Piangepane Italy, December 1944. Before arriving at this village we had been in a couple or so more gun positions and had fired in support of our infantry and First Div infantry. This was a part of Italy where it was always another river or canal or numerous drainage ditches to cross, all resulting in a lot of infantry causalities.
The enemy was really dug in, and every haystack and every house was a fortress. Our infantry was by now very under strength, as except for a short rest in November they had all been in action since August. I did not mention that there was also an ammunition shortage. The reason for this was the western front was given the priority for personnel and equipment and munitions. Another reason was the 4th Indian Division and the 78th British divisions, with supporting artillery, went to Greece and took a major share of munitions with them. This was to quell the Greek civil uprising. Also I think the Greek Brigade went back too.
This period in December our guns were used primarily on main attacks but were not doing the amount of harassing fire or counter battery work. It was five rounds per day per gun perhaps. Even though we did have about 500 rounds per gun in case of a major counter attack.
On a clear cool day we would hear the drumming of mortar bombs landing on our front line troops and this drumming would turn to a roar and we at the guns would be ready and eager to fire to alleviate this terrible mortaring. But no orders came to fire and by this time the dust and smoke would be rising up from all this bombing. All we could do or say was those poor beggars are sure getting the shit kicked out of them.
In this time frame, word came back from our forward observation officer that a platoon of the Perth regiment had been wiped out long one of these drainage ditches. I think the Perth later in the campaign took a terrific toll on the enemy when they caught the enemy advancing across a flat open area. But I leave that to the writing of Stan Scislowski in his book "NOT ALL OF US WERE BRAVE" . This is how I remember those days as I was not at the real sharp end like an infantry man.
As our advance party went into the village of Piangepane we came upon quite a carnage of horses and men, all dead.The Westminster Regiment had caught a German column of mostly horse drawn wagons, accompanied with quite a lot of troops. The fifty caliber machine guns of the Westies had made short work of all in their path. The dead Germans were without their jackboots and socks. The Italian civilians had pulled boots and socks off the dead before they were cold. Also the Westies captured a couple of brand new self propelled guns that had just been delivered as the odometer had less the 20 kilometers showing, In all it was quite a coup. The Westies were no strangers to pulling off some great victories when victories were hard to get.