54. Gravina, Italy
In this area the 5th Division were stationed in towns like Altamura &, Matera. Here we were to get our equipment, such as it was, in order. Gravina had been one of Dictator Mussolini's projects, and our regiment was stationed in the school which was very modern. Here we were introduced to the type of toilets that had two raised foot prints in a two foot square sloping drain area The drain area had a four inch diameter hole leading down into the sewer plumbing. If you did not drop it all in the hole, you pulled a chain and a flush type system washed all down this hole. Well if you have ever dealt with 700 or 800 young men you find they get pretty carless and the system from being carless in letting things go down the drain that should not, or, just over use soon clogged the system. Thus causing our poor sanitary men to curse all that were put on this earth that plugged toilets.
Oh yes at Gravina the regiment operated a house of ill repute. Now all that used that service are long dead so it matters not that I write about it. So no names, no pack drill. Our gun park was next to this house and while the troops were doing gun drill the ladies of the night would come out and sit on a bench in the sun. These ladies had on house coats and were out to enjoy the sun. Well some of our chaps swung the guns around pointing at the ladies of the night. Being sporting types, the ladies swung open their house coats exposing all. This did not last long as one of the officers ordered the ladies back into their house much to the catcalls of the troops who took this is as quite a diversion from gun drill. Some of it was fun.
Every morning was the same along our street. All the bare bottomed little children came out and did their thing along the side of the house, then along would come the goat herder with the goats. As he approached each house the women came out with a sauce pan or jug and the herder would stop a goat and milk into the ladies container the desired amount of milk. Now that is what you called fresh.
Here we could not understand why the civilians took a pig into the house during the day and then put it out at night. We asked them why? Wll the answer was that lice and other vermin in the bed would leave the bed and go on the pig.Take the pig out and you took the lice out. Quite a fine method! Also during a sunny day, the women spent hours fine tooth combing lice from the children's heads and dropping the lice in olive oil in a saucer to kill them [the lice ].