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  • Author: Jim Smythe
  • Date Posted: Friday, March 31, 1944
  • Category:
  • Address: Baletta, Italy

MARCH 1944

1 Wednesday
wrote frances no 56 – 2 airgraphs.
Wrote Norm. I had a bad night. I never slept very much my knee was throbbing like hell and when I looked at things this morning my foot was swollen also so things are not going so well.. The rain is very thick and we are having hail,ligtning and thunder also. But it is alright lying in bed listening to it all. There are five 6th field chaps in this ward where I am. I am the only one of the five who has not a direct wound . There are three very bad cases in here. Chaps who are hit in the chest.

2 Thursday. When I woke this morning I got a wonderful surprise. I was sound asleep and I was woke by someone pushing at my shoulder. I opened my eyes and looked up and I though I must have been in Heaven because looking down at me was a face of a angle. I looked away and then back again and I could see it was a nurse. It was wonderful in this way. After waking up for so long and just seeing mud or different other things which are connected with this dreary war I thought it great to see for the first time something that was very good.

3 Friday
1 Airgraph
To-day as far as I can see through the window. The sun’s rays is streaming through the window. I am still at 2.G.H. but I will be going to Bari soon. Left 2.G.H. to-day there are five going from our ward (?) we were told to be ready by 1.30pm and we were not moved until 1615hrs. We were taken to the train in Ambulance and put into it still in the stretches we got our tea at 1800hrs which was bread and salmon with tea. Our time for moving is 7 o.clock but we never moved until 7.20am(?) We did not very far before we stoped. ENGLISH N SISTER (?)

4 Saturday
Had my first real eggs since I left home. We were starting and stopping all night. We got cracking again at 0715hrs. and passed right to Baletta where we were taken off . From there we went into Arbul to Aari after traveling two hours though. The time was 1715hrs when I got into bed and the time was 1425hrs when we stopped at BALETTA. Our journey had taken 19 hrs and we were all very tired after it. The first part of our trip was taken up with passing through fields of wheat and the second half we passed through nothing but vinerys hundreds of acres of them so in season there will be plenty of grapes when they are ripe.

5 Sunday
Airgraph (1)
Woke up at 0600hrs. Temp taken washed at 0700hrs and breakfast at 0730hrs. Still raing outside and it must be very cold judging by the drought that came through the window when it blew open (Ambulance) ? I am by my-self now for the three other chaps who were in this cubicial with me went to con camp this afternoon. I can see some of the city from my window but it is a very dreary outlook all told. This has been a very quite day as it is Sunday. I am very lonely as I am by my-self for the first time in many months. Makes me sort of Homesick. Lent Bob Webb 300L 15/-

6 Monday
Wrote Airgraph (1) Sent No 57 10 pag. Wrote Harry
Two eggs for breakfast. To day is fine with the sun shining great (outside). I cannot help thinking of the English sister she was with us on the train. She had been to the P and Somme in the last war and in this one FRANCE with the B?F Dunkirk, Egypt Sicily and now Italy. She must be about 55 years old and on her breast are her medals. I think I am going down to ward 11 tomorrow don’t know for sure will be told all about it in the morning I suppose. 1725 and no tea yet. pretty late tonight usual time 1630hrs. The house in which the drivers are was hit direct killing 3 persons and put the other five in hospital.

7 Tuesday
Wrote Air (1)
Was shifted this morning from ward 7 to ward 11. I don’t think the other one will be as good as this one is. A reminder to write on the back of Franceses photos 2 & 3 GH. . I had a great view of some bombers this morning there were hundreds of them. In one lot there were 100 “flying forts” and by the looks of them they were on there way to Cassino I hope so anyway. There were almost as many liberators up at once. Will here about it soon no doubt.

8 Wednesday
wrote frances no 58 10 pgs. 1 Air.
At 0030hrs this morning we were woke up by the noise of guns. There must have been a Jerry shuffty(?) plane over for there was a bit of firing from 3 – 7. I hope there is not going to be another air-raid like the last one they had here.Received letters 115-117 also 123. I think ** is now completed. Received one airgraph and two letters from Gran. Had my essices this afternoon down in the massage rooms. In 117 there was the photo of Frances taken at ____________

9 Thursday
wrote Frances no 59 9 pag. Air (1)
Rained all last night and it was very cold. I shivered nearly all night. I had a very unbroken sleep and was very tired even when I woke up this morning.. Never seen any Bombers going over to day because visabilly was very poor. We got talking before tea and a bit after tea and it took me four hours in which to write three quarters of a page. So I put it away to be finished tomorrow. Got another blanket to night so I should be warm to night.

10 Friday
Fish for breakfast this morning and I walked all by myself to the “ lav” 10 yds. To day is very sunny. The rays are streaming in through the windows. I hope it keeps up for a few weeks. Went down to massage on crutches and my leg is getting its strength back real good. I should be up very soon. I have only see the Doc twice since I came in here.

11 Saturday
Wrote Airgraph (1)
Doc seen me this morning and said I could get up which I did and I have been up all day. My first surprise came when I met G Wells and he told me that the house in which half our Quad drivers were living was hit the other day and there are five of the chaps in hospital Bob Whitter(?) K Cameron some are hit bad I think the house fell in on top of them. I am going to find out more this afternoon. It was the house that come down alright. The five of them are all in 2 GH. I went and seen G Buick, J patience and P Grey. Received 4 pairs of sox from Frances. Posted 5th Dec.

12 Sunday
wrote Airgraph (1)
Eggs for breakfast this morning two of them fried with toast and bread and butter. Wrote my trip record up todate was two weeks behind with it. Was given a free cake of Chocolate by the Red Cross this morning. My leg is aching this morning it is coming on very slowly. I am still going to massage every day. Started to rain again at 1215hrs. I went around and seen some of our boys after tea. It rained very hard all night and it blew very hard, there were doors and windows blowing open all through the night.

13 Monday.
Wrote Frances no 60 (9pag)
Received one parcel it was the one with 2oz tobacco and a tin and several loose cakes of choch in it. It has been raining half the day but it stoped at 1400hrs and the sun came out and the sky cleared up and everything points towards a very good day tomorrow I hope so anyway. My leg is aching a bit now after my trip down to the massage dept this afternoon. Well the days are drawing out now for it is 1830hrs and it is not propaly dark yet

14 Tuesday
I have checked the words of our letters on the pages of Frances letters there are 172 words and on my YM paper I get 170 per page call it evens. I now know the extent of the damage done by that shell which hit the house half our drivers were staying in. Bill Pearson was killed outright by a heavy wooden beam which crushed his head. John Collins is now in 3(?) GH with me fractured ankle. Bob Witter is alright and is back at the front. Bob Gibbs, Kieth Cammeron and Bunny Boughers(?) will be going back to the line in a very short time probely they are there by now even. Writing paper issue.

15 Wednesday
Started letter no 61.
The accident in which the boys got hit happened on Mon 6th at 1900hrs. Got Cig issue 50 Golden Cloud (?). News of an big attack on Cassino came over the raido not very much so far only that 1100 tons of bombs were droped on the town followered by a artly Barrage of several hundred guns. I am now going to massage at 1330hrs instead of 1515hrs this will be my third day at this time. My time for massage is changed again. I now have to go at 0900hrs starting off at tomorrow.

16 Thursday
wrote Air (1)
I was told this morning that I would be going to con(?) camp soon might be tomorrow. The attack on Cassino is going ahead very slow but so far news is very weak as yet hope to hear more and better news tonight or early tomorrow morning. Today was very fine although there was a cold wind blowing. Eggs and bacon for breakfast. Had a lovely hot shower at 1915hrs and then to bed.

17 Friday
Finished letter No 61 (5pag)
Fish for breakfast. This morning is lovely the sun is shining great and there is not a cloud in the sky. Four of my room mates are going down for an operation this morning three with knees and the forth has a knee but he also has five other holes in him besides he is like a sive, they are still open. They leave them awhile so the muck comes out and they sort of fill out and then they stich them up. Sargent Delaney was told he was going out tomorrow. I thought I was going to but I missed. Was entertained by two Ensa girls who sand and played the paino in a room.

18 Saturday.
Wrote Air (1)
My first meal in the mess hall. We get a lot more to eat in there than the chaps get who are in bed. Had egg and bacon pie for lunch to-day. News still very vage about Cassino but I think it will fall very soon. Received three airgraphs from Frances one missing. Went and said goodbye to Gordon Buick. He is going home on the boat. It is the Moratatna(?) the chaps are still in the ward but will be going out anytime now.

19 Sunday
wrote Frances No 62 (9pag) Air (1)
Received the missing airgraph it was page 1 of the second set the ones I received were two pages each and yesterday I got 1 – 2 of one and page 2 of another. Received a free cake of chochlate to-day. Sent Frances 2 Lira (?) one Italian and the other AMC. Went and seen Gordon Buick and once again I said good by to him. Did not go to bed until 2015hrs.

20 Monday
wrote Airgraph (1)
Up 0700hrs and got the four bed _________ washed before breakfast. Went before the Doc and I told him about my knee being sore again. It is very sore on the joint on the inside and it is burning now it started feeling like this yesterday morning. He said to carry on with the treatment a little while longer so now I don’t know what is going to happen to me. The chaps who are going home on the hospital ship left this afternoon at 1625hrs.

21 Tuesday
Air (2)
Change in the weather this morning at 1115hrs it hailed a little but not for very long. The sky is very overcaste and it looks as if it might be worse later on during the day. Received five letters from Frances they were No 122, 124 twice one of thesemust be 125 and 127-8. 126 is still to come yet. Was on supper to night. The letters from No 121 are all numbered wrong the dates. The correct dates numbers etc are No Date Wrote No.on it Pag.
121 1.1.44 121 7
122 1.1.44 122 10
123 2.1.44 122 7
124 6.1.44 123 5
125 9.1.44 124 10
126 13.1.44 124 8
127 18.6.44 127 7
128 20.1.44 128 8
wrote Frances No 63 (9pag)
Weather changed and we had rain at 1000hrs and it has been overcast all day and it is very cold. We had a Slave (?)Maj around to see us to day , he is a Doc. We got two more chaps in our room to-day one is from the 22nd A____________and one is from the 24 shot through the hand. There is a concert on tonight some air force show. The concert never finished until 9.30pm and we never got into bed until 10pm.

23 Thursday
Wrote Frances Air (1) Wrote Ray
Received airgraph (1) page 2 so page 1 is to come yet. Rained a little to-day. Got two new chaps in our room to-day so we are now full up in our room (seven beds) Had the experence of seeing it rain mud and soot all this came from the eruption of Mt Vesuvisio which must be 150 miles away. Everything was just covered with soot. The sky was black and although it was only 1100hrs it was very dark and it looked as if it was about 1880hrs.

24 Friday
Wrote Frances No. 64(3 pag) Airgraph (1)
This morning when we looked outside all we could see were tents and cars outside and they were all black covered with this soot. The sky was black for awhile this morning for the smoke was still in the sky. Went to the pictures this afternoon the name of it was “She shall have music” I have seen it before but it was good to watch for the second time just the same. Never got up until 0745hrs this morning.

25 Saturday
Got our beer Ration to-day ½ bottle per man 30 lire per. Received the other Airgraph Page (1) 6.3.44. Went and seen a _____________he came in two days ago he is ______________in one leg (L) from the knee down. Received Grans tobacco parcel.

26 Sunday
wrote Frances Aigph (3)
Received two airgraphs from Frances. Was told I was going to Con Camp tomorrow so my holiday is now over. The boys are sorry to see me go so they said. I used to get them there water for their wash every morning and used to help them in any way I could after I got up and would walk around.

27 Monday
Went to the Ward Masters office at 0830hrs this morning and from there I went to the Pack and Clothing stores. The first things I got was my own gear and the next was all the things I never had bar a mug they never had any. We left the Hospital at 1480 hrs and arrived at the new Con Camp which is only 10 miles south of Bari and is on the coast in fact where we are is only about 500yds from the beach and the surf on this Adrito Coast is very rough. First thing done after here was to get our names etc taken then M1 then we got pallises and an extra blanket then by this time it was tea time 1700hrs. There is a strong wind coming off the sea and it is very cold.

28 Tuesday
Up at 0700hrs and breakfast was at 0730hrs. This cosisted of sausages and porridge it was not bad. Then at 0830hrs we had our first parade. At 0900hrs we were examined by the denstio(?) . I was fit so have nothing to worry about. At 1030hrs we had another parade and after this we were finished for the day until 0830hrs tomorrow morning. At 0915hrs this morning it started to snow but it never lasted for any more than five min but it is very cold to-day and it looks as if we might get some more snow yet.

29 Wednesday
To day is a much better day the sun is real good and I have never felt a hotter day since I have been in this country. WATT WG and I went for a walk into a village which is between our camp and Bari it is not a bad sort of a place there is no shops open but there is a bit of life around the streets. There is a good picture show there and tonight we are going to see “Sally” I had seen this picture before at home but it was pretty good just the same.

30 Thursday
Wrote Frances Air (1) Mother Air (1)
Today is another good day so it looks as if the weather has turned for the good at last. We never went anywhere this afternoon we wrote instead. The mess queue’s in this camp are very long ones for there are only two mess huts and the chaps in camp have to go to either on of them and as there are about 300chaps in this camp that makes 150 per queue. We have to line up 15 min before meal times so as to get a seat in the hut they are the long ones made of iron.

31 Friday
wrote Frances No 65 (8 pag)
Dads Birthday 50 I think
Started on treatment to-day it consists of one hours digging in the morning and for half a hour in the afternoon we do exersizes in the gym. A wee bit colder to day so we stayed in camp and wrote letters again this afternoon. We went up town after tea and meet a religious possession coming down the main street all the girls of the town were walking down on either side in single file after this we went to the picture show but instead of seeing pictures we seen a “Itie” concert it was very good to. The singing was all in Itie.