- Contributed by
- edward dudley
- People in story:
- Edward Dudley
- Location of story:
- Italy and Slovenia (Yugoslavia) May 1945
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 18 October 2005
In May 1945 and before VE day my battalion (2/7 Queen's, 56 London Div, 8th Army) was moved hurriedly from Venice to Trieste where Tito's Partisan Army was chasing the Germans into Austria. We passed them on the way, including women carrying heavy mortars and MGs. Tito's move worried Allied Governments and we were there to try to discourage them. Initially we took up trenches left from WW1 and then moved into Yugoslavia. At a Company Orders Group we were told what we were there for and when as platoon commander I reported back to my platoon, a Corporal said " **** [army expletive] for a lark - last week Tito was on our side". My company was in a small village on one side of a central square with a Sherman tank. On the other side was A Tito company with horses and in the morning we would go over to them, salute and look at their positions and they would then visit our positions. On or two occasions we played football with our presumed adversaries. This farce was settled amicably and we became more or less friendly military guests of the local population. If it had come to actual shooting, there might have been something more serious among British soldiers than a lack of enthusiasm, some of whom had been in action for three years from the Western Desert in 1942 onwards. There is a short account of this military and diplomatic hoo-hah in the UK Official History of the Second World War, but otherwise it is now seldom mentioned except by a few historians.
Two months later I was responsible for organising the voting for my company in the general election of 1945. To get around I was offered a horse (which I could not ride) or a 500cc motor cycle (which I could just about ride). I declined both as a month later I was due to go home to the UK after four years in the Mediterranean without home leave on a scheme called Python. I flew home from Southern Italy in a patched and beat up Lancaster bomber - journey time 9 hours. On the way South by train we passed a train going North full of RAF to be driven home across Europe in Army trucks. General comment was MMFU - "Major Military **** Up". US Army equivalent was SNAFU.
But that was 60 years ago and now instead of being called ex-servicemen we are veterans and they have given us a lapel badge to prove it.
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