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Contributed by 
Peoples War Team in the East Midlands
People in story: 
Raymond Gregory
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Contributed on: 
26 July 2005

"This story was submitted to the site by the BBC's Peoples War Team in the East Midlands with Raymond Gregorys permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions."

I was with the two twenty water tank in the desert. After about a fortnight one of the lads from Celon joined us. They were good lads but struggled to swing a wagon because they weren’t big enough. When we finally went to Italy we landed in Naples. We had to wait for the transport to come. We spent 6 weeks staying somewhere outside of Naples and endured snow and rain. At night time there was about 200 tents and outside each tent was a bloke with a piece of string with charcoal on the end. They used to swing it around to get it going. I used to say that one of these days they’d get an aircraft land down here, thinking it was a runway.

One day we were posted on the reverse slope of Vesuvius. We were there for a fortnight and lived in a pasta factory. I said to my mate shall we go across to the pub — a little café across the road. We drank something that tasted like red vinegar. We were sitting there and someone ran in shouting Vesuvio, Vesuvio. We wondered what had come over him. I said there was no body here so we may as well go back to barracks. When we got back the sergeant saw us and said good evening. He said have you seen Vesuvius — sarcastically I said why had somebody pinched it. He said no you pratt go and look at it. There was a courtyard where we were and in the air over Vesuvius there was a great big column of smoke on one side and down the other lava flowing.

I also got posted about a mile out of Pompai. Every other afternoon I got time off. I used to go to Pompey and roam around the ruins, every other afternoon — it was ever so nice. After 6 weeks I was posted to camp Abassa, everyone was asleep when I arrived. I was told the next day I would be taken to the cook house. There were three Italians and myself — I didn’t speak Italian and they didn’t speak English — I had the time of my life. I stayed there until the war finished.

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