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Woe is Me: Preparing for France with a Stop By the Hospital

March 8, 2012

Each entry post on this blog builds chronologically on the ones before. Journal entries are written in italics. Comments are written in bold print. I gratefully acknowledge the sources I used to follow and understand Al’s journal and have listed them on the page, “Where to Learn More”.

June 13.
Moved 70 miles to Canino- got lost on road to Grosetto, which Germans hold, far to the front; too close for comfort. Turned back and headed for Canino, where Germans had dug deep pits for uncompleted fortification.

June 14.
Moved again 60 miles to near Monterosi, where we were to rest, but worked pretty hard.  Woe is me.

June 15.
Went to Rome on pass – French parade- more sight-seeing – got multiple 50’s.
(Blogger’s father-in-law suggests Al’s referring to Italian lira here.)

June 16.
March order  to Valentano near Lake Bolsena.

June 19.
Moved to Onano- rained for three days straight- gun position in wheat field -slept in a German cemented dugout.

June 20
My birthday – cold, rainy, muddy and highly disgusted.
(Al loved his birthday- I didn’t want it to get lost in the posts.)

June 24.
Went to Piancastagnaio – turned 40 mm over but it was o.k. Position high on a mountain overlooking the rest of the crews.

This is the type of 40 mm weapon they turned over.

June 26.
Colonel came around and gave us a bit of hell.  From 505th Group.

June 29.
Sgt. Holme’s accident – T.N.T. caps explode in his hand at dinner time.  Standing close by. Fragments enter my left thigh and I went to the hospital with him. Checked in hospital at Rome and received treatment that nite. X-ray okay.

June 30.

Checked out of hospital and went to Repple Depple near Rome.
(For more information on Repple Depples, see post, “Destination Unknown and the Replacements”.)

July 1.
Another Repple Depple near Civitavecchia. Outfit moved to 40 miles towards Grosetto in the hills and dust at San Lorenzo.

July 2.
Allied planes (P-40’s) bombed and strafed near gun position. Fired one shot and gun went wrong – Returned to outfit. Saw the action while at the 34th Brigade Hdqt.

July 5.
Moved three miles to a position in wheat field near French M.P.s. Jerry bombed road the day previous.

July 9.
Went to Mass in beautiful cathedral at Sienna.

July 13.
Moved to dummy position in the hills – Sienna could easily be seen in the distance.

July 15.
Moved to Colle d’Elsa – our farthest northern point in Italy.  Shells came in fast and often. Mine exploded nearby killing two oxen and injuring two Italians.

July 19.
Leghorn seized.
The Port of Leghorn was a northern port in Italy, critical for providing access for supplying men and materiel. It was especially important to Germany because it gave accessibility to Italian agricultural and industrial product that were needed.

July 26.
Moved at 2 a.m. to 5th Army firing point near Civitaches and San Marinella.  Fired at rockets. Mine exploded injuring Sharpe and another fella. Gun wrecked.

July 28.
Moved to bivouac area still near San Marinella. Had a resort house reserved. Drinks, swimming, the Tyrrhenian.

July 30.
Number 8 Gun Crew well represented on pass to Rome. Heard High Mass in St. Peter’s, and saw the Pope in his audience room. He spoke in English, French and Italian – words of greetings. Thrill of a lifetime!

Aug. 6.
Moved to another bivouac area near Sparinese – close to where I first joined the outfit. Left at 5:30 a.m. and by-passed Rome.

Aug. 7
Crossed Volturno River, bivouaced in fruit orchard by the sea near Concello.

Aug. 10.
Firing point near Baia – sleeve target.

Aug. 11.
Firing point – dry run. Watched the signorinas et all swimming at the beach.

Aug. 12
Firing point again. Allies take Florence.

Aug. 15.
Assumption – New Catholic chaplain heard Mass. Invasion of southern France.
(August 13 is a Roman Catholic Holy Day of Obligation.)

Aug. 20.
Went to Bagnoli, and had a swell time.

Aug. 22
March order to Marano – seven kilometers from Naples.

Aug. 23
Paris and Marseille liberated. Rumania surrenders.

Aug. 24.
Forward echelon leave Marano for port of Naples bound for southern France. I’m part of the rear echelon to take care of guns and equipment.

So, as we pause in Al’s journal entries, he and his fellow G.I.s are on their way to Southern France.  Its been a long slog to get to this point, including miserable weather, battles, injuries and death as well as his birthday, “swell” times and signorinas, and “thrill”ing events such as meeting the Pope.

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