An account of Army Life During World War II
experienced by Bernard Welburn

last updated November 12, 2010



 

Epochs and Theatres of War
please follow the links below to visit each part of the story.

PRE-WAR

Italy

 

 

Activities heading to and in Italy
Date Location Comments
25 Apr 44 Suez Embarked Suez (2nd time)
27 Apr 44 Finally sailed up the Suez canal.
28 Apr 44 Port Said
29 Apr 44 At Sea
4 May 44 Taranto, Italy Disembarked
4 May 44 Tuker camp Marched to Tuker Camp, 4 miles out. Waited here until 12 May
12 May 44 Bari, Foggia Set off by road for Lanciano up the coast via Bari and Foggia
13 May 44 Lanciano Arrived late evening. Set up office 3 miles from Jerry lines and in front of own Arty. No Jerry planes and a very comfortable war except for annoyance of our own Arty firing.
30 May 44 Elicci Moved to an even more pleasant farmyard. The peasants very good - vino - cherries and good washerwoman. Maria and Amelia took much interest in our "ufficia machina".
June 1944
"The Hussar" Battallion magazine
16 Jun 44 Pescara Moved to a farm through Pescara and in sight of Citta S. Angelo via Ortona and Pescara. All the evidence of war on route, mines, demolitions, bomb craters, bridges blown + destruction everywhere.
23 Jun 44 San Vito Moved back from farm over R Solina to San Vito. Camped two days near the cemetary + batch of Canadian graves.
25 Jun 44 Ortona/Roseta - San Benedetto Sunday moved up coast road through Ortona + Roseta to a pleasant old country mansion a few miles south of San Benedetto
30 Jun 44 Fermo Moved to a site in a wheatfield 2 miles north of Fermo. Temperature moderate - a bit stinking in middle of day. Grapes growing bigger and harvest nearly completed. Heard Nightingale for several nights now. Flies by the million - as bad as Egypt, Paid a short visit to Fermo - pretty little town, women well dressed and "gorgemouse"
2 Jul 44 Potenza Moved to another wheatfield between Porto do Potenza and Potenza. 100 yards in front of medium artillery - some noise!
3 Jul 44 Loreto Monday moved to another wheatfield on coast and approx 1 mile SE of Loreto.
5 Jul 44 Loreto Heavy Bombing on night of 5/6 July. Unexploded bombs in area. 1 Jerry shot down. Night of terror and no sleep. Loreto badly damaged, cas civ 5 mily [?]. Cathederal set on fire. Burst of Jerry cannon fire missed truck by a few inches. 1 stick of anti-personnel bombs dropped over road 20 yards from truck. No bono Soldat!
6 Jul 44
"Picked up from a dead German Airman whose plane was shot down near Loreto on 6 Jul 44"
[cigarette packets]
[newspaper cuttings]
9 Jul 44 Castel Jidando Moved from Loreto on Sunday to a position due south of Castel Jidando. Jerry shelling a bit too close and own arty and planes damned annoying. Very heavy rain several days. Made ground very muddy.
15 Jul 44 Rocanali / Bagnala Moved to a very pleasant valley NW of Rocanali and S of Bagnala. A little quieter and could sleep.
17 Jul 44
"Letter taken from a German Tank knocked out on 17 Jul 44"
17 Jul 44
"Taken from a knocked out German Tank near San Luccio Italy on 17 Jul 44"
18 Jul 44 Agugliana Moved at 5 O'clock to a leaguer area 6 miles SW of Agugliana. Big push just over and several Jerry tanks littering countryside.

"Picked up in area AGUGLIANO just evacuated by Jerry"

Typed up translation of this leaflet

19 Jul 44 Moved to an area N of Agugliano. Jerry now driven back to R. Esino. Own Arty damned annoying again
"Pass fired by leaflet shell by Poles on Jerry to give to an ally on surrender"

Translation :
"A Message from the Polish People.
The Scarcity of people on German Territory has become such a problem that they are asking us, the Polish Soldiers on the Italian front to come over. To this end, a special transmitter was built.
People ask us "Do you Polish people want to stab Germany in the back while Germany is protecting your homeland?" Such words we consider as mockery. Who closed down our colleges & Universities? Who dragged our men, women and children into forced labour in Germany for "Eastern worker wages" of 17 Reichsmark a week?
It was Hitler, Koch and Greiser and 10,000 other party members that have grown fat from the suffering of Poland! And today they suddenly portray themselves as the saviours of our country!
Even you German soldiers will despise this form of sicophancy. We don't make you - as honest soldiers - responsible for the blunders / the troubles the party has inflicted on Poland. Again + again we are praised by the Prisoners of War for the gentlemanly treatment they have recieved at the hands of the Frontier troops. In spite of it all, you German soldiers should always remind yourselves of what you are realy fighting for, what you are defending and what you are really risking your lives for on a daily basis? Not for Poland! you are not even defending Germany, in which with every day, that this war lasts, more cities are torn apart! You risk your lives for a gang of bandits, for a pack that now is desperately begging us for help, while they order you to keep on fighting and be killed, and what for? To gain a short-lived stay of execution.
- The Poles from the other side"
21 Jul 44 Agugliano Moved to a farm on hilltop very near to Agugliano approx NE. Pleasant little spot and very few sounds of battle.
22 Jul 44 Spitfires shot down Focke-Wulfe which crashed into sea.
28 Jul 44 Ancona Moved out about half a mile down hillside. Got some bathing trips to Ancona.
7 Aug 44 Brecci Roli Moved to fwd area. Jerry shelled us for a couple of hours but luckily no cas. area C Brecci Roli
8 Aug 44 Pastonella Moved to a pleasant spot half a mile away called Pastonella.
15 Aug 44 Cassine / Sengallia / Ostra Left Pastonella on 15 aug + rejd B Ech area Cassine 3m from Sengallia, 1m Ostra. Had some good swimming at Senigallia.
21 Aug Roncitelli Moved with B Ech to a pleasant farmyard about 1/2 mo sq Roncitelli, stayed one day.
22 Aug 44 Mondolfo / Maratto Moved at 1700 hrs to join 'A' Ech. in another very nice farmyard some 1/2 m SW of Mondolfo. approx 4 ms in from Mondolfo was Maratto where good swimming is available.
31 Aug 44 Jano / San Besario Moved up coast road through Jano then west by route 3 to a partly demolished tile factory at San Besario.
Sept 1944
"The Hussar" Battallion magazine
2 Sep 44 Urbino / R. Foglia Moved on saturday west along Rte 3 and leagured on a prominent forward slope NE of Urbino just S of R.Foglia.
3 Sep 44 Jerry shelled heavy all Sun morn and some cas. were sustained. Moved about a mile back after the shelling to a more sheltered position. Multi grapes in this area.
Saludecio Reveille 0130 hrs and on the move again. after several long halts, reached area through Saludecio. Own Arty deafening and Jerry shelling and air activity at night nerve shattering. Multi fousoners [?] coming back very tired looking, dirty and bedraggled.
18 Sep 44 Still in same area, battle moved further away and life much quieter.
19 Sep 44 Morciano Rev 0430 moved up to a very nice area two miles N of Morciano + in sight of San Savino.
?
Allied pre-bombardment warning leaflet for locals.
found in the pages of the diary around here.
20 Sep 44 San Savino / R. Marano Wednesday Rev 0515. Moved through San Sevino - horrible sights along road - own + enemy dead buried and unburied. Enemy equipment strewn about + some own and enemy tanks knocked out. Settled in an area just south of R. Marano. Jerry shells landing near but not too near! Had a mobile cinema show, 1st since Taranto. Stayed in that area until Sunday 24th Sep
24 Sep 44 Lake Bracchiano After a Rev at 0230 moved again but this time south for Lake Bracchiano N of Rome. Route track to monte Colombo - Croce[?] - Urbino - Jano on adriatic coast - stuffed for lunch. Ghiarvelle - Jesi - Jabbriano - Leagured for night after covering 120 miles.
25 Sep 44 Nocera 25'' Rev 0515 - Colle - over mountain pass to Nocera - Foligno - San Giacomo - Spaleti - Terni - crossed River Nera - Civita Castellana - crossed R. Tiber to Nepi - SW to within 7 miles of Rome. North to Lake Bracchiano arriving about 6pm. Daily mileage 180. Route led through Gothic Line + Appenine Chain. Much destruction + many graves round brace. Scene of very fierce fighting. Miles of knocked out German tanks + B vehs preceding Bracchiano. Trip very pleasant + multi belle signorinas on route.
Lake Bracchiano Lake Bracchiano OK for swimming. Set up in a decent office and rooms of buildings which were a seaplane base.
10 Oct 44
Movement Order proceeding to ROME
10 Oct 44 Spent a day in Rome and toured St. Peters Church and part of the Vatican City including the Palace of his Holiness Pope Pius XII. Attended an audience given by the pope and recieved his blessing as he passed.
Oct 1944
"The Hussar" Battallion magazine
(looks like someone coloured it in!)
20 Oct 44 Owing to pressure of work no more visits to Roma were possible.
Packed up on Friday 20 Oct
21 Oct 44 Iesi / Fogliano 0800 hrs hit the trail again for area Iesi. Route via Terni, spoletto Buvita Castellana Fogliano. First day mileage 102. Stayed night at Fogliano and slept in the stables of an Italian Artillery Barracks.
22 Oct 44 Monte San Vito Second day route Nocera - Fabbriano - Jesi, morro d'Alba - Monte San Vito - a further 72 miles. Billetted in a fairly decent place, and inhabitants of the Piazza Malatesta very friendly. MAny luscious females pass my office door daily.
26 Oct 44 Ostra Moved Thursday to Ostra + setup office in a school in the middle of the town. Rained like the blazes all the move + got fairly wet. School very cold + uncomfortable until charcoal was issued for stove. Pretty little town, bella signorinas - good sgts mess with billiard table in.
8 Nov 44 Ostra PRomoted SQMS - only pari passu [?]- but promotion just the same. Back dated to 26 Sep.
Dec 44

Metal sign/plaque

written on the Reverse :
"From School at OSTRA Dec 44"

12 Dec 44 Ravenna Comfort of Ostra terminated on Dec 12. After approx 6 weeks of "base" with dances, smokes, hot baths, multi "lavani" moved to within 3 km of Ravenna. Sound of Arty again. Deadly cold + "case" an ex Deutsch Army hut full of shrapnel holes. Prospects of a front-line Xmas!
?

airdropped leaflet #1
found in the pages of the diary around here.

Translation:

"Ei ssorender ... This is the English and American pronunciation of the words "I surrender" (I give up).
Make use of it when you have the chance"

15 Dec 44 Ravenna / Camerlona After three terrible cold days, moved to a ft NW of Ravenna on R16 approx 7 km Camerlona + setup office in a saddle room, very warm and comfortable with large open fireplace. Jerry gun wall + truly spiked in yard outside. Own Arty annoying as usual, windows rattle every rd. Very flat country here + multi canale + fiume, floods not uncommon. Had a 1st class front line xmas.
9 Jan 45 Ravenna / Camerlona First fall of snow to lay on Jan 9th. Terriffic frosts at night. Ground like concrete and air knife-edged. Ice thick everywhere.
11 Jan 45 Santerno / R. Lamone Moved Thursday 11 Jan to a village near Santerno and just SE of R.Lamone. Got a very small room in a farmhouse - crammed in like sardines.
12 Jan 45 Santerno / R. Lamone Another fall of snow in the morning, heavy shelling at noon, not too near. Night 12/13 brought rain and thaw, what a mess! multi fango (mud)

 

14 Jan 45 Moved in the morning - cold and raining, everything wet and dirty. Got moved ok a few miles back near rt 16 + a village called Ammonite. A temporary office on a groun floor room of a "casa del agravi" [?] mixed up with cooks + mess orderlies. Night very cold + sharp frost. Searchlight near casa - multi liuci.
15 Jan 45 Moved office upstairs on 15th + settled down in a decent room upstairs. Own + enemy Arty annoying again - windows bang and rattle.
?

airdropped leaflet #2
found in the pages of the diary around here.

translation:
"Behind you is Chaos !
The area still under the German command is the most troubled. Every large train station, every rail bridge is being destroyed by Allied air action. The political chaos has taken over. The SS and the Gestapo have lost control of millions of their foreign workforces and of the deserters. for you German soldiers this means two things, first of all there is no way back. The only way to get home is through becoming an Allied Prisoner-of-War. Secondly, you can now surrender without vengeance being brought upon your families. The party is living in mortal fear and has no time to dwell on dealing with families of deserters. The only secure way home is through becoming an Allied POW.

In front of you is the protection of Geneva.
German soldiers that surrender are placing themselves under the protection of the Geneva Convention of 27 July 1929.
this means :
1) You will immediately be removed from the conflict area.
2) You will be treated as soldiers, that means in a decent and honourable way.
3) Your relatives will be notified immediately about your well-being by the Red Cross. Closer details on how you became a POW will never be revealed or made public.
4) You will get supplies, housing, and if wounded you will recieve treatment just like Allied Soldiers.
5) After the war you will be sent home as soon as possible.
The only secure way home is through becoming an Allied POW.

21 Jan 45 (Sunday) Jerry put down a stonk of 60 rds on Arty 200 yds away, nearest thing yet - was certain he couldn't miss. Nearest salvo 100 yds from casa. Casa trembled like aspen - so did Ana!
24/25 Jan 45 Heavy snow fall during night. Frost very keen and mercury low.
1 Feb 45 Pesaro Multi bono! packed up once again and pulled out from "du fronti". Moved to Pesaro and set up office in a magnificent casa on sea front. Cold as ??? but peaceful and miles away from the Hun.
6 Feb 45 WS/SQMS [i think this means a rank change?]
19 Feb 45 Rimini Left Pesaro and entrained at Rimini in a cattle truck for Roma and 7 days leave.
19 Feb 45
Movement Order proceeding to ROME
20 Feb 45 Rome Landed at 56 rest camp at 0700 hrs.

Facilities for the Allied Forces in Rome:
..

Leave programme as follows :
20 Feb 45 Rome (Tuesday)Morning in camp + settling in.
Afternoon - visited Coliseum and Arch g Constantino.
Evening Film at ENSO super cinema.
21 Feb 45 Rome Morning : St Peters Church + treasury - climbed to top of dome + into bale [?]
afternoon : explored east of town.
Evening : Cinema in camp
22 Feb 45 Rome Morning : Royal Palace and Pantheon
afternoon : Churches of St. Mary + St. John + Climbed to top of Coliseum
Evening : Anglo-Polish Ballet.
23 Feb 45 Rome morning : in camp - fagged out!
afternoon : Barghese gardens and zoo
evening : Opera - "Aida"
24 Feb 45 Rome morning : Vatican museum + Art gallery, Cistine chapel.
afternoon : Film at ENSA Super Cinema.
evening : ENSA show in camp.
25 Feb 45 Rome (Sunday) morning : Church in camp.
afternoon : Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
evening : Italian variety theatre.
26 Feb 45 Rome morning : Chiesa San Paolo, Pyramid of Caus Bestius + tomb of Keats [?]
afternoon + evening in camp.
   
27 Feb 45 Bracciano Returned to Regiment on Tuesday - old familiar surroundings.
24 Mar 45
Movement Order to ROME
24 Mar 45 Rome

All Saints church Rome

Saturday March 24th 1944

Spent a very happy time - cois wedding being highlight of stay, visit of SAC (Alex) and Gen. Binko (Horaco) also broke Monday.
13 Apr 45 But all good things come to an end and on Friday 13th Apr a second farewell was said to Vigna di valle and we reluctantly hit the road (now getting familiar) for "du frontu".
14 Apr 45 Fabriano Had a good trip, saying night 13/14 at Fabriano
15 Apr 45 Camerlona arrived Camerlona in same old billet as at xmas at about 1400 hrs. A decent stay of one week.
21 Apr Benvignante On sat 21 Apr packed up again and moved up R-16 through Appenine and Argenta (gap) to Benvignante, about 16m SW of Ferrara in among fwd Arty (as usual) and our shelling prevented sleep.
24 Apr 45

Baibanella

 

"Pick 'em up, set em down" Our nomaddic life once again, and on Tuesday 24 Apr we moved again to area Baibanella, just off R-16 and approx 10 km from Ferrara. A pleasant harbour + not much to do. Great war news these days - Ferrara, Modena + Spezia fall. Allies (incl 7H) cross the PO.
?
airdropped leaflet #3
found in the pages of the diary around here.

translation :
"The Russians are in Berlin - what are you fighting on for!"
To fight on is the last crime of the German government against the German people!"
April 1945

Allied Force Headquarters
Special Order of the Day

"Victory is Near"

April 1945

Main H.Q Eighth Army

Special Message from the Army Commander

27/28 Apr 45 News flashes on 27/28 apr Breme falls, Partisans take over Genoa, Milan + Turin Berchesgarten bombed + hit. Mussolini arrested, trying to escape into Switzerland. Himmler offers unconditional surrender to us + USA. Refused until surrender is made to USSR as well. Goering resigns as chief of Luftwaffe, Ditman surrenders to Allies. ANY DAY NOW !!!!!! 14th Army 60 miles from Rangoon.
28 Apr 45

A day of heavy rain turned ground into quagmire. At approx 9pm orders to move were recieved. A hasty pack up as darkness fell and 3 hours of blood, tears and toil + sweat were spent getting on to hard road. Convoy set out at 0245 B at an average spped of 30-35 mph. As we only had sidelights, the road was bad, and the bus in front had no rear light it was a pretty deadly going. Considering no sleep either and bitter cold night, everybody fealt on top ofthe world.

29 Apr 45 Ferrara However, we crossed the PO successfully over a bailey br on pontoons, at Ferrara and landed up at our new location about 290630B. What a trip - nobody will ever forget it. I smoked 25 cigarettes in 9 hours to sooth my tattered nerves which were continually on edge. Apart from a petrol stoppage our journey was uneventful.
Selfa New location very nice in a farmyard in area Selfa. Radio announces Mussolini shot.
30 Apr 45 -
1 May 45
Weather appaling and heavy thunderstorms the order of the day. Radio news still good - Munich falls, Tito in Trieste. Venice falls, also Padua. Strong rumours of further negotiations with Himmler through neutral channels. 14th Army at Pegu [Burma] and racing to Rangoon. Monk Blank [?] announces "All organised resistance virtually ceased in Italy"
2 May 45

Allied ForceHeadquarters

Special Order of the Day

Field-Marshall Alexander - Supreme Allied Commander - Mediterranean theatre

2 May 45 GERMANS SURRENDER UNCONDITIONALLY IN ITALY. Effective 12 O'Clock 2 May 1945
3 May 45

To the soldiers of the 15th Army Group

From Mark W. Clark - General, USA Commanding

3 May 45
A Special Message from the Army commander to all ranks Eighth Army.
6 May 45
Padua
Moved Sunday to a very pretty village Saonara quite near to Padua. Lived in the house of a faciste - just the job!
8 May 45

GERMANS SURRENDER UNCONDITIONALLY IN EUROPE effective 0001 hrs 8 May 45 after 5 years 8 months 5 days.
What a relief - La Guerre fini

9 May 45
Another 1/6 a day for completing 18 months as ORS. 6d of it straight to Income tax. Yearly Income £246-7-3
8 Jul 45
Villach, Austria
All good things come to an end and on Sunday 8 July we hit the trail once more for Austria. set off at 0800 hrs and arrived Villach about 1800 crossing the border about 1700. Journey 180 miles and very interesting through mountain and picturesque villages. What a difference in the two countries. Austerlich very beautiful auch der fraulein aber nein pralenisation[?]
Set up office in the room of a haus, very nice + near the strasse. Many gorgeous fraus pass all day long.
19 Jul 45
Heading home!
Proceeded on LIAP 36 - Overland route from Villach - through Brenner Pass to Innsbruck - to Ulm in Germany - Mainz - through Luxembourg into France (Sedan) - Calais over the channel and home.
BUS TICKET
ENFIDAVILLE to BLIGHTY
25 Jul
Arrived home 10pm on 25 July and settled down to 28 days grand leave.
15 Aug 45
JAPS accept Potsdam Ultimatum and surrender unconditionally on 15 Aug 45

 

 

Epochs and Theatres of War
please follow the links below to visit each part of the story.

PRE-WAR

Italy

 




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These pages are (C) Andy Welburn 1996-2009. I cannot be held responsible if the information supplied herein results in a blown monitor/power supply/house fuse/mind. Oh yeah, have a nice day :)