- Contributed by
- Susan Cooke
- People in story:
- Wilfred Turner
- Location of story:
- Italy 29/12/44 to 4/11/45
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 19 May 2005
30 December 1944
I left Mr. Clowes again today and at night we went in the line to relieve the Scots Guards in Gardaletta and the first night things were fairly quiet and the relief was completed without any incidents. By now the snow which had been falling for quite a while had reached a depth of six inches and we had been issued with sleeping bags, special pullovers, windjackets and white suits for patrols. On new Years Eve I was going around the platoons with the Company Commander and at exactly midnight all the guns in the front sent their greetings to Jerry by firing a round each and five seconds later he did the same and both the major and myself made a very rapid exit into the ditch which was about three feet deep and full of snow. On the 2 January 1945 we relieved Number 3 Company on 429and we were able to get our old dug out back which although covered with snow it was as dry as a bone. we stayed here until the 6 January when we were relieved by Number 1 Company and we went back to Gardaletta for two days. Owing to the thickness of the snow and the very cold weather we were doing two days in the village and four days up the hill, consequently on 8 January we relieved Number 3 Company in a very heavy snowstorm which by now was seriously threatening the lines of communication. On the 10 January we were greeted with the news that during the night a Jerry patrol had followed one of our listening patrols in and walked away with three of the sentries, Woodier, Lowe and Jones, and all next day we were building a huge dug out for the C.P. when all of a sudden a series of terrific explosions took place and shrapnel was flying about all over the place. What had happened was a stray shell from Jerry had hit the ammunition dump and Major Helme whose dug out was directly opposite was blown head first into the dug out and for the rest of the day he was walking around with his hands holding his behind, we had three men wounded, Dusty Smith, Middlecote and Knox. On the night of 12 January we were relieved by number 1 Company and we went back to Gardaletta until the night of the 14th when we were relieved by the Grenadiers and we went back to a small village called Menzuno in the middle of a very heavy snowstorm.
15 January 1945
Today I was ordered to collect Mr. Clowes kit and proceed with it to 105 General Hospital at Arrezo and this took me until 19th when I rejoined the Company again having had two nights in Florence and one night at "A" Echelon.
20 January 1945
Today we went in the line again relieving the Scots Guards in the La Quercia area until 2 February. We were four days up on the hill and two days in the village and apart from two days very heavy shelling during which we lost Ruddick, Ollerton and Francis killed, things were still the same as before with more snow and by now there was from four to five feet and it was bitterly cold and therefore no one was sorry when we were relieved by the Grenadiers on 2 February and we went back to Pudzola about two miles along the railway line.
3 February 1945
By now it was useless attempting the attack on Mount Sole owing to the great depth of snow and no one was surprised when it was postponed until spring, and the following day we heard the good news that the Division was being relieved.
9 February 1945
We relieved the Grenadiers in La Quercia today and began what was to be our last spell in the line and the next seven days was the usual ritual of changing every four days and during one spell on the hill we lost Purvis killed by his dug out collapsing, George Booth had his hand blown off by a booby trap, Kinsey lost his foot on a mine and Tilly was missing presumed prisoner of war, afterwards reported killed. By this time our dug out had become very comfortable with lighting run off a wireless battery and the walls adorned with pin up girls and it was well named "The Ritz". During this spell up the hill Taffy Farmer and George Head started to build a new one and after the first days work moved their beds in, only to have to move out at about midnight owing to the roof starting to collapse and the second day they were hard at it again arguing all the time, and they moved in at about ten o'clock at night and just as I came on sentry Taffy came walking down the path with his blankets under his arm owing to one of the roof supports having slipped. Anyway they finally got it completed and were able to spend one night in it because we were relieved on 16 February by the Grenadiers and we went back to Pudzola for two days and on the morning of 18 February we were relieved by the 1st American Armoured Division and we left on our journey to Spoletto having been in the same sector since 30 September 1944 and it was with no regrets that we said good-bye to Mount Sole but sorry to leave the 6th South African Armoured Division with whom we had spent some happy times and made some very good friends and before commencing the journey we made a brief halt at Castigione to pay our last respects to our comrades who were buried in the Divisional cemetery there.
19 February to 2 April 1945
During the above period we were stationed in the Garibaldi barracks at Spoletto the 2nd and 3rd Battalions were amalgamated and the 3rd Battalion went back to the United Kingdom whilst the 2nd Battalion joined the 24th Guards Brigade and the 56th (London) Division. The old Number 2 Company became V Company and it was reserve company consequently when the battalion moved to Forleon 12 March we stayed at Spolleto and from here I spent seven days leave in Rome during which time I had an audience with the Pope and a tour round the Vatican City and St. Peter's Church which is the largest church in the world and also the richest, but all good things must come to an end and on 13 March we left the Eternal city on our way back to Spolleto. For the remainder of our stay here we filled our time in playing football, the pictures and the inevitable Housey Housey in the Naafi and on Easter Monday we packed our kit and moved to the I. R. T. D. which was at a small fishing town called Fano situated midway between Ancona and Rimini.
2 April to 6 July 1945.
Our stay at Fano was quite a pleasant one with glorious weather and swimming was the favourite sport, coupled with football and cricket and the only reminder we had of the war was the constant stream of reinforcements leaving the IRTD for the battalions; also the continuous roar of aeroplanes of the 8th USAAF who were on the big aerodrome just outside Fano. On 28 April the company went camping to the small village of Urbania for a week and here I was employed cooking for the officers mess and as there were no complaints I must have satisfied them, and it was here on 2 May that all hostilities in Italy had ceased and I thanked God that he had brought me safely through and on 8 May the war with Germany ended and after a Victory dinner we went out to join the Yanks in a celebration which lasted until four o'clock next morning. On 11 June I was wakened up at teatime with the sad news that Paddy Cobane had drowned whilst swimming and on 12 June I was a bearer at his funeral which took place at the Military Cemetery at Rimini.
On 24 June I went on leave once again, this time to Florence once more and there spent a fairly quiet week and sweltered in the heat which was somewhere around a hundred degrees in the shade, and on my return to Fano I found that during my absence the 1st Guards Regiment had arrived and were on their way home.
6 July 1945
On this day we packed our kit and after saying farewell to Jack Harrison, Charlie Nightingale and a few more of the lads who were due to demob we left on another long journey to join the Battalion. Our first days run took us to Bologna where we were able to have a look around the city which we had been gazing at with envious eyes all winter, and from the roof of the cathedral we could see in the background the grim slopes of Mount Sole on which many of our comrades were sleeping their last sleep.
7 July 1945
At the end of this day we found ourselves in Venice, the city of water and we didn't see a great deal of it except a short ride in one of the world renowned gondolas viewing the various sights.
8 July 1945
Journey's end at last and here we are in Trieste where we were to await the arrival of the Battalion who at the present time were in Gradisca during this time we were kept busy cleaning the barracks which were in a horrible state having been occupied for a fortnight by Tito's partisans, and the battalion arrived on 30 July 1945.
8 August 1945
Today the New Zealand Division left Trieste and left the 24th Guards Brigade in charge of the city and from then onwards began a tour of various duties which left us very little time for pleasure, but with the arrival of new reinforcements things were a little better and our spare time was occupied with swimming, cinemas, dancing, and of course the trotting races which were held in the stadium and being chosen to be a member of the Battalion team I won the half mile and was third in the mile. A fortnight later on the 18 August the Divisional Sports were held and I again won the half mile and my name was put down for the Divisional side to take part in the 13 Corps. sports which were due to be held on 22 October but on 21 I was notified that I was due for a spot of leave, this time in dear old Blighty, and on the Sunday night I left Trieste for Udine where I caught a train to Milan and after a 17 hour uncomfortable journey we arrived there after very little sleep.
At Milan we stayed in a Transit Camp for twenty four hours and then boarded another train which took us through Switzerland and France which was the most uncomfortable thirty six hours I have ever spent and finally arriving at Calais at three thirty on the morning of 28 October we found that a gale was raging in the Channel and all shipping was cancelled and this lasted for four days.
4 November 1945
At last the great day arrived and at half past ten we embarked on the SS Victoria on the last stage of our journey to England and at last we could see the famous White Cliffs and it was with mixed feelings as I stood there on the deck of the ship and watched the town of Folkestone rapidly approaching until at last the ship was tied up and we were told to disembark, and at three thirty in the afternoon of 4 November 1945 I set foot on English soil once again.
From the quayside we were rushed onto a special train for London and now as I sit in the North bound train at Kings Cross waiting for the last stage of my journey to my dear wife, I will end my diary by thanking God with all my heart that he has safely seen me through the terrors and dangers of modern war and I know there is one waiting for me as patiently as she has done for the past two and a quarter years.
4 November 1945.
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.