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  • Author: Jim Smythe
  • Date Posted: Tuesday, November 30, 1943
  • Category:
  • Address: Furci, Italy

1 Monday

Clocks back 1 hour

Rained all day, had 24hrs rest from the guard, it was to much and we were cracking up. The sea was very rough to-day and some of the boys were sick but not very bad, slept and rested most of the day on my bed. The food is very poor still but I hope when we get on land it is better.

2 Tuesday

Wrote Frances 26th

Sighted land the S.E coast of Sicily at 1000hrs We are still getting ————-porridge for breakfast. Clocks back 1 hour. Berthed at Augusta (Sicily) 1600hrs. The hills are covered with green grass, the town almost deserted. Don’t think I will get ashore. Passed by Syracuse at 1220hrs. We are now 11 ½ hrs behind N.Z

3 Wednesday

Wrote Gran

Still berthed in Augusta.harbour, we are 420 miles from Bari. Bari has a population of 196,000. Two Italians came along side and sold a full sack of Arlmons and a barket of oranges, right from the tree. The weather is fine, there are 5 ships seen in or burnt out lying in the harbour. There is another town up on a hill a place for Malaria fever.

4 Thursday

Wrote Harry No 3

Left Augusta at 0720hrs , raining and blowing.Are going up the east coast of Sicily We got ships with us, some landing barges also. Was on guard 1200 – 1400 hrs and again at 2400 to 0400 tomorrow morning. Still see land it is sicili but we will lose sight of it during the night. Still very cold.

5 Friday

My darling wife’s birthday – 25 years old. Many Happy Returns Dear. If Frances knew I was about 200 miles from the port of Bari she would not be feeling as she is to-day. Land in sight, Italy this time but the light is bad so we cant see much. Lost sight of land again, could not see which place it was now.

6 Saturday

Air raid on land, could see it from the boat, hear it to. Landed at Bari 0922hrs a fair size city. Seen some Italian soldiers also about 100 young chaps about 19 they would be. There is a ship in the water right alongside a wharf a destroyer, it is, it was scuttled by order. Weather overcast, have to be ready to move as soon as our truck comes out of the hold at 2230hrs again at 0915hrs

7 Sunday

This raid at 0015hrs was short, it woke us up, had another one at 0430hrs. No damage done in any of them. They droped some bombs and mines , draged mines. Up this morning. Went on to land at 1545hrs drove to Bari Stadium and parked the night. No air raid, walked around the track twice as it is a great show but it is unfinished.

8 Monday

Up at 0630hrs raining and cold. Left Stadium at 1030hrs on our way to Taronto, Took wrong turning and ended up out on our way to Naples. We were going inland instead of following the coast road, bedded down for night and was it cold. I had 4 blankets and my over-coat on top of me but the wind had ice in it.

9 Tuesday

Wrote Frances No 27

Up at 0600hrs and on our way back to Taronto arriving there at 1030hrs after a very enjoyable drive along the coast road, a great country.this. Taronto is full of all types of soldiers and trucks. We are parked up on a hill overlooking the harbour, big bombers are passing over all the time, aerodrome not far away , full of Hurricanes.

10 Wednesday

Received leetters No 74 to 81. Two cables, five airgraphs yesterday. Rested most of the day. Drove about 50 miles

11 Thursday

5 months in ME

Went on leave to Matina a wine centre but only light wine is made there.( rest unable to read.)

12 Friday

Worked all day on New Morris Quad it is a terrible mess. I have just finished. Time now is 1730hrs. Will be going on picqueet at 1745hrs and we have to be ready to move at 0845 in the morning . Tom and I both slept in the Quad to-night the weather is quite good but a cold wind

13 Saturday

On guard from 0400hrs to 0600hrs. Moved into possition at 0815hrs. Moved at 10.15hrs. We are going up to the front line our route was Matina, Loccrotonda, Alberobello, Loci, Gioti del Colle, Santeramo, Altamura. A distance of 78 miles from Taranto Staging Camp. Weather fine getting colder now and it is dark at 1730hrs, day-break is about 0550hrs

14 Sunday

Started off again this morning at 0800hrs and traveled until 1430hrs stopeed at our area which is 80 miles from the front. We came through Corato, Andrea, Canosa, Cerignola, Foggia, Lucera. We will be stopped here for two days and then up to the front. We go for I don’t know how long

15 Monday

Wrote No 28

Up at 0650 hrs worked all day on the Quad and done some more-(unable to read)-I suppose it will hang on for quite a while. It is now raining very hard it is hard to keep dry. I have to stay in the quad all the time. Had two helpings at teatime. I was very cold and hungry.

16 Tuesday

Rained at 1710hrs. Raville at 0615 this morning but it is not raining yet. Traveled in the Quad . Up to-day at 1853mls. We did not do much work today for we done most of it yesterday. We got orders just now to be ready to move at 0630hrs tomorrow our destination is the front line so within 36 hours I might be in action, I hope it does not rain much.

17 Wednesday

Traveled from Lucera to Furci. Ravelle at 0515 hrs no shave because it is still dark. Started moving at 0645 hrs drove all day and all night and finished up 5mls from Jerrys lines. The time was 0800hrs on the 18th so we drove for 20 hours but we only traveled 114 miles but it was through nothing but mountains (unable to read)

18 Thursday

—Jerry started to fire two 88’s he was shelling a bend in the road but no damage. Traveled from Lucera to a place by a river no name. We moved out of our possitions at 1630hrs and I got stuck ot out of that and was going along the road and two wheels sliped over the edge. Stoped , right road to bad washed out.

19 Friday

1ACTION. Rained. Started off at 0630hrs, breakfast at 0900hrs, we got on again at 1245hrs we were under

Jerry’s observation———————————————————————————————————-


20 Saturday

Up at 0615hrs raining all night and up to 0800hrs.

This morning it is very muddy. We had to put branches on the road so we could get a grip. Have not fired yet . My Quad is right below and in front of E3 gun. It will be like all hell let loose when it sstarts. Dug slittys because there might be something come back. Fired 5 rounds at 1720hrs.

21 Sunday

wrote frances no 29

Up at 0615hrs. River gone down to normal, no tobacco yet. We are 4000yds from the Sangro River. 4 shells came over at 1300hrs they landed on the road about ¼ mile from us. Guns fired 8 shots at 1700hrs. Very little sleep because Jerry was shelling from 2000hrs until 0800hrs on the 22nd 12hrs in all

22 Monday

Wrote to Gran

Up at 0630hrs. Breakfasst at 0800. Guns have only fired about one round up to the present time which is 1615hrs. The big attack which was to go is at 0900 hrs in the morning has been cancelled because of bad weather. We have had no rain to-day . I had a barth in a half a keroseen tin to-day. I still have my cold

23 Tuesday

Wrote to Hilda no 1

Fired a barrage this morning starting at 0400hrs and going until 0600hrs. 50 shots per gun. 72 guns and it –


24 Wednesday

Wrote Frances No 30

25 Thursday

Wrote airgraph Wrote Harry No 4

On picquet last night 3/4hr. Dryed out a pair of boots and put nugget on both prs. It has been fine today except for a few spots which are falling now 1545hrs. I had a very sick tummy last night but it seems to be alright now. Guns only fired 6 shots so far to-day. Planes very active. Kitty bombers and Bastons.

26 Friday

Wrote airgraph to Frances

Received two airgraphs from Frances. Not much firing too-day no rain but very cold, was woken up by shells at 0230hrs but they were 100yds away, not far enough. Bombers very active to-day. A U—88 flew just over our heads at 1000hrs this morning . We could have hit it with a tommy gun but it was past before we got our breath back, it crashed our side of the Sangro River.

27 Saturday

ME 410. Wrote Frances No 31

Shot up at 30,000ft by spitfires —-The plane had been hit and was smoking in one engine. We got the two chaps who were in it alive as they can’t tell tales . The big atack is on in the morning we are firing 200 rounds per gun. I don’t think Norm is going to be in it until later. I might have to help on the guns as we are a man short 4 gone out in the troup on piquite at 2000hrs till 2045hrs. Broke the nib in my pen made a new nib out of a ordinary pen nib.

28 Sunday

Mail in to-day. Never received any airmail received up to the 7 oct. Think some mail was received in NZ about the first week in Oct. Gun Mitchell who took over driving the Maj “jeep” was killed by a mine to-night, a tank mine. They think it was. He was up the front at theO.pip(?)Planes very active. 1 Messie was shot down by a spitfire never seen it my-self, no shooting to-night.

29 Monday

New moon and the weather is still good. The tanks took a village this afternoon at 1330. We put over a barrage of smoke. 25 shells each (1800 altogether). Us drivers went away today to get a load of smoke shells. 5 Kittyhawks of the U.S.A. Air force came over. There was a hay-stack burning nearby. I think that’s what attracted them anyway they opened up with M.G.shells(?). You cant trust the yanks. Landed near us.

30 Tuesday

Left possition at 1030hrs to go forward. Passed over the Sangro River at 1200hrs. It has a very wide bed but the chanal is only about 40ft wide. Pontoon bridge only so far. Took up new possition at 1300hrs 5000yds from Jerry seen 5 planes shot down , missie’s (?) they were and one spitfire can hear M.Guns fire at times. Shows how close we are. 4 and 5’s are just behind us and the tanks were going up all night. Traveled 6 9/10th miles