infantry

Nov

4

1943

Italy – U.S. infantry advances behind artillery barrage


4th November 1943: Italy – U.S. infantry advances behind artillery barrage

A column of Germans was climbing the hill toward the town. Obviously they were going to reinforce the town’s defenders. “Get some fire on them fast,” the colonel ordered. Within three minutes mortars and high explosive 37—millimeter shells began bursting along the slope. Then the Germans came running down the hillside in wild disorder. Shell bursts followed them. “Those gunners,” said the colonel, “get the gilded bird cage with the stuffed canary as first prize.”

Oct

26

1943

The Irish Brigade in the trenches in Italy


26th October 1943: The Irish Brigade in the trenches in Italy

I slept for about 6 hours – my batman waking me once with a cup of tea. I awoke at 3, feeling a new man. A merciful providence saved my life for 5 minutes later a shell burst 5 yards from where I had been sleeping, and the blanket was covered with large bits of shrapnel. I would not have stood an earthly, if I had been there.

Oct

21

1943

Audie Murphy watches the ambush of a German patrol


21st October 1943: Audie Murphy watches the ambush of a German patrol

Germans labor up a draw that cuts the slope like a wrinkle in a fat man’s stomach. Despite all care, their boots slip on the stony soil; and at each small sound the men start nervously. The leader is obviously an old-timer. I can see from his actions that he does not like the situation at all. The route he has chosen is dangerous indeed, but is the best that the area offers. On two sides, he has at least partial concealment.

Oct

17

1943

Joy and tragedy as Canadians liberate Italy


17th October 1943: Joy and tragedy as Canadians liberate Italy

the following morning Gerry Swayle and his platoon were told to occupy San Stefano. It was assumed the enemy rear guards had all withdrawn across the Biferno overnight and Gerry would meet with no resistance. I saw him just before he started off and told him about the joys of liberating Ripalimosani.

Oct

15

1943

A suicidal German counter-attack


15th October 1943: A suicidal German counter-attack

Minutes passed. It seemed like an eternity, although it was not long after mid-night. The seriously wounded Obergefreiter had become still and his breath was coming in gasps. I saw the white of his eyes glistening and felt his sound hand feeling for mine. Then a sigh was wrung out of the dying man. ‘Ah, Herr Leutnant’, he said. His head fell to one side. Again, I was shaken by a feeling of horror. Finally, I made off from crater to crater.

Oct

13

1943

Infantry attack across the Volturno River


13th October 1943: Infantry attack across the Volturno River

had orders to keep our rifles dry but they trailed over our shoulders. The three 2 inch mortars in their case were under water as I struggled to keep hold of the rope. Completely soaked we reached the enemy side where our pioneers and many helping hands pulled us up the bank. Sodden but relieved we formed up in a soaked, shivering long line. The enemy had left us alone.

Oct

12

1943

Poor quality Soviet army recruits


12th October 1943: Poor quality Soviet army recruits

We had to teach them how to handle themselves on the battlefield and on the defense, how to rise from the ground at the start of an attack, and how to understand and always remember their responsibility to the oath they had taken. Finally, they had to learn the elementary things — an understanding of which flank was the right flank, and which the left.

Oct

11

1943

Butchery of trench warfare on the Eastern front


11th October 1943: Butchery of trench warfare on the Eastern front

Flamethrowers failed. Nothing could save us from the enemy numbers. One company withdrew from the trench, and two of our guns were lost. The Russians drove their wedge farther into our hinterland. Our reserves were being bled dry, even before any counterattack could be mounted. There was no help to come. We wrote farewell letters and waited to die.

Oct

5

1943

The Germans counter attack at Termoli


5th October 1943: The Germans counter attack at Termoli

We had not yet been able to locate the German artillery observer who had crept into the town. Movement of troops and vehicles, even a party of two or three men, was always a challenge to him and a danger to us. We cursed him, but could not find him. I sent a party out to search for him at noon. Finally, at five, they pinpointed his location to a church tower. They crawled up the tower. “Come down — surrender!” my men called.

Sep

25

1943

Sergeant Major Wright wins VC on Hill 207


25th September 1943: Sergeant Major Wright wins VC on Hill 207

As No. 1 Company broke cover, and emerged into the more open ground around the farm, the Germans opened up with every weapon they had. We followed. The row grew more intense. There must have been a dozen Spandaus firing at once, now: ‘a team of giants ripping up a tarpaulin’ had become standard verbiage. It was impossible to distinguish individual shots.