Liri Valley 17th May 1944.
All of a sudden the regiment moved up to a concentration area preparing to hit the Gustav and Hitler lines. What I remember about our move into the Liri valley was riding through the flat area before Cassino. The ground before Cassino was bomb cratered. These craters were full of stinking water. The road was cratered with trees and bushes torn up by shells and bombs. Many New Zealand and other allied tanks burnt out, tracks off, littered the whole landscape, plus all the litter of the three battles previously that had been fought in this area. Leaving the litter and that aside was the over powering smell of dead bodies. I have often said you could smell the death and decaying bodies miles before you ever were near Cassino. There were untold thousands of bodies in the ruins.The sight of the town was like looking at a pile of rubble moved by bomb and shell over and over.
I would think we moved forward to the Pignataro area on the 19th or 20th of May and had our first firing position here. RHQ, usually thought always to be more in the rear of the guns, found itself about a couple of hundred feet to the left of my old troop, E troop. RHQ was in a house that was still in good condition and here is where the regiment was to make itself ready to support the First Cdn Div, or who ever needed our fire power.
Right away there was an uneasy feeling that this could be a rough spot. Mount Cairo was to our right rear and was still held by the enemy. This mountain dominated all the valley and looked down on our backsides.
I will tell you more how this battle went and of course hind sight is 20/20 .