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  • Author: Jim Smythe
  • Date Posted: Monday, October 30, 1944
  • Category:
  • Address: CERRETO D’ESI, italy

1 Sunday
Fine today with a little bit of sun enough to dry some washing. We had to fire smoke at 1805hrs for the bombers that was to come over but after we fired 39 rounds they told us to stop firing as there had been a stuff up some where and the bombers were not even off the grounds. We then had to do another 52 rounds again at 1605 this time the bombers came only 18 of them (———-) They were Bostins(?) We then had our tea as this shoot brought us to 1657hrs as they were one round per min I was off duty tonight so I never had to get up for the harrassing fire that had to be done from 0100hrs to 0300hrs. Those who were on had to get up at 0045hrs and never got into bed again till 0500hrs

2 Monday
Rained all day. Got my tin hat riddled with shrap also my gas-cap and scarf. The skull cap that was in my tin hat was cut up a bit to. The shell was a 170 which landed between two limbers blowing them to pieces setting the charges that was inside them all on fire. Played bridge in the morning and up to 1435hrs in the afternoon. We have not fired to-day yet. I have only had a shave so far, no wash even. It is very cold now and we are very lucky we got the Battle Dresses the other day. There was no one hurt today with the shelling we had. On duty tonight. There was not very much shelling until about 2215 when we then got a packet sent down upon us.

3 Tuesday
Wrote Frances Aircard (1)
I was up all hours through the night and early hours of this morning . We done harrassing fire from 2400hrs to 0130hrs this morning and we fired three rounds again at 0635hrs and 0700hrs. After this we had a lot of work to do in cleaning up the pit as it was very muddy again after the rain yesterday. I am off duty tonight so I might get a bit of sleep. After tea I played bridge for awhile but was soon in bed. Jerry started to shell us very heavy at 0100hrs but no damage was done . This time we are in a very hot spot and we will have been here a week tomorrow. The other team on our gun worked pretty hard through the night

4 Wednesday
———-(2) pipes
Wrote Harry aircard
We had just finished our breakfast and was down at the gun having a shave when Jerry got on to us again. The gun, the 170mm that was used on us the day before. We were down in the drain twice before we made the house and cover. This time it was F.Troop that got the hit it was with the first shell, it hit T.L.F setting it alight also it caught three haystacks which burnt all day and night. Was on duty tonight and was out four times before 2000hrs and from 8 til 9 we fired 6 rounds, was out again at 2215hrs, 2250hrs, 2350hrs. Picquet 0024 – 0100hrs and fired 5rds at 0105 up again at 0330hrs till 0530hrs, harrassing. 60rds this was and at 0215hrs up again. No sleep as we were heavily shelled all night. We fired altogether 105rds from 1900hrs till 0715hrs. 12hours solid we done. A chap wounded in F.Troop

5 Thursday
After we finished this morning we had a wash and a shave and we three who were on all night had to keep on till 1200hrs then we came off until 1200hrs tomorrow when we again do 24hrs on the gun. Ready to fire any time they call upon us to do so. It rained from 0715hrs until 1115hrs and it is now fine but cold(time 1400hrs) Just rested all afternoon and tea was at 1735hrs. It was nearly dark as the sky was overcast . In bed by 2040hrs and was soon asleep. At 0025hrs I was woke up by the fall of bricks and the whistle of flying bricks . Got dressed and went downstairs. Jerry had landed a shell (105) under E3 limber blowing it to peises also four hay stacks were set alight. No one was hurt. The fire burnt all night . The wall of our room is shelled(?) with holes. Weather fine.

6 Friday
Sent Christmas cards (arty)
Got to bed at 0200hrs this morning and this time slept with my pants on in case we were forced to go downstairs again. Everything was quite for the rest of the night. E3 gun is out of action at present. All the shells went up in the limber last night and we had to get in a very safe place when they started there was 27 of them to go off. To-day is very overcast with a little rain. I got on duty for 24 hours at 1200hrs. The rest of the day was a busy one for us. It rained a little but only enough to make the ground slipery. I am off duty tonight so I will be able to have a sleep. Everything was quiet until 2358hrs when Jerry got a direct hit on the lower portion of the house and I woke in time to see holes apear in the wall oppersite my bed. Went downstairs very smartly but was back again at 0045hrs. No more shells tonight.

7 Saturday
When I woke this morning I was not feeling the best. My head was aching terriably. I was aching in every joint and I was shivering and sweating all the time. I got worse until I could not find enough strength to lift a 25lb shell . At ——- hrs I went to the R.A.P to see the Doc he took my temp which was 99.2deg. he sent me back for my gear and told me to come back after tea and he would send me out for a few days which he did. I went first to the M.D.S then on to the 5th NZ Flo Am M.D.S. I arrived there at 2100hrs and got examined then to bed. They thought I might have yellow jaunders or Malaria with such a fever. I was feeling a bit seedy on it and I was soon asleep. Because of the shelling we had been getting each night my sleep had been somewhat broken.

8 Sunday
Wrote Frances Aircard (1)
Was woke up this morning at 0515hrs and had my temp taken, what it was I don’t know. I was soon asleep again and woke up in time for breakfast. After breakfast I drew a ———– for a hack saw frame which I seen an Itie doing and it is a pretty good one and very easy to use and make. In the afternoon I discovered that Alec and Frank Allen belonged to the hospital and I talked to them all the afternoon. After tea I went over to their house and made a boiler for them one large enough to hold three cups of tea. I got back to the ward at 2250hrs and the chap next to me said they were looking for me and very cross. The Sarg came in and told me that I was on ————- in the morning. I went to sleep on that . The rain was falling very heavy.

9 Monday
Up at 0615hrs washed and was dressed and had my breakfast by 0715hrs. I was on trial at 0730hrs. The Lt.Col gave us (three) a little talk and dismissed the case. I was the only one not going back to his unit to-day so the Col sent me back as punishment I suppose. I arrived back at 30Baty B.cmp at 0945hrs and went from there back to the guns to show the G.P.O my chit for 3 days rest at B.Comp. Went back there and I am now in one of their houses. There was a prepare to move by 1800hrs but it was canceled and now it is no more before 0800hrs in the morning. The time now is 1900hrs and it is nearly time for bed. It was still fine when I went to bed.

10 Tuesday
Wrote Frances Aircard (1) Wrote Gran 2 pag
Sent “wee” Wootton a christmas card. Sent Frances some of my drawings so I would not loose them Sent Norm a card too
It rained very hard all morning and the guns were to move at 1200hrs but this was cancelled and they are not moving today now. The ground is in a very bad state, some parts are just flooded. I played cards tonight but it was only for fun this time. The weather is fine now and I hope we are going to get a break for a few days. The front news. The river is just flooded now but we are still gaining on slowly . In bed by 2200hrs

11 Wednesday
Still at B Cmp and I never got up until 0800hrs this morning. It was a very bright morning so I hope it continues to keep like it for a few days. I have wrote to cousin Anne and Lois this afternoon only airgraphs but they will do. I will be going back to the guns within two days I suppose worst luck. The guns are now in their new possition but Jerry is supposed to be going back and there is new talk of moving again.
Played pocker after tea tonight and I won 700L this is the first time I have won for some time that’s why I have not played very much. The guns moved to their new possition to-day. It is just over the river.

12 Thursday
In the morning we played cards for a hour. This was after I cleaned my boots both pairs and done another few jobs. We continued our wee game after lunch until 1500hrs when the B .Cmp got orders to move . This was done and we are now by the guns the distance traveled was 10mls by road. We are in houses but as we had to get our tea before it got dark we never had the chance to have a look around. After tea we played poker again and I lost 150L all night we played until 2145hrs and was in bed by 2300hrs. I am sleeping on the brick floor of the top story of the house in a room of course. Weather is fine and it is very quite at present.

13 Friday
Wrote (2) Airgraphs Frances
Up this morning at 0720hrs. Shaved before breakfast which was at its usual time 0800hrs(three helps of porridge and my ration of mashed potatoes and fried bacon with bread and coffee).
Handed in our summer gear that we still had. Sorted “all” my gear buttons and all. The flies are very bad in this house.
Received letter (Airgph) from Bob Christian. Received (2) Aircds Frances
Played poker tonight and only won 50L. Never got to bed until 2300hrs.

14 Saturday
This morning is another fine one and now the ground has almost dried up again. Another chap and I went for a walk this morning over to a village but it was almost a waste of time as there was nothing in it, we were back for lunch. After lunch I drew a plan of the “screw draw” of my workshop bench. Started to write to Frances no 109 so have done four pages so far.

15 Sunday
Wrote Airgraph(1) Bob Christian
Today brought another move for the guns the time was 1400hrs and they went up by road 4 ½ mls taking them to within the same range as our 4.2” . morters.-the ——. C.P. and our C.P is in the same house. They are going to get too cheeky one of these days. I am still at 2 Cpy but expect to go back to the guns any time at all. The days back here are spent on writing or talking. We have only the papers to read no books of any kind are here. We have the wireless going for the news Played poker . Lost of my own money 100L handledthrough the night 1000L up and down

16 Monday
Wrote Frances No 109 6 pag. List of screws etc.
This morning is rather dull and at 1100hrs there were a few spots of rain but nothing to worry over. There is nothing doing to-day so it will be another quiet one I suppose with poker again after tea. Rain is holding up most of the fronts except the Russians and we are going on slowly. Done some washing and got it nearly dry before the sun went down. Hung it up in the room and it will be dry by the morning.

17 Tuesday
Heard to-day that through-out the 3 Divs action in the Islands only 700rds were fired altogether we have fired 700 in 14hrs. At 1020hrs it started to rain and it come down very heavy . The ground soon got water loged again and this is what we didn’t want because there is a big atack going on tonight, what time and the number of rounds in the barrage I don’t know as I am still at B.Cmp. I have been here now a week. The rain stoped at 1800hrs and the clouds cleared away . We can now see the starts. The time is 2310hrs and the barrage hasn’t started yet. Jerry shelled the main road tonight about one dozen shells all told. Played poker and won 200L

18 Wednesday
Wrote Frances Aircard (1)
Still at B.Cmy but expected to be sent back to the guns this morning but it never came off. Played poker after tea and lost 250L. I was still up even now because I have 500L odd and I come into B.Cmp with 330L. There is a barrage on tonight at 2245hrs. Don’t know how many rounds. Last nights attack was postponed because of the weather. A new moon tonight so it will only be a few days before we will be able to see our way about at night. Received 183 8 pag and one air card from Frances. Jerry sent a few shells over tonight.

19 Thursday
Wrote Frances Aircard (1)
Attack a success and we were woke this morning with someone yelling in our ears. Prepare to move straight after breakfast, we were to move at 0815hrs but all the trucks were away from B.Com by 0730hrs. The truck I traveled on never left until ——– it was the ————– truck. We arrived at the gun possitions at 0900hrs and they were all waiting until we got here before they moved off as we were to take over the house as —Com. The house is a very large one and very solid. The Ities are still living in it. We are having a quite night tonight writing, giving the poker a rest tonight. We even got tired playing this. Weather still fine. Jerry is still going back slowly.

20 Friday
Our guns are on the move again today. The quads were at the guns by 1100hrs and the B Cmp moved up to where the guns were at 1530hrs. The guns had not moved and were still in action. They fired 80rds harrassing fire starting at 2000hrs and the next morning they pulled out they were away by 0615hrs and the quads were back at B.Cmp for breakfast. Tonight Jerry shelled us with 88 and 170 doing no damage to our house only shook it rather badly at times with the 170. Very cold tonight
Received from Frances letters 179-182.

21 Saturday
Wrote Frances no 110 (7pag) Wrote Frances Airgph, wrote Frances Aircard
This morning is overcast and it may rain a bit it is rather cold to. This farm house we are out is very well stocked up with hens and rabbits, while the guns were here they had several hens and a pig besides. One of the ammo drivers got some hens but all the time we have been taking these things from these farms we have never bothered about the rabbits. There are dozens of them here to from white to black. There are also some quinie pigs here too. A very quiet day altogether and I went to bed at 1915hrs wrote a aircard then went to sleep and I was woke up by very heavy rain falling but it never lasted for any length of time so I went to sleep again hoping it would be stoped by day light came.

22 Sunday
Received 187 –8 from frances. 1 letter from Jos, 2 from Gran. Wrote Gran, Jocelyn and Frances an airgraph.
Very cold again tonight and we had a few drops of rain this was just enough to keep the ground greasey. There is some talk of us going out for a while and the place we hear that we are going to is away back past JESI. I think if we do it will be to reform The “5th” are going to be pulled out by what we hear. The rumours say that the 13th Reinf are at Mardi and the 14th are on their way . the number we heard was 13,000 we will see in the future if there is any truth in it.

23 Monday
Very dull today with a few spots of rain. I heard this morning that the rest of the Div is out already and the Arty is the only ones “in” at the present time so it looks as if there might be some truth in the rumours that we have been hearing. I have been out at B.Cmp now for twoweeks and if we are pulled out within the next day or so they might leave me here and so I will have a long rest before we go in again. I hope we are pulled out very soon. The Dive Bombers are doing good work now and they are over all day now bombing and straping(?) Jerry. I left Egypt one year today. The Ities dug up the old man he was killed by one of our shells and they buried him by the back door. A wee girl was in the coffin with him. She was killed by the same shell

24 Tuesday
The move is right and we are going back and the distance is going to be over one hundred miles. We are not going back so far for nothing and it is going to be very interesting to see what this move really is for. The weather is not very good and it has been raining off and on all day.
Drew two drawings, one of a “miter board” and the other of a “wood guage” I will send them both home soon. Today was a very dull one as far as news goes and I was in bed by 2000hrs

25 Wednesday.
(our truck stayed and we looked over FANO)
Moved today at 1150hrs this morning and the weather is not looking the best. I will have to ride on top of the truck so I hope it keeps fine. We were soon on our way south and we passed through many towns that we had been through before . Our route was REIMINI, RICCIONE, CATTOLICA, PESARO, FANO, SENIGALLIA, MONTEMARCIANO, FALCONARA, CHIARAVALLEO, JESI,. We are now camped about 80 miles from Jesi in a small town. We stayed the night on Highway 16 because of a breakdown to one of the bridges, we had oysters in patties for supper and then to bed in the back of the 15cwt. There were three of us. It had been raining since 1700hrs and we went to bed at 2100hrs. It was still raining but we were soon asleep. There was no move before 0600hrs in the morning

26 Thursday
(memo – send card to Frances for her birthday. This will give it (11) days
Moved at 0650hrs and after doing another 28 miles we came to the villiage of —————– .Where we are now camped in the town itself our Battery is in a school. It has been raining all the time since 1700hrs last night. There was a few bottles of rum etc to be bought by the boys in the troop , the Maj. got them in Ancona. After tea there was a stir up amongst the boys. I was out of it . If it had been beer I would been in but I don’t go the hard stuff. In bed by 2010hrs and never went to sleep because of the noise and cannot growl at this though have been in these “ do’s” myself at times.

27 Friday
Wrote Frances No 111 (8)pag, Aircard (1), (1) Airgph
Up at 0730hrs “dined” at 0800. There was to be a parade at 0845hrs but this was put off because of the rain. It had not stoped all day or night and it is still going. The air is very cold now and it is even hard to get warm in bed at nights. We have a canteen and a bar going now. Started today. I have been writing most of the morning and all afternoon, the time now is 1615hrs and after tea it will be bed for me I think.
This Town is called CERRETO D’ESI.

28 Saturday
Rained today also so this made it a day inside which was a very dull one indeed
The notice came out today that the 5th Reinf were next to go out. The time was going to be sometime in late December or early January. The 3rd Div boys are coming over but the notice said that it would take several weeks to train them. Some of our Officers have gone to “Bari” already they aare going to train them.

29 Sunday
Received Cable from Frances. Money 4pounds 16 shillings
Picquet today so I never went on the parade which was a Reg Church parade by the way.
E6 and E5 were swaped over today and now we have instead of the Quads 8 tonners. These belonged to the Ack Ack (?) which are being brought down in strength they have only one Battery or Reg now. I think it is a Reg (one) instead of three. The Armored aare being brought down in strength to.

30 Monday
I got from the “Tiffie”(?) of F. Troop three pairs of calapairs today. They were 4” inside and 4” outside ones also one pair of 6”inside calapairs. I will send them home in my next parcel. Came off picquet at 1000hrs and it will be 9 days before I am on again.
The weather is still very bad and it has no future just yet either.
This area we are in is a very wet place it is right in amongst hills and we are in the river bed in places

31 Tuesday
This morning was a fine one and the day was a warm one although the mud is still several inches deep, we were working all morning. This included ½ hours “gun drill” . We were free this afternoon so I had a bath, changed my clothes washed the dirty ones and put them out but by 1800 they were only half dry.
We draw a sweep on the NZ Trotting Cup tonight 100L each. I drew Haughty and by what I hear it has a good show. We will see after the race which is on Sat I think.
The Y.M.C.A has tea on every night now at 1900hrs.