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  • Author: Jim Smythe
  • Date Posted: Tuesday, May 30, 1944
  • Category:
  • Address: Bari, Italy

MAY 1944

1 Monday
Started on a Mines Course this morning at 10.30hrs, this is going to take up the whole week. To-day it was nothing but lectures on all the different mines enemy, and our own. After tea I was going to play “Housey” but the chap who runs the hockey came arround to my tent and asked me if I would like to play hockey for the Depot team which was playing in Bari tomorrow they were playing 8 G.H. so instead of writing I went and had a knock round with the team, this was the first run I have had with a hockey stick since I was operated on for my vericuse veins in 1942.

2 Tuesday
On the mine course this morning at 0830hrs and we covered mines and also some of our own.Booby traps. I will be going into Bari at 1300hrs for the hockey.
1850hrs. The game is off the 8 G.H. crowd rang up just after lunch and said they would not be able to field a team so I will have to go on the mines again this afternoon.. Played Housey to night and I won my first house in my life it was worth 820L. Started to take our “Little Yellow Pills” for Malaria.

3 Wednesday
Still on the mines course and we had a small exam this morning. It consisted of four boxes each with two mines in them. We had to say what type of mines they were and then we had to say how to disarm them and make them safe. In the afternoon we had the mine detectors they were very interesting.
I wrote several more pages in my book and I now have 67 pages wrote in which are over 10,000words.
Starting to-night we have to use our Mossy nets from dusk until one hour before sunrise.

4 Thursday
RECEIVED letters 135 to 138 also one from Gran and one from Mum. In 138 Frances told me she forgot to number them while she was on holiday so she started again about 135.
The last one was 138 post-dated 24.2.44 some of the boys have received mail 10-3-44 so there must be some more in the country. Parcels came in too there was about 100 of them but I never got one.
In one of Frances’s letters she told me not to send elastic and if I was going to send anything, to send buttons, a funny thing is that I sent 6 dozen buttons to her on the 16th April they were on there way three weeks when I got her letter.

5 Friday
Finished the mines course this morning we don’t know how we rearly got on all that happened was we answered 54 questions and the results were put in our pay books. “Done mines course A.B.” I got 5 wrong out of the 54
Played hockey at 1545hrs and we won 5 – 2. We played Camp hospital. I scored one goal and I trod in a hole and twisted my left knee which is my sore one it is starting to swell, it will be up tomorrow I think if so all the better as all the while it is like this I won’t be going up the line

6 Saturday
WROTE FRANCES No 76 (8 pag)
No 77 (6 )
Another Camp parade this morning this lassted until 1000hrs. My knee is very sore this morning but I can walk a little. I went on the parade but it never loosened up any so I will be going to the Rap. At 12.30 to see what they have to say I might get into the camp hospital.
My knee is worse this afternoon.
Received four airgraphs.
7 Sunday
WROTE FRANCES No 78 (7pag)
Wrote Norm and Tom.
Went to the “Rap” this morning at 0845hrs and the Doc said after looking once at my knee “there is only one place for you and that is the Camp Hospital where I_ went at 10.15hrs. They gave me towels etc and I had a bath in the real bath this was the first time I have sat in a bath since I left home.
They tried my knee up with the cotton-wool again.
How long I am going to be in here I could not say
The doc told me I might have the same trouble all my life.

8 Monday
Breakfast at 0780hrs made my bed and just played cards (500) for the rest of the morning. The food is much better in here because we are on the Hospital Ration again. 1 ½ instead of the field 1 ration. Everything is the same as the 3 GH
Received Parcel from Mum. I was worried over my gear for I did not take it into the G.M. myself. This meant a trip over to the tent where I was and I had left my face cloth over there to. They were all outside still. I have had this facecloth since Frances gave it to me when I went into the ChCh hospital with my veins. When I came back I was told to get into bed by the Doc.

9 Tuesday
Last night I never had much sleep because of the pain from my leg. They have put a pressure bandage on and they had a bit too tight causing the lower half to swell up pretty badly. I had it loosened off but when I was going into my bed the swelling had not gone down any. Wrote more into my book. I am now up to 109 pages it should be finished within a few days or so.

10 Wednesday
One year since I have seen my Loving Wife Frances (Trentham Station)
Finished my book Part 1 approx 12,300 words in it. This book has 115 pages in it and it covers the time from when I left Rangiora Camp until the day I sailed away from Egypy to go to Italy.
The heat to-day is great it is far the hottest day I have ever felt since I landed over here.
I have a very little change with my leg the calf is still swollen the same.

11 Thursday
Photos of caves No 81
Received 14 letters from Frances this morning. They were from 139 – 152 they were without a break too. I also received the photo from Frances And four letters from Gran. I took three hours in reading them all. Thhis made the total 19 letters altogether very good for to receive so much mail whhile lying in hospital. Today is another hot sort of a day.
There is some talks of fighting in Cassino again who is there I don’t know. The bandage was taken off this afternoon.

12 Friday
No 82 (8)
The swelling has gone out of my foot now that the pressure bandage has been taken off.
Started to re-read my book putting in the “commars” etc
Read a book to-day 812 Pag it was called Tigerstalkers (?) it was a mistry story. Very hot to-day also every body is wearing shorts.
My knee is still very sore when I straighten it right out and if I kick any stones while going out-side it HURTS pretty bad. More talk about Cassino

13 Saturday
A very bright morning the sun was up at 1800hrs. My knee and leg has lost most of the swelling now but the knee is still sore.
Mrs A.F.P. Chapman came in and gave us our Red Cross Cigs and writing paper.

14 Sunday
This was a very quiet day all we done was read.
The sun was very hot to-day.
I have been in this hospital one week to=day.

15 Monday
WROTE FRANCES No 83 (5 pag)
On Active service 12 months
My knee is still sore on the same side this has been the case ever since I done it. I am still a bed patiense.
Drawing of the cabnit with the books wireless and portable gramphone on it.
Played pocker after tea won 40L
Was in bed at 2130hrs but could not go to sleep until 23.15hours or there-abouts.

16 Tuesday
WROTE FRANCES No 84 (4 pag)
Showed the boys my drawing and they all thought it very good both as a drawing and as a piece of furniture I will send it home to Frances. In the next letter (crossed out)
The rest of the day was very quite.
I got for my cig ration to-day 50 cigs, 4 oz Capotan tobacco, two cakes of chock and 4 boxes of matches.

17 Wednesday
Cassino “ fell”. The eight “army” cut the No 6 highway at the back of cassino, thius forcing the jerrys to with-draw from the town.
Read another book to-day it was called “Something nasty in the Woodshed”
Played poker.

18 Thursday
The news is very good over the road this morning the 8th Army is still going on as well as it has been for the last three or four days
Played poker
Received a letter from Tom he asked me if he should send my gear down to me, he also told me that they were only having one driver per Quad and I won’t be getting back on the Quad.
What will happen to me now I don’t know.

19 Friday
This is my 13th day in this Adv Base Camp Hospital. I will be here for a few days more yet I think. Played Pontoon won 15/- played until 2130hrs.
The 8th and 5th are doing very well they have now broken and over run the “Gustave(?) Line”

20th Saturday
Miss “Lowry” came in this morning and gave us our free sweets and writing paper.
The weather changed to-day and it has been raining on and off. It is not very cold though.
Played Pontoon again to-day and I won another 300L up till 1700hrs
Put a bridge head through the Hills (?)-Line and now they are 20ms from the Anzio line.

21 Sunday
Fine to=day.
Played Pontoon all day. Not much change in the Cassino Front
The Hon Peter Frazer was supposed to come to this camp to-day it must have been right because there was a parade all jacked up. But he never came why well are had our __________

22 Monday
AIR (1)
Done drawing of kitchen
Played Pontoon (lost) 15/- (15 shillings)
Rained early this morning but it was fine when we got breakfast “0700hrs (?)
Started drawing of a bench for the workshop or it can be used in any kitchen (built in or seprate)
Had a very heavy storm. Lightning and thunder.

23 Tuesday
AIR (1)
No gambling to-day
Ray Dellow has got a homer he is still very weak, the piece of shrap went into his lung. Burt Dodds came over to the hospital this afternoon and just as he was leaving I seen him he told me about Ray Dellow.

24 Wednesday
Up today and in the afternoon I went for a walk over to “A” depot I got a shock because I seen Bob Witter there he came out again one month after ge got buried in the house. This time it was pnmonia. John Collins is in the Depot also. Both Bert Dodds and Bob Whitter are going back uup to the Reg tomorrow
Played Housey to-night and I sweated on no 90 for five calls but I did not win the house was worth 2 pound 10 shillings (Lire 3000) Played Bridge after I came back 1930hrs from Housey.

25 Thursday
Sun out but it is a very cold wind blowing
Played Bridge after tea
My knee is still sore, there is a very weak spot on the outside of the L knee just by the knee cap

26 Friday
Wind still blowing but it is not as cold as it was yesterday. The sun is up too and it might be a very hot day.
Received Airgraph from Frances. She had received my letter No 60 she wrote the airgraph on the 4 May 44. Frances that letters no 46 , 47 are missing as well as 50 – 58
I received a letter from the NZ Post Office concerning the parcel it was the complaint from the NZ end so now we have tried both ends without any luck

27th Saturday
Wrote the answer to the letter that I received yesterday regarding my parcel of 4th July 43 so now if nothing happens now that this complaint has come from the NZ end there will be no use worring any further.

28 Sunday
A very dull sort of a day I just layed on my bed most of the time
Played Bridge in the afternoon and evening.

28th Monday
There were pictures at the camp tonight but I was very ill so I could not go.
I had that same pain in my side again the one I had when I was in Mardi
I here was a airraid on Taranto again I could here the bombs bursting this is the third they have since I came out to Adv Base.

30 Tuesday
I still have a slight pain in my side but other-wise I am feeling alright. To day is very hot and in this hut the heat is very bad. I might be going out in the morning. To Resp— depot.
Yes, I am going out in the morning alright but it is not to “A Depot” it is to Con Camp. I am very pleased about this for it is a better place than this only for one thing and that is the water.

31 Wednesday
Wrote to Norm
Wrote to Tom
Left Adv Base Hosp at 0845hrs went straight to Bari where we stayed for one hour having morning tea at the club.
I arrived out at Con at 1141hrs and was put into “C” Company. Had a M.E. and the doc told me I would have to look after my self. I am not allowed to play cricket until I see him again. The water here is very scarse. Seen a picture tonight “Forever and a day” good I thought.
Passed by the Dental (FIT)