The impasse in Italy continued. In the narrow bridgehead at Anzio everyone was effectively on the front line with no ‘rear areas’. The whole of the bridgehead was within range of German artillery which routinely shelled the entire area. The already wounded and nurses in the field hospitals were as likely to be hit as anyone else – and did suffer casualties.
Every position had to be well dug in. It was possible for the majority to survive even sustained artillery barrages in well protected foxholes, even if some would inevitably fall victim to direct hits. It was the sustained nature of such attacks that deprived men of sleep and wore at the nerves.
Major Jago was the second in command of the 2nd Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. In his diary he was was briefly noting every barrage and their impact:
Woken up about 0500 to sound of air raid & shelling of Reg’l area. aircraft made direct attacks on us, & bombed us with anti-personnel & med bombs. Enemy shellﬁre in area simultaneous, – designed to keep our Bofors [AA gun] quiet. Cowered in my bivvy whilst the stuff dropped all around.
One small piece of A.P. entered/my hole, via the mosquito net. Several fell just outside. Mess dugout hit, RHQ ofﬁce tent & about four bivvies. 42 Bty had one man killed. RHQ 3 wounded, incl 2 signalmen & Cpl Thorley, the cook. Sloped [?] about in the mist in the valley collecting stretchers & putting them into ambulance.
Meanwhile a U.S. ammo dump nearby had been hit, & was going off continuously until about 0700 hrs, bits of metal whizzing all around. Another raid about 0615, ﬁghter bomber quite low. Our O.P. saw one plane crash, bearing 7 deg about 0615 hrs.
The nightingales in the valley sang hard throughout the whole time, midst bombs and shelling. The old cockerel belonging to the Sig Section also was undismayed.
Had a look around the area during the day, & found hundreds of A.P. bomb holes & also large craters.
Awakened after two hours sleep to sound of shells bursting in Reg’l area. Conc of 88’s and 105’s between 0200 & 0230 with one break.
Checked up, & no cas[ualties] returned to bed. Shelling started again. Got up again & checked up. One man from 42 Bty killed, & one broken thigh. Bivvy hit & collapsed. Went to bed again: again shelling started in the area.
Got up & afterwards remained fully dressed to doze ﬁtfully until 0700 hrs.
Altogether Regt shelled 8 times between 0200 &: 0700 hrs. A bad night. Lucky not to have more casualties. Area covered in craters. Vehicle casualties, one m/c. Cookhouse equipment damaged.
Div Comdr (Gen Penney) accompanied by Lt Col Frankie Read (Scottish Horse) acting CRA, visited Regt in the morning & went to every gun pit. RI-IQ spent the morning improving their bivvies protection & digging; in the p.m. all vehs & equipt were further dug in. 1400 hrs C.O. held B.C.’s confce on courses & odd points.
1500 hrs two young malaria ofﬁcers looked at our marshes, & promised RE help to drain them. During this I sank deep into the mire!
Spent remainder of day, until 2030, rebuilding and deepening my dugout. When all ﬁnished found bed did not ﬁt!! More excava- tions required. Went to bed at 2045 hrs, very tired.
Shelling started about 2100 hrs, went on intermittently until 2300 hrs. Could not sleep altho’ very tired & aching after days work. Came on duty at midnight.
This account appears in the Imperial War Museum Book of the War in Italy: A Vital Contribution to Victory in Europe 1943-1945.