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The First Post-War New Years Eve, December 31, 1946

by Ron Goldstein

Contributed by 
Ron Goldstein
People in story: 
Ron and six of his Squadron friends
Location of story: 
Monfalcone
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A2633500
Contributed on: 
14 May 2004

December 31st, 1946, The Fair at Monfalcone

December 31st 1946 was our first post-war New Year’s Eve and the Squadron spent it at Monfalcone, a small town some 14 miles from Trieste.
To coincide with the Xmas and New Year festivities, a small fair blew into town and parked itself on what was usually the open-air roller skating rink.
Seven of the lads, including your’s truly, went out for a meal and a drink, with which to see the New Year in.
After the meal we drifted over to a shooting booth. The prize, if you managed to hit the tiny bulls-eye, was a magnesium flash photograph, taken automatically, and the result is shown above.
On the same page of my album is the restaurant bill. I see it was the Trattoria Zeno, the cost was 270 lira for drinks and 920 lira for the grub. I can’t remember what the rate of exchange was in those days but the bill was split seven ways and I don’t remember having any problems paying up.

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Monfalcone New Years eve

Posted on: 15 May 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Ron,
wasn't it 300 amgot Lira to the pound ?

 

Message 2 - Monfalcone New Years eve

Posted on: 15 May 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dunno, amgot a clue.

 

Message 3 - Monfalcone New Years eve

Posted on: 16 May 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Peter - we hadn't got a clue either but it was better than wallpaper - I took the whole family to ROME in 1978
for Christmas and they were having their periodical inflation circus. My wife bought something in a store and for change she was handed a bunch of candies ! They had no small coins in the whole country, which was perhaps the reason for the Allied Military Government Official Treasury Scrip in which we were paid - as you know we were always paid weekly - very weakly !
Regards
tomcan

 

Message 4 - Monfalcone New Years eve

Posted on: 16 May 2004 by Ron Goldstein

Hi lads
If you look carefully at the image on my 'Stick it in your Army Album' entry(A2612567) you will see that the AMGOT currency is represented.
My album also reminds me that the rate went from 400 lire to the pound when we first landed in Sicily, to 900 later on and then finally 1500 lire to the pound.
By the way, with ref to Tom's item about 'Not Montgomery but Anderson' on my 'Not my worst night' entry (A1996860) this is difficult to ammend once it has been edited so I'm afraid it will have to stay as it is for the time being

 

Message 5 - Monfalcone New Years eve

Posted on: 17 May 2004 by Ron Goldstein

Hi chaps
Ron here again.
Thanks to Helen the offending text has been ammended and General Anderson has been correctly given his official role.

Ron

 

Message 6 - Monfalcone New Years eve

Posted on: 17 May 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Ron - I gave Helen a "Well Done" already !
I think I read somewhere that Gen. Anderson had been given a corp commanders job for the D-Day thingi, but when Monty finally landed in the U.K. - he was booted out and finished as a highly priced trainer somewhere, he certainly didn't get a mention from then on ! But that was Monty's way - he had already filched Dempsey and Horrocks from the 8th Army and he knew that O'Conner was on his way back from POW camp so he didn't need the home grown versions,we were stuck with Oliver Leese and finally McCreery !
The Gothic Line Battles finally put paid to Leese's Commanding days in Italy - he was sent out to Burma as an ARMY GROUP Commander which must have been a slap in the face for Slim ! We were lucky to be the lowest of the low and as they say in football - the lowest holds up the rest of the league.

 

Message 7 - Monfalcone New Years eve

Posted on: 17 May 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Just to add some minor details to Tom's pen picture of Anderson. He was on a hiding to nothing by being disliked by both Eisenhower AND Monty - a rare achievement. He had served under Ike in Tunisia as commander of the British First Army where he had been less than inspiring and where he made the fatal mistake of making himself disliked by the Americans. Montgomery deemed him "lacking in the qualities he required in his army commanders".

When you start looking and analysing you find that Kenneth Anderson wasn't a bad soldier and that he had some very good qualities: sense of duty, courage, etc - but he was reserved and reticent. He ended up as a much respected Governor of Gibraltar, from 1947 to 1952, - but no knighthood, I'm afraid. He died in 1959 at the age of 68.

 

Message 8 - Monfalcone New Years eve

Posted on: 17 May 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

I meant no peerage! Of course he had a knightood. Sorry about that. :)

Peter

 

Message 9 - Monfalcone New Years eve

Posted on: 18 May 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Peter -
I liked that - Anderson was "reserved and reticent" - like most Scotsmen !

 

Message 10 - Monfalcone New Years eve

Posted on: 18 May 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

After I posted those additions on Kemmeth Anderson I looked up Brooke's diary. They were both in the BEF in 1940 and Brooke genuinely seems to have liked him, but he tried even Brooke's patience with is lacklustre performance in Tunisia; and that after Churchill wanted him fired. Here are the relevant entries.

First we have Anderson seemingly not knowing where his troops are:

27 February 1941
Left again at 8.45 am for Lincolnshire, to see exercise of 1st Division. ... It was not an interesting day as Kenneth Anderson failed to find most of the units we were to see.

10 September 1941
... Then spent the day with Anderson going round seeing troops. Quite one of the worst divisional advances that I have seen in the last year! Settled on the spot with Anderson that Peters, the Div commander, must be removed. [It seems not to have occurred to Brooke at this stage that Anderson might have been more at fault - fortunately this was an exercise in the UK].

Then he crosses Churchill and is saved by Brooke:

28 December 1942
... followed by 3/4 hour with PM, who now wants to pull Alexander out of Middle East to replace Anderson!

Finally the scales fall from the eyes of a disillusioned Brooke:

21 February 1943
... bad news from Tunisia. ... Anderson is not much good! Sent wire to Alex telling him to get rid of him if he thinks he is no good.

He was ruled out of the Normandy Landings quite early:

18 January 1944
... a sad interview with Kenneth Anderson to tell him he would not be commanding the 2nd Army in the forthcoming offensive, as Dempsey is to replace him. He took it quite well.

 

Message 11 - Monfalcone New Years eve

Posted on: 18 May 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Peter -
as I told Ron earlier - we were the lucky ones to be at the bottom of the Totem Pole - when you think of the machinations of those at the top - Alexander claimed - in Tunisia - that Anderson was a "good plain cook "

I think this was about the same time as Horrocks was badly wounded during an air-raid at Bizerta which left a big hole in the Corps Commanders Club !

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