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2nd New Zealand Divisional Artillery

Famous Landmarks

Famous Landmarks

Following the constant movements in November and December, life quickly settled into a routine for the gunners in January 1944. Routines varied, of course, according to local circumstances; but there were some features common to most of them. Except for the anti-tankers in the remote parts of the Bianco–Barone feature, three well-known places exerted a remarkable influence on the lives of gunners on the Orsogna front. One was the Castelfrentano brickworks, which provided essential building and roading materials, but always at the cost of nervous strain; for this was the enemy's favourite ranging mark. Then there was the Mad Mile, a stretch of road west of Castelfrentano which enemy observers in Orsogna had registered carefully and could shell with great accuracy whenever they chose. When Artillery Headquarters moved to Castelfrentano on 4 January the Mad Mile was notorious, and because of its reputation the Headquarters vehicles were despatched in small groups and wide intervals so as not to create congestion on that stretch of road. No drivers liked to linger there. Finally there was the church tower in Orsogna, the thin spire which page 546 seemed to gaze with cold, all-seeing eyes on the whole area. It survived countless thousands of shells which fell in the town and many hundreds of bombs. On 9 January the CRA accepted its challenge and, from the top of the Headquarters building in Castelfrentano, he conducted a shoot and scored several hits. On the 12th, after an air raid in which many bombs fell in the middle of Orsogna, the CRA called down a pinpoint concentration—a ‘Murder’—by five regiments, each firing five rounds gun fire, at the church tower. He invited the commander of 4 Indian Division, his CRA, and other visitors to watch, and they all saw the tower emerge from the holocaust of bursting shells to continue its baleful survey of the Divisional area.