelter. It is at these times we think of
the chaps at home who can sit by there firesides with nothing to worry them about, (no shells
with theiir rain, only comforts. Had to drive the A pip jeep to the O pip to night the trip took two
hours and half of it was in the dark. We left at 1230hrs and arrived at 1915hrs.

24 Thursday
My job while I am here is changing the batterys which are used for the wireless and I have to look
after the truck in general it is a “white” The snow is very thick on the hills around us. Mt Cairo
which is very close to us where we are now. We are only 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile from Cassino we are
in a old quarry and we are out of view from the town itself and also from the Monastery which is
a good thing. There is a Yank mortor company with us in this hole. It is a very lovely spot there is an
esplandie just around the corner and shells are coming over all the time.

25 Friday
We were shelled a terrible lot through the night but no one was hurt. A good number of * came over
but most of these are aimed at the cross roads or on the road itself. A big attack is going in
tomorrow morning and we will have (if it comes off)both Cassino and the Monatory. There are 320
planes going to take part, 150 flying fortresses, followed by Mitchells and then dive bombers,over
700 guns are going to fire the Barrage and NZs, Indians and Tommeys are going to do the ground work.
The Yanks left our area to night for a spell. They have been in the line 54 days.

26 Saturday
We were up very )early this morning for we might have to go back a bit in case we are to close to
the bombing. 0816 hrs Infantary told us the attack was off because of the weather it is very
misty and the fog is thick in places so god knows when it will take place now. Today has been very
quite for visability has been very poor. It gives us a rest anyway.

27 Sunday
Had accident while I was driving the jeep back from theO pip a three tonner hit it and pushed the
dash board right back,jamming my knee up against the seat. It was not very sore for a start because
I had to go back in a P.U.towards the O pip and pick up the jeeps cargo. When we got to the spot it
had disapeared we found it at the road clearing station. we transfered our gear to the P.U. and got
home the time being 1630hrs I then went to the R.A.P and the doc told me there were no internal
injuries but if it swelled any to come back to-morrow. Today has been very dull with rain at times.
Sergant Johnson died.

28 Monday
Received letters No 117 – 23? Last one received previous to these was no 109 & 111.Received 1 parcel
waffers. My knee is very sore this morning and I am unable to walk. I never got any sleep last
night with the pain of it. Rained all through the night. Went to our R.A.P this morning and I am
going to be sent out. I went from there to M.D.S from there I was sent on to C.C.S? and I stayed
there for the night. (having chicken for tea) I was lying next to a chap who is in 48 Baty. He has
a sprained ankle. We have only orderalys here and we have a N.Z sister who comes in every night.

29 Tuesday
Rained most of the night and this morning at o730hrs I seen the heaviest rain I have ever seen in
this country. It bounced about a foot after it landed. I left this place (cas) at 1000hrs and
traveled in the ambulance to 2 G.H? arriving there at 1213hrs. The town which I am now in is
Carurtsa which the yanks fought so hard for. it is about 30 miles from the front line. It is really
nice the building used to b a Army Barracks. We have nursses and sisters looking after us. I had my
knee xrayed this afternoon at 1530hrs. I will probaly know what is doing regarding it in a few days