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  • Author: Jim Smythe
  • Date Posted: Wednesday, January 31, 1945
  • Category:
  • Address: Forli, Italy


1 January
Today we are feeling very well after our good party last night. The weather is very good although cold. We are having heavy frosts now and they are freezing the ground so hard that trucks can run almost anywhere. Fired some twenty rounds today, our job was to help the Air Force in blowing down “Casas” one troop would fire smoke and the other H.E. The smoke would show the planes where to bomb. We would shell each casa in turn. This went on all morning. In bed at 2015hrs. I was off duty and because of the late night I was very tired.

2 January
Never got up for breakfast thhis morning and I stayed in bed until 0940hrs. There was an informal troop papade at 0945hrs this morning. Our G.P.O. Lt Barron told us there was going to be no more drinking on the gun possition as long as he was G.P.O.of our troop. We told him what we thought of it all and that was the end of it all. A very good day today the sun came out but it was cold. No shooting to-day so far time now 1710hrs. Received card from cousin Anne. Won 150 L playing crib.

3 January
To-day is going to be a very good one for our troop because there is going to be a party on to-night. Six of the “kiwi concert party” are coming up here from FORLI after their show and they are staying the night. They arrived at 2200hrs and after a few drinks they done a few “turns” for us which was very good. We were able to help them out with one or two things ourselfs so after a good night but a noisy one we went to bed at 0300hrs.

4 January
We were up this morning at 0615hrs this a stand-to incase Jerry was going to play rough. There is every possible chance of him putting on a large counter atack and in doing so try and take back FAENZA unless of course we put in a major one before he tries anything. We only sat around the fire but we could have put our guns into action within two minutes. We gave the concert party chaps breakfast in bed this was the only way we could get ourselfs out of a spot of trouble regarding the shortage of plates cups etc. They left at 1105hrs and so the day went on the same as usual. We all had our photos taken five times. I hope to get one of each.

5 January
“Stand to” again this morning at 0615hrs and it was very cold. The day was for us a busy one. We made a brick path along our house also dug a drain for the water when it comes. We were told today that this was our winter time and we had to prepare ourselfs for a stay in this possition for the next two months. This won’t be so bad staying at this casa but it also means a stand-still and we won’t get home like this.

6 January
To-day is my birthday. I am now 27
Early this morning it rained very heavy but as the drain we put in yesterday is doing its job everything was getting away. A chap who has just come back from Rome told us that back at Cerretto D’Esi where we were resting there was now seven feet of snow. Wrote Cousin Anne answering cigs. At 1540hrs it started to snow heavy. It was on my birthday last year that it snowed too so this is my last two birthdays I have had a white one each time. The snow was about four inches deep. We were told earlier on in the evening that there might be harrassing fire but they must have let us off at Div Arty. We were very thankful to them if they thought of it in that respect.

7 January
Today it was fine but not very cheerful for us. We had to shift about five loads of ammo from outside and put them in our other casa to keep them dry. This job lasted until 1530hrs and then we had afternoon-tea. My feet were wet through but I washed them in hot water changd my socks and put my leather boots on. My rubber boots I put by the fire and left them there all night. Played Bridge after tea and was in bed by 2230hrs. I was off duty all day and night, this was the duty on the gun I mean.

8 January
Only the duty crew had to “stand to” this morning, this enabled me to stay in bed until 0800hrs. After breakfast we had to put a roof over our gun-pits. This is to protet the gun etc from any further fall of snow. Started to snow again at lunch time and we finished work, putting everything under cover as best we could. Two 3 tonners were inFAENZA this morning getting loaded onto them wood, iron and anything else that would be useful in making the roofs for the guns. I seen the longest flakes of snow this morning that I have ever seen, they were as big as “half-crowns”

9 January
More snow to-day but it was only slight this time.Finished covering in our pits this afternoon, we got all sorts of things from FANEZA to cover the pits with for our pit “E4” we used the iron sides off latriens that had been blown down in the streets.
Wrote card Janet. Two of our chaps made a “uke” out of a M.G. ammo box, a piece of wood for the stem and the strings were cig wire. It was a very good job and for our type of singing it was all the music we needed. It was very cold to-day.

10 January
Received cable from wee Janice in answer to the letter and post-card I sent her. Played bridge after tea and I lost 18/- playing for 1/- per 100. Done very little work to-day. No firing either, we have not fired a shot for two days. Weather fine but cold.

11 January
Received card Janet. Went into FAENZA and had a shower this morning. I was up this morning at 0420hrs and I could have gone back to bed at 0510 hrs because my shift on picquet ended then. I lit the fire and had my shave before breakfast. Received two letters from Gran. Received one letter from Jocelyn. Wrote Gran and Jocelyn. Wrote Janet a aircard.. In bed by 2100hrs

12 January
Snowed a little this afternoon. We had to enlarge our pit this morning to allow enough room to fire on 67deg right, we had to push one side out. Played bridge tonight.

13 January
I was off duty last night so I was able to sleep in until 0800hrs this morning. There was very little to do today so I wrote out two copies of leaflets Jerry had fired over our lines. I sent them in a green envelope to Janet, this letter was no 118.

14 January
Wrote Janet card (1)
Received 3 cards from Janet also a cable for my birthday . I and nine other chaps had to go forward this morning to dig four gunpits. These were going to be our next possitions. We are going into them one Battery at a time and it is from this possition we are going to do our harrassing fire, each Battery staying there for five days. We don’t go till last which will be in 10 days time. I should have gone out to our B.Ech this morning for a few days spell but this job put it back which will be tomorrow now. In bed by 2100hrs.

15 January
Went intoFAENZA this morning to get some wood for our fire when we get to B.Ech(?)We pulled it out of a blown-up block of shops. After lunch we went out. We are cramped up into one room , there are seven of us here. After making a new fire-box out of a round oil tin we cleaned up a bit and by the time we had things right, our new fire was burning great. There were two chaps here tonight from the L.A.D and our quiet evening turned into a (booze up) and there were three chaps “out the monk”(?) I went to bed at 2200hrs. I was alright as I had had very little drink

16 January
I was up at 0745hrs and only one other chap and myself went to breakfast. The others were feeling very sick and one never got up till 1120hrs so they were almost washing and shaving all morning. Only Jack Currie and I are here this afternoon , the rest went into town FORLI. Wrote Janet card (1)

17 January
Jack Currie and I went into Forli this afternoon had a look around and bought a few post cards to send home. Jack bought some buttons but I never. We had a quiz all by ourselfs after tea and talked until 2400hrs then decided it was bed time. The weather is fine but the great ice period is still on. Received 3 cards Janet.

18 January
Never had any breakfast this morning because we never woke up until 0815hrs. This is our last night here and we thought it was going to be a quite one until Tom Scott and Aussie Fairweather came in. Tom had come to “shout” for us as he is going on a tour of duty to Egypt, three more chaps came in and the party went on until 2400hrs. Wrote Janet card.

19 January
Up this morning at 0800hrs and we had to be ready to move by 0900hrs our time was up so back to the guns we had to go. We arrived at 0945hrs. At 1330hrs the chaps who are waiting to go home from our troop were told that they would be going out tomorrow or the next day . Norm of course is one of them. I am going to give him my two diarys to take home with him 1943 and 1944 , they are, he is also taking my coin collection with him.

20 January
Up this morning at 0630hrs and I was in the party that went into FORLI to see a model gun-pit that had been built by our Engineers, it was a good effort on their part but as far as we were concerned it ws not very good to us, too much time would be lost in building such a pit. Had lunch at the Noffie and then walked around the town. We had to be back at B.Ech (or Cmp) by 1400hrs because our trucks was picking us up there and so back to the guns. The North played the South at soccer using the rugby ball. We (the south) won by 4-3 . After tea we had a great party for the boys who are going home , beer, gin, whiskey and vino. It was our beer issue two days ago and the Officers bought it all for us for the party tonight. Never got drunk and was in bed by 0300hrs

21 January
Up this morning at 0800hrs and had breakfast, then shaved, washed etc. The day was a very quiet one, the boys who are going home are still here they are going out to B.Ech tomorrow. We had a few drinks all round tonight but most of us were in bed by 2100hrs.

22 January
To-day the chaps went out to B.Ech . Norm is with them, they went at 1530hrs. Wrote Janet card. Received card from Janet. Jerrie have four planes over our area tonight and they droped bombs in FAENZA and about eight only 300yards from us. Weather fine hence the planes I suppose.

23 January
Up this morning at 0800hrs. We played football and the South won again 2-1. We are playing again this afternoon. The weather is fine. We picked four teams 6 men a side and had a wee competition amongst ourselfs, my team won the final 2-1

24 January
Our guns went up to the other possition this afternoon at 1200hrs and every gun was ready to fire by 1330hrs. Only four men per gun stayed on the possition so the rest of us came back to the house and after tea we had a party downstairs in the kitchen with the Ities.. Snowed during the night to a depth of 2 inches

25 January
After lunch we had orders to dismantle to “houses” over our gun pits, as we were moving to a new area and because this winter is far from over yet we are going to buuild them over the pits again at the new possition. We are now out of range here and we have to get somewhere to surport our own 6th Brigade

26 January
To-day we stayed inside as there was nothing to do anywhere, we had everything reddy for our shift from here

27 January
We are leaving tomorrow sometime. The guns are still at the other possition. Our new possition is going to be in the area held by the 56 Div, we are relieving them. Raining to-day

28 January
To-day we are moving and we (the chaps who are here at this cassa) have to pack every one elses gear because the guns are not coming back here they are going straight to the new possition. Moved at 1600hrs after saying good-by to the Ities who have been our friends for nearly six weeks. Snowed slightly for five minutes this morning

29 January
Last night I was on duty and picquet. We had to get up at 0s315hrs and again at 0635hrs firing two rounds each time. Made a lamp this afternoon from half my own and a small one I picked up. We have a good pit and we now have it covered with its house again. Played soccer for one hour this afternoon. Dinner at night is now at 1700hrs because the days are much longer now. Wrote Card Janet.

30 January
A very quiet day today no shooting at all. I am going to FLORENCE on the 1st Feb with the Killer(?) (my Sgt) we have from the 2nd to 7th

31 January
went down to B.Ech this afternoon had tea and sorted out our gear then to bed by 2100hrs