Friday, February 24, 2006

A postcard from Sicily, 3rd September 1943

Photo shows: The Postcard I sent home from Messina

On September the 3rd 1943 the British 8th Army, under General Montgomery, landed on the toe of Italy.

I had a first class view of operations, as my unit, the 49th Light Ack-Ack Rgt.,was one the many artillery units that laid down the original barrage to prepare the mainland for the British assault.

I had previously bought a postcard of Messina and I used this to send a reassuring message home.

On the reverse side of the card is a view of an unnamed building in "........" unnamed simply because the censor had very effectively scratched it out.

I see also, that although I wrote the card on the 3rd of September, it was only passed by the Field Post Office unit on the 11th.

The card reads:
Dear Mum,Dad and all
Quite well and happy and receiving your mail regularly.
Love to all of you

Considering what I was doing and witnessing on the day in question I think the card was a masterpiece of understatement.

A week or two before I sent this postcard I experienced the little episode that follows.

We'd been driving North and pulled off the road at nightfall. Our resting place was in a small park and as I drove the truck in I felt it go over a heavy bump. Because I'd been seeing bodies all day I knew instinctively that we'd parked on top of a corpse but I was too shattered to alter the truck's position and we so we stayed where we were. I was on duty on the set all night and the smell got progressively worse.
When morning came I finally investigated under the truck and found to my relief that all we'd done was to park on top of a pile of horse manure.
I can still remember the pong!

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