Italy, December 1944. The weather during this late December was quite cool. I remember the white frost but most of all the low misty mornings that lasted well into midday when you could only see to the next hedge row. A person could imagine our infantry peering into this gloom and imaginations must have been rampant as trees that appeared from the fog would look like German infantry.
I guess in some incidents a German patrol did swoop in and capture a section or so. I have been told that the German Infantry forming up for an attack made a lot of noise and when they broke through the fog our bren gunners were waiting for them. But, during these foggy cool mornings, how very quiet the war suddenly became. No bursting shells or diving air craft, just quietness. A bonus for we farm boys. You might even hear a farm rooster crow. But that poor rooster likely ended up in a pot if he made his presence too well known. Gun crews on these foggy mornings were especially alert as we never knew when we were to be called for DF targets, Defensive fire.
These targets had been registered earlier and could be called and fired in moments and mostly in seconds. Most of these targets would have been in our immediate front and would come bursting down on any counter attack advancing on our forward troops.
As Christmas approached thoughts of home and our fifth Christmas in the army and the war not over was in our minds. Probably more so in the married men's thoughts. Some had Dear John letters, where wives had just given up on waiting and wrote and told their husbands so.
For those this was a bleak time. The rest of us hoped this was to be our last Christmas away from home, but looking ahead for many of us, we did not get home until after Christmas 1945, making six Christmas's in the forces. I remember that mail started to arrive much better now than it did a few months ago.
Most of the mail now came by air. How we blessed all the Mums, Dads and in-laws and out laws for sending us parcels and writing the hundreds of letters all these years, and sending over the cigarettes. We even thought how fortunate we were because we knew we were still alive, while those at home would really not know from one day to the next were we alive, wounded, or dead. No instant messages those days, no phone calls home. We lived for the letters from home and the folks that wrote so faithfully will never know the hope and boost to our morale those letters gave us. Too late to tell them now as most of the Mums and Dads and other letter writers have passed away. But if any of you were those letter writers may the best of everything be yours. We loved all of you.