Saturday, March 22, 2014

Mar

22

1944

Relieving the Gurkhas in front of the Monastery

German prisoners captured by New Zealand troops are held at gunpoint on a road beside a Sherman tank. After repeated unsuccessful assaults, the Allied offensive was again called off on 22 March.

As we worked our way up the terraced, shell-torn slope towards the ruin of a building that looked like the headquarters we were seeking, the smell of death – the old familiar smell – became increasingly powerful. The most immediate cause turned out to be a mule, in an advanced stage of decomposition, and black with feasting flies. (Wags later used the mule as a signpost for visitors. They used to say ‘bear hard right when the mule begins to smell really strongly’.)