- Contributed by
- People in story:
- John Side
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 05 May 2004
This is a story by John Side. It has been written by his daughter Lyn Davis who kindly provided it to the Thanet Libraries and UK-Online project during the session at Broadstairs Library.
John Side — Home to Ramsgate
During the Italian campaign things slowed a bit. January came and went, March followed February, by the time we reached April it was obvious things were on the move again. Early one morning we set off, and arrived at Barga. Bolognana soon followed by Massa. A short stay here and we were off again. By mid April we had gone through Verona and Brescia.
Soon we were moving several times a day. We noticed signposts pointed to Milan. With little or no sleep you hadn’t a clue where you were — after finding a good observing post you quickly moved to another. Days came and went — meals were available if you could find the cookhouse lorry. I fed myself mostly on apples and any other fruit available (scrumped) and gradually got used to Vino Posso instead of tea. Hundreds of Germans were making their way to us, they had had enough.
I remember taking over our wireless truck to give the driver a break when about 8.00am in the morning our convoy stopped, and our C.O. came along and said quite quietly, “it’s all over”, the Germans had surrendered. We were in Turin. Once again we were carpeted with flowers, and showered with kisses by the younger women. I was able to find 4 of us a bed for a few hours, where we just flopped out. I remember just watching a blind man with a hurdy gurdy playing Cavalera Rusticannona then I was out in the arms of Morpheus. We suddenly accepted the war was over! Every where signs show that it was Maggio Prima (May 1st).
After a week in an Italian army barracks with a swimming pool, some of the older chaps were sent home to England. The rest of us moved north to sample the Swiss life and almost took over an Alpine village. There were quite a number of families here, Italian, French or Swiss, and it wasn’t long before we were holding dances most nights. The scenery in this area was marvellous, with the splendour of the Matterhorn always visible.
When it was time to go home the journey was long and varied. This was after several farewell celebrations which took some time to recover from. Eventually Calais greeted me and after waiting 2 days more, I got onto a ferry for Folkestone — where I was reunited with Charlie Avis, he was going to Canterbury, I was going home to Ramsgate and my family.
I arrived at my home town exactly 55 months, 2 weeks, 1 day and 712 hours after leaving home. I was naturally welcomed home by the family and spent my first night in England at my sister Eileen’s, where we stayed up half the night talking about the previous 4 or 5 years.
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.