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  • Author: Jim Smythe
  • Date Posted: Saturday, September 30, 1944
  • Category:
  • Address: Rimini, Italy

September 1944

1 Friday
Up this morning at 0800hrs breakfast was at 0900hrs. They gave us a lie in for another hour. There is no word weither we will even fire from this possition as yet they are going on very well with their break in the Gothic Line and we might have to move up before we can fire. We looted a house this morning and I only got about 200 buttons. The planes are very active but on the ground the fighting is very quiet only a few shots from both sides. There is a terrible shortage of water we can’t get any more than we can drink . We will have to go dirty for a few days as all the wells are dry too. It is very hot just now and we are feeling the strain of the lack of sleep and shortage of meals.

2 Saturday
Last night starting at 1600hrs we fired 92 rounds for the Canadians who were cleaning out a pocket of Jerries. The whole show took over two hours. We had to stop firing because we ran out of ammo. This was the first time this has happened in this country. This morning was very windy so it looks as if we will be getting a change in the weather. We got prepare to move at1400hrs and we are leaving this place and going back to the place we —————- The Gothic Line is well and truly broken it was very easy so they don’t need us now, we are again out of action. Left at 2215hrs and arrived back at 0050hrs. It is still blowing hard.

3 Sunday
Wrote 104 Frances 7 pag. Sent Beans, buttons, photos of siena.
Never woke until 0800hrs this morning this was breakfast time. It rained very hard for half a hour after breakfast but we could see it coming long before so we were ready for it this time. Wether we are going to stay here where we are or go back to the Div area outside JESI we don’t know.
Norm won 27 pounds to-day playing “slippery sam” and “two up”. There is a parade for us tomorrow at 0900hrs. There was some NZ tobacco in today also a large cake of chochlate per man, the tobacco was “Melrose”. I was in bed at 2130hrs.

4 Monday
Wrote Frances Air Card (1)
Cease fire between Russia and Finland took place this morning. We are now massing in the German border. We have to clean our trucks guns and limbers up for the C.O. who is coming around this afternoon for an inspection of the same. Wrote to the E.R.S. regarding the housing scheme State Addresses etc.
Just resting at present. The “Gothic Line” has been well and truly broken so they don’t need us yet we shall go up when it gets a bit tougher I suppose.

5 Tuesday
Wrote Frances Airgraph (1), Mother Airgraph (1)
We had a Reg Parade for the C.R. Ack this morning. Our troop parade was at 0800hrs and the reg one at 0900hrs. We were back in our own lines by 1000 , the rest of the day we had to ourselves. I got the tomato I had to ripen for seed. I wanted to get there before they went bad. I got about 100 seeds out of half the tomato. They are the best and biggest (outside) tomatoes I have ever seen in my life.
At 1900hrs we were told that we would be moving out as the 6th(?) and going towards the beach, to swim or not I could not say. We have to be ready to move at 0505 in the morning. This means up about 0400hrs.

6 Wednesday
Up at 0350hrs wraped up our beds and tents put them on the limber and then made a cup of cocoa for the four of us. True to time they started to move 0510hrs and we were only going a few miles so breakfast was at the usual time. The distance traveled was 80 miles and it took us 2 hours to do this trip . We shaved and washed then had our breakfast. Easy dress parade at 0900hrs then cleaning up the guns for a hour, then rest for the remainder of the day. We may be moving tomorrow sometime. Steve in charge of the Div, “Tiney” is in hospital. Received Air Card (1) Frances.
I was very sick tonight. Had to go outside about 24 times.

7 Thursday
Wrote Airgraph Frances (1)
Received parcel (cake from Frances Post Dated 7.5.44)
Was raining very hard when I woke up this morning but as I dug a drain around my tent when I put it up I was safe this time from being flooded out. It was raining when we went to breakfast but cleared up later only to start again and it has rained on and off all day. The time now is 1718hrs and another shower has just passed over. I was better when I woke this morning and I hope I am alright now. There are a lot of chaps got the runs now it must either be the grapes or the crook tucker we are getting lately. The Mobile Pictures were here tonight and it was one I had seen before “Mutiny on the Bounty”. It was very good.

8 Friday
Wrote Air card (1) Frances. Received (2) Air.C from Frances
Raining again this morning never went to breakfast. There is talk of us being here for a few days yet. There is still quite a number of chaps who still have the runs etc. I am one of them. Played bridge all afternoon. A very dull day in all there is pictures on here again tonight but it is the same one as last night

9 Saturday
A Parade at 0900hrs then the whole reg dug a field level ready for the football that is going to be played within the next few days. The First game was between 30 & R.H.Q. 30 won 6.0 the next was 29 & 48. 48 won 8.0 so 30 will play tomorrow I suppose. Cards again this afternoon. Tonight I went to see the pictures as it was a different one showing . It was called “Thank your lucky stars” It had been made for the troops by all the “stars”. Reg parade tomorrow. Troop parade at 0810hrs.

10 Sunday
Up this morning at 0710hrs and got fully dressed right away but at 0745 hrs the T.S.M. came along and said that the Reg parade had been wiped as we were moving sometime to-day. The time was not before 0700hrs so we played bridge all afternoon . We are moving at 2020hrs I think. We have two places to go either to the coastal sector or inland to help the British, the Canadians are on the coastal sector. This move was changed and we are now going into our possitions in daylight. We moved at 1345hrs and after traveling some 60 miles we droped the guns we dug our slitty before our gun pit this time as this is the new Div order. It is too near the end to take unnecessary risks now. Never fired so we were in bed by 2100hrs.

11 Monday
A day of rest. All we did today was put the finishing touches on our pit and got the ammo ready for our coming barrage which we hope is the beginning of the end of this country as far as Jerry goes.

12 Tuesday
Up this morning at 0755hrs and breakfast was at 0800hrs. We then had a wash and shave then on with a game of bridge. Lunch was at 1200hrs and after this we had to get 400 rounds ready as there is the first phase of a 7 phase atack going in tonight. The first rounds will be at 1800hrs these combined with the hundreds of planes that have been over. Today is what we call softening up process. The main barrage starts at 0100hrs in the morning 120 rounds per gun. This barrage went off very well and we finished at 0300hrs but there was a continuation of the last phase twice so we never got into bed until 0415hrs. It was by this time very cold and wet as the winter is very slowly creeping upon us again.

13 Wednesday
Up this morning at 0700hrs only to fire one rnd. We stayed up. We done very little until 1745hrs when we were started on a task which was the second phase of this big atack. It was stoped after only nine rounds as the infantory were not ready. It was to be on again at 1830hrs but the time now is sometime between now and 0100hrs and it is to be 110 rounds. The time is now 1955hrs so it should be very soon because it will take 2 hours to do it. There is a 75rd barrage again at 0100hrs. All this was wiped and instead we fired 10rds at 0140hrs and then to bed. It was our picquet tonight so I was up again at 0250hrs it was very cold and I wore my overcoat for the first time since I left Cassino. Went to the beach for 1 1/2hrs this morning.

14 Thursday
Up this morning at 0620hrs we are now firing the second phase of the atack it is to be 120rds starting at 0630hrs and going till 0830hrs. We are all very hungary so we had hoped that it would be a good breakfast but it was poor fried bread and beans, two stewed peaches by themselves was instead of the usual porridge. The morning is fine but windy. The time now is 0912hrs so it is a shave, wash and get the gun cleaned and move ammo into the gun pit before we can rest. I ———— the gun for 1/2hr this morning. We never fired again till 2100hrs then it was only 10rds so we had a good sleep. This breaking of this line has proved a very hard job now for they are holding onto this last strong point guarding the Po Valley.

15 Friday
Wrote Frances 105 6 pag. Sent tomatoes (seeds)
Up this morning at 0600hrs and fired five rounds then back to bed and none of us woke until 0810hrs Breakfast 0800hrs we got ours anyway so we never worried very much over being 10min late although one of our officers said something about I never even looked around to see if it was me he was talking to or not. We have had enough of their pin pricking now and it is our turn they haven’t grown up yet anyway they might get their jobs of office-boys when they get home again. I do my bit so I say now whats right and whats wrong for my-self. We got prepare to move at 1100hrs this morning but we have not moved yet time 1730hrs but we may move to-night yet. Moved at 2240hrs and we are not taking the place of some S.P—— and we are very close this time. We dug our pit until 0430hrs then went to bed. We are all up here the 3 Reg’s. There was no shells near us at all to-night.

16 Saturday
Wrote Air card (1) Date 15 Finished today
Up this morning at 0750hrs and after breakfast and a shave we finished off our pit. They then told us to get 410rds per gun ready as we would be firing a barrage at 1130hrs. The time was changed to 1530hrs this did not come off so we then got to work and dug ourselfs a deep dug-out each as in this possition we might need them. We fired on Jerry this morning at 2300yds and in a C.D.F. program(?) we have there is a range of 1900yds this is very close. Except for being close this possition is very good, we have huts, tables, chairs etc we are at a small creek and in peace time it has been used for boating. The hills are for the people who have boats, they are really “batches”

17 Sunday
So this is Sunday. I and we, were up at 0445hrs and started to fire a barrage which lasted until 0700hrs back to bed was out of quistion because our pit came down along one side so after cleaning up this and dumping the “caps” etc we were ready for breakfast. We magined to make ourselfs a cup of tea at 0600hrs. This helped us along I may say. For the rest of the morning we rested a bit and even managed to get in 1 1/2hrs of bridge but after lunch we were firing again and continued to do so until 1630hrs .We then were free Mac and I went and done a Itie house “over” I got two cups and saucers and two wee dishes besides some more buttons. I went to bed at 2045hrs and I was very soon asleep. I am on picquet from 0810hrs to 0400hrs.

18 Monday
My picquet was never done because we were up firing at 0300hrs and we were to finish at 0700hrs. There was a atack on. It never went right and we were called on to fire until 1340hrs. This meant we had been in the pit for 10hrs 40min . We were without a shave we never even had a wash, this was done at 1500hrs. The first big break came at 1555hrs and we have not fired for over one hour. We have fired 30 rounds so far today. We handed in our shorts to-day. News not bad to-day. Received parcel from Frances (chochlate_ Received parcel from Mum. Fired most of the night again.

19 Tuesday
Wrote Frances Air card (1)
This great battle for RIMINI is being continued to-day in all its fineness(?) This is the third day and so far we have fired 15,000 rounds since it started 10 days ago. We are trying or rather we have to break into the Po Valley before it rains.. We were up and at it this morning at 0440hrs and we went right on until 1714hrs. In this time we fired over 700 rounds a gun. It is my night off tonight so I won’t be getting up when we have to fire a big barrage. I was in bed by 2000hrs and I was very soon asleep. In the last 72 hours ending at 1020hrs I have had only 12hrs sleep and at present I feel very done in. I can hardly do any work but it has to be done

20 Wednesday
Up this morning at 0440hrs and we aare going to fire some more to-day but it won’t be very many because our program was from 0445hrs till 0649hrs but we got the “stop firing” “stand easy” at 0600hrs and have not fired since . Time now 0930hrs there is even some talk of a move to-day.We started firing at a range of 2500yds(?) and after four days it is now up to 10,500yds so we are getting on at last.. We should have RIMINI anytime now, Looks like rain. We received to-day also our extra blanket this makes us four now. We got orders to move at 2115hrs and we did just as we were leaving this possition it started to rain and it continued to do so until breakfast next morning but a lot happened between when we started off and breakfast. We only had 6 mls to go but (from 2115hrs 20.10.44 to 0415 21.10.44) The roads were very thick with dust before it rained so now they were very thick with mud and the surface was very slipery. Two of our trucks went off the road and they held us up for over an hour to go these few miles Took us 4 1/2hrs and by this time we were nearly frozen stiff. My overcoat I had pushed in my bedroll so I could not get it until I untied my gear off the limber. When we got to our possition we put the gun down at 0245hrs and got on with our slittys rigiht away. I had my gear on the ground with a ground sheet over it so after I dug a bit of a hole and put my tent over it I put my gear in and at 0400hrs I put myself inside , also it was raining all the time. This makes our life very hard when one has to dig a hole to “line”

21 Thursday
I never woke this morning until 0745hrs breakfast was at the usual time 0800hrs. The sun was up but it had to do a lot of work before the ground dried up again. We caught two suckling pigs, they were only about 6-7 weeks old, put them in a sack for tomorrow sometime. We had to shift our gun 50yds right this morning as they had put us in the wrong place as we were doing this it started to rain again and for the rest of the day we stayed in bed. We had up to this time fired no rounds. I started to write my letter again after tea but it became dark so quick that I was only able to do twelve pages and I couldn’t see any more. After having a few smokes and some chochlate I went to sleep , it was still raining then.

22 Friday
Up this morning at 0750hrs just in time for breakfast. Today was a much better day for the sun came out and stayed out. The ground and all damp clothing was soon dry. We cooked our two pigs for lunch, half frying half boiling then there were eight of us and we ate the lot. They were very good. After lunch I had a bath done some washing, this was just as well to because we got the orders to move at 1320hrs. We were to go to a possition the north side of RIMINI. This town had only been in our hands for 24 hours. We passed through it at 1740hrs and put our gun down some three miles on the “N” side of the town. Jerry is 3000yds away. Fired a barrage of 227rds for our own blokes. They went forward 3000yds In bed at 0300hrs and we were shelled very heavy.

23 Saturday
Wrote Frances 106 4 pag (1) Airgraph
Up again this morning just in time for breakfast 0750hrs. We were told that we would be moving at 1200hrs but at 0940 hrs this was cancelled and now we may not move to-day.Jerry seems to have taken some of his guns back. Although the boys said we were shelled heavy this morning I never woke up at all, slept through all. Weather fine. We are held up again but it won’t be long before we are on the way again. Jerry runs for two days and stays for one. This will be the case from now on. We are now mobile. The Kiwis are in the fore once again . We are to take a town 40miles up the coast. Received 176 – 177. We done two hours harrassing fire between 2200 and 2400hrs then we had to get up at 0020hrs , 5rds – 0040, 5 rds, 0115hrs, 10rds- 0400hrs , 7 rds – and the last time was 0550hrs , 8rds.

24 Sunday
We never went back to bed after we got up at 0550hrs We were told that we would be going forward at 0900hrs as we had to be back through REMINI before 0930hrs. The possie party went forward and we are not moving now as Jerry is simply blasting what was to be our possition with everything he has got, we are now firing the barrage from this possition. It starts at 2030hrs somewhere about 400rds per gun.. Found steel rule thought it was a booby trap at first and I pushed it across the ground with a stick. I had to goforward with another chap to our new possitons which are only 1000yds from the enemy at the present time .After the atack goes in tonight it will be somewhere around 4-5000yds. We had to level a piece of ground for each gun.. We stayed the night. The guns are coming up tomorrow sometime, weather fine. Bed 2045hrs.

25 Monday
Received fourletter and three airgraphs. Letters from Frances were 175-176 again and 178.Airgraphs were two from frances one from cousin Anne, two letters from Gran. I was up this morning at 0600hrs because I was to lead the guns into their possitions when they came, at first light but they never came until 1020hrs and we were all day in digging our slittys and gun pit . After all this was done we were told that we might be moving in the morning. The area has been very quite all day. The Arty lines I mean. We may get a rest to-night so I am sitting up on my slitty writing this. I have a candle going but as I have my tent up and blacked out I will be able to write a letter to. It looks like rain tonight.

26 Tuesday
Wrote Aircard Frances, Wrote No 107 9 pag
At 2000hrs last night I was flooded out of my hole and I had to make a run for the house which was about fourty yards from where I was. I slept there the night. The only clothes I had on were boots without socks, a singlet, jersey, overcoat and my—- bed. I had my gas-cape(?) this helped to keep me dry but my bed roll, big and small pack were dry but all my writing gear got wet through and I lost most of it. Today was mostly used with doing our gear, fixing up the pit etc then it was all to ourselfs. We fired very little all day and tonight we only fired two rounds. I was up this morning at 0100hrs until 0200hrs then from 0215hrs until 0305hrs I was on picquet. It looks like rain tonight so I put my tent up this time on the top of the ground.

27 Wednesday
It was my night off last night so I never had to get up for the two rounds that was fired at 0845hrs and when I woke it was breakfast time 0730. The cooks call for it woke me. The rain came a little last night but we got half an hour this morning but it is not very heavy and I don’t think it will be. B.B.C. news said last night that when the Italian campaining is over we will be going to the Islands and the 3 year men will be replaced. Weither we will go home first or not we don’t know but it is just like our Government to send us straight to the Islands from here. We are very bitter towards them now. We moved up 4000yds today the time was 1235hrs and we are now within 1500yds of Jerry. We dug our pit then our slittys and were in bed by 2000hrs. Very active up here now.

28 Thursday
We got our breakfast this morning just before it started to rain and it rained very hard all day and by lunch time we were feeling very miserible as one may guess. We were wet to the shins and could not change our clothes as we had harrassing fire for several hours this meant one round at 1300hrs another 8rds after two more in another 6hrs and so on for about 40 rounds in three hours. We all moved into the house at 1600hrs and this will do us until we have this possition because the weathr does not look the best for the future two or three days. We were to fire a barrage of 400rounds at 2200hrs and harrassing fire of 60 rounds at 2100hrs but because of the terrible weather both were cancelled this shows how bad it really was.

29 Friday
Wrote air card (1) frances. Started No 108
Up this morning at 0745hrs and we had to dig a drain three feet deep to drain out pit. Wet , it was full of water this morning. We worked hard all day to make our selfs right again and we are now pretty right again. It never rained to-day but there is a high wind blowing but this helped to dry up the ground very good and now the mud has become hard enough to walk on without slipping .If it does not rain it will be right for a few days . I had my first wash this afternoon for 52hrs , no shave either was it a job. My hair had not even been combed but I am cleaned up now wrditing in the cassa by candle light. My night off.

30 Saturday
Finished No 108 (11pag) ]
Rained this morning for a while but this afternoon it cleared up a bit although it is still overcaste. We spent a lot of our spare time washing and writing.Some of our team played slipery. I wrote Frances her Christmas letter as the Xmas mail closes tomorrow. We got our 2 NZEF Xmas Cards to-day and they have to go in tomorrow so they will get home by christmas. After tea there was about fourty rounds between 1730hrs and 2200hrs when we had to go on with twohours harrassing fire. We went to bed at 2115hrs and was lucky we never had to fire again until after breakfast. The life at present is very miserable for us although we are in a house. There are the next six months of wet weather to look forward to. Our outlook is very grim.