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The 'D-Day Dodgers' in Italyicon for Recommended story

by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Contributed by 
Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper
Article ID: 
A1145846
Contributed on: 
15 August 2003

It is generally believed that it was Lady Astor MP who first called the men of the 8th Army who were fighting in the Italian Campaign 'D-Day Dodgers'. But then, she was known to say many things she must have regretted. She was the one who once famously chided Winston Churchill for being drunk - to which he countered that she was ugly, and at least he would be sober in the morning! During another encounter with the Prime Minister she said that if he were her husband, she would give him poison. He replied that if he were her husband, he would drink it.

The fact is that the 8th Army were more than displeased to be called 'D-Day Dodgers', and with good reason. Since 1941, they'd had quite enough D-Day to last a lifetime during the North African and Italian campaigns: El Alamein, Tripoli, Mareth, Tunis, Sicily, Calabria, Algiers, Salerno, Anzio, and then the slog through the mountains of Italy.

The only way to deal with this slur was to laugh, and so a song was composed to the tune of 'Lili Marlene', the haunting song by Marlene Dietrich.

The 8th Army version went like this:

We are the D-Day Dodgers, out in Italy,
Always on the vino, always on a spree,
8th Army skivers and their tanks,
We go to war, in ties and slacks,
We are the D-Day Dodgers, in sunny Italy.

We fought into Agira, a holiday with pay,
Jerry brought his bands out to cheer us on our way,
Showed us the sights and gave us tea,
We all sang songs, the beer was free,
We are the D-Day Dodgers, in sunny Italy.

The Moro and Ortona were taken in our stride,
We didn't really fight there, we went there for the ride,
Sleeping 'til noon and playing games,
We live in Rome with lots of dames,
We are the D-Day Dodgers, in sunny Italy.

On our way to Florence, we had a lovely time,
We drove a bus from Rimini, right through the Gothic Line,
Then to Bologna we did go,
We all went swimming in the Po,
We are the D-Day Dodgers, in sunny Italy.

We hear the boys in France are going home on leave,
After six months service, such a shame they're not relieved.
We were told to carry on a few more years,
Because our wives don't shed no tears,
We are the D-Day Dodgers, in sunny Italy.

We are the D-Day Dodgers, way out in Italy.
We're always tight, we cannot fight.
What bloody use are we?

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Message 1 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 24 September 2003 by Researcher 246980

I am very glad to see this song on the net. The British Army had, probably still has many of them, that is songs that give a rank-and-file view of the wars they have been in, the Army itself, its organisation and so on. I would like to see many more of them preserved.
Incidentally, what on earth was Lady Violet thinking of? What a crass and stupid remark! Unbelievable!

 

Message 2 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 09 November 2003 by Worsley

Was not the Lady in question Nancy Astor, not Violet?

 

Message 3 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 10 November 2003 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Lady (?) Astor M.P. was called lots of names by the 8th Army troops but her real name was nancy....what an idiot !

 

Message 4 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 14 November 2003 by Comrie

I think this song has an "original" version, but no doubt over the years of the war different units added their own verses and altered others. I seem to remember a different last verse - a reminder that a lot of young men couldn't take part in D Day because they had already died in liberating Italy.

Look around the mountains in the mud and rain
You'll see the scattered crosses, and some that have no name
Heartbreak and toil and suffering gone
The boys beneath them slumber on
They are the D-Day Dodgers who'll stay in Italy

I think it was Bessie Braddock who chided Churchill for being drunk and whom Churchill described as ugly.

 

Message 5 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 14 November 2003 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Comrie

You are quite right as the version published is that of the 1st canadian Inf Div. which we were supporting with our Tank Brigade from Ortona until they left Italy - the town names are those of the Canadians battles - you may be right about bessie bradock although I would think that she would have kept up the arguement for ever and ever - amen - more like Nancy Astor to just absorb it !

 

Message 6 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 29 December 2003 by Sonofdodger

I'm the son of a D Day Dodger. Dad was a sapper and he landed at Reggio, Calabria with the first wave assault - as he says "The sappers went in before Monty".

Strange that Nancy Astor got away with her outrageous slur on the 8th Army. From what I can make out, you should have been sent home after the fighting in N Africa, not shipped over to Scicily and Italy for 2 more years of fighting.

Good to see the Dodgers are still dodging. All the best troopertomcanning

 

Message 7 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 29 December 2003 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Dear sonofadodger,
It takes a bit more than normal to knock us out,you're Father was right - he was in before all of us as the sappers always managed to get in the front of the line up for anything !

One of the scariest moments was when they had built a Bailey bridge - high in the mountains for 40 ton loading, and our Tank had broken down and was on the back of a transporter - making it 60 tons - we dismounted - and like idiots - crossed the bridge guiding the driver over ! If anything had happened - we were on the wrong side !

We did a lot of stupid things like that - but always had a laugh afterwards !

 

Message 8 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 05 June 2004 by rick_farrar

Dear Sonof Dodger,
I am also a son of a dodger. My father was a sapper who went into Scicily shortly after the first wave. At the time he was involved in mine clearance although he normally was invlved in motor vehicle repairs. Like most sappers he got roped into may other duties. He was involved in mine and barbed wire clearance at the battle of El Alamein. He was involved in most of the action in North Africa after June 1941 when he was posted there. He went on to serve in Scicily and Italy before being sent home for Officer training in North Scotland following a WOSB. The sppers were a very special breed and without them a lot of the Heroes could not have done their jobs.
All the best to all who have posted to this discussion. God bless all of you.

 

Message 9 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 06 June 2004 by trooperturvey

My grnadfather was a member of the d day doggers in Italy. He has since past away , however I grew up on his stories from the time he joined the royal sussex Regiment in 1939 to escaping at Dunkirk and Fighting in Egypt and then Italy.

The last verse as he sang it went like this:

Now Winston Churchill why can't the lads come home?
Now we've captured Florence Napoli and Rome
You always said we were the master race
So why the escuse you have no shipping space....
My lily of the of the lamplight....ect.

Would this be right?

I would love to hear from some one who knows of the royal sussex reg. HE served in D Company I think, Private William T. Turvey.
Part of the 8Th Army.

 

Message 10 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 07 June 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Trooperturvey -
there were a number of versions of the D-Day Dodgers song and the verse you quoted was just one of many - which can be printed of course ! The last verse which I recall was -

"look around the Mountains in the mud and rain,
You'll see the scattered crosses,and some that have no name,
Heartbreak and toil and suffering gone,
The boys beneath them , slumber on -
they are the D Day Dodgers who'll stay in Italy "

The 1st Sussex were part of the 4th Indian Div and fought at the second Battle of Cassino during 15-18th feb. '44 with Lt.Col Glennie as C.O. - they took a hell of a beating in that action around the back of the Monastery - it's mentioned in the "Cassino - the Hollow Victory" by John Ellis. They were alongside the New Zealand Div.

 

Message 11 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 09 June 2004 by trooperturvey

that was him! 1st sussex, he was one of the first troops into venice at the close of the Italian campain and enter Venice. He and a chum had a fine ride in a Gondola( bad speller!) at rifle point to a fine Italian singer!!!!

He recalled having his rile pinched in Eygpt and doing 30 days in the glass house for it. And recalled Monty saying to the massed troops that before Alamein, they were to go in front of the Tanks to clear a path through the anti tank guns. And that they where only to be going as far as Mer-sur-matrue???? mbad spelling sounds like though.

the verse you refer to was in his song version.
However, it was:
Naples and casino were taken in our stride
we didn't go to fight there we only went for the ride,
Anzio and Sangro were all a farce,
we do nothing at all just sat on our arse,
'cause we're the d-day doggers in sunny italy.
Which unit did u serve in?
Where you royal Sussex regiment as well?

Regards

 

Message 12 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 09 June 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Tpr Turvey -
your spelling makes it sound like a French town - it was actually MERSA MATRUH,
as I said there were quite a few versions of the song and the Canadians had a different version appplicable to their Battles.

I served with the 145th regt.Royal Armoured Corps which was part of the 21st Tank Brigade and we mainly supported the 1st Canadian Inf.Div. past Cassino - throught the Liri valley and on to the Gothic Line. The Canadians went over to Belgium in January '45 and we went to support the 10th Indian Div. to the finish.

Your Father was lucky to survive Cassino, if you can get hold of Cassino by John Ellis from your local Library, you can read all about his battle - it was tough one - as they all were !

 

Message 13 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 10 June 2004 by trooperturvey

Thank you for your message. Indead he was fortunate to survive the entire war! 18-25 yr. From Terrirotial to regular...Am trying at presetn to write down this stories from those years to pass on to the next generation. Its important to remember.
Thankyou for the book ref. I will look it up.

Did the 145th fight through the Arden and then become part of 40 corp during market Garden?

Canadians are great people, i bet they fought well.
I nearing married a Canadian in Montreal!!!!

 

Message 14 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 10 June 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Tpr Turvey-
Glad to be of some assistance - the 145th RAC was a British Tank regt. in the 21st Tank Brigade along with 12thRTR and 48th RTR and our main task was to support the 1st Cdn Div all through Italy until they were moved to Belgium in Jan.'45 - we then were transferred to the 10 Indian Inf. Div and supported them until the end in Italy.
All of the Canadians fought very well and their Battles in Sicily - Ortona - Hitler Line - Gothic Line and the crossing of the Po will be long remembered, as will their exploits in N.W.Europe...so much so that the Dutch People send thousands of Bulbs every year for the Dutch Remembrance Gardens of many cities in Canada. 6000 Canadians died in Italy alone, many more died in NW Europe!

 

Message 15 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 15 June 2004 by troopergeoff

All of the aforementioned makes fascinating reading, and I must say troopertoms stories are full of facts and figures re the Italian campaign, and it makes very good reading. I am writing mainly re the reference to the " Notorious" Lady Astor, especially in her other reference to men who had served in Italy, her infamous remark that "All men coming home from the Italian campaign should be made to wear a yellow arm band" To warn all the girls at home regarding Venereal disease they may be carrying. How she got away with this shocking remark I'll never know, You must remeber this incident troopertom.
I being a member of 51st RTR, 25th Tank Brigade certainly do. Keep up the
good work troopertom.
All the best troopergeoff.

 

Message 16 - D Day Dodgers

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

Geoff -
I certainly do remember "Lady" Astor's remark about the VD we must all be carrying....but by then I recalled that she was American born - so what did she know ?
The other thing was that one of her relatives was made pregnant by an Officer and Gentleman from 8th Army so she probably felt the pain ! Happily there was only one of her kind - anywhere !

Message 1 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 01 February 2004 by Chappie

Pleased to see both verses of the poem on this site. My own late father was indeed a D-Day Dodger out in Italy.
He used to get irate when he heard the term used against the men of the British 8th and 1st Armies. I will always remember his standard retort when seeing or hearing the term used..." Yes, I was a D-Day Dodger..I did not serve in Normandy....that said, I would have been happy to have dodged El Alamein and Monte Cassino too.......!!!! "
My father served throughout the period 1939-1945, both he and his younger brother volunteering at the outbreak. The eldest brother being lost at Havrincourt in September 1918.

 

Message 2 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 10 February 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Chappie
your Father was quite right to get irate at the term D Day Dodgers - we would all have liked to have Dodged the other D days from Alamein - Tobruk - Derna - Sidi Barrani - all the way across to Tripoli and then Medenine - El Hamma - Wadi Akirit - Tunis - Sicily - Catania - Ortona - Foggia - Campobasso - Cassino - Liri Valley - Frosinone - Lake Trasimeno -
Arezzo - Florence - Gothic Line - San Fortunato - San Martino - Coriano - Rimini - and quite a few more until the end.

Many people forget what really happened in other areas after the D Day into Normandy. There is quite a trail of graves all the way !

 

Message 3 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 10 February 2004 by Chappie

Hello Tom
Many names you mentioned are familiar to me, also recalled by my now late father.
One of the memories that always stayed with him was being in Bari when the harbour there was bombed by the Luftwaffe in December 1943.
It was not so much the bombing but the sight of the dead sprawled in the streets thereafter...the vast majority without a mark on them, they having dropped where they stood when the oxygen was sucked out of the air with the power of the explosions.
Apart from saying he was there, Monte Cassino was a place he would never talk about. My father passed away in 1981 aged 71.
If still with us I am sure he would have welcomed the chance to chat with you.
Chappie (Tony)
Archivist/Historian
LST and Landing Craft Association.

 

Message 4 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 12 February 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Chappie
I can understand your Father not talking about Cassino - I was lucky - I was in a churchill tank but the Infantry got everything going - sounds like he was in 78th Div at Bari the first week of December when the Luftwaffe got lucky - for once - they got an ammo ship and a petrol tanker - that's what took all the Oxygen out of the air. I was in Bari much later in hospital from Ancona and awaiting a ship to the U.K. but the rotten B.... threw me off at Catania along with some other Battle Casualties and gave our places to sick base wallahs - we were running out of experienced battlers by that time -Sept -Oct '44 - finally got back into service in january '45 and finished up in Austria !

 

Message 5 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 15 February 2004 by Chappie

Hello Tom
I have been attempting to confirm the division my late father was with for years......and now it seems you have likely nailed it..the 78th Division, it's movements would appear to conform with that of my father..were they 8th or 1st Army....can you confirm please.......?!!!!
From what I have been able to discover the 'Battleaxe' division ended the war in Austria.
Following Monte Cassino my father was lifted from Naples, how long after I am not certain, his war ended in Belgium where he lived in a civvy billet in the town of Ninove, being there as part of the occupation forces
Thanks
Tony

Archivist/Historian
LST and Landing Craft Association.

 

Message 6 - D-Day Dodgers

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

Chappie,
The 78th (battleaxe) Division was probably the best Infantry division in both the 1st Army in Algiers/ Tunisia and also in the 8th in Italy. We often had the pleasure of having them alongside when we i.e the Brit 21st Tank Brigade were supporting the 1st Canadina Inf Div in Italy until the left for Belgium in January '45... the 78th along with 6th Armed Div and 46th Inf Div went on to Austria where 78th took over the Vienna and north sector wheras we / or rather me joined 6th Armd div in Central Austria and 46 Div.looked after the southern sector. We met up again at Vienna when we put on a Miltary Tattoo in June '46. Sounds like your father missed all the fun at the Gothic line then, if he left after Cassino - was he wounded at Cassino or what for him " to be lifted to Belgium" most blighty wounds were too severe for further service !I was due for Blighty after the Gothic Line but they threw me off at Catania where they patched me up again and so I then joined the 16/5th Lancers in Austria !

 

Message 7 - D-Day Dodgers

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

Tony
Made a mess of the first message so I'll try again - the 78th Inf.Div was probably the best Div in the 1st Army in Algeria/Tunisia and also the 8th Army after they landed at Bari.
We often had the pleasure of their company when we were supporting the 1st Canadian Inf. Div with our Brit.21st Tank Brigade... especially at the Gothic line... when I got knocked and then joined the 16/5th Lancers with the 6th Armed Div in the Central part of the British sector of Austria where the 78th were in Vienna and the North and the 46th Inf div.were in the south We met up with the 78th again in Vienna at the Vienna Tattoo of June '46. What happened to your Father to be "lifted from Naples to Belgium " ?

 

Message 8 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 17 February 2004 by Chappie

Hello Tom
In answer to your question, I am not aware of anything happening to him in the way of wounds etc.
That said he never said much at all as stated previously...which helps little, can't ask him now, been gone 23 years.
I know he was on the Rock at some point....have no idea when or for how long.
The other happening he sometimes mentioned was being in Taranto harbour when two troop ships collided bows on if I recall...men were thrown into the sea and lost, one of the troopships was the Aoranji, the other MAY have been the Orantes or Aorantes.
Prior to Algiers 'Operation Torch'he was, in mid 1942, intended for the aborted 'Operation Rutter' assault on Dieppe....seemingly he was elsewhere when the ill-fated assault took place in August. Perhaps he had been moved north to the Clyde in readiness for Torch....?
Tom..in closing..I am enjoying these exchanges....you may realise that most of the veterans I have contact with are the landing craft veterans of D-Day in Normandy....I have been working with them for some ten years now...time well spent..!!
Until next time
Tony

 

Message 9 - D-Day Dodgers

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

Tony
can't imagine what your Father was up to on the Rock or getting ready for Dieppe and going in with"torch" - I'm beginning to think he was with a Commando group ( Try Army Records with his serial number - they will trace him)as well as being in Taranto watching the Oranji and Orantes bash into each other - surprising really as they were P&O liners U.K - India run and should have been familiar with the Med ?
Thank God I never went in with a Landing craft - they didn't look all the safe with three Churchills Tanks on board, it was bad enough on the 22,000 ton Franconia out to Algiers !
Keep in touch and if I can help - just yell !
Cheers

 

Message 10 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 18 February 2004 by Chappie

Hello Tom
With regards to my father join the club....I have yet to fathom it likely never will....I do know that a lot of the men with him were Ghurkas, my dad used to say that he and his mates were never certain who they were more afraid of......the Germans or the Ghurkas..........!!!!
Incidentally Tom, I wonder if my fathers movements are made more complicated by the fact that he was a Sergeant in the Army Catering Corps..haven't mentioned that until now....were they subject to being moved about more than most given that at any given time he would have been 'attached'to some regiment or other.............?!!!!
Tony

 

Message 11 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 19 February 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Tony
We were all scared of the Ghurkas,they were with the 4th - 8th & 10th Indian Divs all the way from long before El Alamein. One time standing guard somewhere a chum of mine felt some fingers on his boot laces - he nearly needed clean laundry
as if his laces were not laced in the British Army fashion he would have been singing high soprano !Can't imagine why a sergeant of the Catering would be wafted anywhere as every battalion had at least four catering sergeants. Your best bet is still the Army Records - they used to be at Enfield,Middlesex - probably moved by now !
The plot thickens !
Tom

 

Message 12 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 19 February 2004 by Cambrian

Dear Trooper Canning,

Wonderful to see someone who was actually in the 8th Army and fought at these battles. To one of the younger generation these are names on maps on yellowing paper of war histories, of advance and retreat across the desert. My uncle from the valleys of South Wales was a TA and served throughout the war in the Kings Shropshire Light Yeomanry as a gunner. He joined up as he could see there was a war coming and Hitler would have to be stopped. He saw action in North Africa and Italy, where he caught malaria. He and an officer commandeered a jeep at the end of the war to see as much of Italy before being demobbed. The war was clearly an experience that changed him and his brother who served in the RAMC with Tito's partisans in Yugoslavia and the island of Kos, and latterly in Italy at Casserta.

 

Message 13 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 20 February 2004 by BRAMHAM

My father Ltnt.WILLIAM ANGUS KING was in the Royal Engineers and served in Scicily and Italy. He arrived in Scicily in July 1943, and spent the rest of 1943 clearing up the mess in Scicily. In June 1944 his group were told to move up to Rome where they arrived in early June, after a brief stay they went over the mountains to the east coast, and set about bomb clearance and bridge repairs on the N16 highway. He went on wooden Bridge Building course with the 8th Army in August 1944, and on his return caught POLIO and died on 19 Sept 1944. He is buried in the Military Cematury at Ancona. we think he was in hospital in Ancona in an artificial Lung for a couple of days in that week.

I was 2 when he went away, so do not remember him, but I would love to talk to any ex soldriers who were in the same area.

He had previously been at Dunkirk, and was involved whrn the peirs were built into the sea by driving lorries into the sea.

Between these activites he served in the Shetlands with the RE.

My home telephone number is 01270 623375

My email address is bram@bridgeclear.com

Regards

Bramham King

PS I am named after the camp at Bramham in Yorkshire, on the A1.

 

Message 14 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 21 February 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Bramham
it is indeed - and was - a very strange war as I was in that same hospital - the 33rd Brit Gen. at Ancona from the 18th Sept to around the 22nd when they threw me out only for me to return some three days later and was finally shipped down to Bari and then on to Catania Sicily instead of Blighty as we were running out of trained battle Tank men at the time and from there to the end of the war - we never had reinforcements as they were all going into NW Europe.That hospital was extremely busy as we were in the middle of the Gothic Line Battle at the time and we didn't capture Rimini until the 23rd sept !

 

Message 15 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 21 February 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Cambrian
The best way to experience a war is to read about it in the history books - but just don't go there ! Your uncle did the right thing in having a look at Italy - for free !
I nearly volunteered for the Yugoslav job with Brig Fitzroy McLean and i bumped into a friend - Bob Cross later in Rome and he had lost a leg over there - he said he was one of the lucky ones who only lost a leg !

 

Message 16 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 25 February 2004 by BRAMHAM

To Troopertomcanning

I am delighted to hear from you and so pleased you picked up my message.

My father Angus King died within a couple of days of reaching hospital and is buried at Ancona.

We visited his grave in 1991 and found a message from a previous vistor who was the RE NCO who built the cematary, I met him at his home in South Wales and he told me all about the task he was set.

We also came across a brief message from a Polish visitor, 1991 was the first year that the Poles could travel easily. They seem to refer to my father and we wondered if there were Polish nurses in the hospital who may have recalled his brief visit?

Please tell me anything you can about the hospital and your experinces in Italy.

Angus arrived in Scicily in June 1943 and spent 12 months tidying up the town of Messina, before going up to Rome and on to bridge repairing and bomb clearance on the east coast south of Ancona.

Regards

Bramham Knight (Ne KING )

 

Message 17 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 25 February 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Bramham
you set me a tough task - all I can recall about the 33rd Brit Gen Hospital at Ancona in Sept '44 was that it was a very busy place with thousands of casualties coming and going. I arrived there early on 18th Sept having been knocked out of my Tank at San Martina on the Coriano Ridge. One memory is aof an orderly trying to shave me as I lay on my stomach - for three days- then a Doctor and a nurse ( all British ) asked me to get out of bed and walk up and down, then he scolded me for walking like a guardsman on parade - I couldn't move my back as the blast damage was then coming out in a rainbow effect - at that time no one had noticed the burn on my calf - so I was thrown out to a convalescent camp where for four days I kept missing the M.O. as I was too slow in geting dressed etc. Finally got back there and took the dead skin off in front of a whole bunch of interested patients ! From there I was shipped to Bari and on to Blighty but I was thrown off at Catania and went into hospital there for skin grafts etc. Later in January '45 I was declared fit once more and went back up to Italy to join another regiment as my old one had been broken up for spares. I finished up with them in Austria until demob in May '47.
Some of my escapades are on the BBC war series under a few titles such as - Algiers - Tunisia 1943 - DDay Dodgers - Rome 1944 - green envelopes for Tank Brigade Rimini - Canadians in Italy -
Yalta Aftermath - Vienna Tattoo - Strassburg Pt 1 Pt 2 Pt 3 - Characters at War - most have a few gigles in them as the war was a bit strange at times ! Inspite of all the horror - there were a few laughs !
Let me know if I can help you more.
tomcan

 

Message 18 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 26 February 2004 by BRAMHAM

To troopertomcanning

Many thanks for your email and memories of Ancona hospital, it is all helping me build up a picture of my father's last few days.

Did any other respondants spend the 12 months in Scicily tidying up? We are going there on holiday in October and would be pleased to have places of interest, in respect to those days, identified.

Many Thanks

Bramham

 

Message 19 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 26 February 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Bramham
The only places I know of in Sicily is where the Hospital was in '44/45 - it just happened to be a Maternity unit where we had a wing all to ourselves, we were all battle casualties who should have gone back to the U.K. but owing to the shortage of battle trained types - we were patched up and sent back.

The only Engineer I knew was my old friend Lt.Col. Maurice Menage
M.B.E. who finished the war as CRE of Venice... prior to that he was stationed at Senigalia just below Ancona where he was also Chief Engineer......he was also in North Africa and Sicily...your Father probably served underhim....unfortunately he died a few years ago in Highcliffe near Bournemouth.

Hope this adds another thread.
Tomcan

 

Message 20 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 04 March 2004 by Cambrian

The uncle in the RAMC, used to tell me some of what went on with wounded men coming back to the dressing stations days or weeks later with dressings with maggots coming out of them. Dreadful stories. (He would tell me as i was callow youth in Med school)

 

Message 21 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 04 March 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Cambrian
to-day it now appears that maggots are the good guys in medicine - my grandparents knew that without bothering a Med School ! Now we can go to the local drug store - buy a few maggots - treat your own wounds - then replace the maggots after three days - a friend suggests that the could be used as bait for fishing ?
could be, - as they will be nice and fat and loved by rainbow trout. Some wounds were horrific as my gunner - whom I lay beside for many hours - I could see his kidney pulsating - so I treated his wound with a field dressing and a shot of morphine - replacing them with my own supply after a few hours ! We carried all sorts of first aid in a small bag on our belts,morphine, dressings , sulpha powder etc.

 

Message 22 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 04 March 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Cambrian-
To give you some idea what went on as we were being wounded - killed etc try clicking on my tale of "Gothic Line/San Martina" according to a couple of researchers - it's a fair description of what went on !

 

Message 23 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 14 March 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Cambrian

I now understand that maggots are the in thing to-day - as they have always been for cleansing wounds etc.
We have come full circle with various treatments after the love in with pills etc and now we are finally using nature to cure the abnormals of nature - 'bout time too !

 

Message 24 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 07 May 2004 by troopergeoff

Hello troopertomcanning, have been looking for you. I would like you to read "Just one day in 46th.RTR by Gordon-Bingham-Hall, if you can find it. Maybe you have already read it, if so I would be pleased to have your opinion on this story. The man deserves the VC and bar, if the story is true. I have rather cheekily suggested that it looked like it was written by John Wayne. I will be interested to see what you think of it. All the best troopergeoff

 

Message 25 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 07 May 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Geoff-
I read that story some time ago and I was all set to recommend him for at least four V.C's until I re-read it ! It just doesn't ring true at all, I've forgotten the details but it was so out of the way of a Tank crew's behaviour that I put it aside.
Peter the researcher has asked me on several occasions to read other stories but some are so far out that it makes me wonder at times - others are the product of hearing other peoples tales and adopting them as your own. Many of us are getting old and remembering is becoming a harder task than before so we can give this chap the benefit of the doubt - it would do well coming out of Hollywood !
Cheers

 

Message 26 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 09 May 2004 by troopergeoff

Thanks for your reply to my message re- One day in the 46th.RTR. And am pleased your opinions on this story are similar to mine, its more like a tale of the "Wild West" than WW2.

All the best to you Geoff

 

Message 27 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 10 December 2004 by Ian Carney

I'm also dodger's son - my dad Tim (Tom) Carney served in th 8th Army in Africa, Italy, starting out )I think in Iraq (Habbaniya).
He didn't talk much about his war, but I know he was at Cassino, and then up to the North of Italy.
He did mention being based in Foggia and Bari, and seeing the Pope in Rome.

I'd love to hear from anybody who might have known him..
thanks Ian

 

Message 28 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 10 December 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Hello ian -
your Father was well named for we were all in Fred Carno's army !
Sounds like your father joined one of the Indian Divisions who came that way from India/Pakistan etc. and went through the Desert and finishd up afetr Italy in greece - or he could have been RAF who had a very big base in Habbanyira and Foggia also. If you have more details I can do a trace for you..and find out just what he was up to !
Cheers
tom

 

Message 29 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 11 December 2004 by Ian Carney

Tom,
thanks for the offer - this is what I know - he joined up on the 30th October 1941 into the Royal Signals, and transferred to the Army Catering Corps on the 28th Jan 1942, and back into the Royal Signals on the 14th September 1943. He was finally discharged on 31st Jan 1947.

His service overseas was "Middle East and CMF - 13th March 1942 to 7th March 1946". His service number was 3277642 - Driver Thomas Carney.

I have written to Glasgow following information elsewhere on this site.

I appreciate the offer of the help - I do wonder what he got up to when he was "fighting in the desert for you" as he used to say to my mum

thanks

Ian

 

Message 30 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 11 December 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Ian -
tricky one - as he was obvious 8th Army but his division could have been 78th - who landed at Bari and took Foggia Airfields, and who were involved in the Fourth battle for cassino - or 4th indians who started life around 1940in Irag then through the desert - then to Abyssinia - back to Irag - back to the Desert - then Italy and took part in the 2nd & 3rd Battles of Cassino then the Liri valley finishing up in Greece. These are the two most likely Divs he was in.
Strange he switched from signals to catering - mind you the food did improve when he went back to Signals !
Dunno if he had an effect on that ?
Glasgow will give you all his record - eventually - then we can analise it for you as it will be a bit incomprehensible.
cheers

 

Message 31 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 11 December 2004 by Ian Carney

Tom,
sounds like the 78th - I don't think he was with an Indian regiment, but who knows?

I'll wait till I get a reply from Glasgow.

Thanks to all the D Day Dodgers for what you all did for the post war generation.

Ian

 

Message 32 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 11 December 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Ian -
when I say he might have been in an Indian Division - I meant with a British battalion !
Each Brigade of the Indian Divisions had one British Battalion along with two Indian battalions - e.g 11th Indian Bde comprised the 2nd Camerons - 4/6 Rajputnas - 2/7 Gurkhas.... so he might have been with them ?
Glasgow will have the answers
cheers

 

Message 33 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 12 December 2004 by Ian Carney

Just talking to my mum - my dad was ay Habbaniya, caught typhoid and was in hospital in Bagdhad.
Somewhere along the way he was in Palestine and Jerusalem, and ended up in Egypt.
I wonder if the period in hospital was responsible for the change back to the Signals.
He was also missing in action in Libya we think for a short time (probably took his lorry sightseeing!).

He travelled out on the Cape Town Castle, stopping at Durban on the way out.
Ian

 

Message 34 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 12 December 2004 by Ian Carney

forgot to add - we don't think he was ever in Greece, and that he stayed in Italy until 1946.
Ian

 

Message 35 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 13 December 2004 by Ian Carney

Another post war story - I will try and get more info, but the "family favourite" involves going out drinking in Italy, waking up in France and to quote " I can't remember how we got there and I was driving". The fruits of the conqueror indeed.

Anybody remember this?>
(hic)

Ian

 

Message 36 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 14 December 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Ian -
Bit far fetched that one about drinking in Italy and waking up in France as he was driving - through the US 5th Army plus a few German divisions - or even after the war the British still had the US Army on the left flank and we were only concerned with the Venice - Trieste - Austria sectors and back to about Padua, it is possible to start drinking in say Venice - drive for two days through the Alps and Austria,Switzerland, then into France - but I think someone would have noticed !
mind you the Grappa was something else...we could run a Churchill Tank on it .. and get better mileage !

good tale though !

 

Message 37 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 15 December 2004 by Ian Carney

Just shows you can't always beleive what your parents tell you - or maybe he was still drunk!

I think he's earned it - as had you all..

Ian

 

Message 38 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 20 December 2004 by troopergeoff

Hullo once again troopertomcanning, I thought your reply to Ian Carney re drink driving from Italy to France was hilarious, he sure was plenty "umbriago", and you are quite right, he could have been on Grappa at the time, if I remember rightly it was strictly "under the counter "stuff in those day's.

Nice to read your messages again. All the best troopergeoff.

 

Message 39 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 20 December 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Troopergeoff -
thanks for that - and you have yourself a Merry Christmas and an even better New Year !

 

Message 40 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 22 February 2005 by Ian Carney

I've had the forms back from Glasgow, completed them and sent themback. Army Records said it could take up to 8 months for a search to be completed so we'l have to be patient. I can't wait!
Ian

 

Message 41 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 22 February 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Ian -
good to know that something is happening with the Glasgow outfit, and that it will ONLY take eight months to process.....it's beginning to sound like the Canadian Civil Service.... a friend who was a civil servant in Calgary came over one night and told us that they had a new rule in their office - sent down by Ottawa - the spirtiual home of all civil servants. The new rule was that the staff COULD NOT look out of their office windows until after noon.
When this rule was queried, Ottawa then clarified it by stating that IF the staff did in fact look out of their office windows before Noon --- they would have nothing to do in the afternoons !
cheers
tom

 

Message 42 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 21 March 2005 by Ian Carney

Tom,
good news - my Mum hsa received the records from Glasgow, but as you said they are very difficult to decipher. I'll pick them up at the weekend.

Are you still happy to help decipher then? If so, what's the best way to proceed.

Seem's like he had a generally good consuct record, apart from losing 4 day's pay for disobeying orders before he left the UK :-). We were all 19 once.

Ian

 

Message 43 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 21 March 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Ian -
That didn't take long - Glasgow must be running short of work...
I presume the records to be a one page photo copy full of hierogliphics
telling absolutely damn all, and signed and initialled by future doctors who were invariably late for dinner...typical !
As a starter - I would break them down into say two items for general interpretation - Peter is very good at this - have an arguement about it - then finally come up with the truth - or you can ship them out to me as another copy and I'll do my best and see what comes up - or you can do both - and see who wins !
cheers
tomcan

 

Message 44 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 21 March 2005 by Ian Carney

Tom,
I think there is more than one page, but I haven't seen them yet. They are just as you describe!

I'll collect them at the weekend, and mail then to you and to Peter (I'm not sure who Peter is).

Can you provide me with a mailing address - my email is ian_carney@yahoo.com - for you and for Peter and I'll get them off to you both early next week.

thanks for this - I really do appreciate it.

Ian

 

Message 45 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 22 March 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Ian -
you made a bit of a blooper there in publishing your e-mail address - you could start getting peculiar (sic) postings ! the very fact that it looks like an e mail will be picked up by what they call a spy bot which tours all sites electronically picking up details prior to selling addresses to those people who want to enlarge everything - except your bank balance !
I'll be in touch with Peter for you
cheers
tom

 

Message 46 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 26 March 2005 by Ian Carney

Tom.
I've got the photocopies from Glasgow, I'll copy and mail them to you. For starters do you know what SOS, MEF , PARFORCE and BNAF mean ?
Ian

 

Message 47 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 26 March 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Ian
not sure what is meant by sos - but MEF is Middle East Force - PAIFORCE is Palestine and Irag Force and BNAF is British North African Force.
Hope they are all that easy !
cheers

 

Message 48 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 29 March 2005 by Ian Carney

Tom,
I've emailed the service records to you - sorry for clogging up your inbox.

I'll copy the copies tomorrow and put the lot in the post to you.

thanks for your help

Ian

 

Message 49 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 01 May 2005 by steve-driver

Hi. My son dean who is 16 bought a uniform to wear at 1940's events at e bay. the original patches were of a red diving eagle on a black background. as all young boys would he was going to re badge it as an arnham paratrooper. after a little research he discovered it was 4th indian division, a little more research later he found out more of there exploits and is now proud to wear the red eagle and has set about researching them. he would be most gratefull to hear from people who were in or had family members in the division and who could give him some insights into them. we have been to the IWM and have some regimental records but would love to hear from the men on the ground. all of which will be made available online and at 1940's events he attends.

 

Message 50 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 01 May 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Steve -
your 16 year old son Dean could not have chosen a better Division to follow as they were one of the best Divisions in whole of the 8th Army in the desert - Ethiopia - Syria - back to Tunisia - on to Italy and finally to Greece. They were a superb outfit as were all three of the Indian Divs in the Indian Corps - the 8th and the 10th.
I have a 21 chapter history of all three called
"The Tiger Triumphs" 0n a 3.1/2 floppy and I can't think for the life on me where it came from, but it tells thwe whole story of the Corps and all their exploits, which is well worth knowing. Unfortunately I can't send via this series but I could via e-mail - but that is always difficult.
So put your thinking cap on ... but by then someone may remember the source of that story !
cheers
tomcan

 

Message 51 - 4th indians.

Posted on: 16 May 2005 by steve-driver

hi tom. thanks for the offer of the tiger triumphs, during his research he found the book published online at
www.ku.edu/carrie/specoll/AFS/library/Tiger/triumphsTC.html#TCAbout links

we also have copies of the tiger kills and the tiger strikes telling of the indian divisions in africa.

we cannot but admire the men who fought in the africa and italy campaings and feel that there memory has been badly let down by the raft of books films and programmes about the normandy campaign.

this weekend (21st/22nd may) is his first show and he has compiled a pretty impressive display and whilst doing so he obtained 2 aerial photos of keren in 1941. these he has made copies of and we will be making a trip to inverness later this year to donate in person the pictures to the cameron highlanders museum. what can i say but my son makes me proud.

 

Message 52 - 4th indians.

Posted on: 16 May 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Steve -
I am equally impressed that a 16 year old would do all that to bring the Indian Corps to memory, as you so rightly say - they did not get anywhere near the recognition they deserved.
Their sacrifices at Cassino particularly when they ran out of ammunition within a stone's throw of victory was extremly galling and very brave men cried in frustration. It is very easy today for Hollywood and others to say ' well why didn't they rush some more ammo to the men ' The main form of transport at that time was by mule - or manpower - over goat tracks iced over by the most appalling weather imaginable. The British battalions in the same situation lost unaccounted mules carrying ammo which just disappeared over the edges of the mountains, never to be seen agin !
Your son is to be commended for his efforts and to take his work to the Camerons, will I am sure, be deeply appreciated, as their 2nd Battalion fought every step of the way with the 11th bde of 4th Indian div. Their battle at the Keren Heights is a classic !
Please give your son my best regards and trust that he never has to do what those men did - for all of us !
regards
tomcan

 

Message 53 - 4th indians.

Posted on: 17 May 2005 by steve-driver

we are learning all about the bravery and ingenuity of the indian troops. for instance one sepow in north africa was captured bringing water foreward to the mahratta light infantry men at night. being a little proccupied the germans couldnt guard him so hit on the rilliant idea of taking his boots and socks off him. well he just got up, slipped deeper into enemy territory before walking to the coast and wading out to sea before turning back to his own lines and by passing the germans. he was picked up next day by troops of the central india horse.
another a signaller was with a unit over ran and dispersed by the germans. he arrived back at the allied lines after a 7 day march in the desert still with his radio. when asked why he didnt just dump it he replied that he didnt want the cost taken from his wages.
at halfaya pass (later to be called hellfire pass by the men) one unit having ran out of ammo drove the germans off by launching a barrage of rocks.

the more i read of these men the more i feel a debt of gratitude and a little humbled by them thus my sons project to bring them back from the forgotten pages of forgotten books.

 

Message 54 - 4th indians.

Posted on: 17 May 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Steve - you ain't seen nothing yet - wait til you get to the Keren Heights or Montecassino or the Gothic Line - they were something else ! Tuker was a character as well but he took sick at Cassino , we never saw him again !

 

Message 55 - 4th indians.

Posted on: 18 May 2005 by steve-driver

tom we have just obtained via e bay a booklet entitled 'RED EAGLES' as its intorduction it says and i quote :-

"it was proper that we should have worn eagles upon our shoulders, for only birds could have visited so many lands, or could have soared to some of the places we fought. we went first and armies sprang up behind us. the tally of those whom we slew was likewise that of an army. we captured many lakhs of prisoners, and as they marched away there columnsstretched over the horizen. Of our men we left the strength of two divisions upon our battle fields jo hukam "

if that is not enough to inspire a 16 yr old boy on his quest then i no not what will.

 

Message 56 - 4th indians.

Posted on: 18 May 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Steve -
whoever wrote that introduction certainly got it right as they were beyond all comparision, to see them come out of Battle weary beyond relief, and filthy, and starving with hunger, but still able to give a 'thumbs up' and a big grin - was something which is etched in memory.
The point of leaving two divisions on the Battlefields is accurate as well as, unlike the British - there was no shortage of manpower in India, and they contributed most generously.
A good friend of mine - who now lives in the South of France - commanded a battlion of Ghurka's in India and he has nothing but praise for all these men.
They were possibly the most unrecognised troops in any theatre !

best regards to you and your son !
Tomcan

 

Message 57 - 4th indians.

Posted on: 23 May 2005 by steve-driver

hi tom.
can i ask with whom did you yourself serve. at present my son is coresponding with a former r.a.s.c chap who was a cypher with the division but was later posted to xxx corps. he has a fund of knowledge and wrote 3 books about his travels during the war. the one relating to his time with the 4th is called a desert odyssey and he has been gracefull enough to allow us to use extracts and any information he send us on the web site that i am producing for my son dean. i was so proud this weekend past when he attended a 1940's weekend at a steam railway near us and he put on a display and talked to members of the public about the division. he had a lot of visiters as he was dressed in khaki drill amongst the sea of green and brown and really stood out

 

Message 58 - 4th indians.

Posted on: 23 May 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Steve -
you certainly have every right to be proud of Dean and his efforts on behalf of the 4th Indian Div and their exploits as a fighting division in more than three campaigns.And I mean the early desertto Beda Fomm - Ethiopia - Syria - Tunisia - Italy and finally Greece !

Alongside them my service was extremely humble having served in the 145th R.A.c. of the 21st Tank bde in Africa - then on to Italy where we supported the 1st Canadian Inf. Div. as reserve for the breakthrough at Cassino and through the Hitler/Gustav Line - Liri Valley, Becoming lead bde for the month long Gothic Line Battle where I managed to get hurt and spent nearly six months in Hospital coming back to find the 145th had been broken up for spares, and so I went on to the 16/5th Lancers with the 6th Armoured Div and finished up in Austria, from where I was finally demobbed - I have written about these incidents and tried to stay away from the trauma's and put forward some of the laughs thereabout - and there was lots of them also !
I was on radio 3 last week yakking about how Classical music won the war, not many believed me though, but it was fun to be interviewed for 20 minutes and find they only used about three minutes ! That's show biz I guess !

Cheers
tomcan

 

Message 59 - 4th indians.

Posted on: 24 May 2005 by steve-driver

tom, i would like to hear how classical music won the war. i think that it was the british ability to laugh and find humour in even the darkest events that kept men going a lot of the time. here is a link to a photo gallery of the 40's weekend my son went to and put on his display. he is the young lad in the desert uniform with the bombay bloomers. i just managed to fit into his spare trousers and jacket to lend him moral support. of course i had to wear the pith helmet to be different to everyone in green etc.
photobucket.comAbout links

an excellant photo of him is in the bottom left hand corner of page two.

 

Message 60 - 4th indians.

Posted on: 24 May 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Steve -
excellent show and pictures but I'm not sure that I would let my 16 year old son loose with that boozey lot.
he did well and I'm sure you are extremely proud of him...most of the displays were authentic even old handlebars was sporting his DSO !

You ask how classical music won the war - the Germans were so busy listening to Wagner and his Gotterdammerung, Tristan and Isolde etc that we hit them with Gigli, Gobbi - Tebaldi - Simonetta and all the other Italian singers - they couldn't match that and just gave up !
You could try that on the Marines - if you are suicidal.!Then it was a laugh a minute !
Cheers
tomcan

 

Message 61 - 4th indians.

Posted on: 26 May 2005 by steve-driver

tom. most of the brown bottles you see are actually bottles of old time shandy made by a local company fentimans, however i am sure my son belongs to another time as even at 16 and when me and his mom arent around he doesnt drink or smoke, many people comment about it. going back to what started this forum i was amazed that while looking through the internet for old songs and radio broadcasts for him i actually found the clancy brothers singing the d-day dodgers. it is one thing to read the words and sing them to yourself to the tune but to sit and listen to it being sung by others really is something else and makes you wonder just how that woman could say such a thing.

 

Message 62 - 4th indians.

Posted on: 13 July 2005 by WW2 People's War Team

Dear Steve

Tom tipped us off about this discussion. It is lovely to read about the enthusiasm with which you and your son are researching together.

Regards, Penelope

 

Message 63 - 4th indians.

Posted on: 16 July 2005 by steve-driver

Penelope thanks for the encouragment, we are about to start publishing information to a web site we have decided to set up to enable people to find out more about this division. the more we dicover about them the more we can only but admire the achievments of the men who served with it, we have discovered a quote from an indian havildar of 4/6 Rajputana Rifles, when asked by an american reporter if he knew what the war was about replied ' certainly, it is our friends war, therfore it is ours'. these men, english, gurkha's, punjabi's, muslim and sihk gave there all for us and as such we feel bound to bring them back from the pages of history, thank you for giving us an outlet where we could start doing this and thank you to trooper canning for taking the time to talk to us as well.

 

Message 64 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 23 December 2005 by observerRowena

Dear Chappie:My father too, was a D-Day Dodger, and I know he was wounded at one point. My Dad spoke very little about the war although I know he spent his 21st birthday in Rome. He was a member of the fifth armoured div and drove a tank, it left him with severe arthritis in his hips and legs. My father passed away at the age of 58 years and I have always believed it was because of his experiences in the war years, he was barely 16 as I understand it when he went as my grandfather insisted he go. I can remember him in his cups singing both the traditional version of Lili Marlene as well as the D-Day dodgers version although that one he only sang when he was feeling bitter, which wasn't too often. thanks for giving his service some validity

 

Message 65 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 27 December 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

ObserverRowena -
I take it your Father was Canadian to be in the 5th Armoured Div in Italy.
I too was in tanks with the 21st Tank Bde ( Brit) and supported the 1st Canadian Infantry Div. all the way from Ortona - strangely(sic) I too have problems with both hips and spine also knees with Arthritis and am currently awaiting two new hips, always thought it had something to do with sleeping in muddy holes when the sun didn't shine ! I too speny my 21st in Rome - mainly in the piazza of the Pantheon where we watched my Mother's favourite composer's funeral- Pietro Mascagni ! - Was your Father in the BC Dragoons ?
Sorry you lost him early !
Cheers
tomcan

 

Message 66 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 05 January 2006 by steve-driver

Hi trooper tom, just a little update, my son and i now have a mountain of books and info on the fourth indians, the western desert and italian campaigns and have even had a chap from new zealand contact us as his father was a sgt witth the division gunners, i hope you have a very happy new year as without your encouragement i think our enthusiam may have waned. our display has came on a lot now and we are now being booked for events around the country for the comming year to talk about the division.

 

Message 67 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 05 January 2006 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Steve - thank you for your kind comments - and we did have a good Christmas and New Year's as our daughter was with us from London for ten days so we always enjoy the time we spend with her and the two lads - it's always so desperately quiet when they all go to the various homes !

Glad to see that you are making progress with your talks and exhibitions on the 4th Indian Div. - they are well worth more and more people understanding what those men did for us in the WW11... and always with a cheery smile !

I just read somehwere that an American reporter asked a Sikh why they fought in the war - the answer was a classic - " It is our friend's war - we support our friends " !

Not surprised that you heard from New Zealand - of all the units who fought at Cassino - they had the biggest share of the tragedy - the Kiwi's were never the same again. The surprising thing was that it didn't seem to affect the 4th Indian in the same way as they proved later at the Gothic Line !
Try and find a book with their exploits in Abbysinia and Ethiopia - then on to Syria before coming back at Tunisia ! I think Maj.Gen Tuker wrote about that campaign.
Great men - all of them !
Cheers and Good luck in your travels.
tomcan

 

Message 68 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 06 January 2006 by regularIMPRESS

Hi Tom,

I was interested to read your article at the top of this thread about the D-Day Dodgers song. These are two verses which I remember the folk group 'The Spinners' singing during the 60's, and which I have re-discovered on the web...

Dearest Lady Astor,
You think you're mighty hot,
Standing on the platform,
Talking tommyrot.
Dear England's sweetheart and her pride
We think your mouth's too bleeding wide -
From all the D-Day Dodgers,
In sunny Italy.

This version of the song ends with this poignant and bitter final verse...

Look around the mountains
In the mud and rain
You'll find scattered crosses,
Some which bear no name.
Heart break and toil and suffering gone
The boys beneath them slumber on,
For they're the D-Day Dodgers,
Who stayed in Italy.

Your thoughts and rememberances are as interesting as ever. Regards, Paul Fagan.
(regularIMPRESS)

 

Message 69 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 06 January 2006 by dkstrachan

My dad was a Corporal in the Royal Engineers and was in the First Army with the Americans. I remember my Mother saying that he was fighting the Americans (perhaps there was some truth in that). This for a boy of five was confusing. They soon discovered that he was able to drive and he seems to have driven large vehicles thought North Africa (I remember later him describing the Atlas Mountains) eventually through Sicily and then into Italy. By then he seems to have some American pals from photographs that he sent home. After that all I remember is that when he returned in 1945, I was presented with a German gas mask case full of metals, ribbons, coins etc. What more could a boy of nine need. I also remember that he had a nickel-plated revolver (it has to be American) that was later handed in during an amnesty.

David Strachan

PS — Quite rightly I did my National Service with the Royal Engineers.

 

Message 70 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 06 January 2006 by steve-driver

mr strachan. there is a version available over the net sung by the clancy brothers and quite an interesting website as well featuring quite a few of the popular squaddie songs at squaddiesongs.com i have missed out the obvious bit to foil the nasty programmes that trawl the net looking for links.

 

Message 71 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 06 January 2006 by steve-driver

dear dkstrachan,

during the attack on monte cassino the american airforce was called upon to bomb the monestry , at 08.30hrs march 15th the bombers came, during three and a half hours 514 heavy and medium bombers dropped 1100 tons of bombs on the monestry. however army headquaters in Venafra (almost 20 miles away) recieved a stick of bombs, 4th indian divisions "b" echelon in the upper rapido valley recieved a thorough plastering 50 men and 100 mules being hit, 3 500 pound bombs fell within 50 yards of 4/16 punjabi headquaters luckely no one was killed there.

i have been told there was a saying that when the german bombers came the british ducked, when the british came the germans ducked and when the american bombers came everybody ducked.

this type of thing could give rise to your mother saying he was fighting the americans.

 

Message 72 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 06 January 2006 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Steve -
when the AmericanAAF came over - everybody ducked - is quite right as they never seemed to have any really good bombsights on their planes - so everyone got a share - when we were at Lucera - near Foggia airfield we witnessed three Liberators
bump into each other and crash - nothing we could do as they had been shielding a mate who was badly shot up
during a raid into Germany or possibly the Oilfields in Rumania and he was in the centre of a nine plane escort with another nine below and above - really tighly packed - he suddenly reared up - hit one plane and the two came down on top of another - 36 men gone in a flash.We had a bit more respect for them after that - didn't stop the Desert Air force from strafing us now and again !
Cheers

 

Message 73 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 06 January 2006 by steve-driver

tom at the moment i am reading a book called diary of a desert rat along and in it you can see what confusion there was especially during the benghazi stakes when forces could be mixed up or little more than a few miles seprated them, plus of course we would be using captured italian trucks and the axis using captured allied trucking, indeed during 7 brigades break out from benghazi by refraining from shooting at enemy aircraft they managed to make british lines with very few loses. at cassino however i think the monestry might have been a good aiming point that may have gave the yanks a good refrence, but as you say they all deserve much respect no matter what flak they got of th P B I

 

Message 74 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 09 January 2006 by regularIMPRESS

Dear All,

On the subject of Monte Cassino, the Americans and the campaign in Italy generally...

The greatest disgrace of the whole campaign has to be that after Cassino had been taken at such horrendous cost to British, Empire, Polish and American Infantry, General Mark Clark (described as a beached Whale by Churchill after his lack of initiative at Anzio) took his American army to undefended Rome. This allowed the bulk of the German Army to withdraw north to fight again.

The glory grabbing of one incompetent American General meant that the Italian campaign achieved far less than it could have done in breaking the German Army in the west.

Paul Fagan.

 

Message 75 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 09 January 2006 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Paul -
whilest I would agree that the forces in Italy failed to break two German armies and thus achieved less than was possible, it was not Clark's lack of inititive at the outset - (he had too much misplaced initiative) - it was the lack of same by his Corps Commander - I forget his name(Clay I think) as he was replaced by Lucian C Truscott who tried to fix the problem - the orginal Commander(Clay) failed to take the high ground although he was advised by both the British 46th and 56th Div Commanders to progress further - he was fired by Clark on the advice of Alexander who went to the Beaches to find out what was wrong ! Clark's mis-placed initiative was when he turned left to take Rome and allowed the two German Armies to by-pass Rome at Valmontone - BUT they would have escaped through the Rieti - Narni- Terni route which we could not cover in any case ! So the main problem was always a lack of strength which was multiplied after Rome by the senseless invasion of the South of France to appease Stalin - but took away seven divisions from US 5th Army and total lack of reinforcement of 8th Army - who sent 1st and 5th Divisions plus 44RTR over to NW Europe and finally followed by the two Canadian Divisions - we did not have any strength left after the Gothic Line and were breaking up whole brigades to make do - as Alex said before the last push - "make it good as there is nothing left behind you" ! This was a time when Mark Clark was in charge of BOTH Us 5th and British 8th Army !!! WE still made it - in spite of him ! Cheers
tomcan

 

Message 76 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 09 January 2006 by steve-driver

Tom you mention the taking of troops to nw europe and south of france, what effect did the loss of troops to greece have.

 

Message 77 - D-Day Dodgers

Posted on: 09 January 2006 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Steve -
by that time - around November '44 - it was too late anyway - we lost the 4th Indian plus the 46thRTR and more dribbled over during the winter and by the time the spring had sprung we were down to the bare boards of the bottom of the barrel. Then immeditely we hit Venice and the finish line we were losing people to UK leave(LIAP) - at long last - that took a while as they had to go back down to Naples for transport home and back - then it was time served overseas (PYTHON) finally when we were in Knittelfeld-Austria, with the 16th/5th Lancers - we only had one officer and an SSM who broke his leg ski-ing and went home - two sergeants - about three corporals and around 60 men for a whole squadron out of 150 odd, it took a couple of years to get back to full strength so that in 1948 they went to Lybia and Egypt... they were split up all over the place.We truly had nothing left !
Cheers

Message 1 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 17 June 2004 by Alistair Macdonald

I have only now, today, remembered that I am a member of this site. Logging on, I was interested in the ballad The D-Day Dodgers. I know there are several versions; all very similar, but my chosen version has a different ending. A bit more pathos; reflecting the feelings in the 8th Army at the time (1944)
Final verse -
Look around the mountains in the mud and rain,
See the scattered crosses, some that have no name,
Heartache and sorrow are all gone,
The boys beneath them slumber on,
They are the D-Day Dodgers who'll stay in Italy.

 

Message 2 - D Day Dodgers

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

Alistair —
This is probably what you are looking for as it is more or less the “Official” version of the D-Day Dodgers, as you say — there were many versions most of them printable !

We’re the D-Day Dodgers, out in Italy
Always drinking Vino, always on the spree
Eighth Army skivers and the Yanks,
We live in Rome, we laugh at Tanks,
For we’re the D-Day dodgers, in Sunny Italy.

We landed at Salerno, a holiday with pay,
Jerry brought the band out, to cheer us on our way
They showed us sights and gave us tea.
We all sang songs, the beer was free
To welcome D-Day Dodgers to Sunny Italy.

Naples and Cassino, taken in our stride,
We didn’t go to fight, we just went there for the ride,
Anzio and Sangro are just names,
We only went to look for dames
We’re still all D- Day Dodging in Sunny Italy.

Once we had the griff that we were going home,
Back to dear old Blighty, never more to roam
Then someone whispered “In France you’ll fight”,
WE said “blow that, we’ll just sit tight”,
The windy D-Day Dodgers, in Sunny Italy.

Looking around the mountains, in the mud and rain,
There’s lots of little crosses, some which bear no name,
Blood, sweat, and tears and toil are gone,
The boys beneath them slumber on,
These are your D-Day Dodgers, who’ll stay in Italy.

It is of course, mandatory that this song be sung to the refrain of “Lili Marlene’

 

Message 3 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 22 June 2004 by Mostyn Harris

I fought in North Africa and Italy and our version of the song was very similar to your version with the addition of one verse. Which goes like this:
Dear Lady Astor we thought you were on our side
But your ******* mouth is far to wide
You should see the wooden crosses which mark the spot
Where our brave comrades met their ******* lot
They are the D-Day Dodgers out in Italy
No more on the vino no more on the pee.

The chorus also went like this:
Now is the time to get your gun
and blow the Hun to Kingdom Come
For we are the D-Day Dodgers out in Italy

As I remember, it we "captured" the tune from the German Army, for "Lily Marlene" was a favorite of theirs and was an expression of their longing for home and their loved ones.

 

Message 4 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 22 June 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Mostyn -\ you are so right - there were dozens of verses most of which can never be printed...although the way things are going - moral wise - I wouldn't be too surprised to see them on banner headlines in the Mirror or one of the other ones, from a purely educational point of view - of course !
We did steal the "Lili Marlene" from the Tedsechi's but it wasn't classed as a homesick refrain, as the German words prove that she was a tart waiting underneath the lamplight by the barracks gate - waiting for her "customers" !

It's just as well that Lady (sic) Astor never showed up in Italy as she would have been --- well, not exactly given the red carpet treatment !
Long time ago !Who were you with ?
Cheers
tom

 

Message 5 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 08 July 2004 by Mostyn Harris

Tom,
I was in the Royal Artillery, field (25 pounders),we then changed to medium (American Long Toms,I think)and lastly. we became an heavy Regt.(6.5's)

One of my stories on this site is "Partisani", which I think took place during the spring offensive.

Were you in Austria?
I am trying to remember the name of the river and the town where we handed the captured White Russians over to the Russian Army. As I remember it, it was about the time that we disarmed the Partisans in Klagenfurt.
Any knowledge of these events?
All the best,
Mostyn

 

Message 6 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 08 July 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

hello Mostyn -
I certainly was in Austria - with the 16/5th Lancers in the 6th Armed Div.- starting in Knittelfeld - Judenburg - Leoben - Strassburg - near Sankt Viet - from there we did the Vienna Tattoo - finished in Villach Barracks before demob,early '47 the 16/5th went back to Libya after that !

There were two lots of Russians handed over, the one we were involved in was at Judenburg, then there was another lot down near the Jug border when the 46th Div handed over a whole bunch of Cossacks who came in with hundreds of horses - Peter the reseacher, has the full story of that as we had a big arguement about it when I wrote about the "Yalta Aftermath'
When the spring offensive was on I was still in Hospital at Catania after being knocked out at the Coriano Ridge on the Gothic Line in the September frolics. I'll have a look at your story.
cheers
tom

 

Message 7 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 12 July 2004 by troopergeoff

To add to this discussion re D Day Dodgers, I remember quite well the adaptation of the Lilie Marlene song to D D Dodgers, but which version I can.t remember. I was also in Austria in January 1946 with the re-formed 8th RTR, at a place called Gleisdorf near Graz, and we were on Guard duty at a POW camp full of dis-placed persons and a small group of suspect Nazis, who all managed to escape one night, quite embarrassing. We went on a D Day parade at Trieste in May, then onto Egypt and Palestine til De-mob in April 47. I find it nice to talk about it, as it keeps those memories fresh in our mind. Those days were momentous, and never to be forgotten
Nice to have a chat Troopergeoff.

 

Message 8 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 12 July 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Geoff -
nice to hear from you again - the 8thRTR must have been with 46th Div at the time you were near Graz....didn't know that !
You are right it is interesting to remember those momentous days as it also passes on experiences that the youngsters havn't a clue about....it shows in many of the questions they raise on this site ! The tragedy is that the Schools don't appear to teach history any more and so they are picking up the wrong ideas from Hollywood ...where the Americans always win the War !!!!!!

 

Message 9 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 13 July 2004 by troopergeoff

Tom you have a nice way with words, and there is always something in your replies that makes me laugh eg your reference to Hollywood. Keep up the good work. I don't know if we were part of the 46th Div. All I know is that 8th RTR were part of the original 7th Armoured Brigade, and |I don't even know who the other Regts were to make up the Brigade. We were always independent, and in Palestine, more often than not, the Sdns were on their own all over the place, at one time we in A Sqdn were in Trans-Jordan on our own, although I now somehow remember that we had a scheme going there with other Regts from 46th Div, so you must have a good memory or a good reference book. All the best Troopergeoff

 

Message 10 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 13 July 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Hello Geoff-
I don't have too many reference books but I do have a good memory..that is...for the good things that happened in that wartime escapades all over the place.

Most Tank regiments were fractionalised with squadrons and even troops - loaned out for an action with a particular Infantry group ... not necessarily one you had been training with. During the Gothic Line Hoo Haa we were with the 2nd Bde of the 1st Cdn Div - then now and again we found ourselves with the Quebec Regt of Vandoos from the 3rd Bde...most of whom could hardly speak English - it was a hoot at times !The main thing we had in common were the swear words ! There was always something to laugh about...it was just as well ! The 8th were mostly in the 7th Armed Bde along with the 2nd and the 6th who came up from Palestine in time for the Gothic and took a thumping at Croce and Gemmano along with the Bays. Stu Hamilton wrote a good book about their history from the desert called "Armoured Odessay" - it's good for a few laughs !
Cheers

 

Message 11 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 13 July 2004 by Mostyn Harris

Hi Tom
Re White Russians. Must have been near the Jug border for they probably were Cossachs. I remember we all had a horse each afterwards for reacreational purposes!
The other thing I remember, is that there was probably a factory making cigarette lighters where we were billeted for we all aquired cigarette lighters. The type that one squeezes the side to operate the mechanism.
As I remember it we did the following things in Austria. not in any particular order:
* Handed over the White Russians
* Disarmed the Partisans in Klagenfurt
* Kept the peace in Trieste. Both the Italians and the Jugs wanted the Port.
* Patrolled the border between the Italians and Jugs
* Guarded our side of the bridge on the sector border between the Russians and ourselves. This is were our own mini Cold War started. But that is another
story!
I still can't remember the town where we billeted or the name of the river between us and the Russian sector.
Where can I contact Peter the researcher? He may be able to help.
All the best
Mostyn

 

Message 12 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 13 July 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Hi Mostyn -
the only river I remember from down that way was the Drave or Drau which seemed to run all over the place, but then there were quite a few of the smaller ones.

I'll get in touch with Peter - he is sure to know as he knows - everything !

Cheers
tom

 

Message 13 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 14 July 2004 by Ron Goldstein

Hi Mostyn
Just like Tom, I rely on Peter to keep me in order with regards to the the factual history of WW2.
Having said that, I was lucky enough to have kept wartime diaries. Have a look at my "The War Ends in Italy" A2039113 for a piece about running a POW camp in Austria.
Then, if you are still feeling energetic, have a look at "Ron's Grand Tour" A2156564 and see if our paths have crossed
Best wishes
Ron

 

Message 14 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 14 July 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Hi Mostyn

The thread Tom refers to (Yalta Aftermath), where we met, is here:

A2064629

I would only add this to that (Yalta Aftermath) thread: It wasn't just Fascist Croatian Ustashi who had slipped through the net into Italy and Austria in those chaotic days. By January, 1945, remnants of the Skanderbeg Waffen SS Division (21st SS Waffen-Gebirgs-Division der SS Skanderbeg - albanische Nr. 1), mainly Muslim Albanians, retreated to Kosovska Mitrovica in Kosovo and then to Brcko in Bosnia-Hercegovina. The remaining troops fought on as Kampfgruppe Skanderbeg before becoming a part of the 7th SS-Freiwilligen-Gebirgs-Division Prinz Eugen. This remanent reached Austria in May, 1945. They had been primarily deployed in fighting Tito's partisans (May 1944-January 1945), but there seems to be little doubt that they were also involved in the Holocaust. Fully indoctrinated Nazis they quickly sought to portay themselves as Communist victims once inside the Allied zone in May 1945.

These are related threads worth reading:

On SS Divisions in Northern Italy U521078

Some notes on Italian Partisans here A2039113

There is an excellent account of an escaped PoW, George Evans, who joined a partisan group here A2001141

You say that "Both the Italians and the Jugs wanted the Port [Trieste]". There is, of course, the little matter that Trieste was Italian. Tito, in 1945, was trying to establish Greater Jugoslavia, laying ambitious claims to whole parts of Italy and Austria.

As to the river and the bridge you guarded. The Russians had surged into Austria before the 8th Army arrived, later pulling back to the occupation zones agreed at Yalta. So it might be that you were at the temporary border just beyond Klagenfurt, probably on the river Drau.

'Peter the Researcher', whatever next? Sounds like 'Vlad, the Impaler'<bat>

Cheers d_||_b

 

Message 15 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 16 July 2004 by Mostyn Harris

Hi Peter,
Thanks for the info.
In Trieste I remember the Jugs would march down one street with banners and chanting. While the Italians would be doing the same down another street. Both streets converged in the unaptley named Piazza Unita! When they met there would be an unholy punch up. Our task was to try to prevent this happening by clearing the square. We were given some training in crowd control by the police(the Met.,I think) and given police batons instead of small arms. The first time it happened we had the bright idea of driving a jeep around the perimeter of the square with its siren blasting away. This cleared the square like magic. The next day we did the same thing with no effect! So we soon realised that the only way to clear the square was the hard way. By proceeding across the square in a long line abreast. By so doing we "captured" a miscellaneous assortment of clubs and knives!

One of the reasons we patrolled the border between Italy and Jugoslavia was because we had received intelligence that Tito had massed 5 Divisions behind the mountains ready to march on Trieste. I don't know whether or not this was accurate but it ties in quite neatly with your ascertion that Tito was laying ambitious claims on parts of Italy and Austria.

I kept no diaries or records of my time in the Army. In fact I don't think I wanted to remember anything about it. But know in the fullness of time I seem to be able to recall some of the events that influenced me. But then again memory is a "lying jade".

 

Message 16 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 16 July 2004 by Mostyn Harris

Hi Peter,
Thanks for the info.
In Trieste I remember the Jugs would march down one street with banners and chanting. While the Italians would be doing the same down another street. Both streets converged in the unaptley named Piazza Unita! When they met there would be an unholy punch up. Our task was to try to prevent this happening by clearing the square. We were given some training in crowd control by the police(the Met.,I think) and given police batons instead of small arms. The first time it happened we had the bright idea of driving a jeep around the perimeter of the square with its siren blasting away. This cleared the square like magic. The next day we did the same thing with no effect! So we soon realised that the only way to clear the square was the hard way. By proceeding across the square in a long line abreast. By so doing we "captured" a miscellaneous assortment of clubs and knives!

One of the reasons we patrolled the border between Italy and Jugoslavia was because we had received intelligence that Tito had massed 5 Divisions behind the mountains ready to march on Trieste. I don't know whether or not this was accurate but it ties in quite neatly with your ascertion that Tito was laying ambitious claims on parts of Italy and Austria.

I kept no diaries or records of my time in the Army. In fact I don't think I wanted to remember anything about it. But know in the fullness of time I seem to be able to recall some of the events that influenced me. But then again memory is a "lying jade".

All the best
Mostyn

 

Message 17 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 17 July 2004 by Ron Goldstein

Hi Peter/Mostyn et al
Re the riots, I have several photos in my album taken at the time. One small snap shows an Italian policeman wearing a white helmet (supplied by the US forces). The local Triestinians used to refer to the police as 'Cerinos'. This was because the white helmets made them look like a safety match of that name.
I would remind Mostyn of a ploy that I saw being used in Monfalcone, nearby.
The riot police REVERSED a jeep at speed into the crowd until they reached a likely trouble spot. They then jumped out, used their baseball bats to 'pacify' anyone who looked like a ringleader, threw him into the back of the jeep and then, just as quickly, sped off with sirens wailing.
'Interesting' times, indeed.
Ron

 

Message 18 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 17 July 2004 by troopergeoff

Dear Tom, Yes I have read the book Amoured Odyssey written by Stuart Hamilton MC. And I have in fact met him on several occasions at 8th RTR annual dinners. But unfortunately, I am afraid that Stuart Hamilton is not very well these days, and has'nt been seen for the last two re-unions, alas, a sign of the times I'm afraid.

All the best to you troopertom from troopergeoff

 

Message 19 - D Day Dodgers

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

Geoff -

Sorry to hear about Stu Hamilton - comes to us all I guess - both my wife and I thank God daily that we are as well as we are with nothing major to worry about - my wife is 100%
whereas I am 100% also - less seniors discount !
I have now finalised details of a trip to the Riccione area in September to visit the Coriano Cemetery to say farewell to the lads who still lay there....any photo's that you will need ?

I have to take some for Gerry Chester of the NIH.....so - let me know !
cheers
tomcan

 

Message 20 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 19 July 2004 by troopergeoff

Hullo Tom, Have read your message, and envy you your trip to Riccione, That's very kind of you to make an offer re photos at Coriano Ridge cemetery, but having been back several times to Coriano & Gradara Cemeteries, and even though I do have a very good mate buried at Coriano, over the years I have taken all the pictures I require. Anyway, you have a very good trip, and don't drink too much Grappa. Once again thanks for the offer. All the best Troopergeoff

 

Message 21 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 21 July 2004 by Mostyn Harris

Hi Peter Tom Geoff Ron Alister et al

I am researching a story about spending my 21st Birthday in the front line. It was on 8th December 1944. We were supporting the infantry(I spent most of my time in an OP directing the fire of the guns). Any idea where the front line was at that time?

Also I am writing a story about being pulled out of the line for 5 Days rest in Rome at an American Rest Camp. I think it was in the Olympic Stadium. Did any of you go there? What was it called?

All the best
Mostyn

 

Message 22 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 21 July 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Mostyn -
Don't know where the others were but I do know that I was still luxuriating in Hospital at Catania - Sicily while the rest of you were getting on with it -
The Canadians were in the middle of a battle, code named "Chuckle" - which it wasn't - trying to cross the Lamone River at or around Faenza- Imoli where the British 46th and the Poles had already crossed the Lamone and were heading toward the Senio - meanwhile the Canadians were having a wet time crossing the Fosso Vetro - Fosso Vecchio - Canale Naviglio -Fosso Munio...then it rained a lot !
Five days leave in Rome .....you must have had some sort of "clout' in the Artillery...we got two days in Cattolica ! Mind you - I did spend my 21st in Rome !

 

Message 23 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 21 July 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Hi Mostyn

I've checked a day-to-day chronology. Not much was going on in Italy on 8 December 1944. On 4 December in the 8th Army sector the Polish II Corps took Montecchio, while units of the Canadian I Corps entered Ravenna. On 7 December the Russians announced that the Germans had withdrawn some troops from France and Italy to defend Budapest. Then nothing significant until 12 December when, during the night, the 6th Armoured Division (XII Corps, US Fifth Army) began the second stage of its offensive, throwing in units of the 61st Brigade against Tossignano. In the British 8th Army sector, the 5th Armoured Division and the 1st Infantry Division (Canadian I Corps) advanced from Fosso Vecchio to the Canale Naviglio and the 1st division established a bridgehead north of Bagnacavallo.

As to the line on 8 December, from Ravenna it dipped south in a big U-bend, with the base of the U in line with Livorno on the west coast and Rimini on the east coast, that is the bottom of the U resting on an imaginary horizontal line from Livorno to Ravenna. It then sloped up north-west just north of Pistoia and south of Barga to the west coast about 30 miles short of La Spezia, and there it remained during the bitter winter of 1944 until the big push in the early spring of 1945.

Peter

 

Message 24 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 21 July 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Regarding my attempt at describing the front line on 8 December 1944 go here http://members.tripod.com/aries46/gemmoliv.htmAbout links

Look at the first small map, the top solid line is the Gothic Line (marked Linea Gotica), The 'U' shape I attempted to describe stretched from Ravenna then through Forli to join the Gothic Line in the Apennines. Form there west, it was the same as on the map.

Peter

 

Message 25 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 21 July 2004 by Ron Goldstein

Hi Lads, if I put my tin hat on, can I join in this battle?

Quoting from 'The Campaign in Italy' by Eric Linklater, first published in 1951.

"The Poles took Montecchio and the high ground west of it to secure the flank, and the 46th Div, overcoming great difficulties, succeeded in capturing the village of Pideura."

Linklater goes on to say "The failure of the German 305th Div to prevent the allies crossing the Lamone in this sector was a grave embarressment to the enemy and that on December the 8th the 90th Panzer Division came in to reinforce the yielding defences".

Ron

 

Message 26 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 21 July 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Peter -
Brilliant piece of work on the Gothic Line, with all due respect to the 46th & 56th Divs problems at Croce and Gemmano..they did bring much of it onto themselves !
You may have noted that on one of the maps (?) in a straight line from Pieve to Riccione - yours truly was in the front with the Seaforths and 145th RAC !!! That is until we hit San Martino when - after 20 minutes - I departed the scene for the next five months !

 

Message 27 - D Day Dodgers

Posted on: 28 July 2004 by troopergeoff

Further to this discussion, I was with 51st.RTR part of 25th Tank Brigade. Towards the end of November we had helped to capture Forli, our part being involved in capturing the airfield. B Sqdn, who I was with, then went further North to support the New Zealanders who were clearing up this area, especially round Highway 9. We then pulled back to billets in Forli, where on the 4th of December, the Regt celebrated Cambria day, the Regt being in the line on the 21st.November. After this the Regt went to Viterbo to be re-equiped with Crocodiles and Flails.

Troopergeoff

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