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2nd New Zealand Divisional Artillery


page 638

CENTRAL ITALY offers the attacker from the south a cheerless choice: one damned mountain after another in the Apennines or one damned river after another in the coastal plain. In their next choice of heartbreaks after the fall of Florence the Allied Armies in Italy were guided by the departure for the south of France of the French Expeditionary Corps with the one and only mountain division in the theatre. So, for the New Zealand Division, it was back to the Adriatic, where the rivers are flanked by ridges and the canals by stopbanks. If 25-pounders had minds their muzzles would have drooped at the thought of it.

Well before the end of August leave ceased and the ritual of painting out New Zealand markings and pocketing shoulder titles and badges was observed with a solemnity which many of the gunners found hard to sustain: the local villagers knew where they were going. The night-time journey was eerie. Drivers needed intuition as much as eyesight as they fought steering wheels and gears, aiming for the most part at the thickest of the dusty fog ahead. When they halted at Foligno they and all they owned were dressed in a clownish dust—not for the Divine Comedy first issued there, but for some profane variation whose last act it was now their task to improvise. The next night took them over dizzy heights on a better-surfaced road—except for the many deviations round demolitions—past waterfalls and into a rugged dawn with glimpses of the sea. The assembly area was near Iesi, eight miles from the Adriatic.1

1 It was a new CRA who brought the gunners there. Ike Parkinson went back to 6 Brigade and Brigadier Queree succeeded him. Ray Queree was replaced in the 5th Field by ‘Huck’ Sawyers. Trevor Kensington left on the Taupo furlough scheme and Bill Philp took over the 6th Field.