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  • Author: Jim Smythe
  • Date Posted: Thursday, May 31, 1945
  • Category:
  • Address: trieste italy

1 May
We were on the road again this morning at 0940hrs and after travelling only a few hours we came to a halt, the time was 1215hrs so we had our lunch we had our own bread etc with us. This halt was a long one and it was 1550hrs before we got going again. All we had to stop us was a bridge but it was only a pontoon one big enough to let one truck over at a time. The river was about fifty yards across. The afternoon is overcast again and it looks like rain. It did rain again at 1530hrs and the jorney was a pretty dull one. At 2030hrs we came upon a washout in the road and we were working on it carring logs and anythink we could find and dumping it in. After the time got around to 2230hrs we were able to get through and we halted for the night at 2400hrs in a village called RONEHI which is only 10 miles from TRIESTE. It was still raining and everything and everybody was feeling very happy I must say. We were given shelters to sleep in and our “sub” slept in a hay loft.

2 May
Word came through that the 2nd NZEF had joined up with Tito’s forces north of TRIESTE. We were woke up this morning at 0700hrs and thold that there might be an early move. So far we are still in this town of RONEHI., the time is 1800hrs. They are very good people to us but they are really not Ities they once belonged to Yougoslavia and they took it. Most of them are fair and the men have rough skins instead of the usual oiley skins of Ities. All the people wear the red star either in there hats or on their clothes. The girls are very friendly . Sold all our sugar and cigs and today I made about L16 so I will be right for a while. The reccie(?) party is on 10 minutes notice and when it goes we will have an hour afterwards. Today so far has been very fine and it looks as if the rain is over at last. We never moved tonight so we joined in the fun that was going on in this town. TITO had passed through the next village and all these “Ities” from here went up on carts to see him. The war in Italy finished today but there is still a lot of trouble with the forces over here. The forces of TITO want to control northern Italy but they can’t make any headway because “Chenwicks”(?) King Peters followers are fighting them. Two more different forces are in too the Itie facists are trying to stop TITO taking the country, he wants, and the Itie Partesans are fighting anyone at all so there is plenty of trouble everywhere. We all got drunk tonight to celerbrate the end of our fight in Italy.

3 May
We moved this morning and we are now in a possition north of TRIESTE and we are resting but! We may be going into action anytime. The British don’t want the same trouble they had in Greece so we are up here to show them that we mean bussiness and our strength shows them if they misbehave themselves and want to play we will play too, we might not fire a shot. We hope we don’t have to. What is to become of us I don’t know I suppose we will be pushed around for awhile yet until such time as the war in Germany ends, then what? There was a very heavy downpour of rain at 0010hrs this morning and it lasted for about half an hour. We did put the guns into “action” and we have 90 men ready to stand by with small arms in case any of these “partys” want to play. We hope they don’t. We were told that we may be here for a few hours, days or even two weeks. We are jacking ourselfs up for the two weeks stay. The country is very similar to the country around TARANTO. All pumic rock, it is impossible to even level a place out to sleep on tonight. Wrote Janet card. In bed by 2100hrs

4 May
I was very tired when I woke up this morning so I stayed in bed until 0940hrs, breakfast was not mich good so I thought it better for myself to stay in bed. Wrote Janet card No 4. Received a letter from Gran. It has not rained for 36 hours but the weather doesn’t look too good yet. I get my TAB 5 and a Vacc today so I will have a sore arm tomorrow. The recci party went out this afternoon but this is just in case there is any trouble further up. We are only 8000yds from TRIESTE and some 25 miles from the YUGOSLAVIA border. How long we are going to be up here I don’t know but as soon as this trouble is over we may find ourselfs down south once again. Wrote Gran card. This needle I got has made me a bit silly and I was in bed by 2000hrs

5 May
This situation up here has got worse and we have to be ready for anything. There is a Yugoslavio Div reported to be twenty miles over to our left front, they souldn’t be there so we are waiting for developments. We have the 56 British Div a Yank Div and ourselfs up here so one can imagine what will happen if TITO wants to play. We all hope it is settled without us firing our guns, someone might get hurt and it might be some of us. The sky is overcast again today. Received a parcel from Janet, she sent it on her birthday in the parcel was sweets, choc, tissue, tobacco and soap (12 cakes) No 46 . When “Tinee”(?) Fryberg went and seen Tito the other day he said he never wanted to speak to a General he wanted to see a Field Marshal or nobody. Our answer to this was simple. :”he never wanted to speak with a General so we have a “corp” facing him now this is three Div’s I said we had yesterday. We will have wait in the end either quitely or by force, why!! We could wipe him out in a week or more. Wrote Janet card. In bed by 2130 hrs and had a read of the Digest Janet sent me.

6 May
Up this morning at 0710hrs. Church parade 0715hrs although we are still “in Action” in front of TITO all these things are going on just the same. Today was a very quiet day. I done some washing and wrote Janet also a card to Harry. Every day now the war is getting closer to its end and by the news this morning it won’t last more than three or four days. Wrote Harry

7 May Monday
C parade (?) again this morning and although there was a very heavy dew last night it is a very warm morning. We have had no more news about the trouble up here. I hope it is all worked out soon.
THE WAR IS OVER . It was signed at 0200hrs this morning. Mr Churchill is going to give his speech tomorrow at 1500hrs. In the last week or so I have forgotten tomention one or two points that are of great interest. Due to the Allied bombing over a period of five years there has been many places wiped out as the papers said. Not seeing any of the resluts one just took it for granted that it was right. Now after this great dash up here to TRIESTE I have seen with my own eyes a lot. Mighty bridges, railway stations and hundreds of trucks, power plants but the one I noticed most of all was the number of dead horses these told there own story, they were used to pull guns and have been for a long time now, this shows the great shortage of petrol even when the Jerries were going back, the Ities were telling us that one truck would be towing about five others. We never had any celerbration tonight as it was a “dry evening” We never had any drink here. Tomorrow night we are getting some Itie beer in. In bed at 2300hrs. Wrote Janet 2 cards

8 May Tuesday
There was no c———parade this morning and I was not up until 0805hrs breakfast time. I washed my two pairs of Jerry underpants and a pair of shorts. Some of our boys got into a surply barge yestserday, it had been shot up on the beach and the sern was under water. This barge carried new summer clothes which are very good quality so we got the underpants and a pair of shorts each, others got very good shirts also. Today is a very warm one but there is no work of any kind. Mr Churchill is going to speak at 1500hrs and “ceasefire” is going to be at 2300hrs tonight I think. Hostilities end tomorrow morning at 0001hrs so Bill Lawdrey wins the sweep now by one minute, his date is the 9th. Received a letter from Jocelyn and one from Gran. We got our beer this afternoon and it is a fair sort of one issue which was a free one paid for by the Baty funds, we got 13 bottles of beer each six small ones and 7 large ones. The small was Canadian and the large Itie. We were up until 0030hrs trying to drink it all but we still had 25 bottles left when we went to bed and we were not anywhere near drunk. We had 104 bottles for our sub.Wrote Janet card.

9 May
This morning we moved over to the other side of the road next to F.Troop and by lunchtime we were all jacked up again. We all have bed boards to sleep on now. Received a letter from Gran. We had a talk from our Maj this morning and he didn’t know how long we were going to be here or anything else. In comparassion to others this day was a very quiet one. I have a pain in my stomach and it is the same old trouble back, it lasted until the early hours of the morning. I was still awake at 0400hrs. Wrote Janet.

10 May
Church parade this morning and at 0900hrs I went for a trip past Romeni to see two big railway guns of Jerries they were well worth seeing I may say. Each gun was tended by fire trucks one was a generator while the others were for ammo. Their bore was 270mm or 11 inches the barrel was 70 feet long and at the breach it was 3ft 6inches thick. The charge case was made of brass and this brass was 3/16th inch(?) thick and stood about 3 ft high weighing nearly 100lbs with out the charge. They are the biggest guns I have ever seen, so far.. Went to the pictures tonight and seen “True to life” it was alright to see a picture and we all got a good laugh out of this one. Met Ray Mac there also George Cale and I sat with them. I was not in bed until 2330hrs as we never arrived back until 2310hrs. Wrote Janet. Our Col is leaving us and we are getting our old B.C. back to the Reg as Col Maj Angel. The ex Col gave us a talk and he said that nobody knew what was going to become of the Div now. We only had two things to do. Go home or go to the Islands. If we are going home we might be here for another 6 months yet or on the other hand we may be here only two, he said that we have 30,000 men in this Div but only about 15,000 would go to the islands if we went because there are a lot of units that would be wiped. Tanks and engineers would be out —— even the Arty may be out a bit. But we all pray that it is home to get on with production. We shall know within two ——–he said which way we will be going. There are quite a number of the chaps in this Div done three or nearly three years overseas.

11 May
My stomach is still very weak this morning but I feel alright otherwise. Made a shower this morning for the troop, we got the thank, pipes etc from a Jerrie possition in which were a Battery of 88__ The rest of the day was spent in resting and a night. I had a hours bridge.

12 May
To-day I went into TRIESTE to do the city over and at 0920hrs I was on my way arriving there at 1015hrs. The shops close at 1200hrs so we had to get on with our shoping with some speed on. I bought Janet a scarf and two pairs of sissors one medium and one small, also a few combs. I got ten pkts of seeds for myself , flowers and vegetables. The town was not bad although the place is almost controled by Tito’s men but as we have a fair number of armed soldiers in there, we got around unmolested. It is just like any other town though. Our lunch was a beaut to. We had brought some bread with us from the Bakehouse and when we all got together again we had our meal at 1410hrs as I said we only had the bread so we went to the market square and bought two pounds of onions and three lettuces, took all we had into a wine shop layed it on a table and went to work. There was seven of us altogether. With this meal we had a glass of vermouth and one bottle of chanpagne which cost us 1100 lira. We arrived home at 1630hrs had a wash and then our tea. I wrote a card to Janet and a letter to both Jocelyn and Anne. It was one of the hottest days we have had for some time.

13 May Sunday
We went out on a picnic to-day to a very nice place on the coast called “GRATO’ it has been a tourist resort in peace time in fact there is supposed to be 47 hotels here, it is right off the coast altogether and a cause-way leads out to it – the same as the one close to VENICE. There is a good beach here and it was alive with soldiers all afternoon. The day is another very hot one. Thhis place is about fifteen miles from TRIESTE (south). A romour came amongst us today saying that from a American Radio Station came the news that the 2 NZEF Divs ground forces would fight in the Islands. I hope this is far from being right. Received a parcel tonight from Janet, it was a tin of alsorts of sweets ———— and two tins of salted peanuts also a tin of “sticking plasters” for cuts. I may get a very thoughtful gift to every man over here in Italy. Wrote Janet card

14 May
Received two cards from Janet.
Started a second one after tea but never finished it. I wrote here one while the thunder storm was on. Played bridge after tea. By the news now, Japan is being very heavyle bombed 500 or more super forts (?) at a time. The weather cleared at 1915hrs and the rest of the evening was fine and lovely and cool

15 May
This morning was a very good day after the unsettled night last night. We had to take the Quad and Limber away this morning and have it washed. Made a tin and packed my parcel which consisted of the following. 1 Pr Candle sticks, model plane (stuka) books, 1 box of taps, 1 pkt of taps, 1 Die, 1 scarf, 1 spandua belt, 2 pipes, 5 combs, seeds : onion, 2 whhite onion, chives, leeks, sweet peas, 2 panseys, 3 shirley poppeys, 1 brass bullet cases, 2 big and 4 small, domes, 1pr shorts, photos of Trieste, 2prs sissiors , one medium and one small.
I will be able to send this parcel soon within the next day or so. There was pictures on tonight at the 21st Bty lines and we could go as usual. I had seen the picture before it was very good though “Pumpernil Smith(?) Lesley Howard was in it. There is black clouds in the sky and lighting can be seen in the distance I don’t know if we will get any rain or not. Received card from Janet. Finished card to Janet.

16 May
Time now 0120hrs. I am still dressed as I have just finished the card to Janet that I started on the 14th. I am on picquet from 0100hrs until 0200hrs and breakfast is at 0630hrs for everybody in the “hours to come” There is a trip to Austria in the morning starting at 0730hrs. I missed it but there may be another one later in the week. Seen a black snake tonight about four feet long. Went for a cold shower at 1800hrs and it was good. The weather is good now, hot until 2000hrs and not dark until 2115hrs. We left on our picnic at 0900hrs and we took 6 yanks with us, we went to a small town which is on one of the main roads and in a very shady spot. We stoped the truck beside the river and some of the boys were in straight away but they said it was very cold. It should have been too because it was a snow fed one. It had a beautiful blue-green colour. River was the Izoro (?) We played cricket before lunch and after lunch we played baseball and a very good day was had by all

17 May
After a very good sleep last night I was up this morning at 0715hrs (for the —— parade) Early this afternoon I done a bit of washing and some sewing and I played our bridge game in the comp. We lost so as far as we are concerned we are finished. At 1500hrs I decided to sit in a small Red Dog school that was going and by tea time I had won 2500Lira when we knocked off for tea the “kitty” was worth 13,500lira which is 32 pounds 15 shillings so we had to play after tea to cut it out. I done very well winning over 22 pound – about 200lira about. I have on me at present 34 pounds 17 shillings and 6 pence and about 33 pound in my pay book in credit which makes me worth about 67 pounds altogether. This tonight was the biggest win I have ever had in my life so far.
Received a cable from Janet dated May 8th , it was sent on the occasion of the end of the war, a very nice thought on her part. I thought. Went to the pictures tonight at 2100hrs and seen “The Women About Town” I am now lying on my bed writing this and the time is 2330hrs and I am now going to bed. I bought three pairs of gloves tonight from the Y.M. They were 350 a pair, their sizes were two 7’s and one 6 ½ . Wrote Janet card The picture tonight was :A Woman about Town” and it was a very good cowboy picture

18 May
Wrote two cards to Janet. Played Red Dog for a few hours this morning but never won or never lost anything. Played cricket against F.Troop but the game was unfinished because we smashed the only ball we had in the Battery. Bruce Coburn told me tonight that there was two sets of cricket gear coming into the Reg within a few days. I was in the party going to Austria tomorrow but at 2235hrs the trip was cancelled, reason unknown.

19 May
The trip to Austria was put off because of the trouble we have with Tito and this morning our little defense platoon is getting ready, we have to man the guns also. This is only practice but they are expecting something to happen as “he” has been told to get out I think. Just had a talk by the B>C and he told us the whole trouble about tito and it is right that he has been told to withdraw back Morgan Line which is East of TRIESTE . He also told us a bit about our future. The 6th Reinfs are due to go out anytime now followed by the 7th but the 7th won’t be allowed to go as long as we are in the Trieste area. These Reinfs will be followed by the others in turn. The notice said “It is desiriable that the 2nd NZEF ground forces be used in the Pacific but the matter is under considerations with the NZ Gov and the British Governments I hope they want us home and very soon

20 May Sunday
Reg Church Parade this morning, and after it we worked right up till 1200hrs. Received three cards from Janet and one from Bob Christian, Janets last one was the 5-5-45. Sewed the parcel up this afternoon and I put 3 shillings worth of stamps in case it went over 11L. After tea tonight we were told that the trip to Austria was on tomorrow, the time is now 2230hrs and its still on. The trouble we are having with TITO is still unsettled although he is drawing his forces out of Southern Austria by 7 in the morning. We have to be ready to move within half an hour now. There was an issue of Itie beer today but no cigs or tobacco, we are pretty short of smokes now too. A few spots of rain fell this afternoon.

21 May
Up this morning at 0600hrs and after a wash and breakfast we were on our way to Austria by 0710hrs. The first town we came to of any size was a place called GORIZIA the others up to the border were KANAL, KABRAIO,, and TARVISIO. Which is only about two miles from the border. We crossed the border and camped about ½ mile inside for lunch after lunch we walked the rest of the way to the nearest village on foot, it was about ¼ mile. It was here we seen the difference really because all the names changed from Itie into German within only only a few yards. The name of the village in Austria that we went to was Arnoldstein, a small but very pretty place indeed. The country in northern Italy is very ruggered only in the valleys are there any signs of life then the villages are far apart and only small clusters of houses. The sceanery is nowhere to be compared with our own Alps the bush is very stunted and not very thick anywhere. We did see two lovely sights, one was a great waterfall coming out of the side of a hill and the other sight was a small lake. Thhis was really wonderful only a small lake but it was ringed by spruce trees and the water was a deep green as we came upon this place we were about 2000 above sea level and this scean looked very good from that hight. Although we only went into Austria a mile or so what I did see was well worth the trip. Standing in one place I could look around and at every turn it looked like an oil painting. The houses are far different from those of Italy , differently designed and there is also a lot of wood used in their construction, every house has its own garden and they are a picture in themselves, well kept and well layed out. It was in one of these I see blackcurrents and gooseberries, the first I have seen since leaving home. Austria although very hilly is very pretty. The dress of the few people we seen was just like we read about, feathers in their hats and everything else. We could only stay there ¾ of an hour as the trip back had to be done by tea time. We left there at 1420hrs and we came a different way back passing through first DOGNA, RESUITTA, PORTIS, UDINE and so on to our camp by Trieste. The whole trip was 196 miles and as we landed “home” at 1900hrs it had taken us nearly 12 hours to do. It was a very dusty ride and my eyes were very sore when I got back after bathing them and having my tea I went to the pictures and seen “Deana Durban” in “Spring Parade” I had seen it before but it was alright the second time. Received three letters, two from Gran and one from Jocelyn. In bed at 2330hrs

22 May Tuesday
Up this morning at 0400hrs. I was on picquet from 4 til 5. I have not gone back to bed so that’s why I have just wrote up yesterdays and this bit of todays. I worked it out today and I must have traveled nearly 7000 miles in this country up to the present time. I have now been from the south of Italy “TARANTO’ to the north TARVISIO’ The day is overcase with the rain clouds not very far away.
We put our guns into action on the other side of the road at 1300hrs, they are now trained on Tito’s forces, two more Divs are coming into the line now. This makes two armys we have ready for him, I still hope we don’t fire our guns. “You” see dear, the war is not over for us but I can’t tell you in a letter, we have here now the 56 Div, 10 Indian, 52 USA Div, 5 USA and ourselfs. The 46 British is hanging around too. I have my “home” facked up just as I had it up over the road. I hope we don’t move from here for a few days now. I spent all afternoon putting it up.
Wrote Janet card, Gran card. Just as our luck would be it rained as we started to pull down our tents but after a quarter of an hour it cleared up and was a very good afternoon

23 May
Wrote Jocelyn.Just as we were going to give our gun a clean up this morning the LAD chap came down and told us that our gun had to go to the workshops for a few minor repairs so we needn’t have come over this side of the road again, we could have stayed where we were. It got away before lunch time so we are free for the time it is down there. There are two of us left on the gun possition, two away with the gun and the other four are over the other side of the road, they are members of the defence platoon we have. Went and seen the kiwi concert party tonight, it was very good to although some of the party has gone home now.. It started to rain about 2230hrs but we seen the concert out and just as we were coming home down the rain came propely. I reached my tent and everything was going well so I went to bed and had no worries over getting wet during the night.

24 May
It must have rained all night because it was still raining when I woke this morning. I got my breakfast in between a shower and by 0945hrs it had cleared up altogether. Sent through the YMCA for one pair of Desert Boots and a pouffe for Janet, this is a leather coushin and will go home from Egypt , the boots will come to me here. Wrote Bob Christian card. Wrote Janet card. Got my sandles mended. Done some washing. The 6th reinforcments are leaving us tomorrow at 0700hrs. I was in a small town this morning and TITO’s men were pulling out so this is a good sign for our future, I hope

25 May
Sent parcel this morning, candlesticks etc. There were pictures on last night but I never went. We have plenty of tobacco in our canteen at present so I am buying a packet each day because like it has been before there will come a day when they won’t have any for weeks. Received 6 cards and one photocard from Janet, they were very nice and the photocard was good quite a surprise too. Ordered five photos off George Hunter.
Wrote two cards to Janet. Wrote another card after tea making it three altogether. Wrote Mum S. Played bridge for a while after I finished my writing and after one hours picquet from 10-11 I went to bed

26 May
Never got up till 0910hrs went without any breakfast it never is worth going for anyway. There is tea and cakes on at the YM every morning so I had a few cakes and some tea at 1015hrs. Just as I arrived across there down came the rain again it had been raining since early this morning. Wrote Janet card. Played bridge after tea. In bed by 2130hrs

27 May Sunday
Up this morning at 0820hrs and again missed breakfast, it was very poor so I was told so I never missed very much. Went and had morning tea then had a game of bridge till lunch time. Washed three shirts and a pr of shorts after lunch and got them all dry before tea. I also sewed good buttons on a K.D (or O) shirt that I am going to make my best one.
Started to write a card to Janet but I have so little news that I had to give it up with only a page and a half done. It rained most of last night but we had a very fine day today

28 May
Just had a very lazy day. I was on picquet from 1080hrs till 1200hrs this morning. There is some talk of a Reg cricket team playing tomorrow against a Tommi crowd when and where I don’t know yet . Finished the card I started yesterday. Pictures tonight and I seen “Forever in my Heart” Gloria Warren singer. I met Ray , Mac, George and the third chap in the snap I got from home, Noel was his name. Never got home until 2345hrs.

29 May
The Reg Cricket hame is on this afternoon and F.Kinn——- and I are playing in it, we have RHQ at 1330hrs. We played against a Tommie team the 5th — Reg they made 96 and we made 86 in the first innings in the second they got 63 and we got 180 for 8 wkts. I done very well making 22 in each ——-. I also took 3 for 13 and caught a good catch in slips. We heard over the radio tonight that up to the 10th reinf were going home as soon as possible and the rest were going too make up a ground force to go to the Islands somewhere. I had a long talk with Bruce Coburn tonight. Finished writing to card to Janet.

30 May
Went into Trieste for a ride with the YM this morning. I bought myself a wallet costing 750L. It is a good one though. While we were in there a terrible thunder storm came over the town and lighting struck down into one of the streets making a noise just as if a 5.5 gun went off. I have never heard anything like it before. It rained very heavy for a hour. After touring around the town for two hours we came home in time for dinner. After lunch we had to take the gun down and have two rivits welded it took us one and a half hours to do the job of taking the gun out and putting it back. I got Eric Baker to cut my hair , had a shower then tea. After tea it rained but Bruce Coburn asked me to go to the pictures as he was taking the Jeerry car down. It was alright to sitting in the car watching because it started to rain about 2300hrs. The picture was “Stage Door Canteen” very good. The Jerry car was given to the YM by the 48 Battery but unless they get a permit they won’t be able to keep it. We had some trouble starting it before we got home and it was 0001 hrs before I got to bed , we had a lot of fun though.

31 May
It rained all night and it was raining when I woke this morning so I never got up for breakfast but I had to get up for a small parade at 0900hrs. I had my usual cup of tea at the YM at 1015hrs. Fine this morning. We are playing 29 Baty cricket tomorrow starting at 1000hrs At 1600hrs today I was on board the Ajax, we had been invited on board by the crew. The first thing we done was to go down below and have tea which was at 1630hrs. This consisted of buns, bread and real butter, it was very good too. A lovely cup of tea went with it. After we had finished this we had a look around the ship. The guns were our chief concern so into one of the 6 inch gun turrets we went. They are great, two guns side by side. The rest of the ship was full of gear mostly radio gear of which there was plenty altogether it was a very interesting afternoon although we got wet going out to the boat. We had to go out to it by launch and it was standing about three miles off shore. At 2000hrs we had to leave the ship and the trip back was a dry one because we came back on “Lighter” or “landing craft”. We arrived home at 2110hrs and after a cup of tea at the YM I went to bed