- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Dennis Maher, General Alexander, General Mark Clark
- Location of story:
- Monte Cassino, Italy; Switzerland; France
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 31 January 2006
Dennis Maher, gunner, circa 1943
This story was submitted to the People's War website by Julia Shuvalova for GMR Actiondesk on behalf of Dennis Maher and has been added with his permission. The author is fully aware of the terms and conditions of the site.
Italy, Monte Cassino, 1944. We arrived in Naples, then to Casserta, to the Allied Headquarters of English and American forces in the Italian campaign against Germany. Then we went to Magazino, to Ponte Ciano, then to Foggia, near the Adriatic Sea. We were at the front with the Royal Artillery Regiment Defence Force for the 15th American Air Force who were bombing the Monte Cassino monastery.
American Air Force gave us bed, food, cigarettes and occasional cinema show. We used to go to the American air base for all our meals. The air base was like the Ritz, but we felt like refugees going to handout. We were also separated from the towns and cities, although we were allowed to visit a lovely city named Barletta.
Our duties consisted of guard duties with anti-aircraft artillery gun named the Bofors, which could be brought into action very quickly against the enemy aircraft, the German bomber planes.
One day the order came from the Command Head Quarters to move to Monte Cassino. The same day the order was fortunately cancelled, otherwise we would have been killed together with 40,000 soldiers who were killed in the battle of Cassino monastery. Why did they have to be killed in the battle against German soldiers when Cassino monastery was bombed to a complete destruction on the orderrs of General Alexander? The American war commander was only interested in being the first of the Allied invasion commanders to enter the city of Rome.
Then we were transferred to Milan, the beautiful city, where I bought myself a pencil and a fountain pen. Milan's cathedral was magnificent. On the train we went through the Simplon Tunnel into Switzerland, and into France. What lovely scenery and grape vines in full bloom!
At the French port of Calais local girls said I was a 'petit boxer'. Also, at Amiens where we stopped, I gave a chocolate bar to a young French girl called Raymonde. I also gave her my address and later received a letter from her. From France I went to London and then to Manchester.
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