All round it was as bright as day, or brighter, and it was an extraordinarily beautiful spectacle. The sea was a brilliant unreal green under the starshells; some of them burned through their parachute strings and fell into the water, where they went on burning as they sank, with a wonderful luminous greenish glow. Above, the sky was full of curling question-marks of smoke left by the flares as they floated down. I thought one flare was going to land on the fo’c’sle, but it fell just clear ahead. There were still torrents of tracer trickling and streaming away from the enemy ships, and our boats were occasionally hit.
All this turned out to be a complete waste of ammo. When we hit the beach at 0615, four kilometres north of Reggio di Calabria, our landing was unopposed. We were slightly dazed by the silence after the profligate bombardment. If someone had bothered to recce the beaches, I thought, or checked aerial reconnaissance photos, the shelling of an undefended coastline should surely have been avoided. But Monty had the firepower and there was an inevitability in its use.