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  • Author: Jim Smythe
  • Date Posted: Sunday, July 30, 1944
  • Category:
  • Address: Bari, Italy

JULY 1944

1 Saturday
Played Cricket against 2 NZEF H.Q. They won by 2 wkts I only made 6.
Norm came into this camp this afternoon from 3 NZGH his wound is healed up good. He is going to play cricket for us tomorrow.
He and I went for a walk after tea. We went up to S Sprido and via the sea back home.

2 Sunday
Played cricket from 10.15 to 1700hrs. The match was A. Coy v B & C. they won again this makes it two wins for them. I have had enough cricket now I am stale. I only got 7 in the first innings and 10 in the second one. There is a game on Wednesday but I am going for a trip instead.
Norm played for B.C. and the two innings he had he never went out he got 46n.o. in the first and 6 second

3 Monday
I am tent picquet this morning up to lunch time. My back is starting to peel now. Went to the pictures in the village this evening.

4 Tuesday
Went on a trip to see an old castel. It was built by or in his time Frederick 11. The date was 1246 it looked it too. It was on top of a hill and one could see the country for miles around. The name of the place was Castel Del Monte. It was about 20 miles from the Con camp.
Went to the Opera in the evening and seen Madam Butterfly. It was not bad the girl was a very good singer but the man was too weak one could barely hear him.
RECEIVED letters 158 – 161 from Frances also three airgraphs.

5 Wednesday
Went on another trip today this one was an all day one starting off at 1080 and coming back at 1900hrs. The towns we went through were VALENZANO, CASAMASSINA, PUTIGNANO, ALBEROBELLO, FASANO, CASTALLANA, POLIGNANO, MOLA DE BARI and so through the country back through the city of Bari and then home.
There were pictures on in this camp tonight they were open air ones.
I had a MI this morning at-9.40 and I was made A. I never played cricket. I went on the trip instead.

6 Thursday
Wrote Frances No 91 8 pag. Airletter card (1)
Had C.O. parade at 10.30 this morning he thought about me for a few minutes and then asked me if I thought it would be alright of course I could only say one thing, I thought I would be going out tomorrow but my name is not on the list so I will be going on Sun. There must be a big cricket match on during the weekend thaats why I am staying home.
Some of the Kiwi Concert Party came in here for a rest. They have been doing there playing for 7 weeks so they are having a rest. Played cricket against E.R>S after tea and won I made top score 32.
Received Air Frances (1)

7 Friday
Wrote frances No 92 7pag
This morning is a very dull one that’s why I wrote the above letter. This afternoon is -only pay for those who want it.
Played bridge to-night until 21.30hrs.

8 Saturday
Played cricket this afternoon against an Air Force team. We made 138 and they got only 47. I made 10 and Norm got 15. I went wicket keeper catching one and stumping one.
Norm and I went to the pictures over in the Village (Pelisa) the name of the film was “Turin” It was all about a ship.
I am leaving this camp tomorrow at 8.30 am and I am going to Adv Base once again

9 Sunday
The trucks never left the con camp until 9 0clock this morning, they were timed to leave at 0830hrs . We arrived at Adv Base at 10.48hrs it was a very fast trip.
After handing in our pay books we filled in a clothing card then we were finished until 0815 in the morning.Today is very hot.

10 Monday
Wenet throught the QM store first thing this morning and at 10.45 we were given all the needles we needed. I got Typhus (5) and T.A.B 4. I was feeling alright until 1600hrs when I had to leave a game of bridge. I was playing in the Lowry Hut. I went back to my tent took off my boots and got into bed where I stayed until 0715hrs the next morning (tues) I spent a very complisant (?) time I could not lift my head up in fact I never had the strength to turn my-self over in bed.

11 Tuesday
This morning I am much better but my arms are sore. I had Typhus in the left and TAB in the right. I left Reception Depot at 9.30 this morning and I am now in A. Depot once again after ten weeks from the time I was here before.
We had to carry all our gear from Reception Depot to our own tents in the Depots themsleves.
I have a bed made of planks which are 2 inches off the ground.
It rained very hard tonight for an hour at the start then nearly all night.

12 Wednesday
Wrote Frances No 93 10 pay. Aircard (1)
I am on a Sig Course starting off this morning at 0600hrs, we go till 12.30hrs then we are finished for the day. Done some washing. At 1800hrs it came onto rain and it was very heavy. This was two nights running.

13 Thursday.
Played hockey against a Indian Con team at “Castallona” they won by 3 goals to 4.
We left this camp at 1400hrs and we went as far as “PECTIGNANO’ where we stayed for ½ hour and had a few drinks. We then went into the Indians Con Camp, we had our own rations with us so we had tea at 1630hrs then the match.After the match we came back to there, washed and then they gave us tea, cakes and ice-cream . We then went to a garden and have a look and in a café. There we had a few drinks. Then back to PUTIGNAMO where we stayed until 2200hrs drinking. Arrived home at 23.15hrs.

14 Friday
Wrote Frances No 94 6pag Photos of Castellanno. Air (1)
I am on the draft which is going up the line tomorrow morning at 0600hrs. There are over 1000 men going from here, 250 Arty. We are all in the same mind we think we are going back to take the place of the 4th Reinf who are up there they are going home by the looks of things.
Maori Concert on in the camp to-night (not bad)
Received cake from Gran
I am on my way back to the Div in the morning at 0600hrs.
15th also. There is 28 men on our trucks.

15 Saturday
Up at 0480hrs and breakfast at 0510hrs. We were ready to leave at 0640hrs. It was to be a long day as we found out. We stoped at 1830hrs for tea and bed we had come 202 miles from Adv Base. The first town we went through was GIOIA, ALLAMUNA, GRURINA, SPINAZZOLLA, MINERVINO, CANOSA, GERIGNOLA, FOGGIA, LUCERA, VIOLDURARA, JAN-RLESA, JELSI, GILDINE, BIOANO, ISERNIA, VENAFRO, .. peaches, plums, spemata(?) Traveled 202 miles. There were some very old towns in our route. They were mostly on the tops of hills to. Our food is not much good but it is only for three days. Will see Cassino in the morning. We are sleeping out in the open tonight we have no tents.

16 Sunday
On the move again this time at 0700hrs. The town I wanted to see most was Cassino and it was the first place we went through starting off with Cassino, ROECASECCA, ARCE, RIPI, FROSITONE, FERENTINO, VALMONTONE, ZAGAROHO, ROME. This trip was a distance of 157 mls. Cassino is a very sorry sight it is only heaps of rubble the same with the Monastery. We went through Rome and by what I seen of it it is a very great City. The railway station has been knocked about a bit but the rest of the town is untouched. The roads either side of the main road are strewn with a lot of M.T. Guns with tanks hundreds of them ——-

17 Monday
VITEREO, MONTEFIRSEO, FREICHIE, COLLE. Some towns today. 120 miles
Off again this morning at 0800 hrs this time we are going the rest of our trip to the front. We came through some very dusty country. The roads have been torn up with tanks etc. It was a very tiring trip. We stoped at a house for lunch but there was no fruit this time only a few apples which was green. We arrived at Div Arty at 1800hrs and we old hands are going back to our own Regs. We went first to Battery ORD reg and then to our troup. I landed at E. Troop at 1915hrs and the Coy did get a shock. The cooks got more tea on for us and then I put my gear by E- Quad. I wont be on it but I had to have some where to sleep. There is only one to a Quad now. I don’t know what I am going to do now.

18 Tuesday
Wrote Frances Airgraph (1). Wrote Frances No 95 (8)
Breakfast at 8am. I have no job now. The Jerrys(?) are going back because our guns are out of action, and they were out of range at.1400hrs this afternoon. They are still there ———- we might be moving any time now and it will be back. The fourth will be going out to-day because they are going home on leave.
The boys have got very clicky since I have been away some of them will hardly speak at times but I am not going to let that worry me they don’t mean that much to me not THE ones any way.
To-day was very hot. The Quad have a few more holes in it now since I left.

19 Wednesday.
Wrote Frances No 96 (8) Sent Rollte(?) Cards.
The meals are keeping up there good line and I hope they do so for a long time. We are doing nothing at all. I can only hear a few shots away in the distance but I can only just hear them.
Played “Slipery” this after-noon won L550 it came on to rain at 2.30pm and it was very hard for 15 min there was thunderstorm, lightning from then and it is still going now the time being 1815 and it looks as if we are going to get it to=night also. Played Slipery after tea also never lost and I never won. The rest of the boys were all drunk (the guns are out of action at present.)

20 Thursday
Four years married. This will be a day Frances will never forget, ever because I done my best to make it so. To-day is fine so I will be able to carry my things out they got a bit wet yesterday when it rained.. I celerbrated our Annav. of our wedding by getting a little tight on vermouth . This is the only way in which I could do it by getting drunk. There was a 60 gal keg brought into the Baty and it was all free some of the boys got it from a brewry. We are going to move very soon the guns are locking in after tea.

21 Friday
I had a little to much vermouth last night because this morning I am very drozey. I will not have any more for a while now Nov 5 will be the next time, and I hope it will be at home.
We were told this morning that we will be moving at 1300hrs to-morrow. It looks like a few spots of rain this afternoon, time now 1800hrs. There was only a few spots of rain. We are going up to a place in the front line somewhere near Florence which is in the centeral sector.

22 Saturday
Received 3 ———- and my anniversary cable
Moved this afternoon at 1330hrs we traveled some 45 miles through some very pretty country this northern Italyis mostly used for the growing of grapes and fruit, plumes, pears are mostly seen.
The road was only a secondary one and it was not tar-sealed. This made the trip a very dusty one and as usual the trip took us 4 1/2hrs to do it. There was a lot of stops all along the route.
We are now only a few miles north of a place called SIENA. We are only 20 miles from Florence. We are not in action but expect to be within a few days. We are under 3 hr notice.

23 Sunday
Aircard (1) Frances Posted no 96 Wrote norm.
We are only resting to-day. We done a little work on the guns this morning but it was not very much. There are two chaps allowed to go into Siena , one lot went at 0930 hrs but the two other lots 1300 and 1500h (my lot) will not get now I don’t think because there might be a move anytime.
We can hear the guns in the distance and at night time we can see the flashes.
We were told we were going to move at 1715 and minutes later it was canceled because Jerery was shelling the place where we were going, very heavy. Went into Siena to-night and had a look around. It is a very good City (? ) Church it is half as big again as Auckland.

24 Monday
Airgraph (1) to Frances
I had my eye on a patch of onions so down I went this morning but I was laate, they were all taken except for a few small ones. I got them because there is tomatoes for lunch to-day.
At 1630hrs we were told that we were going to move to-night time unknown so far. We all pulled down our tents and got ready. Half the trip was done in daylight and the other half is dardness although we only had to go a few miles we took 6 hours to do it. We never stoped until 0110hrs and it was 0150hrs before we got into bed.

25 Tuesday
Airgraph (1) Frances
There was a heavy mist this morning but as I put my tent up last night I never got wet. It soon cleared when the sun got up a bit. We are a bit closer to the front now for we are on the same ground as some155mm guns. We are still out of action but expect to go up into a possition to-night. Received cable from Frances telling me she had received the buttons. It took 2 months 12 days to get home.
King George is coming up here tomorrow some of our boys are going to see him in the morning. I don’t worry if I am one or not.

26 Wednesday
Wrote Frances No 97 (9 pag)
Wraped up the photos of Siena I got the other day I will post them when I put some of my white linen thread around them. I never put the date inside.
Received from Frances letters No 162-163 also 2 from Gran. Gran said Laurise Smith’s husband has left her. Jerry started shelling a place somewhere over to our right, it is about ½ a mile away it is big stuff to.
This is the first “action” I have seen in exactly five months, it was a uncanny feeling at first but after the first two I was right again.

27 Thursday
Received Aircard (1) Frances Airgraph (1)
Played “500” this morning and this afternoon we were on the move once again, this time we were going into action. We are going up some 12 milels where we are going to wait until darkness. Then we are going into our possitions which is somewhere in the Florence sector. We had our tea at 1900hrs. As the gun pit is going to be a 170degree one it looks as if we will be very lucky if we get to bed much before 3 or 4 in the morning.
Later : We went forward some 6000yds into our possition we are forcing a barrage at 0100hrs in the morning. There were 50 rounds in it and 17 other rounds for H.Battery .All this finished at 0245hrs. My first time in action for 5 months. I went last at Cassino 27th Feb.

28 Friday
Up this morning at 0700hrs because we had to fire 10 rounds gun fire.. I loaded our gun. This is the first time I have ever loaded a gun. Breakfast at 0800hrs. The atack was not a very great success and there was to be a very heavy day ahead of us. We fired up till 1700hrs, 300rds a gun but this was not to be the finish for we went on until 0300hrs the next morning and in the last 24 hours our NZ Arty has fired 55,000rounds, this means 763 per gun it is the hardest day I have had for a long time. We were using up the ammo that fast that the Ack Ack amm trucks had to help ours to cart the ammo to us. We were all very done when the time came to knock off. This was 0320. We had been almost 24 hours.

29 Saturday
Wrote Frances No 98 (5pag)
I went to bed this morning at 0400hrs because after we finished firing at 0320hrs I had to do my pisqueet which was 85 min(?). I had opened the large tin of pineapple that Frances sent me last night and I only had eaten half of it. I now had the rest before going to bed. We were not called in to fire again until 0830hrs this morning and the time is now 10.00 and already we have fired 50 rounds. Rounds to-day 270. There are ten apple trees around about our guns and they very good. They are rearly all gone they are large to. Some nearly 4” across. My gun E.1. is out of action. I went on E.R. which is also out of action both gone to L.A.D. we have only 4 out of 8 left. Still firing like HELL. Will be all night. We ? were pushed out of the village at 2215 counter attacked straight away and retook the village.

30 Sunday
Wrote Frances Aircard (1)
After retaking the village last night things came to a halt almost for at the pace of the last 40hrs neither side could have gone on any futher. The reason why Jerry is holding on so grimly to this sector is because if he moves from here he has to go back, he will also loose a lot of ground in other sectors. This village is the keypoint in their defense of Florence. No shots back (as yet) To day so far has been the quietest day we have had since we came here on Thursday evening.
Received cable from Frances thaning me for the parcel that I had posted up for her on July20th I senet the money her mother bought the flowers and present. We fired a barrage to night of 200 rounds start time was 2200hrs and it went on to 0285hrs then finish. My gun “E.I.” only came back from LAB at 2040hrs so did E2. We now have all our guns in action once again.

31 Monday
I was given a spell last night so I took all my clothes of and got in between the blankets for a change. There is once again a shortage of NZ Tobacco.Our first shot today was at 0730hrs.
After firing nerly all morning we were told we were going to move at 1700hr. The guns never went out of action until 1630hrs and we moved at 1715hrs although we were firing on 7 and 8 thousand yes. We moved 4 ½ miles by road this brougt us to within a range of 5000 yds or less. Charge (2) every shot.
In the last possition we had fired over 1000 rounds per gun. The weather is very hot and because of the hard work attached to firing so much and the blast we were not feeling the best this shooting was being done night and day. Dug the gun pit until 0600hrs.